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Nagasaki Nightmare
 
Article by Black Moon
Barefoot 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.

In his own words Keiji-san explains:

"I 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.

"There's something white falling!"
"Then flash blinding flash, and there's nothing left to see."

People 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."

From 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.

"Gen" (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.

In 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 purchase it.

Man made pain, deadly reign
The day everything broke Keiji-san 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.
The 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.
under the rubble
from out of the firestorm

Volume 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.

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