Tag Archives: Nagasaki

Barefoot Gen, Vol. 1: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima by Keiji Nakazawa, Translated by Project Gen

Barefoot Gen 1 Title:
Author: Keiji Nakazawa
Publisher: Last Gasp
ISBN: 978-0867196023
Genre: Graphic Novel, Manga
Pages: 288
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

Never a good time to read about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and yet something draws me to picking up more books about that time and what happened to them during WWII. I don’t know what it is – maybe just some fascination or dread even (which I will never admit) – the fact that we know how it ended and yet we want to know more about it – the horror of it all, but more than that it is the human stories that come out of it, with every new read on the bombings. Yes, that’s why for sure. And this time in the form of a graphic novel.

“Barefoot Gen” is a series consisting of 10 books. The story begins in Hiroshima during the final months of the World War II. Six-year-old Gen Nakaoka and his family live in poverty and struggle to make ends meet. Gen’s father Daikichi is critical of the war. He hates the idea of it. And then in all of this, his brother Koji joins the Navy and on August 6th, the atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima, killing Gen’s father and his siblings. His mother and he escape and “Barefoot Gen” is the story of that survival, as they witness the horror of war and the bombing.

The book is autobiographical in nature and though you think it is only but a comic, it manages to wrench your heart. The perspective of war from the eyes of a six-year-old and the maturity as well of it will leave you speechless.

Books such as “Barefoot Gen” will always be so relevant (sadly so) – given the atrocities of war and the common folk who are always in the eye of the storm. For most part of reading the book, I just didn’t know how to react. There was a lot of sadness and love and more than anything else, a lot of anger at a chosen few who decide to do what they do, when all that the majority wants is peace and the chance to be alive and thrive. A read not to be missed out on for sure. Can’t wait to read the other nine parts.

 

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Good-Bye by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Good-Bye by Yoshihiro Tatsumi Title: Good-Bye
Author: Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1897299371
Genre: Graphic Novel, Manga
Pages: 208
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Manga is an art that grows on you. It is also an art form that makes you appreciate the beauty of stillness and subtlety. So when there are graphic novels to be read, there is also Manga which I feel is quite different and a genre of its own than being classified under Graphic Novels. Tatsumi happened to me when I was browsing through Landmark, Bombay, about ten years ago with a very dear friend. That was another book. This time I spotted him at Blossom and could not have been more excited. I knew I had to buy it and I was not wrong about it at all.

“Good-Bye” is a collection of short stories told in Manga. Tatsumi is perhaps one writer that just brings out the best when it comes to Manga, or at least from all that I have read. Tatsumi in this collection portrays a Japanese society – during WWII, in the aftermath of the atomic bomb and post the war.

The stories are about trapped protagonists, who seem to have no choice at all. They are stuck in circumstances that are beyond their control and they have to make sense of the world around them. Right from “Hell” which is about post-Hiroshima attack to “Good-Bye” which is a story of a woman trying to survive after the war, by using her body – the stories are real and laced with pathos and sometimes tragic humour.

What struck me the most was how beautifully Tatsumi managed to bring out the emotions in the entire book. From anger to helplessness to pure love and longing, everything is meticulously laid out for the reader to savour and add in a bit of his or her angst as well. All in all, this book is meant to be relished, page by page, illustration by illustration.

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