Strengthening even more the ties with Japan, Brazilian cartoon artist Mauricio de Sousa released in the beginning of this year “Turma da Mônica – Lendas Japonesas” (Monica and Friends – Japanese Legends), which introduces the Japanese culture to children.
The book, which has poet André Kondo as a co-writer, arrived on the shelves of Brazilian bookshops last January. The title is a partnership between Editora JBC and Mauricio de Sousa Produções, and it gives readers a real sense of going to Japan without actually having to leave their homes.
The special project is an anthology of Japanese folk tales for kids that are well known by children in the Asian country. The tales teach the value of the Eastern culture, and the most famous characters created by Mauricio de Sousa are in the book, together with Tikara and Keira. These two characters were created in 2008, when the artist celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Japanese Immigration to Brazil in special stories, and then they were permanently included in the roll of characters in the issue No. 18 of the magazine.
In July, an online event of Japan House – São Paulo celebrated the book with two reading sessions by Kondo. For the videos, which are available on the Internet — watch them by using the links below —, the author selected two tales from that book to present to the audience: “Momotaro” (Momotaro) and “O Coelho da Lua” (The Rabbit on the Moon). Both stories teach children about love, friendship, collaboration, knowledge-sharing and generosity.
Mauricio de Sousa and Japan
Born in the city of Mogi das Cruzes, countryside of São Paulo, Mauricio had his first contact with the Japanese culture very early in his life. As there are many Japanese immigrants in that city, the cartoon artist soon developed a connection with Japan. He has been always interested in that local culture and even learned some Japanese.
Today, married to a Japanese descendant, Mauricio feels even closer to that country. In 2013, the artist was given the “Order of the Rising Sun, Golden Rays with Rosette”, an honor badge created in 1875 by the Emperor of Japan and granted to celebrate the relationship between the Asian country and Br
Besides creating stories based on the Japanese culture for Brazilian young readers, Mauricio de Sousa also founded the Mauricio Produções Japan to take his stories to Japanese children. The Brazilian author is friends with Shintaro Tsuji, president and founder of Sanrio, the company that created Hello Kitty; and Osamu Tezuka, regarded as the “God of manga”.
In 2019, Mauricio de Sousa Produções released the comic book “Como Preparar Seu Filho Para Estudar no Japão” (How to Get Your Child Prepared to Study in Japan), which brings stories with characters from Monica’s Gang.
Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside Japan. That’s interesting, isn’t it?
About Monica’s Gang
One of the most famous and loved comic books in Brazil, Monica’s Gang was created in 1959 by Mauricio de Sousa. Franjinha (Franklin) and his dog Bidu (Blu) were the main characters at that time. The rest of the gang was born only in the 1960s, when comic strips became popular in the country.
Nowadays, Mauricio’s characters are found in comic books, books, theme parks, animations and even movies. We have recently interviewed Lu Cafaggi, one of the artists involved in the creation of “Turma da Mônica – Laços” (Monica’s Gang – Bonds), which had its theatrical release in 2019 in Brazil — read more here.