| Hadashi no Gen, a masterpiece of Nakazawa Kenji (1939-) is a manga describing how the war - especially how the effect of the atomic bomb - is terrible with children as the protagonists. This work is based on Nakazawa's own experience and its strong reality is far from entertainment.|
The story is about Nakaoka family in Hiroshima. The third son of Nakaoka family, Gen, experiencs the cruelty of adults at the end of World War II. As his father is against the war, Gen and his family are blamed of not being patriotic. Their fields are ruined, his father is tortured, his elder brother and sister are assaulted. In August of 1945, the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Gen and his mother survive, but his father, his sister, and his younger brother are killed. His mother bears a baby, but she dies soon after. Gen and other's struggle to survive in ruined Hiroshima is described in powerful pictures and language.
Hadashi no Gen was serialized in Shûkan Shônen Jampu [Weekly Jump for Boys] by Shûeisha since 1973. Although Shûeisha hesitated to publish it in the form of a book, a journalist of the Asahi Shinbun [Asahi Newspaper] worked hard for its publication. The book edition was published by Chôbunsha, which had not published any manga before, in four volumes. Because of its seriousness, its description of terrible scenes, and the struggle of the protagonist, the book was soon talked about by many people. More and more public libraries and school libraries added this work to their collections, though usually these kinds of libraries did not put manga on their shelves. After serialization in Shûkan Shônen Jampu, its sequel appeared in other magazines. The tenth volume - the last one of this work - was published in 1987.
In the history of manga, war comics gained popularity around 1955, many of which drew the pictures of weapons or sights of battles only for amusement. Some others like Tezuka Osamu, Chiba Tetsuya, Mizuki Shigeru, and Shirato Sanpei tried to describe the reality of war in their works. Hadashi no Gen was outstanding in using the viewpoint of a child to describe the horror of atomic bomb.
In 1976, 1978, and 1979, a movie based on this story was made. In 1983 and 1987, an animated film was made. In 2004, an English translation was published in the United States.