Ono Saseo, a propaganda painter in occupied Indonesia 1942-1946, is one of the most frequently referenced figures in discussions of World War II Japanese propaganda, associated with the rise of racial stereotypes in cartoon-style manga drawing.
This study challenges this general understanding of Ono and re-examines his work by focusing on the following three ways that we may understand the diversity of his production. First, Ono was not limited to militaristic messages in his work, but rather portrayed styles of the period with humor and fancy, inspired in part by jazz, Western films, and fashion. Second, Ono continued to produce erotic images of women even during the war, under the pretense of providing comfort for soldiers; almost all of these women were depicted as vamps who tempted or threatened men. Third, in Indonesia, he was interested in local art and established relationships with local Indonesian artists; something quite unusual at the time. There was mutual influence, but he never depicted the dark side of the war. These three points help reveal the paradoxical motives and multiple-significance of Ono's manga works in the wartime period.
Adachi Gen (Joshibi University of Art and Design, Japan) is an art historian who has written on modern Japanese avant-garde art and manga. He is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship for Young Scientists of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2010-2013) and is an adjunct lecturer at Joshibi University of Art and Design.