The Drifting Classroom by Kazuo Umezz (Winner of the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1974)

It is not my typical practice to go straight to the manga section of the library. But, when I sat down with one of Keigo Higashino’s books to read for a bit, I looked up and saw a display of newly arrived YA books. The Drifting Classroom caught my eye, and after I flipped through the beginning pages I checked it out and brought it home.

Within an hour or so I had finished it, completely drawn in by the story and the drawings.

Out of nowhere, an entire school vanishes, leaving nothing but a hole in the ground. While parents mourn and authorities investigate, the students and teachers find themselves not dead but stranded in a terrifying wasteland where they must fight to survive.

VIZ Signature Edition (cover)

The novel has an element which would certainly appeal to the sixth grade student: frustration with one’s parents, longing to be independent but unable yet to do so, searching for strength and even admiration from one’s peers…

And, there is an element of imagination that drew me in as if I was watching a film…

But, one of the most interesting things to me was that I found the presence of morality. The kids take leadership, find courage, band together against evil.

I’m not saying that manga is literature. In fact, I feel a bit strange including it in what I’ve read for the Japanese Literature Challenge 13. But, the facts remain that it is from Japan. There is text. And, I found it utterly fascinating.

I am now awaiting the arrival of Volume 2 at our local library.

The Drifting Classrom was the winner of the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1974.