Keiji Nakazawa attracted widespread attention in 1973, when he published the first installment of his semiautobiographical manga
(comics), Barefoot Gen
. Nakazawa was 6 years old in August 1945, when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Most of his family was killed in the blast, and the artist survived through sheer luck. Nakazawa's continuing story now fills seven volumes (nearly 2,000 pages). In addition to two animated features (also written by Nakazawa), three live-action films and an opera have been based on Gen
Nakazawa's alter ego, Gen Nakaoka is on his way to school when the bomb detonates. He makes his way back to his home through hellish scenes of ruined buildings, corpses, and hideously mutilated survivors. Although his family is still alive, Gen and his pregnant mother are unable to free his father, sister, and brother from the rubble of their house and must leave them to burn to death. His mother goes into labor during their flight and his new sister is born amid the devastation. Holding the infant, Gen tells her to remember the horrors, so that they never occur again.
Barefoot Gen is completely unlike the musical fairy tales and slapstick comedies Americans associate with animation, but its powerful antiwar message has won admiration around the world. Barefoot Gen II follows the character through the early days of the postwar era. --Charles Solomon
Drawn from writer Keiji Nakazawa's true life experiences in the aftermath of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Barefoot Gen tells the story of one family's struggle to survive against overwhelming odds. Six-year-old Gen has lived practically his entire life in the shadow of war. Yet he is not prepared for the horrors which follow the bombing of Hiroshima. Contains scenes of extreme violence; reccomended for mature audiences.