Joseph's Reviews > Barefoot Gen: Volume 1, A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima

Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa
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's review
Sep 05, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: works-of-great-importance
Recommended for: Those who believe comics are a form of literature and anti-nuclear warriors

This is a powerful book. Although I have a "graphic novel" shelf I consider this to be up there with classic works of perseverence, hardship, and understanding like "Johnny Got His Gun", "The Grapes of Wrath", and "The Autobiography of Malcom X". I bought this at a comic book store in Boston back in '00, and everytime I re-read it, it re-enforces my anti-nuclear war beliefs. This book gives an account of the author's life growing up in imperial Japan and after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through the medium of comics. Much like "Maus" by Art Speigelman who documented his father's story of surviving the Nazi death camp Auschwitz (and also wrote the foreward to this edition), Keiji Nakazawa uses stark, detailed art to show us the horrors of not only atomic weaponry, but also the horrors of imperialism and forced social conformity through militarism.

Nakazawa's art is reminiscent of early Walt Disney and Japanese scroll art. But don't let that stand in the way of the message. Which on one side of the coin is to oppose the concept of imperialism, militant social/government conformity, false pride for an obvious losing cause, and nuclear weaponry. The second side of the message coin is to move forward and rebuild both spiritually and emotionally. Life does go on, but without introspection and examining your life and the relationship you have with others,the cycle of apathetic, jingoistic conformity will continue unbroken.


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