When workers go on strike, one man perches atop a tall factory chimney and shouts demands. Executives give in rather than allow the Emperor to see such a sight on his visit to the area. Shigeru, NonNonBa, and many of Shigeru's classmates have scarcely any food. A small neighbor boy is sent to sea as a cook, and is killed in a storm.
Narrator [Nezumi Otoko; Rat Man]; Kanji Ishiwara; Kenji Doihara; Emperor Puyi [Pu-Yi]; Japanese civilians; Shigeru Mizuki; Shigeru's father; Shigeru's great-uncle; Shumei Okawa
Kwantung Army officers make Manchuria a colony in the form of a puppet state called Manchukuo. Many civilians and business people are disgusted at the right wing's ascendency, but feel helpless to stop it.
Narrator [Nezumi Otoko; Rat Man]; Kodoha Faction soldiers; Mitsugi Nishida; Shigeru Mizuki; His Imperial Majesty the Showa Emperor Hirohito; Sada Abe
Right-wing officers and men attempt to seize control of the government in a coup d'état -- Shigeru's mother is sympathetic, for she knows one of the conspirators. The emperor and other military leaders put down the coup. Shigeru begins to win acclaim for his art, but the nation continues to be enthralled by sensational though meaningless events.
Narrator [Nezumi Otoko; Rat Man]; Chiang Kai-Shek; Zhang Xueliang; Zhou Enlai; Shigeru Mizuki; Shigeru's father; Shigeru's mother; Shigeru's bosses; Shigeru's teacher; Japanese soldiers; Chinese soldiers; Mongolian soldiers
When fighting breaks out in Beijing, Japan steps up its attacks on China, initiating the Second Sino-Japanese War. Warring Chinese forces unhappily form a united front against Japan. Shigeru tries various jobs and schools, utterly without success.
Narrator [Nezumi Otoko; Rat Man]; Yoshiko Okada; Ryokichi Sugimoto; Shigeru Mizuki; Shigeru's mother; teachers; Chinese soldiers; Japanese soldiers
As the war grinds on, the Japanese people suffer greater privation, even as government organs trumpet their patriotism in doing so. The right wing exerts more control over society, and puts down other modes of thought. Japan's soldiers commit unspeakable atrocities in China, and Shigeru continues to drift aimlessly.
Narrator [Nezumi Otoko; Rat Man]; Shigeru Mizuki; Shigeru's father; Japanese soldiers; Russian soldiers; Georgy Zhukov; Hideki Tojo
While Shigeru drifts, the Japanese army in Manchuria and Mongolia is suckered into a border war with Russia, and is badly defeated. An armistice allows Russia to jump into fighting in Europe, seizing half of Poland, while Japan continues to batter China unmolested. The Second World War gets under way as Tojo comes to power in Japan.