Gô Nagai was born on September 6, 1945 in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture. He is considered one of the most important Japanese manga artists, and the pioneer of psychological horror and splatter (Devilman, Violence Jack), the “cute fighting girls” genre (Cutie Honey), and the giant robot genre, for which he is most famous worldwide (Mazinger Z, Grendizer).
As a child, through his brothers, he had the chance to read mangaka like Osamu TEZUKA (Astro Boy) and Mitsuteru YOKOYAMA (Giant Robot), and to see Dante’s Divine Comedy illustrated by Gustave DORÉ, which deeply influenced his future works.
He was studying to enter Waseda University when he fell ill and one of his brothers told him as a joke that he was probably going to die soon. Gô NAGAI wanted to leave some evidence that he had lived by doing something he really liked and chose to put an end to his studies to turn to the world of manga. Despite several setbacks from publishers, the day came when his work was noticed by Shôgakukan. The publisher contacted Shôtaro ISHINOMORI (Kamen Rider), who finally took him as an assistant in 1965.
His very first professional manga work was Meakashi Polikichi (Polikichi the Detective), a very short gag comedy one shot, published in November 1967. He would keep working in this genre for a while, until Harenchi gakuen (Shameless School), which he created for the launch of Shônen Jump by Shûeisha in 1968. The series was a big success, the first for Gô NAGAI, and made Shônen Jump sell more than one million copies. It also completely changed the common perception of manga and imposed the idea that adult readers could enjoy it as well.
In 1969, he released the comedy manga Abashiri Ikka (The Alcatraz Family) with a huge success. Overnight, he had become the most popular and influential mangaka of Japan! The same year, he founded with his brothers Dynamic Productions, which Ken ISHIKAWA soon joined, becoming Gô NAGAI's regular work partner.
Long considered a comedy writer, he shocked the readers in 1971 with some dark horror stories, his first great success in this genre being Devilman. Almost simultaneously, Cutie Honey, the story of a super-heroine who is actually a cyborg, became a top seller. Both titles were soon transposed to animated series, becoming the first two (and almost only) anime series to air in a prime-time slot on Japanese TV.
When asked to offer some ideas for a new series, Gô NAGAI brought a totally new concept: a giant robot piloted by a man from inside its head. Mazinger Z immediately became one of the biggest hits of Japanese TV, introducing the concept of multi-media development: toys, records, and more were produced and sold by the millions, creating the basis for the modern form of anime-business.
Other huge hits followed: in the horror genre, Shutendôji, Violence Jack, or Susanoô (Kôdansha Manga Award); and in the robot genre, Great Mazinger, Grendizer, Getter Robot (with Ken ISHIKAWA), and many others.
In the late 70s, the animated versions of his characters started being broadcast worldwide: Grendizer became the only program in French TV history to hit a 100% record rating. Through Gô NAGAI’s work, international audiences were discovering Japanese animation, which eventually became a worldwide recognized form of entertainment.
A museum dedicated to Gô NAGAI opened in the city of Wajima in 2009.
In 2017, he commemorated the 50th anniversary of his life as a manga artist.
Don’t miss the chance to meet Gô NAGAI at Japan Expo on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. He will be holding signings and panels to go back over his illustrious career as the author of famous and immensely successful manga in genres as varied as horror, comedy, and of course science fiction!