Military Ban on “Imomushi”

The cover of the manga adaptation by contemporary artist Maruo Suehiro (丸尾末広).

Rampo’s “inauthentic” trend culminated in 1929 in one of his most famous prewar pieces “Akumu” (「悪夢」; English: “Nightmare.” Later the title was changed to “Imomushi” [「芋虫」; English: “The Caterpillar”]) published in Shinseinen. The story is about the sadomasochistic relationship between a disabled veteran and his wife. It was soon appreciated by the reader and critics as one of the most successful stories of Rampo. Although Rampo later comments that he was not necessarily in promoting antiwar ideology when he wrote the story, its portrayal of the misery of a war hero was sensational enough for the publisher to be cautious not to offend the government censor. Consequently, it was first published with many words represented in a series of x’s as a self-censorship, and eventually was banned as the governmental regulations were strengthened with the Peace Preservation Law in 1941 to move toward a total mobilization of war. (Saito, 121-22)