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Barefoot Gen, Volume One: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima

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This harrowing story of Hiroshima was one of the original Japanese manga series. New and unabridged, this is an all-new translation of the author's first-person experiences of Hiroshima and its aftermath, is a reminder of the suffering war brings to innocent people. Its emotions and experiences speak to children and adults everywhere. Volume one of this ten-part series det This harrowing story of Hiroshima was one of the original Japanese manga series. New and unabridged, this is an all-new translation of the author's first-person experiences of Hiroshima and its aftermath, is a reminder of the suffering war brings to innocent people. Its emotions and experiences speak to children and adults everywhere. Volume one of this ten-part series details the events leading up to and immediately following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.


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This harrowing story of Hiroshima was one of the original Japanese manga series. New and unabridged, this is an all-new translation of the author's first-person experiences of Hiroshima and its aftermath, is a reminder of the suffering war brings to innocent people. Its emotions and experiences speak to children and adults everywhere. Volume one of this ten-part series det This harrowing story of Hiroshima was one of the original Japanese manga series. New and unabridged, this is an all-new translation of the author's first-person experiences of Hiroshima and its aftermath, is a reminder of the suffering war brings to innocent people. Its emotions and experiences speak to children and adults everywhere. Volume one of this ten-part series details the events leading up to and immediately following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

30 review for Barefoot Gen, Volume One: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    (Detail from a panel of volume two, this is from p. 6 of Barefoot Gen - The Day After) It’s taken me a while since I finished the tenth and final volume of the Barefoot Gen series to write up a thorough review. It’s hard to say why, exactly, (the cause could simply be laziness) though I suspect the power of the subject matter has as much to do with it as anything else. Keiji Nakazawa, Gen’s author, was a 7 year old child living in Hiroshima when the first atomic weapon obliterated the city and ne (Detail from a panel of volume two, this is from p. 6 of Barefoot Gen - The Day After) It’s taken me a while since I finished the tenth and final volume of the Barefoot Gen series to write up a thorough review. It’s hard to say why, exactly, (the cause could simply be laziness) though I suspect the power of the subject matter has as much to do with it as anything else. Keiji Nakazawa, Gen’s author, was a 7 year old child living in Hiroshima when the first atomic weapon obliterated the city and nearly everyone in it. Barefoot Gen is his retelling of his own harrowing experiences living through atomic hell and its aftermath. This towering work, which took Nakazawa about 20 years to complete, has been called the Manga Maus, and in fact, this edition comes with a forward/testimonial written by Art Spiegelman himself. There are, however, a few key differences between the two. While both are autobiographical, Spiegelman pivots his narrative around his relationship to his father the Holocaust survivor. His work is literally as retold to him. Gen, on the other hand, is a lightly-fictionalized tale that puts us (with young Gen Nakaoka) directly behind the eyes of an A-bomb survivor in Japan from 1945 through 1953. Where Spiegelman relieves tension by releasing readers into the present day and uses visual metaphor (dogs, cats, mice) as a distancing technique, Nakazawa delivers an unrelenting, first person narrative in more or less realistic fashion. And (save for a 91-page digressive short story about baseball fandom at the start of Volume 8, which is a bit of a head-scratcher), it is unrelenting. I can’t count how many times in reading this 2000+ page opus I found myself blurting, “But wait, it gets EVEN WORSE,” as every social and biological consequence of militarism and nuclear fallout one could possibly imagine inexorably paid out. You want fascist oppression? Ritual suicide? Done. Heat shockwave melting the skin off those exposed? Right there. Watch helplessly as family members are crushed and burned to death in collapsed buildings and torched ruins. Suffer through the drownings of burn victims, maggot infestations at the height of summer, social ostracism, street beatings, revenge killings, malnutrition, starvation, descent into anarchy, gang violence, alcoholism and drug abuse, opportunistic politicians, inner organ fatigue, hemorrhaging, leukemia and other forms of cancer, espionage and predatory bureaucracy, loved ones dying mysteriously like clockwork all around you… oh, yes, and sometimes people lose their hair. What’s so remarkable about all this is how sanguinely the horror is packaged. Nakazawa’s refusal or incapacity to photorealistically portray keloid scarring, broken and ruptured limbs, human and animal waste, and similarly squeamish-shrinking content may undercut some of its visual power and coherence, but it does make this unbelievable story more palatable. As grounded as this series is in historic reality, it would be tragic to turn readers away or allow them to dismiss the material as fantasy. It is perhaps foremost the eyewitness credibility of the content that lends it such importance. On top of that, young Gen Nakaoka is an overwhelmingly positive protagonist. His steadfast refusal never to give up, his consistent moral honesty, and his trickster-like resilience in a mad, mad world motivate perseverance in readers as much as in his fictional friends and family. In this way, Nakazawa also appears to be targeting a younger audience than Spiegelman. In fact, his dialogue can lack sophistication, even be on-the-nose or preachy. Take the following example from page 100 of the first volume: ”Dear, I guess we have no choice but to cooperate with the war effort, no matter how wrong we think it is. }Sob…{ I can’t stand it anymore! Being bullied like this and called a traitor…” “It’s despicable… the way the authorities use their power to force people to go to war! They’re deceiving everyone, turning people into human bullets…” That reads to me a bit like classic dubbed chopsocky deadpan: “You and your clan of thieving warlords will now pay for the death of my brother. I will not rest until I have tasted my revenge.” Another typical selection appears at p. 130: ”Mr. Kishi, please don’t be too hard on the boys. They aren’t getting enough to eat.” “You musn’t indulge them, Miss Osato. No matter how tough it is on them, we’ve got to raise them to be strong children for the Empire.” Now where is that Darth Vader sound effect when you need it? Yet if this is a work written at something of a fourth-grade reading level, it is no less gripping or significant. In fact, I was moved to let my fourth-grade daughter read it on the strength of one of the prefaces, which mentioned that the series is introduced to Japanese schoolchildren at that age. (She devoured it, loved it, and was willing to talk about it with me.) Moreover, reading this work allowed me to understand more immediately the impact of historic events I had otherwise taken for granted. For example, the onset of the Korean War takes on a chilling aspect in the context of exposed Japanese civilians less than 5 years after the devastation of Hiroshima/Nagasaki/Tokyo. Nakazawa conveys this information through the chain link of a US military installation, thereby shrewdly juxtaposing power and powerlessness. This series is a great read, a must read. It is a terrifying, towering contribution to literature that stands as a warning to humanity of the consequences of aggression, the excesses of brutality, and the painful hubris born of arrogance, ignorance, and intolerance. I have read it. My daughter has read it. My son will read it in a couple of years has read it. I’m so happy we have this in our library. Thumbnail synopsis of each book in the series: * BG1 – chronicles a 7 year old boy’s struggles in Hiroshima, Japan, enduring the hardships of war under Japan’s militaristic regime in 1945 as an Allied invasion looms ever nearer. But the US drops an atomic bomb instead... and immediate hell erupts. * BG2 – “The Day After” (second only to BG7 in narrative brutality; reading these books especially will build character) * BG3 - Gen plays nursemaid to a dying artist shunned by his own family * BG4 - Gen, Tomoko, and Ryuta take refuge with “friends” in Eba; Gen returns to school * BG5 - Ryuta takes on the yakuza as Gen learns his ABCCs * BG6 - Gen intervenes in a few suicide attempts and earns money stripping the city’s remains * BG7 - USGHQ arrests Gen for distributing a first-hand account of the bomb… and worse things happen * BG8 – Gen learns the difference between alcohol and Philopon * BG9 – urban renewal takes Gen’s improvised house and Gen finds an art teacher * BG10 – Gen finds work as a sign painter and falls in love {As of this revision, my daughter has published her own website with friends. Her short, trenchant review of the Gen series can be found here. ...I'm so proud!}

  2. 5 out of 5

    James

    My 6th grade teacher, Ms. Greenwood, had the Barefoot Gen series on a shelf in our classroom. I read all of these there. I now realize what a profoundly anti-war statement it was, leaving these books within the grasp of 12-year-olds--these are graphic novels about the bombing of Hiroshima, from the perspective of a young civilian boy who loses almost his entire family. The books juxtapose cartoons and the trivialities of youth with the singularly gruesome, nightmarish truths of using nuclear weap My 6th grade teacher, Ms. Greenwood, had the Barefoot Gen series on a shelf in our classroom. I read all of these there. I now realize what a profoundly anti-war statement it was, leaving these books within the grasp of 12-year-olds--these are graphic novels about the bombing of Hiroshima, from the perspective of a young civilian boy who loses almost his entire family. The books juxtapose cartoons and the trivialities of youth with the singularly gruesome, nightmarish truths of using nuclear weapons on a heavily populated, largely civilian city. All in cartoon, you witness people's flesh melting off like batter; bloated bodies floating in a waterway, bursting; Gen helping to care for an artist who has barely survived, which involves replacing his bandages and cleaning his maggot infested wounds. This book shows you some fucked up stuff. Reading it at that age goes a long way to molding your opinion of nuclear weapons and exposes the idiocy of trying to justify their use under any circumstances or in any context.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    If there's one graphic novel that I'd recommend to anyone, even if they hate the manga style with a passion, it would be Barefoot Gen. Also a shocking if not completely horrific and graphic film, this is the story of a young boy caught in the chaos of WWII's Hiroshima, the disaster that leaves him struggling to survive when the people around him are destroyed in an instant. He's resilient, but the terror awaiting him and his family makes for a powerful cautionary tale for any reader. This is on If there's one graphic novel that I'd recommend to anyone, even if they hate the manga style with a passion, it would be Barefoot Gen. Also a shocking if not completely horrific and graphic film, this is the story of a young boy caught in the chaos of WWII's Hiroshima, the disaster that leaves him struggling to survive when the people around him are destroyed in an instant. He's resilient, but the terror awaiting him and his family makes for a powerful cautionary tale for any reader. This is only Volume 1 but it's an evocative and frightening story throughout, sharing the legacy of Hiroshima for many years to come.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tatsuhiro Sato

    Tears . After finishing the manga that's all I have. Real life story of the Atomic Bomb survivor. My words can't describe the pain amd the horror that this manga carries and the bravery young Keiji showed at the time of absolute death , his family members dying infront of his eyes and complete decimation of Hiroshima. Both the book and the movie are true saga of human cruelty and at the same time incredible bravery.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anushree

    I am seriously becoming a fierce fan of Graphic Novels lately. This one was recommended by a generous GoodReads friend Pooja, and I will be ever so grateful to her for this. This is my introduction to the world of Japanese Manga and boy, am I blown away! Keiji Nakazawa is a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in Aug'45. Barefoot Gen is his alter ego. He says he imagined his alter ego standing atop a roof, barefoot, raising his voice loud and clear, over and against the destruction his dea I am seriously becoming a fierce fan of Graphic Novels lately. This one was recommended by a generous GoodReads friend Pooja, and I will be ever so grateful to her for this. This is my introduction to the world of Japanese Manga and boy, am I blown away! Keiji Nakazawa is a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in Aug'45. Barefoot Gen is his alter ego. He says he imagined his alter ego standing atop a roof, barefoot, raising his voice loud and clear, over and against the destruction his dear city of 4, 00, 000 residents was subjected to. The characters in Barefoot Gen have been inspired by the lives of the people in the life of Nakazawa and the ones around him. Graphic novels bear this eerie ability to assist your imagination exactly to that level, where it sets in motion its own series. Nothing more (unlike movies) and nothing less either. Just the exact right amount. The last 40 pages (and a few of them in between) had me literally howling. I clenched my fists and stretched my fingers and toes, as if it was here, in front of me, right now. I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of effort Nakazawa must have put in re-imagining the whole thing for us. My heart goes out to him and the lakhs of citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who had to suffer because a few people sitting at the top of a decision machinery could not decide whether to surrender or keep fighting. The war did end, but the lives impacted did not get their fair chance at survival. I highly recommend this one, just as I recommend The Maus, both stories of a holocaust so horrible, that we can never afford to forget. NEVER.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    Life in Hiroshima in the weeks leading up to the atomic bomb is depicted by cartoonist, Keiji Nakazawa. He created the 6 year old Gen as his alter ego to show the experience. The book climaxes with the bomb where Gen’s family experience follows that of the Nakazawa family as the author writes in his forwarding note. The portrait shows a hard life in cruel situation. Hunger is the dominant theme. There is great conformity as people parrot their support for the emperor and the honor of dying for hi Life in Hiroshima in the weeks leading up to the atomic bomb is depicted by cartoonist, Keiji Nakazawa. He created the 6 year old Gen as his alter ego to show the experience. The book climaxes with the bomb where Gen’s family experience follows that of the Nakazawa family as the author writes in his forwarding note. The portrait shows a hard life in cruel situation. Hunger is the dominant theme. There is great conformity as people parrot their support for the emperor and the honor of dying for him. As an objector to the war, Gen’s father is branded a traitor and life for the family is even more miserable. There are scenes depicting the trials of everyday life, the attempt to fish, grow wheat, catch locusts, rid oneself of lice and make and sell clogs. At school, love for the emperor is taught. Nalazawa shows how life was no better outside of Hiroshima, in the countryside or in the military itself. The portrait of the indoctrination of the kamikaze pilots is chilling. This is a powerful book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    This graphic novel has been around a long time, but for some reason I only picked it up a couple of weeks ago. It is a chronicle of a child's life just before the bombing of Hiroshima. Soon after I picked up Barefoot Gen, the 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami hit Japan, and one of the nuclear power plants was damaged and began to vent radioactivity. Japan relies on nuclear power for a major chunk of its electric power. Nuclear power plays a major role partly because fossil energy sources are sc This graphic novel has been around a long time, but for some reason I only picked it up a couple of weeks ago. It is a chronicle of a child's life just before the bombing of Hiroshima. Soon after I picked up Barefoot Gen, the 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami hit Japan, and one of the nuclear power plants was damaged and began to vent radioactivity. Japan relies on nuclear power for a major chunk of its electric power. Nuclear power plays a major role partly because fossil energy sources are scarce in Japan and also are carbon dioxide emitters. Reading Nakazawa's Barefoot Gen during the current catastrophe underscored Japan's love-hate relationship with nuclear power. No country's consciousness could be unchanged by the brutality of WWII (both by Japan and to Japan.) But being the first victims of nuclear war had a profound impact on the Japanese identity. Barefoot Gen is a graphic illustration of daily life toward the end of the war. By then, most people were poor, hungry, and suffering the loss of family members. Some, like Gen's father, were becoming more vocal in opposition to war, and the lives of such people were made even more difficult by accusations of cowardice and treachery against the Emperor. There were acts of love, kindness, and nobility in the midst of privation, but significantly, never from the authorities. Gen and his siblings were subject to a hundred small cruelties by other kids, and also by teachers and authority figures. The kids were cruel in their retaliations as well. These small cruelties became as nothing when the bombs were dropped. There must be a hundred scholarly tomes on Japanese identity, the World War, and the nuclear age. Egads, such heavy going. Barefoot Gen has been criticized as too simplistic and crudely drawn, but it conveys so much, so effortlessly. To me, it seemed to raise the questions: is the Emperor truly divine? Can the Government be trusted? Is anything ever going to be the same?

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marquise

    Pretty brutal at times, yet also very funny and touching at other times, this is the story of a Japanese family of seven, the Nakaokas, struggling to survive during the war in the months leading to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima excellently told in Manga format. It doesn't shy away from Japan's own guilt: there's allusions to their war crimes in Korea and China, there's showing the brainwashing and manipulation of the population, how uselessly the military high command wasted young lives in kam Pretty brutal at times, yet also very funny and touching at other times, this is the story of a Japanese family of seven, the Nakaokas, struggling to survive during the war in the months leading to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima excellently told in Manga format. It doesn't shy away from Japan's own guilt: there's allusions to their war crimes in Korea and China, there's showing the brainwashing and manipulation of the population, how uselessly the military high command wasted young lives in kamikaze attacks, the influence of the dictatorial government in daily life, the insane resistance against superior enemy forces, and the mistreatment of the rare civilians who, like Gen's father, are anti-war on grounds of morality as well as realising it's all a waste and national suicide. And, at the same time, it also shows the heroism and sacrifices of the Japanese people, their willingness to endure hardships unimaginable to most other countries, their iron determination to keep on living even if with a fistful of rice per week, the lengths they go to protect their families even if it means compromising principles in exchange for survival, and how the little ones are still able to retain their innocence and joy for life. There's good and there's bad, there's cowardly and there's heroic. A complete spectrum of how the population at the time must've been like. The mangaka, Keiji Nakazawa, has a style that's a bit more cartoonish than other Manga I've seen, and he doesn't pull any punches when he was to depict disagreeable or gory situations. From the moment Fat Boy is dropped on Hiroshima, the drawing becomes horrific in its raw depiction of the destruction and of people dying, so some people might feel very affected. Others might also feel put off by the constant use of physical punishment on the part of practically all characters, and it does become somewhat exaggerated at times, but I'd say you've got to keep in mind the context and how brutalised these characters are. It's not an easy story, but definitely worth reading.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Will Lanham

    Barefoot Gen is a graphic novel that tells the events of the bombing of Hiroshima. The story is very, very graphic and tells the events in a very emotional story. I'm surprised how deep this story goes on explain the tragedy of the aftermath of Little Boy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Veronika KaoruSaionji

    Great manga! Not very good art. And this is shonen - and very shonen-like, for young boys, not for adults. But... This is so strong anti-war manga! This is story one family in Hiroshima during war. Father is animilitarist, he is sent briefly into prison and all family suffer because it. They are marked as "traitors". The children are bullied and the oldest, 17-years old Koji, is volunteer into army because it (for sake his family). Father hates him because it. And he then suffers in army. The oth Great manga! Not very good art. And this is shonen - and very shonen-like, for young boys, not for adults. But... This is so strong anti-war manga! This is story one family in Hiroshima during war. Father is animilitarist, he is sent briefly into prison and all family suffer because it. They are marked as "traitors". The children are bullied and the oldest, 17-years old Koji, is volunteer into army because it (for sake his family). Father hates him because it. And he then suffers in army. The other boy, Akira, is sent in the country but he is bullied there. He runs but he must return. The main hero Gen, in the 2th grade, his older sister Eiko, in 5th grade, his younger brother Shinji and pregnant mother starve. At the end, Gen gives great battleship (toy) to Shinji and promise that other day after school they will play wit it. But other day his father, Eiko and Shinji are burned alive to the death in the ruins of Hiroshima (burried there).... Gen gives Shinji battleship into his arms during his dying... Mother wants to die, too, but Gen saves her (his father begs him to do it) and she gives birth her younger daugher, Tomoko. This is small hope in the all despair... I cry very much by reading. This is terrible manga! And this is made for children... But, children died in Hiroshima and in the war, too. This is real story... I have no more words for it. Everyone should read it!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Let's be clear: WWII was awful, and the things that Japanese citizens went through were awful, and then having an atomic bomb dropped on them was also awful. Keiji Nakazawa has crafted a wonderful comic from a horrible series of events, making a dark part of history very accessible for people. This is a very important story and book. My only issue was with the artwork, and it is on my end, not Nakazawa's. The drawings were clear and the pacing was great. I just had trouble getting into the art st Let's be clear: WWII was awful, and the things that Japanese citizens went through were awful, and then having an atomic bomb dropped on them was also awful. Keiji Nakazawa has crafted a wonderful comic from a horrible series of events, making a dark part of history very accessible for people. This is a very important story and book. My only issue was with the artwork, and it is on my end, not Nakazawa's. The drawings were clear and the pacing was great. I just had trouble getting into the art style itself (it's a very specific, popular style, but one I've just never found interesting on my own). The art, therefore, tended to draw me back out of the story, which subsequently made it harder to take seriously on the page. But! That is a personal thing, and it could be very different for you (I am not subtracting any starts from my review because of that. It is what it is). I suggest you give this a shot, and see what you make of it. If nothing else, you should find the story arresting and a bit haunting. Especially near the end.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)

    This was an assigned read for my Readings in the Graphic Novel class. It is a seminal manga about the author's experiences during WWII in Hiroshima. Just one of a volume that spans many years. It features the young version of the author, Nakaoka as his family endures the depredations of the war that are inflicted not merely by the war itself, but their own government's corruption and denialism of the cost that the war has had on its citizenry. His family is subsisting and suffering because they This was an assigned read for my Readings in the Graphic Novel class. It is a seminal manga about the author's experiences during WWII in Hiroshima. Just one of a volume that spans many years. It features the young version of the author, Nakaoka as his family endures the depredations of the war that are inflicted not merely by the war itself, but their own government's corruption and denialism of the cost that the war has had on its citizenry. His family is subsisting and suffering because they are ostracized and mistreated because of the father's pacifist beliefs. The school that he and his siblings go through is used to brainwash the children into adopting the nationalist beliefs enforced by the empire. The mother suffers greatly due to her husband's stubbornness and the manner in which the community unfairly treats her family. This leads to terrible consequences for her pregnancy. This book is a very traumatic read. The subject matter is hard to deal with it, even outside of the horror of dropping an atomic bomb on people, but also the inhumanity with which fellow citizens treat each other due to political or ideological beliefs. It features violence of different kinds, including some sexual violence. Strangely contrasted is the exaggerated way that the characters are drawn. I didn't like this at all. It doesn't fit the somber tone and it felt grotesque to me. The children characters act in really objectionable ways, and the grimacing smiles they often express felt almost chilling to me. I respect that "Barefoot Gen" is considered a classic. I think it's important for Western readers to see this viewpoint of WWII and how things aren't as cut and dried as they seem. The Japanese people became as much victims of their government and ours as a result of the war. I could never condone dropping atomic bombs on people, even if it helped end a war. This book shows the gruesome effects of that bomb dropping in a visceral way that will stay with readers even though it's drawn and not photographed. I suppose in that way, it makes it a powerful read, and also in the nuanced view of human nature, although the caricaturish drawing doesn't do the writing justice.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Raoufa Ibrahim

    Gen's family are having a harder time in Hiroshima. The constant air raid and the starvation are not enough, their neighbours are also turning against them because Gen's father is considered a traitor. He thinks that the war is a mistake, and it will only serve few people, the one who started it. these people, unlike the citizen of Japan, they never skipped a meal, they never lost one of their kids for war. The story ends with the ending of Gen's City; Hiroshima Gen's family are having a harder time in Hiroshima. The constant air raid and the starvation are not enough, their neighbours are also turning against them because Gen's father is considered a traitor. He thinks that the war is a mistake, and it will only serve few people, the one who started it. these people, unlike the citizen of Japan, they never skipped a meal, they never lost one of their kids for war. The story ends with the ending of Gen's City; Hiroshima

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mariah

    Wow...what an allusive ending *cough cough Lion king much*. So this short tale of Gen and his life as a young boy in pre radioactive Japan. Seeing all the little trails he has to go through all because his dad openly talks down the war. His emotions are well portrayed because the reader can seen that his emotions change to fit the needs of the situations. It's interesting to see how fast Gen can go from the tyrannical older brother for his little brother Shinji to defensive younger brother for h Wow...what an allusive ending *cough cough Lion king much*. So this short tale of Gen and his life as a young boy in pre radioactive Japan. Seeing all the little trails he has to go through all because his dad openly talks down the war. His emotions are well portrayed because the reader can seen that his emotions change to fit the needs of the situations. It's interesting to see how fast Gen can go from the tyrannical older brother for his little brother Shinji to defensive younger brother for his sister Eiko all the way back to the caring loving son for his mother Kimie. He is very round as a character which in my opinion makes it a better read. The art style in this novel is very classic Japanese style. The black and white with very symbolic imagery really helps keep focus on the content rather than the art in my opinion. This is very helpful since there are so many ethical lessons you can learn from this story... Like how the Japanese people didn't always agree with their government either, Also it helps with the tone since it is so dynamic with all the rising action that is going on If there had to be one color pallet for this story I think that it would have to be a more accented one,or just a pale pallet because the color would subtract from the content of the story... No offense if you love color. Overall, I did really enjoy this story, I learned a lot more about the culture for WWII Japanese that any text could give me, It was also a very cute story to read in general. I do recommend this book for history buffs, or those who enjoy cartoon classic art.

  15. 4 out of 5

    The Laughing Man

    It was as good as it was told, this is one of the manga masterpieces everyone knows, it deserves reckoning. Eerily realistic and frank, one of the best comics I've ever read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Aravena

    A masterpiece. Simple as that.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matty-Swytla

    This review is for the complete series (10 books). No major spoilers ahead, but rather an overview of the major themes and message of the series, what I found good and what bothered me. After completing my reading, I can safely say that I liked the first four volumes the best. They are far more coherent than the rest and show a clear sense of direction, with a tighter cast than the following books. What I find most interesting is the slow whitling of political messages the longer the series goes This review is for the complete series (10 books). No major spoilers ahead, but rather an overview of the major themes and message of the series, what I found good and what bothered me. After completing my reading, I can safely say that I liked the first four volumes the best. They are far more coherent than the rest and show a clear sense of direction, with a tighter cast than the following books. What I find most interesting is the slow whitling of political messages the longer the series goes on. The earlier volumes clearly speak out against the Japanese government and the entire war effort, but later volumes turn more towards demonising the Americans, and the A-bomb in particular. While I can stand behind the message against the use of nuclear weapons, I find the simplistic black-and-white stance on the Americans juvenile and inappropriate. It was Japan who attacked America first, and it was Japan who commited sickening war crimes all across Asia. But somehow it is all America's fault - it is the ugly Americans who are responsible for the collapse of common decency among people, not Japanese people themselves. There's ostracization of A-bomb survivors, disabled war veterans, orphans, and homeless people in the wake of the destruction, but it is the Americans who are at fault for everything – like it was them who attacked first when it was Japan who blazed a trail of fire across Eastern Asia since the turn of the 20th century. The Japanese government is still incompetent, corrupt, and the people xenophobic, but it's the ugly foreigners (who give out food packages and help rebuild what they wrecked in the war) that are still the scapegoats for everything gone wrong in the 'glorious Empire'. It's like people learned nothing, including the protagonists. The appaling treatment of Koreans is mentioned, but slowly disappears as the story goes along. The forcefully displaced people working in mines and factories for the 'glorious war effort' are not addressed after the first three volumes, if my memory serves, and the Japanese are basically treating them like trash even after the horrors of the A-bomb should make them realise they are in the same boat. But no, it takes some really memorable acts of kindness on part of Mr. Kim for a few to behave like decent people - no throwing stones, insulting, or robbing the Koreans in Japan. There's also little mentioning of war crimes committed in Korea during the Japanese invasion, and the atrocities done during the occupation there (forceful Japanisation, etc.). In fact, Japanese people often think that everything; their starvation, forceful enlistment, Kamikaze warriors, all the butchering, oppresion, and brainwashing would have been worth it, if their Empire had won and they could plunder Asia. There are few voices speaking out against that (mostly Gen's father), but plenty of talk about the horrors of the A-bomb. I know, the author is biased by his history as a survivor of Hiroshima, which is completely understandable, and I would in no way diminish the suffering of people caught in the blasts, but I find it curious how much is left unsaid and glossed over while the effects of the A-bomb are mentioned all the time. If I compare the message of this series to the plight of The Radium Girls, I find it very narrow-minded and egotistical. There were plenty of sufferers of radiation among the 'horrible Americans' as well, including x-ray technicians, miners, and workers with radiation materials, their neighbourhoods and families. Other nuclear disasters only enlarged the number of people negatively affected by radiation. Thankfully, in the final book, Gen realises this somewhat and admits that it was the bombs and their indiscriminate death toll that finally woke up the generals and prevented their senseless sacrifice of the Japanese people. While this in no way releases the Americans of their responsibility, it does explain the historical background for the decision itself. But there is a broader aspect to the war. The victims of the bomb are not the only people suffering - there were countless people who starved to death during the war rationing and post-war destruction, or who were sacrificed for the war effort in stupid battles. We get to see just a little of that and how fanatical the Japanese were – there is a mention of senseless suicides of women and children in Okinawa that sickened and traumatised Americans to the core, but which Japanese described as heroic and patriotic. I find the voice speaking out against this fanaticism was not as strong as the one about the horror of the bomb. I also think that we should hear a lot more from simple soldiers returning home. The series very often portrays returning officers who still glorify their war days, war crimes and all, which is sickening, but thankfully our protagonists call out their bullshit. I find it fascinating that this part of the Japanese mentality was not adressed more, like we saw with the Nazis. Maybe the author thought the figure of his father (who was strictly against the war) would be enough, but I find that his message got diluted with each new book. In fact, the majority of adults clung to the indoctrination and teachers still taught their students in the same way as during the war effort. It is fascinating that there's little push-back to be seen from the parents. The regular beatings, insults, and humiliation is part of the 'tough love' education course. Our protagonists are against that, but their message sounds slightly hypocritical when they are guilty of doing the same all the time. The characters in this series are constantly brawling, beating, insulting, and intimidating one another. There's beatings with sticks, urination or feces throwing on other people, insults, foul language, and more (murder and theft). I was shocked, especially since violence is coded as some sort of comic relief. Maybe that's part of their cultural context, but now we can understand the broader societal problem we're dealing with. It is a culture that treats violence as something normal and a large part of the series portrays beatings between children, adults beating children, or children intimidating other adults. For a series preaching about peace this strikes me as highly inappropriate, maybe even hypocritical. To top it off, it is often the children who are the worst offenders. This problem seriously devalues the series in my eyes. Comparing it to Maus: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History, the difference in tone and message is marked. Another minus in my book is the fact that it takes all ten volumes before war crimes in China are mentioned at all. The author stays silent on 'comfort women' - basically kidnapped Chinese and Korean women forced to serve in rape camps. No, this is erased from history. The author also doesn't convince with his stance on the Korean war, but maybe my knowledge of this point of history is too sketchy to make an honest evaluation. In fact, it is the volumes dealing with the time from around 1947 to 1952 that are the weakest. I would have liked to have consistent character development and follow-up. Some characters just dissapear from the picture without a trace. If we're meant to empathize and be involved in the story, we need to know what happened to the people the author introduced to us. Maybe even a side-note that nothing further is known about them, or something. It would have been nice. Despite the problems, the first volumes of the series are a worthwile read, especially the first two, where the father's voice is the strongest. I would have loved to read more about this character. I would also have liked to see what medicine did for the victims. I know that they recieved treatment and surgeries in later years, but characters in this series had an aversion for doctors.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Noninuna

    4.5 stars.This graphic novel is far from perfect because of the "overacting" (is this the right word? idk) which in my opinion is very old style but it discussed a very dark and heavy yet important topic; the bombing of Hiroshima. I'd say it was courageous of Mr Nakazawa to recalled & retold the story of his own experience in this masterpiece. To see the bombing and aftermath of the fateful event. While reading, I noticed that the author and I have similar opinion about the war. The one that tru 4.5 stars.This graphic novel is far from perfect because of the "overacting" (is this the right word? idk) which in my opinion is very old style but it discussed a very dark and heavy yet important topic; the bombing of Hiroshima. I'd say it was courageous of Mr Nakazawa to recalled & retold the story of his own experience in this masterpiece. To see the bombing and aftermath of the fateful event. While reading, I noticed that the author and I have similar opinion about the war. The one that truly responsible to whatever happened to the citizen, is the higher up and their propaganda is for their own benefit. The goal of the mangaka in creating this was only 1, which is to stop more nuclear energy development as a source of a weapon.I'm hoping to get hold of the next volume soon! It's like a theme of my reading these days to read this kind of stuff.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chris Blocker

    I'm still new to this genre, so I'm not entirely comfortable with all the terms. What exactly is a graphic novel? Comic books aren't considered graphic novels, so where is the line drawn? Barefoot Gen has the look of a daily comic, but feels more like a graphic novel, so what is it? My worry that I'll say something stupid sends me to the Internet searching for answers. Barefoot Gen is manga. I have a lot to learn. What exactly is manga? Japanese comics. I'm still confused as to where the line is I'm still new to this genre, so I'm not entirely comfortable with all the terms. What exactly is a graphic novel? Comic books aren't considered graphic novels, so where is the line drawn? Barefoot Gen has the look of a daily comic, but feels more like a graphic novel, so what is it? My worry that I'll say something stupid sends me to the Internet searching for answers. Barefoot Gen is manga. I have a lot to learn. What exactly is manga? Japanese comics. I'm still confused as to where the line is drawn. Screw it, I hate lines anyway. Barefoot Gen is a comic-style book-thingy that tells a complete story. It was originally published in Japan in the 1970s. By the 1980s, it had been translated into English and was one of the first manga to be marketed in the United States. (See the Internet made me smarter.) Barefoot Gen is a series of ten books that details the bombing of Hiroshima by one survivor, Keiji Nakazawa. Often the series is referred to as an autobiography, but the author's own introduction contradicts some of the details of the comic, so I think of it more as semi-biographical. I've read books about the bombing of Japan (the fire bombs and the atomic bombings) and I knew of the horrors. I understood there would be limits to what a comic book could illustrate, so I didn't have the highest expectations when it came to realism. I was surprised. True, the comic couldn't capture the destruction, the darkness, the stench, but it really did quite a fine job introducing images that burn into the reader's mind, much more than I imagined was possible anyway. Barefoot Gen (which refers to the first book in the series and not the series itself from this point forward) is an introduction to the Nakaoka family. The book takes place in the middle of 1945 and shows the day-to-day life of the average Japanese civilian during war. Food is sparse. Hope is dying. But the Nakaoka family has it particularly hard because they oppose the war and are branded as traitors. Most of Barefoot Gen illustrates the trials and struggle the family has internally and externally. The bomb doesn't fall until the end, which was a wise choice on the author's part, getting the reader fully acquainted with the family first. This is a really great comic depiction of Hiroshima before and during the atomic bombing. I've already started the second in the series, entitled The Day After. I did have two small complaints about this first book. The first is that there is quite a bit of comic mischief throughout, squabbles that lead to fights which seem to be played for laughs. It reminded me of Looney Toons cartoons. Perhaps this is just the style, but it did distract from the story line and didn't really seem to fit in with the ethics of this pacifist family. The second issue is that the story seems to be anti-Japanese. Perhaps this will be rectified in later volumes when Gen actually meets the occupying forces, but in this first volume, the Nakaoka family seems to blame Japan for all that is happening. A more balanced account is certainly welcome. For those wanting an introduction to nuclear warfare and those who can appreciate a good comic, I recommend Barefoot Gen. (Just know that the contents may haunt you for a while).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    From Amazon: 'This harrowing story of Hiroshima was one of the original Japanese manga series. New and unabridged, this is an all-new translation of the author's first-person experiences of Hiroshima and its aftermath, is a reminder of the suffering war brings to innocent people. Its emotions and experiences speak to children and adults everywhere. Volume one of this ten-part series details the events leading up to and immediately following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.' I read this book for a From Amazon: 'This harrowing story of Hiroshima was one of the original Japanese manga series. New and unabridged, this is an all-new translation of the author's first-person experiences of Hiroshima and its aftermath, is a reminder of the suffering war brings to innocent people. Its emotions and experiences speak to children and adults everywhere. Volume one of this ten-part series details the events leading up to and immediately following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.' I read this book for a Japanese lit/culture class, and it was the first time I had studied the Pacific War (the Pacific Campaign of WWII) from a Japanese perspective. It blew me away. I had no idea how the Japanese were suffering at the hands of their own rulers. America justified dropping the bombs by pointing to this fact (much as we did when invading Iraq). It's a gripping, often gory tale of a young boy surviving during this awful period in our shared history, but it's even more powerful when reminded this is Keiji Nakazawa--the author's--truth, his life, his story.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    From the book blurb: Barefoot Gen is the powerful, tragic, autobiographical story of the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath, seen through the eyes of the artist as a young boy growing up in Japan. This is book one of a ten part series, and I am delighted that Project Gen has made English translations available. Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of manga style comics, so have steered away from that whole section of graphic novels. Reading this book has changed my mind, and I plan to From the book blurb: Barefoot Gen is the powerful, tragic, autobiographical story of the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath, seen through the eyes of the artist as a young boy growing up in Japan. This is book one of a ten part series, and I am delighted that Project Gen has made English translations available. Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of manga style comics, so have steered away from that whole section of graphic novels. Reading this book has changed my mind, and I plan to browse the manga shelves looking for other gems. I first heard about this book while taking the Comic Books and Graphic Novels Coursera class, during an interview with a high school teacher. This is a book targeted for young adults, but would resonate with adult readers as well. I did not love the graphics (manga style as mentioned above), and knew very little of what life was like for the average family in Japan during World War 2. The first volume in this series starts in April 1945, and covers the last months of the war. It is the story of one family - the joys, sadness, loss, tragedies, and heartbreak of life in wartime. Loved it, and would highly recommend it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anandaroop

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. this book is not so much an indictment of the bomb, or America's decision to drop it on civilian populations. that would be nothing new, as reams have already been written about it, and by now, we all know that the atom bomb is bad, right? instead, the book is an exploration of civilian society in wartime japan, and how a misplaced sense of patriotism and unquestioning obedience of authority (is anyone else thinking of the folks who are writing in to newspapers demanding that TADA and POTA be re this book is not so much an indictment of the bomb, or America's decision to drop it on civilian populations. that would be nothing new, as reams have already been written about it, and by now, we all know that the atom bomb is bad, right? instead, the book is an exploration of civilian society in wartime japan, and how a misplaced sense of patriotism and unquestioning obedience of authority (is anyone else thinking of the folks who are writing in to newspapers demanding that TADA and POTA be reimposed?) can place a society on a suicide course. the book is part autobiographical, and to the foreign reader, also serves as an insight into the japanese family -- the measures gen's father, the doggedly pacifist hero of the book, takes to discipline his errant children would put a boot camp drill sergeant to shame. the end is harrowing, and caused me to lapse into deep, brooding depression for over a week. considering the subject matter, it was the very least it could have done. a must read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    As expected, this was incredibly hard to read and had me in tears at multiple points. Not only does it deal with the tragedy of the nuclear bomb, it also shows the life of an ordinary Japanese family in times of war. The struggles they faced are unimaginable from a modern perspective. This would have been harrowing to read about had it been fiction, but this being the author's own life story made it all the more powerful. Certainly would recommend this one, it's absolutely heartbreaking but also As expected, this was incredibly hard to read and had me in tears at multiple points. Not only does it deal with the tragedy of the nuclear bomb, it also shows the life of an ordinary Japanese family in times of war. The struggles they faced are unimaginable from a modern perspective. This would have been harrowing to read about had it been fiction, but this being the author's own life story made it all the more powerful. Certainly would recommend this one, it's absolutely heartbreaking but also shows us how lucky we are to get to live in a time and place of peace, not war. Regardless of what side you are on, there are no winners in a war such as this one.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Karyl

    I am a huge fan of graphic novels, especially those based on real events. Barefoot Gen definitely fits the bill, as it's Nakazawa's fictionalized re-telling of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima, though it's based upon Nakazawa's own experiences. This first volume deals with the events leading up to the bomb drop and what life was like for the average Japanese during World War II. There was very little food, and citizens were starving. Yet they were being brain-washed into blind obedience to I am a huge fan of graphic novels, especially those based on real events. Barefoot Gen definitely fits the bill, as it's Nakazawa's fictionalized re-telling of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima, though it's based upon Nakazawa's own experiences. This first volume deals with the events leading up to the bomb drop and what life was like for the average Japanese during World War II. There was very little food, and citizens were starving. Yet they were being brain-washed into blind obedience to the Emperor as the only way to defeat the American and British "devils." Any extra food was supposed to go to the soldiers, yet it was clear that those higher up in society were not lacking in nutrition while the poor starved. Gen's father was very much against the war, believing that violence was never the answer, and as a result, the family was mocked and ostracized, even beaten at times, thanks to Gen's father's anti-war stance. They were seen as anti-patriotic in this nation of brain-washed conformity. I can see how the art would be a little off-putting to a Western eye. It can be difficult to know where a character is crying in fear or pain since the characters often look like they're sweating profusely, and the faces look much more Western in aspect than one would expect from a Japanese graphic novel. There's also quite a bit of cartoon violence and reactions, with bodies flying up with legs completely splayed. But from everything I've read, it's a very specific type of art, one I'm not qualified to judge. I suppose my only qualm would be how healthy Gen's family looks, since they were supposed to be starving. I believe this should be required reading for everyone. Growing up, there was always the specter of World War III with the Soviets hanging over our head, but since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it had seemed so far-fetched. Now with North Korea ramping up the testing of their missiles, it seems much more likely. This is a book that everyone should read to prevent another disaster like Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The face of actual victims, their flesh melting off their bones, should stay the hands of our leaders and prevent another nuclear attack.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Serena

    Keiji Nakazawa's retelling of his life before, during, and after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is something that blew me away. As someone who isn't very interested in bombing situations in history, I was surprised that this pulled me in and how I sat down for so long to read it. Barefoot Gen can easily be considered a very good read and very interesting, and I would definitely recommend to be given a shot. The art isn't something I'm used to, and I didn't like it, but it well done Keiji Nakazawa's retelling of his life before, during, and after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is something that blew me away. As someone who isn't very interested in bombing situations in history, I was surprised that this pulled me in and how I sat down for so long to read it. Barefoot Gen can easily be considered a very good read and very interesting, and I would definitely recommend to be given a shot. The art isn't something I'm used to, and I didn't like it, but it well done and expressed what it needed to. The lines are a mix of thick and thin and the characters are very animated and less realistic. It reminds me of Doraemon mixed with an older manga style. It had plenty of actions in it and the characters and expressions were fluid so that they weren't all static. I would definitely recommend this book to others and would put this in a historical genre. The graphic novel is about the author and his life as a kid in 1945 Japan. He had to face poverty as he and his family often struggled to earn money and buy food, barely getting by with what they had. His older brothers were forced to enlist in the military and work on weapons and warplanes, his mother was pregnant, and his father was seen as a traitor due to his opposing views of the war. Because of this, they were seen as betrayers and hated by everyone. Even their friends were turning their backs on them. To make things worse, Gen's father was sent to prison and left their jobless mother and three children alone with little to no money. When his home is bombed, it's up to his mother, his newly born baby sister, and Gen to survive in the remains of Hiroshima. Barefoot Gen handles very mature and hard topics appropriately and mends a real life experience into a satisfying narrative. It can be considered literature due to it's ability to make the reader think, interesting characters who have depth to them, and it's setting and subject matter. It's not something that you read much about due to how triggering it may be for some people to re-experience. The reason why I didn't give this five stars is because of the odd art style that broke the tense atmosphere of a scene when someone was dramatically tossed against the wall—a recurring action that becomes boring and less and less humorous the more it's used.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rahmadiyanti

    “In the end, this is a difficult story to sum up. The making of the atomic bomb is one of history's most amazing examples of teamwork and genius and poise under pressure. But it's also the story of how humans created a weapon capable of wiping our species off the planet. It's a story with no end in sight. And, like it or not, you're in it.” (Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin) Perang memang selalu menyesakkan. Perang mengorbankan begitu banyak ha “In the end, this is a difficult story to sum up. The making of the atomic bomb is one of history's most amazing examples of teamwork and genius and poise under pressure. But it's also the story of how humans created a weapon capable of wiping our species off the planet. It's a story with no end in sight. And, like it or not, you're in it.” (Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin) Perang memang selalu menyesakkan. Perang mengorbankan begitu banyak hal. Namun hingga kini, perang terus dilancarkan; dalam berbagai bentuk. Barefoot Gen adalah kisah berdasar pengalaman nyata penulis/komikusnya, Keiji Nakazawa, yang merupakan survivor bom Hiroshima. Yang menarik, sudut pandang kisah ini dalam menentang perang yang dijalankan Jepang, dituturkan melalui ayah Gen. Hal ini membuat keluarga Gen dituduh pengkhianat dan dijauhi warga sekitar. Hingga "little boy", nama bom atom yang dijatuhkan pasukan sekutu pada 6 Agustus 1945 meluluhlantakkan—bukan hanya kehidupan keluarga Gen, tapi kehidupan masyarakat Jepang. Membaca novel grafis ini saya jadi teringat dengan karya Joe Sacco (Palestina & Footnotes in Gaza), juga karya Steve Sheinkin, Bomb: Persaingan Demi Senjata Paling Mematikan di Dunia—yang saya kutip salah satu kalimatnya di atas. Bila karya Joe Sacco merupakan reportase Sacco langsung dari medan perang, karya Nakazawa semacam autobiografi. Keduanya sama-sama menyodorkan realita dan kedalaman yang dahsyat. Sebagian gambarnya mungkin sadis, tapi begitulah perang :( Soal perang sendiri, sebagai manusia, rasanya tak ada yang “suka” perang. Sehingga sangat wajar ayah Gen menolak perang dan propaganda yang dilancarkan negerinya. Tapi seringkali perang harus dihadapi. Sebagai Muslim saya teringat dengan satu ayat Al-Quran dalam Al-Quran: “Diwajibkan atas kamu berperang, padahal berperang itu adalah sesuatu yang kamu tidak senangi, (namun) bisa jadi kamu membenci sesuatu, padahal ia baik bagi kamu, dan bisa jadi (pula) kamu menyukai sesuatu, padahal ia buruk bagi kamu; Allah mengetahui, sedang kamu tidak mengetahui. (Al-Baqarah: 216). Perang dilakukan dalam kondisi tidak ada jalan lain yang bsia ditempuh untuk menegakkan kebenaran. Dan ketika perang tidak terelakkan, ada begitu banyak syarat yang harus dilakukan, seperti tidak boleh merusak rumah ibadah, tidak boleh menebang pohon, tidak boleh membunuh anak-anak, perempuan, dan orangtua, hingga tidak boleh membunuh dengan cara menyiksa. Dalam hal ini, saya sangat memahami penolakan ayah gen terhadap perang yang dijalankan oleh Jepang.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    3.5. I wanted to love this graphic novel, and the parts about the war and Japanese army/kamikaze pilots, and of course the dropping of the A-bomb were very well done. But, the juvenile way in which nearly every man/boy acts and reacts by "bonking" people or fighting - just the amount of violence was astounding and unnecessary to include. I'm all about seeing the daily lives of those who lived in Hiroshima in the months leading up to the atomic bomb being dropped, but every page including someone 3.5. I wanted to love this graphic novel, and the parts about the war and Japanese army/kamikaze pilots, and of course the dropping of the A-bomb were very well done. But, the juvenile way in which nearly every man/boy acts and reacts by "bonking" people or fighting - just the amount of violence was astounding and unnecessary to include. I'm all about seeing the daily lives of those who lived in Hiroshima in the months leading up to the atomic bomb being dropped, but every page including someone getting beaten up or someone "wahhh-ing" was exhausting and all meant to be for humor, but I didn't find it funny at all. I am interested to continue though, especially as to see how Gen and what is left of his family survives after the blast. Overall, my rating is complicated and therefore a recommendation of reading this is complicated as well. So maybe read it? Maybe dont...I don't know. If you are looking for a great book on the topic though, read "Hiroshima" by John Hersey (having problems linking it on Goodreads). Men and leaders and the power they wield over the people they are supposed to take care of sickens me. I wasn't aware of how much propaganda and lies there were in the Japanese Empire either. Also the idea of suicide bombers in any war, about it being "for the empire" or "for God" makes me very angry and makes me very worried for humanity sometimes. Ok, off my soapbox. I will leave you with one quote from Gen's older brother Koji who is off at pilot school: "Why can't everyone think? Use their heads for once? Are they going to be duped by this hoax of a war forever? If the Japanese people don't all start sticking up for themselves, the war will never end. Damn! How long will it go on, anyway -- this horrible war? The time's got to come when we can all live freely, like human beings..."

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    This edition has a preface by Art Spiegelman which is both reverential and kind of lowkey critical - Spiegleman notes that the Barefoot Gen series is seminal and visceral and important but that in his view it is over-long and that the art just kinda gets the job done. He also cautions the Western reader to take into account that there will be narrative and illustrative conventions that are totally normal in Japanese comics but might seem jarring to someone not acquainted with them. I haven't rea This edition has a preface by Art Spiegelman which is both reverential and kind of lowkey critical - Spiegleman notes that the Barefoot Gen series is seminal and visceral and important but that in his view it is over-long and that the art just kinda gets the job done. He also cautions the Western reader to take into account that there will be narrative and illustrative conventions that are totally normal in Japanese comics but might seem jarring to someone not acquainted with them. I haven't read too much manga, but I know enough to understand the style but I can't say that I feel at home in the format. My very favorite genre of things to read is probably non-fiction graphic novels. I agree with Spiegelman in his intro that the graphic form is perfect for sharing a true experience. I'm trying to figure out what I need to do to appreciate this series more than I did. I think I will read at least two more and see how it goes. I will say that as a reader I felt weird/guilty as I read volume 1. Going in, you know the book is about Gen's experience surviving the atomic bomb dropped on the civilians of Hiroshima by the US. But the bomb doesn't show up until the last few pages. The bulk of the book is about Gen and his family living desperately with little food and with a lot of bullying because the family has taken an anti-war stance against the follies of the Emperor and the Japanese elite for persisting in an ill-fated war. There isn't much of a plot and the action seems to meander here and there. I couldn't help thinking, "when is the bomb going to show up?" and then feeling terrible for being impatient for it to show up - why would I want to hurry destruction and suffering? But I guess that's what books like this and Maus are written for - for the reader to bear witness.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Madison Lourette

    Barefoot Gen is a mostly true story about a boy who was around 7 years old when the Hiroshima bombings happened. Its the authors own story of how it was for him during the bombings, how he felt and what he saw. The main character's name is Gen and is a personification of the author. The art style is more like old old manga style. I liked the book and definitely wanna read the rest of the series as well. It has its goofy parts, but later on it does get into the more serious bits. It is interestin Barefoot Gen is a mostly true story about a boy who was around 7 years old when the Hiroshima bombings happened. Its the authors own story of how it was for him during the bombings, how he felt and what he saw. The main character's name is Gen and is a personification of the author. The art style is more like old old manga style. I liked the book and definitely wanna read the rest of the series as well. It has its goofy parts, but later on it does get into the more serious bits. It is interesting seeing a different setting and how the people are around that area. And even through the bad times, they still find time for goofing around some. I think other people should read this book because not enough people know about Hiroshima and how it affected the people who lived there. It did horrible things to tons of innocent people. Yeah, Japan was trying to go against America, and they were taking over more islands, and they bombed us a bit. But there's a reason why there are now treaties against nuclear war. But it is a good book series.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Barefoot Gen reels you in to the story of a family during war time. Stories of kids getting in trouble, rationing, air raids, questions of duty, and family episodes based on the author’s life get you to care about Gen’s family. Then, in a split second, by no fault of their own, their world is ripped apart— the atomic bomb bringing annihilation and true hell on Earth. Barefoot Gen’s message of the evils of war hit me harder than other survivor accounts and even trips to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I Barefoot Gen reels you in to the story of a family during war time. Stories of kids getting in trouble, rationing, air raids, questions of duty, and family episodes based on the author’s life get you to care about Gen’s family. Then, in a split second, by no fault of their own, their world is ripped apart— the atomic bomb bringing annihilation and true hell on Earth. Barefoot Gen’s message of the evils of war hit me harder than other survivor accounts and even trips to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I could not help but sob upon finishing this first volume.

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