It's pretty much unbelievable that Mizuki's work hasn't been translated in English prior to this book... He is a living legend!
While Mizuki is famous for his surreal yôkai stories like the long running Kitarô series or the autobio-fantasy NonNonBā (to be published in 2012 by Drawn & Quarterly), Onward stands out as a horrifically and tragically real memoir ("90% fact," according to Mizuki) of his time served in the Imperial Army during World War 2.
Julia has already blogged about the first reactions to the book. I find that Dan Nadel put his finger on a big part of Onward's appeal in his Comics Journals preview:
"Onward… is particularly affecting because from page one we know that the troops will die. They were sent only to fight and die, and freed of any conventional will-they-survive narrative, Mizuki gently chronicles the daily physical lives of these men."
Marvel at the power of gekiga - the layout! the timing! the drama! the poetry!
Onward Towards our Noble Deaths is a beautiful and penetrating chef d'oeuvre that will leave you pondering on the human condition and on notions of dignity, honor, life and death. A penetrating portrait of the many faces of Death, Onward could possibly be one the most moving graphic novels you'll read.
Opération Mort, the Cornélius-published french translation of Onward, has previously won the Heritage Essential Award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival.