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Barefoot Gen, Vol. 1: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima Paperback – September 1, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews
Book 1 of 10 in the Barefoot Gen Series

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Paperback, September 1, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The reissue of this classic manga's first volume has impeccable timing. It recounts the bombing of Hiroshima from the perspective of a young boy, Gen, and his family. But the book's themes (the physical and psychological damage ordinary people suffer from war's realities) ring chillingly true today. Gen and his family have long been struggling without much food, money or medicine, but despite hardships, they try to maintain a semblance of normal life. The adults are exhausted and near despair; the children take air raids and starvation more or less in stride. Nakazawa, a Hiroshima survivor, effectively portrays the strain of living in this environment and shows how efforts to stay upbeat in dire circumstances sometimes manifest as manic, irrational humor. The story offers some optimism: characters perform acts of self-sacrifice for the sake of neighbors and loved ones (e.g., when Gen's pregnant mother becomes ill from malnutrition, he and his brother pose as orphans and perform in the streets, throwing the money over the walls of their home so they won't get caught). Underneath this can-do attitude are the parents' deep guilt and sense of helplessness. When the children clamor ecstatically over a scrap of food, the parents dissolve in shame and grief. The art is sharply drawn and expressive, and the narrative has such a natural rhythm, it's easy to get pulled into the family's life, making the cataclysm readers know awaits them all the more real, intimate and difficult to take. Despite its harrowing nature, this work is invaluable for the lessons it offers in history, humanity and compassion.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Japanese --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Last Gasp; 1St Edition edition (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0867196025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0867196023
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By F. Orion Pozo on May 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book tell what life was like in Hiroshima in the four months before the atomic bomb. It is actually the first of a series on the effects of war and the atomic bomb on the lives of one family as seen through the eyes of a 6 year old boy, Gen Nakaoka. Based on the real-life experiences of the author, this volume opens in April 1945 and tells of the hardships of war on the people of Japan.
Gen's father is a craftsman in Hiroshima who makes wooden sandles to try to feed his five children and his pregnant wife. He is labelled a traitor by his neighbors because he is opposed to the war. We see the cruelties and hardships of their daily lives through the eyes of young Gen who can't understand why he and his family are despised. The close family values of his home life are in sharp contrast to the rabid patriotic chauvenism of his community. This volume ends with the events of August 6, the day of the atomic bomb. The story of how Gen survives is told in the subsequent volumes.
The work has been well translated from the Japanese original: Hadashi no Gen. It was originally published in serial form in 1972 and 1973 in Shukan Shonen Jampu, the largest weekly comic magazine in Japan, with a circulation of over two million. The drawings are all in black and white. This US edition was published as part of a movement to translate the book into other languages and spread around the world its message of the threat of nuclear war. It is a wonderful testimony to the strength of the human spirit and the horrors of nuclear war. There are a few introductory essays at the front of the book and a publisher's note at the end that help to put this book into perspective. It is a powerful and tragic story that I highly recommend for anyone interested in the topic.
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Format: Hardcover
Nakazawa Keiji's "Hadashi no Gen", or "Barefoot Gen" as we read it, is a stark portrayal of the artist's experience before and after the bombing of Hiroshima. In Japan, in most if not all junior high schools, manga and toys are banned even today as distractions from study. Yet, Barefoot Gen won the praise of Educators in Japan immediately after it was published. This is perhaps the only manga, or graphic novel, which can be consitantly found on the shelves of school libraries in Japan.
It is not an "oh, woe is me" tale of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but rather a sharp and critical statement about both nuclear war and the Japanese expansionist empire in the first part of this century. Packed with fine details of Japanese life which are still obvious today, simple illustrations and direct text hold nothing back. What many readers may find awkward humour rattled with panic is scattered through the story, but that is a very accurate depiction of the Japanese social response mechanism to impossible situations.
The book is also a unique pop-culture portrayal of Japanese attitudes to 'gaijin', or foreigners living in Japan at the time, particularly Korean. Koreans were left without assistance by Japanese who considered them third class, and this book is unique to include that aspect in a text for youth. It is also sharply critical of an Empire's treatment of her people, while this empire still shadows Japanese life today. A truly remarkable book which should find a space on the shelves of youth and community libraries everywhere.
The simple language and graphics also make this book an excellent source for ESL readers.
Do yourself and your teenagers a favour and find copies of Barefoot Gen and the other books by Nakazawa which have been translated in this series (search Amazon.com for "The Day After", "Out of the Ashes" and others), then share them.
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Format: Paperback
...which recalls all the gruesome and harrowing events that led up to the great, tragic bombing incident on Japan that FINALLY ended World War II for once and for all.
Nothing is held back. There is farting, bloody bowel movements, the baring of nipple to suckle an infant, maggots crawling through ravaged flesh, and burning corpses popping out of coffins to curl back like twigs. It's all raw and wide-open here.
But like all the greatest manga stories ever drawn and written, you will be hopelessly riveted all the way to the end as well as wanting to read it again and again to relive even the ugliest scenes ever to unfold on paper. For one of the most infamous pieces of Japanese history has been burned forever on the pages to be told and retold to the future generations yet to come. If they have strong hearts and stomaches for such a moving drama that the artist himself had unfortunately witnessed with his own young eyes.
But the grim story isn't without humor or some warmth that the heroic family shares and what's more, the characters are also well-drawn in the classic 1970s style with those bright, shining eyes, expressive mouths, and cute, chiseled noses.
In spite of all those masterful elements, the saddest of all true-to-life manga tales got to me so much that I don't know if I will ever own the series, let alone watch the anime, which I actually refused to see in the first place!
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Format: Paperback
The author was six years old when an atomic bomb with the power of 13,500 tons of TNT exploded 1,850 feet above the center of Hiroshima, eight seconds after 8:16 on the morning of August 6, 1945. About a mile from this bomb, he survived just by luck.

About 400,000 people were in the Hiroshima area at the time. Of them, 232,000 are said to have died either directly from the bombing or, eventually, from radiation-induced illnesses.

Nakazawa eventually became a cartoonist and this book is the first in a Manga series that describes Hiroshima and his family before the bombing and afterwards. It is an extremely powerful look at a militaristic culture and the insanity of war.

I strongly recommend this amazing book. Matter of fact, I recommend the entire series.
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