| Boku-chan no Senjô is a story of evacuated children at the end of World War II. It describes children in a quite realistic and unique way, breaking taboos in children's literature in the 1960s. |
The protagonist, Boku-chan, is a fourth grader of an elementary school. He is a chairman of his class. His classroom teacher has great faith in him. At school, Boku-chan is told that evacuation is a training to be a good soldier, and he goes to Shimane Prefecture though his mother and his sisters are against that. During the evacuation days, his classmate Makino makes his followers obey by threatening and bullying. Boku-chan, who is no good at fighting, tries to avoid his challenge by relying on his authority as class chairman, or on the teachers. Later Boku-chan is ousted from his position of chairman and he realizes his own weakness. The war situation becomes worse and worse: air raids begin, and food becomes scarce. Boys steal foods, bullies hurt weaker boys, and are flattered. Boku-chan comes to realize that the words of his teachers and Japanese government, which he once believed, are lies. He thinks that he will be killed in the end, by an air raid, or in a battle as a soldier. He decides to escape to his mother in Osaka, with the help of his friend Asahina, and his former enemy Makino.
In wartime, children as well as adults behave dishonorably. Makino acts cunningly to gain his followers, while Boku-chan's effort to be a "good" student and to make up a "good" class is disgusting. However, "bad" Makino sees hypocrisy in adults and "good" pupils, and the bullied Boku-chan realizes the lies of adults. Boys gain strength to survive, while the words of adults to justify the war become less persuasive. In this story, the love between a mother and a child gives children the strength to live.
The original version of Boku-chan no Senjô was written when Okuda (1934 -) was a student at university. He rewrote and sent it to a magazine or a newspaper, but it was not accepted. A few years later, it appeared in a coterie magazine Kodama [Echo] as a serial story, but the serialization was suspended. After four year's preparation, it was published in book form in 1969. In 1983, it was made into a manga with pictures by Masaoka Toshiya (published by Holp). In 1985, a movie based on this story was made by Ôsawa Yutaka, which received prizes at the Berlin International Film Festival.