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If you haven't seen this film, make it a top priority to track it down.
Barefoot Gen, the animated version of the autobiographical manga by Keiji Nakazawa, is an unflinching first-hand look at the result of dropping an atomic bomb on a civilian target. Comparisons to Grave of the Fireflies will abound, but for me personally Barefoot Gen was the more moving of the two. Though it centers on the effects of the atom bomb, the fact is this could be about any war, and any people. It is a story for all of humanity.
Barefoot Gen is filled with its fair share of caricatured mannerisms, but calling it a dramedy is pushing it. There isn't much to laugh at and even when the characters act a little over-the-top, the overall effect hits its mark (strongly). What makes the story even more powerful is knowing it comes from a survivor of the attack, and the honesty with which the film doles out darker and darker shades of life in the aftermath of the bombing (including subtle things one might not think about).
I think this along with Grave of the Fireflies belongs in every collection, even if you will only watch it once or twice, if only to show it to future generations. Its one thing to see a big explosion relating to the a-bomb in almost every other anime, but its another thing entirely to see the reality of it, and its aftermath.
At the risk of sounding incredibly pretentious, it made me want to burn flags. Not just from one country, but from all countries... to put it another way, I wish we could be united by our common humanity.
This is the sort of movie that I would rate up there with Schindler's list. Its haunting and powerful. This is also the sort of movie that I feel that every history teacher who teaches American History should show their students at some point in time. While some of the scenes do get a bit annoying, it still brings home the horrors of what occurred at the end of World War II. The other thing is the point of view, which was not "anti American" and doesn't try and place blame, which makes this all the more powerful.
I have to admit it. I cried, I cried a lot while watching this masterpiece of animation. The horror of the war and the apocalypse of the atomic bomb, engulfed my eyes and my soul so deep inside. It always should be remembered: the first casualty of war is innocence. Hadashi no Gen is a masterpiece, a legacy for the whole humanity. I have read many stories and talked to some survivors from the atomic bombs and I have to say that this movie is the first one that get so poignantly close to what happened on that August, 1945. The only thing I wanted to say at the end of the movie was:"I am sorry, I am sorry that I am human and that I can be so limited...I am sorry..."
Seeing this one at 7 was something to remember. The picture, the sound,
the message, the dialogues, the actions. The atomic bombing looked so
frightening on a big screen: the people were burning, their flesh
melting, and finally only bones remained.
Some Russian people still recall memories of this cartoon, though, it still has not been officially released in good quality. It must mean something. The animation film was shown decades ago in our theatres and since then has been erased from any means of media - but we still remember it and respect it. "Finding Nemo" is good. "Spirited Away" is better. But this one is a masterpiece that has real history as a background.
Judging by the number of votes, not so many IMDb visitors are aware of this gem. Alas, before making atomic quarrels one should watch this film. You cannot watch it and pass by ignorant.
My mark is a definite 10. Thank you for attention.
Many compare Grave of the Fireflies with Hadashi no Gen/Barefoot Gen.
there are certainly similarities, such as the timeline taking place near
end of the war with Japan, the main difference is that Grave deals mostly
with the inhumanity of the Japanese people toward their own kind, while
revolves less on this than it does the overall horrors of the
of the nuclear blast at Hiroshima. The hooks used in the respective animes
are thus, quite different. While Grave makes one shake their head and
about how humanity is sacrificed on the altar of survival and
self-centeredness, Gen rests heavily on the outright horror that the
dropping of Fat Man unleashed on an entire population.
Animation styles are vastly different also. Grave was made in conjunction with Miyazaki of studio Ghibli (Totoro), and thus was very polished in appearance. Gen, on the other hand, has a mostly "old-fashioned" anime feeling, reminiscent of the "Golden Age of Anime" in the 80's, using devices that are very manga; overblown representations of runny noses and buckets of tears from characters, for example.
In the end, Hadashi no Gen should be on the shelf of every anime collector. When someone says to them that anime is "just for kids", pop this in the VCR and show them just how in-depth, heart wrenching and thought provoking simple pen and ink cells can become. You will have to watch it twice; it's hard to get all the nuances while wiping tears from your eyes.
The story is excellent, the animation effective, but the lack of in-between
frames is intrusive in spots. For the full story, read the graphic novels.
They provide an even more effective tale.
As with Nosaka's "Grave of the Fireflies," Gen deals with a Japanese youth in the waning days of WW II. The first 30 minutes shows him to be typical for his stage of life, swinging between a self-centered boy and an adult. He is suddenly thrust into the position of head of the family after the Hiroshima bomb kills his father, brother, and sister, and destroys the city. The remainder of the movie deals with his transformation into an adult, with adult sensibilities and adult responsibilities.
Gen is clearly a Japanese story - the author, Nakazawa, lived through the event as a child. But the story could have taken place in Dresden or London just as easily. Although the atomic bomb is the event the movie revolves around, the story is really about the people - the children - and the effect the event has on their lives.
It's too bad that so much of the books had to be sacrificed to the time limits of a film. The novels delve much more deeply into the cruel society that Japan was in the 1940s. For example, much more was made of the neighbor's Korean background in the book; in the movie, you wouldn't realize the ethnicity if you didn't think about the name.
As a conventional film, Gen would probably be too honest to find real appeal in the U.S. Worse, the animation format will probably dissuade those who would otherwise see and appreciate it. Like most Japanese anime, this is not a "cartoon." It is a serious film in an unconventional - for the U.S. - medium.
The DVD transfer is excellent and belongs in your collection. This is a movie that continues to educate and enlighten with each viewing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If, for one reason or another you only saw the first half of this film
(before the bomb), you'd be highly confused as to why people are being
so complimentary of it. It's humour is almost embarrassing to watch,
the events seem to come in blocks, one after another, and as much as I
hate to use the word: corny is the predominant feeling.
However, when the bomb falls, you'll see why the filmmakers opted for this approach. The contrast between the two parts of the film is extreme. The sickeningly happy garden-gnome like sense of the first half is instantly and shockingly shattered by the truly horrific and sobering atmosphere of the second. Tears are to be fully expected as the results of the attack reveal themselves, again, accurately, in the blocky way they had in the first half, and truly excellently directed to its purpose.
The focus of the movie is always on the suffering of the people, the sadness of the results of the 'Pika bomb', the consequence of war. It doesn't blame anyone and doesn't attempt to inspire patriotism, instead it only displays the cost of the decisions taken by the various political big shots on both sides, so ignorant to the true results of their choices. Certainly an important lesson today.
Why people feel they need to state their personal opinions on the war and the bomb in the other reviews is not clear and not appropriate, however it is testament to the effect this film has on the viewer. Even the most right wing of audiences would struggle to resist the peace sentiment after seeing Barefoot Gen.
Just as a note though, to those here who have said they don't feel sorry for the Japanese regarding the atomic bomb, bear in mind that it was the political and military leaders that led the war effort, that made the decisions, and that ordered the atrocities. The people that suffered from the atomic bomb, as is the nature of war, were the civilians, those who had no influence whatsoever over the action of their country - and indeed, as does Gen's father in the film, many of them believed Japan was making a mistake. Regardless of political position, age, sex and physical fitness, the terrible suffering was inflicted on many thousand people. The blame must always be placed carefully and correctly, misdirected blame only leads to discrimination.
Barefoot Gen is the autobiographical story of manga artist, Keiji
Nakazawa and his experience during the times of the Hiroshima bombings
in 1942. What ensues is something so unbelievable, so gritty, so real,
it will change your life forever.
The film is adapted as an anime from Keiji's short manga series depicting all that he experienced just at the age of six when the bombings hit. His story truly is one of the most amazing things you will ever hear. Nothing else in film has ever captured the effects of the bombings in such a real and emotional way. It shows the viewers what really did happen and what we were never told. It shows us how real the bombings really were as we follow Gen through his struggle for survival during Japan's darkest hours.
If you haven't seen this film, you are missing out. While the film does not hold back on the gritty details, and what happens to the people of Japan throughout the whole of the film is very horrifying, you cannot miss this film due to these aspects. It's these things that make it so real and it would be a tragedy to ignore this film. It opened my eyes to what really went down in Hiroshima and I almost felt personally affected. During my whole time watching this film, I kept finding myself in disbelief that something like this actually occurred in our history, and recently at that. I mean, a whole society was rebuilt on the effects of the bombings and once again shows us how very, very wrong war is. One of the best films I have ever seen.
9.5/10 Hamish Kearvell A.K.A Screaming Japan Productions - www.myspace.com/screamingjapanproductions
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For a "cartoon" mainly about kids, this film presents some stunning reality
For instance, a sequence shows some of the effects on people and animals of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. A woman's face is shown to melt, a dog catches fire...... And later, the hero sees much of his family die before his eyes.
In this film and the sequel, I found the boundless enthusiasm of the two main boy characters both irritating and inspiring, by turns.
Not a kids movie in the Western sense. Hard to watch in places, but warmly recommended.
You'll be surprised, this is testimony to the power of 'old style'
animation, you need more than Computer Generated images to make a great
film. Even with it's basic arrangements barefoot gen managed to shock
me by its ability to capture all the horror, confusion and devastation
delivered by the atomic bomb.
I found this movie informative but disturbing. I have heard it being described as a tragicomedy. I think this is a fitting description but just be prepared because it really does make giant leaps from the genuinely tragic and sad to light heartedness. You won't know whether to laugh or cry. Actually, you will. A little cry would be totally justified so have a hanky at the ready and don't watch it with your mates from down the pub.
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