Revisiting the legacy of ‘Barefoot Gen’

Today in Otaku Ohana, your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger is going to do something he hasn’t done in a long time: actually write about manga. Gasp!

barefoot gen coverToday also marks 70 years since the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing tens of thousands of people. It’s a story that was told in Barefoot Gen, a manga by Keiji Nakazawa that relied on many of his personal experiences in telling the story of Gen Nakaoka, a boy who survived the blast.

I’ve talked about Barefoot Gen twice in my career on the otaku beat — once in February 2011, in an essay in an earlier version of this blog that was part of a larger Manga Movable Feast effort, the other as part of The Canon, a roundup of 50 essential manga series to read, in The Rough Guide to Manga (available at a library or secondhand bookstore/website near you). Since Last Gasp is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to put copies of Barefoot Gen in schools and libraries across the United States (19 percent funded as of this writing, come on, people, start giving more already), I thought it would be nice to resurrect what I wrote in the Rough Guide.

And by “resurrect,” I mean “reprint the entire section, right here, for free.”

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this in print before, but the full rights to the text of the manga guide legally reverted to me about three years ago, when Rough Guides shut down its reference guide division. I’d love to write more on this topic down the line — particularly given how Andrea Lipinski at the School Library Journal recently was kind enough to include it as one of her picks for essential reading in her “Manga 101” article — but the bottom line is that I now have an entire pile of text that I can distribute however I see fit. Seeing as how I’ll probably never have enough free time to properly update the whole thing in one go — as you’ve probably seen by my erratic update schedule here, I barely have enough time/energy to update this blog, never mind 265 pages or so of text — I felt the best way to use it would be to publish excerpts here, whenever relevant, every so often.

So let’s jump right in, shall we? Continue reading “Revisiting the legacy of ‘Barefoot Gen’”