by Black Moon ©
Gen is a vivid autobiographical
story. Artist Keiji Nakazawa was only seven years
old when the Atomic Bomb destroyed his beautiful home
city of Hiroshima. The artist's manga (visual novel),
tells the tale of one family's struggle to survive in
the dreadful shadow of atomic war.
his own words Keiji-san explains:
named my main character Gen in the hope that he would
become a root or source of strength for a new generation,
one that can tread the charred soil of Hiroshima barefoot,
feel the earth beneath its feet, and have the strength
to say "NO" to nuclear weapons. I myself would like to
live with Gen's strength, that is my ideal, and I will
continue pursuing it through my work." In 2004,
Nakazawa said about his comic, "They wanted to know
what the war and the atomic bombing was really like. It
was the first time people had heard the truth. That's
what they told me everywhere I went. The government didn't
want to risk encouraging anti-American sentiment. But
the facts are the facts.
should be told what happened.
If you live through something like the
A-bomb, you know that war is too horrible not to be
avoided at all costs, regardless of the justifications
offered for it."
1972 to 73, Gen was first serialized in Shukan
Shonen Jampu, the largest
weekly comic of its time in Japan with a readership
of over two million people. Hadashi
no Gen (as the comic is called in Japanese)
gripped Japan with its evocative
and emotional story,
drawing wide acclaim from teachers, parents, critics
and Shonen Jampu's young readers.
(pronounced with a hard 'G') is a Japanese name meaning
"roots" or "source." Barefoot Gen was origninally
anthologized into four paperback volumes, translated
into English, and published by New Society Publishers.
A new translation and republication of the series appeared
in 2004. Produced by Project Gen, the updated
four volume comic book features an introduction by famed
Cartoonist Art Spiegelman.
1983 Gen was released as a full length animated
feature. This brilliant anime has been issued on video
tape and DVD, and it is one of the most important animated
films ever made. We strongly recommend that you
was very wise in creating a manga that didn't insult the
intelligence of the reader. Barefoot Gen doesn't
rewrite history, it tells the truth. The author roundly
condemns Japanese Imperialism and castigates the Japanese
people for blindly following militarists into rack and ruin.
first volume of Barefoot Gen recounts the days
leading up to the bombing of Hiroshima. It describes the
hardships of wartime life for the people of Japan. Hunger,
deprivation, repression and nationalist war hysteria perpetuated
by the military government are the order of the day. Gen's
father is harassed and denounced for his outspoken opposition
to the imperialist war effort.
One culminates in the Atomic bombing; Volume Two describes
the period following the blast. Gen's world is plunged
into total devastation.... chaos, radiation sickness
and slow death plagues the unfortunate people of Hiroshima.