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Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - Barefoot Gen


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ptolemy18
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Joined: 07 May 2005
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Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:29 pm Reply with quote
As a footnote, it occurred to me: the reason the only significant "American" character is a Japanese-American is probably because Nakazawa wanted to be extra careful to make "Barefoot Gen" non-racist. In other words, the American guy is a jerk not because he's white (since he's Japanese-American instead), but because of his warmongering, imperialistic views., etc.
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classicalzawa
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Joined: 19 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:46 pm Reply with quote
I've read the first two volumes of Barefoot Gen, my university library had them. My public library actually has the rest (somewhere within their system, though not at my branch, although I can order them in free of charge), but I'm honestly having a hard time wanting to read more. Not because it isn't good, but because it's just damn depressing. I somehow own the first two volumes, but I'm still not sure if I want more of the uber depressingness that is Barefoot Gen. A fantastic manga, but easily the most depressing. I dunno, think I should get (and maybe someday read) more? I feel like it's going OOP, so that part of me is screaming "of course, you fool! You saw what happened with Twin Spica going high up in price all of sudden!", but then that other part is saying "I dunno how much more I could stomach to read here...." so yeah, opinions? I can't imagine it getting less depressing, after all.
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TsukasaElkKite



Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1682

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:52 pm Reply with quote
This manga made me cry.
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Cutiebunny



Joined: 18 Apr 2010
Posts: 432

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:17 pm Reply with quote
A couple years ago I visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, and I happened to be on a tour with several older Americans who were old enough to have very vivid memories of life during this period. In front of the museum, there is a sign that asks that all visitors pray for all the Japanese people who lost their life due to the war. The woman in front of me, one of the individuals who did live through this period, cried that she would not pray for any of them because they were fighting for the wrong side. This really saddened me because time had not softened her attitude. The people who were fighting her friends, family and countrymen at the time weren't the ones who started the war, but rather were dragged into it because those in power ordered them to serve in the military.

If you ever get the chance to visit Hiroshima, make sure you stop by the museum. It's very depressing - Much more depressing than this manga is. There are very lifelike recreations of people whose flesh melted off them in their display cases, lots of personal stories. I was moved by the girl whose satchel was the only trace left behind of her body, and the man whose outline was etched into the stone steps of a bank as he was vaporized by the bomb. However, once you finish the tour and head to the garden outside, there are a lot of school kids on field trips and they'll talk with you (usually in English) and ask you questions about your opinion on the museum, talk about themselves and then ask you a couple questions relating to your life. That was my favorite part of the museum - Regardless of your nationality, gender, religion, etc., people everywhere are more or less the same.

Anyways, as always, I enjoy reading your columns, Jason. They are always well written.
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Lord Geo



Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 1067

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:45 pm Reply with quote
I had just bought the first two volumes of Barefoot Gen because now with it fully translated I really feel like I should read this manga... Yeah, I do want to read it as well, but I just feel like I should read it. I also have the two anime movies on DVD from Geneon, but I'm almost afraid to watch them. This is some really heavy stuff here, and it's not something I can simply go into like I would any other movie; it's kind of the same reason why I haven't seen Grave of the Fireflies yet, either, even though I do have it on DVD.

This was a great article, Jason.
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penguintruth



Joined: 08 Dec 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:51 pm Reply with quote
I bought the movie versions some time ago and still haven't watched because even though I know it'll be good, I also know it'll be tough to watch, too. This is why I rarely revisit Grave of the Fireflies.

I've seen the bomb explosion scene on YouTube four or five times and it's still shocking.
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irishninja



Joined: 15 Jun 2005
Posts: 344
Location: Seattle-ish

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:01 pm Reply with quote
I've read Hersey's Hiroshima, But I would like to read this one as well, for a different ground-level view.

Alas, my local library system doesn't have it. But as Jason noted, the Seattle Public Library does. *sigh*
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nightmaregenie



Joined: 13 Aug 2007
Posts: 155
Location: Palmy, NZ - student central

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:03 am Reply with quote
I've watched both of the animated movies but kept putting off the manga. Even though I'd really like to find out what happens next the subject matter's so heavy (and the fact that it was someone's real experience made it much more personal and tragic than Grave of the Fireflies) I'd just think "one of these days..."

I'm curious though about how much of the story is actually fictional...like to what extent were the events dramatised and how much of the political views held by various characters (especially Gen's dad) actually reflect the views of people Nakazawa knew at the time. Any links/elucidation appreciated.
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penguintruth



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:14 am Reply with quote
nightmaregenie wrote:
and the fact that it was someone's real experience made it much more personal and tragic than Grave of the Fireflies


Uh... Grave of the Fireflies is also based on somebody's real experience.
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nightmaregenie



Joined: 13 Aug 2007
Posts: 155
Location: Palmy, NZ - student central

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:22 am Reply with quote
Quote:
Uh... Grave of the Fireflies is also based on somebody's real experience.


Heh you learn something everyday.
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Buster Blader 126



Joined: 14 May 2005
Posts: 1130
Location: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:51 am Reply with quote
I always tend to want to buy this manga, then back out at the last second. I'm scared of being depressed.

One day, I will conquer that fear. Reading this article has raised my intrigue once again.

Jason Thompson wrote:
Nakazawa had apparently considered doing a Gen sequel right up until a few years before his death, when his ailing health made him give up the idea.


It's a shame that that didn't pan out as a result of his poor health.
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Snomaster1



Joined: 31 Aug 2011
Posts: 980

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:42 pm Reply with quote
I haven't read "Barefoot Gen" but I have heard about it. I remember reading about a scene in this manga from "Otaku USA." If I remember correctly,it was a scene in which Gen and his friends came upon some American soldiers doing an autopsy of one of their own. From what I read,the encounter was a friendly one. I don't know if this was the one but that's what I read.
It's also interesting that there was a Japanese-American soldier in this one. I think he spoke for how Americans of all races felt about Japan's conduct in the war especially Pearl Harbor and the atrocities the Japanese military commited. ptolemy18 was wrong,I think. I didn't read any imperialistic motives in what he said. The Japanese did attack Pearl Harbor and it was a sneak attack. Also,stuff like the Rape of Nanking,the barbaric treatment of all Allied POWs including Americans,and the hideous treatment of other Asians in the Japanese Empire were probably well-known to a lot of American soldiers. And many of them felt like he did.

I've only read about "Barefoot Gen." I never read it myself. Maybe I will one day,if I can find it.
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TsukasaElkKite



Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1682

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:14 pm Reply with quote
I got to visit Hiroshima in 2006 with my dad and I'd say it was one of the most moving moments of my life. I left paper cranes I had made at the statue of Sadako and prayed for her and the other victims of the bomb.
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bemused Bohemian



Joined: 09 Jun 2009
Posts: 248
Location: central Mizzou (Moral Oralville)

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:14 pm Reply with quote
Jason, I thought you handled this topic well. You remained deftly sensitive about the human condition without becoming undermined by contemporary rhetoric. The second part of the dvd Barefoot Gen is the most disturbing and definitely showcases anime as an exceptional vehicle to foment and formulate contemplative thought.

May I suggest another source book detailing that horrific time: The Last Train from Hiroshima written by Charles Pellegrino published in 2010 by Henry Holt & Company? It's the telling by 1 of the survivors who had the misfortune to wind up witnessing this and the Nagasaki A-bomb explosion. The story doesn't choose sides, is sensitively portrayed, very graphic, and fairly accurate. The author did learn, very soon after publication, 1 of the American contributors did distort his participation in the ensuing events though the description of the occurrence of events was correct when verified by other surviving participants.

As for the blunder of the US war involvement in Irag I would suggest you skim The Oil Card: Global Economic Warfare in the 21st Century written by James R Norman (thank you, Amazon.com). It may not be the factual tome one would require for a doctoral dissertation but it does contain some interesting ideas about this conflaguration ultimately being for humanity's greater good. Huh? What? Skim through it if you have time. See for yourself.
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ptolemy18
Manga Reviewer/Creator/Taster


Joined: 07 May 2005
Posts: 337
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:50 pm Reply with quote
For any one who's interested, here's a great interview with Nakazawa from just a few years before he died: http://www.tcj.com/​keiji-​nakazawa-​interview/​
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