Barefoot Gen Manga's Unfinished Sequel Draft Found
posted on by Egan Loo
The widow of manga creator and atomic bomb survivor Keiji Nakazawa discovered half of an unfinished draft for Nakazawa's sequel to his world-renowned Barefoot Gen manga last month. Misayo Nakazawa plans to donate the handwritten draft to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
Nakazawa passed away in December at the age of 73. His semi-autobiographical Barefoot Gen manga followed a boy who survived the the 1945 Hiroshima bombing and the loss of most of his immediate family. The resulting 10 volumes of Barefoot Gen have sold over 6.5 millon copies and have been translated in over 10 languages, including English, Russian, and Korean. Nakazawa had abandoned plans for a new sequel in 2009 due to his worsening eyesight from cataracts and a damaged retina.
While putting Nakazawa's papers in order, his wife discovered some folded sheets near his work desk at their Tokorozawa City home in Saitama Prefecture. Nakazawa had already donated the first 16 pages of his planned sequel's rough draft to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, but the newly discovered sheets outline the next 16 pages in pencil.
The sequel follows the main character Gen as he pursues his dream of becoming a manga creator in Tokyo — a parallel to Nakazawa's own journey in real life. In Tokyo, Gen meets a boy orphaned by the fire-bombing of Tokyo in World War II. The boy and his little sister had survived the bombing, only for the sister to succumb to malnutrition — a parallel to author Akiyuki Nosaka's life that inspired his own semi-autobiographical Grave of the Fireflies novel and subsequent film by Isao Takahata and Studio Ghibli.