Battle - Kamikaze!
July 1954, No. 31, 36 pages
A six-page story entitled "Kamikaze!" in the July 1954 issue of Battle
comic book gives an incorrect and extremely exaggerated portrayal of Japanese
kamikaze pilots. The author describes them as "a cult of fanatics bent on
suicide for the emperor." The first half of the story introduces the
suicide attack of Masafumi Arima on October 15, 1944, and the second half
describes kamikaze pilot training and the suicide missions of two pilots.
The comic fails to provide any accurate information about Masafumi Arima
other than the date of his death. It gives his name as Masabumi rather than
Masafumi and his rank as Vice Admiral rather than Rear Admiral. In the comic, he
takes off alone piloting a Zero fighter at 5:20 a.m. from an aircraft
In actuality, he made a sortie about 2 p.m. from Nichols Field in Manila in a
Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber (Betty) as part of a crew that normally numbered
seven, and his plane joined a group of about 90 to 100 Navy and Army planes
heading toward the American task force east of Luzon .
Inoguchi (1958, 35) describes Arima as "picture of dignity as a
commanding officer," "meticulous and formal," "gentle in
appearance," and "soft-spoken." In stark contrast, the comic
depicts him as a raving madman. A couple of frames describe his attitude in the
comic as he approaches
an American carrier:
In the cockpit, a feeling of exhilaration overcomes the Admiral! It is
wonderful to die! One has only to love the Emperor and death comes easy.
Self-hypnosis takes effect! Masabumi Arima is drunk with divine joy! He wants no
part of life or contact with life. So he rips away the man-made implements.
In the frame just before he crashes into the sea next to the aircraft carrier (see
image below at left), he "screams, laughs, sings in a frenzy of elation and
Just who was the real Rear Admiral Masafumi Arima if not a wild-eyed zealot?
He commanded the 26th Air Flotilla and served as an inspiration for future
kamikaze pilots. Believing
that the older men should lead by example and die first in battle, he announced soon before takeoff that he personally would
lead the attack of October 15, 1944, against the American fleet. He radioed in
this final message : "Going to body-crash
against enemy aircraft carrier. Hope everybody will exert all-out efforts."
Although no evidence exists that he hit any American ship, the Japanese military
widely publicized the courage of his attack and his supposed success in sinking an
aircraft carrier. He became the forerunner to the official Kamikaze Special Attack
Corps that would be formed just four days later by Vice Admiral Takijiro
The second half of this comic introduces the kamikazes' training for death.
The pilots sit cross-legged on the floor as some old man who looks almost like a
magician tells them that they must give their lives to the emperor since he gave
them the gift of life. The men reply like automatons, "It is our ardent
wish and our joy!"
The story then shifts to a kamikaze pilot who crashes into the flight
deck of the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid and an ohka (called
"baka" by the Americans) rocket-powered glider bomb pilot who misses
his dive on an American cruiser. Both pilots have a change of heart as they
plunge downward, and they suddenly want to live as fear grips them. The image
below at right shows the ohka pilot as he "screams with insane zeal!"
Although both of these kamikaze pilots fly their missions in the Philippines in
1944, the Japanese Navy did not use the ohka weapon until several months later
during the Battle of Okinawa.
This preposterous story ends with the dropping of an atomic bomb. This issue
of Battle contains three other comic stories set in the Revolutionary War, World
War I, and the Korean War.
dives toward an American cruiser
1. Inoguchi 1958, 36-7; Osuo 2005, 7; Ugaki
1991, 476; Warner 1982, 84; Yasunobu 1972, 44.
2. Warner 1982, 84.
Inoguchi, Rikihei, Tadashi Nakajima, with Roger Pineau.
1958. The Divine Wind: Japan's Kamikaze Force in World War II.
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kougekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tokyo: Kojinsha.
Ugaki, Matome. 1991. Fading Victory: The Diary of Admiral Matome
Ugaki, 1941-1945. Translated by Masataka Chihaya. Edited by Donald M. Goldstein
and Katherine V. Dillon. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Warner, Denis, Peggy
Warner, with Commander Sadao Seno. 1982. The Sacred Warriors: Japan's Suicide
Legions. New York: Van Nostrand
Yasunobu, Takeo. 1972. Kamikaze tokkoutai (Kamikaze
special attack corps). Edited by Kengo Tominaga. Tokyo: Akita Shoten.