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English: Barefoot Gen
Synonyms: Gen of Hiroshima
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jul 21, 1983
Duration: 1 hr. 23 min.
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or olderL represents licensing company
Score: 7.981 (scored by 4295 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
Popular Tagsdrama historical
Jul 22, 2008
(Taken from an interview with Nakazawa Keiji by Jonathan Clements.)
On Moday, August 6th, 1945, the US bomber Enola Gay dropped the atomic bomb known as "Little Boy" on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The explosion killed around 70,000 people immediately, with almost as many again dead from the resulting radiation by the end of 1945.
Nakazawa Keiji, the author of Barefoot Gen, was 6 years old at the time of the bombing, and is one of the survivors of the destruction of Hiroshima. The bomb was responsible for the death of his father, his sister, and his brother. At the age of 6 he and his mother dug their remains out of the ruins of their home. In 1963 Nakazawa moved to Tokyo to become a manga artist, but returned to Hiroshima in 1966 to attend his mothers funeral. It was his discovery of the true impact of the radiation from the bomb that inspired him to risk becoming a social pariah by openly discussing his experience of the bomb with the first of his "Black" series, Beneath the Black Rain.
Barefoot Gen is the autobiographical account of his experience of the bomb and radiation. The manga was fraught with problems because of it's nature and content, and was effectively sidelined by mainstream publications. In 1976 however, a volunteer group called Project Gen was formed, and they took on the task of producing english translations of the manga. In truth, Barefoot Gen was the first manga to be translated and published in english.
The story was later adapted into three live action movies, two animated features, and a TV series, however the first anime movie adaptation remains, to this day, one of the most harrowing versions because of its counterintuitive nature.
As the story in Barefoot Gen is predominantly autobiographical it is difficult to consider it in terms of a normal story. The anime loses out to the manga in certain repects because sections had to be left out, however this in no way takes away from the story which remains an reasonably accurate, if abbreviated, account of Nakazawa's sof the bomb and its aftermath.
The art style is unusual in that it adopts a more "cartoony" approach compared to other anime, however the movie manages to attain a certain ethereal quality that the manga cannot match, especially in its depiction of the results of radiation sickness. The atomic blast is rendered with shocking clarity, and the transformation of people into "monsters" (from Gen's perspective), is horrifyingly realised.
Althought production values may be dated (the anime is over 25 years old now), the movie should not be marginalised on the basis of "poor" animation. The cartoon like quality of the characters only adds to the emotional impact, as it is a stark contrast to how "normal" cartoon characters are depicted.
Sound is another area where the movie shows its age. The effects, although well used, can sometimes be overwhelming for the viewer, while at other times the various noises are relegated to the background. This can give the movie a slightly "off-kilter" feeling for some viewers, but for the most part the sound and visuals work well together.
The music is generally good throughout the movie. The various pieces used to enhance the impact of a given scene are generally appropriate and fairly well choregraphed, especially during the more foreboding scenes. The variety of tracks complement the pervading atmosphere of the film, and most surprising are the scenes where music, noise and visuals combine to give the viewer a truly visceral experience.
The characters are a bit of a tricky subject in Barefoot Gen, as they are generally taken from the people that nakazawa met before, during and after the bombing, whilst Gen himself is Nakazawa as a child. Granted, there is obviously a degree of artisitic license with both the design and the portrayal, however this in no way diminishes their impact of the overall movie. Because of this things like character developmentand interaction are difficult to consider, especially given the fact that this is mainly a factual account, and in the absence of of evidence to the contrary, I prefer to think of the characters as "real" - at least, for this movie.
Watching this movie is a truly harrowing experience. There is no real way to "enjoy" this in normal terms, especially given its history and content. Very few movies, especially animated ones, are able to convey the level of emotional impact that Barefoot Gen achieves, and only Grave of the Fireflies or Ushiro no Shoumen Daare can be considered equal in terms of content and viewing experience (although the former deals with the aftermath of the firebombing of Kobe, and is semi-autobiographical in nature, and the latter is more of a historical fiction).
Although there are similarities between those two movies and Barefoot Gen, there are major differences as well. It is extremely difficult to compare any other anime or manga to Barefoot Gen as no other work is taken directly from real life. If you decide to watch Barefoot Gen then you cannot compare it in any way to shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion, Death Note, Akira, Code Geass, or any other popular movie or series. You cannot use normal standards to judge this movie.
In all honesty, Barefoot Gen isn't something to enjoy, even though it ends on a hopfeul note. This is a movie to be experienced, as it is the story of a boy who has literally seen hell. It is both a lesson and a warning for future generations of the true horror of nuclear and atomic weapons, and I urge everyone, whether you're a fan of anime and manga or not, to read the books and watch the movie.
Dec 2, 2011
Using animation to tell this somewot autobiographical account of the Hiroshima disaster personifies the unique tool animation can be to tell a story. Although stories like this which are based on true events will always be the subject of some sort of criticism I have to commend Keiji Nakazawa for putting this out there in such a vivid way that still to this very day many similar titles based on WWII do not accomplish even outside the realm of animation.
The story begins on August 4, 1945, in Hiroshima with the everyday life of Gen, his younger brother Shinji, their father Daikichi, elder sister Eiko, and pregnant mother Kimie, during the final days of World War II.
The beginning of the plot mainly focuses on the Nakaoka family's struggle to afford food ration cards and other items due to food shortages throughout Japan. Like the other residents, the family wonders why Hiroshima has so far suffered only minor damage; when American B-29 Superfortress bombers have fire-bombed nearly all of Japan's major cities.
A few days later, on his way to school, Gen takes notice of a passing B-29 aircraft and discusses with a female friend how odd it is that a single B-29 would be passing over the city with no air raid siren warning beforehand, as was often common. Soon after this suddenly his father, sister, and brother watch their surroundings as they are all blinded by a flash of white light which is then closely followed by the tremendous explosion.
This is the moment Gen’s life changed forever.
Due to me NOT giving spoilers what I will summarize is that what follows is the tale of a young boy and his “cough” family’s ordeal through one of the greatest tragedies the world has even known and how he and the people around him strive to survive in the aftermath left by the atomic blast.
Barefoot Gen 2 takes place 3 years after the end of the original movie, with Gen trying to cope during the early post-war reconstruction of Japan. While the first movie focused more on the immediate affects of the atomic bombing, the second film focuses more on the long-term problems that faced the survivors, such as the devastated economy and national infrastructure, and lingering affects of the bomb's radiation.
The ONE and only thing I do not like about the story is that it focuses so much on the actual attack dealt by the Americans, viewers who do not know their WWII history may see this film as a horrible injustice to the Japanese and there are no mentions of Japans previous participation in the war which includes the slaughter of the Chinese during the invasion of china or of the attack on Americans at pearl harbor – which I must STRESS is not me hinting in any way that they had this coming to them…I’m just saying if you do not know the entire history of WWII this film does not educate anything relative and can be seen as propaganda which I feel is not the intention of these movies at all……but hey I’m goin off on one here…you get the point.
Animation style is a bit cartoonier than the typical Japanese animation style, especially with the character designs. I do however feel this animation style made things more clear, simple and vivid, particularly with the atomic blast sequence and the various human transformations (goddamn) – this was a truly horrifying but mesmerizing experience which I must again commend Keiji Nakazawa’s graphic and barebone depiction of the actual atrocities he witnessed. It really does feel like a living nightmare at these points.
Landscapes and background designs where simple yet decent considering this title is over 25 years old I was not expecting all that much anyway but overall everything was animated quite well no real complaints.
I have watched these titles twice. The first viewing was of BFG1 and it was in English dub which in my opinion was very good. BFG2 has no dub so I watched them both again with the original Japanese language and English subs. Here again I found no problems with voice actors or music. The only real downside was some of the actual sound affects felt dated and come off sounding sharp, especially during the explosion sequence. Other than that I have to say the overall language interaction and dialogue was good across the board.
Well I did like the characters and I did feel they exhibited a lot of real emotions but really the main character Gen himself to me was just a little bit unbelievable, why I say so is he just is so damn positive and optimistic in the face of the most horrifying events….he did have his moments of sadness but really they did not last very long before he was up and running again.
Now I’m not stupid he was ultimately the main plot device and the spirit of encouragement for both movies which was undoubtedly essential to these movies. Without someone like Gen in the movies this would have been the saddest and most depressing anime of all time…I also understand he was a kid and maybe could not fully process the full extent of the situation but I still just felt he was just a little bit unrealistic in certain situations.
The other characters around Gen seemed more believable…a lot of them where suffering and in some sort of agony but I liked the fact the story showed characters of all ages and how they where affected by the situation. Considering the situation however the character development could have been taken advantage of a bit more in my opinion…then again I may be asking for too much.
How can anyone use the word enjoyment for something like this…what I can say is i appreciate and applaud the author for having the guts to create something many people today may be totally oblivious to and to do so in such a way that is rarely seen but at the same time to not dwell totally on the pain of the disaster but also the spirit of perseverance and determination. The level of despair these titles reach is truly not enjoyable but at the same time one must remember these events actually happened, maybe not all to one person but to a whole range of people and for that I feel this is something as an anime fan, a historian…hell even as a human being should be watched at least once….but be warned this is not for the fain hearted!
It really irritates me this title is often compared as the weaker version of Grave of the fireflies. Yes they are similar and yes GOTF has better animation but I feel GOTF was more of a stand alone story on a smaller scale. These movies however have a much clearer, wider and dreadful message. It takes a bold but realistic look at how nuclear weapons have changed a whole nation’s perspective on life and ultimately ended WWII itself.
It’s a damn shame this title is not more well know to the masses and is often just passed off as some manipulative emotional guilt trip movie.
These movies do serve a purpose and send both a necessary negative and positive message but most of all it is something no viewer has ever forgotten watching…even if they swear to never ever watch it again and yes many many people will not wwhich is sadly understandable.
Planet Tyro Rating: Hall of Fame
Visual Version: http://bit.ly/14D6szy
Planettyro.com read more
Jul 29, 2011
First off :-
What tugged at my heartstrings the most:
The scene where Gen's mother lost control of her senses as she watched her husband, daughter and youngest son perish in the flames.
The madness brought about by this atomic bombing truly was horrifying, and through this movie, I was given a little insight of what life was like for the survivors.
Though the atomic bombing did end the war, what really stunned me was the fact that the dunces of war leaders involved took way too much time to finally hang up their 'pride' and admit their defeat. The movie producers depicted this shock perfectly through the doing up of a scene whereby Gen's mother learnt of Japan's surrender, and her subsequent reaction (of disbelief, and to some extent, grief and anger).
All in all, I gave this movie a rating of 8/10, where 2 points were docked off due to some of the exaggerated scenes (I understand that radiation does simply horrible things to the body, but does it actually reduce the person in question to something that is no different from the living dead?) and inappropriate fanfare used at regular intervals.
I would like to take the opportunity to once more reiterate my point that this movie is not for the faint of heart. It should only be watched by one who is prepared for the grisly chaos that nuclear disasters are capable of bringing about. read more
Apr 9, 2011
It should come as no surprise that this is an anti-war film. Traditionally as a genre the anti-war film is one that has a tendency to preach. A point may be trying to be made, that can change the film from a story to a rather nauseatingly heavy handed rant at how disgusting the world is. I have seen it enough for me to expect it of every new anti-war film that comes out, whether it is animated or not. This is what makes Barefoot Gen so good, not only does it avoid falling into genre cliché it also tells the story with humanity. What we experience is a story about people who had it harder than we can possibly imagine. This was real, not some hyper real comic book excess. So poignant and beautifully told is the story, I genuinely forgot that I was watching an animated feature. The only other times that has happened was with Princess Mononoke, Akira and the occasional series; it’s a rarity.
Instead of focusing my gaze on one or the other of the two films, I am talking about them both instead. Whether left as sequel and prequel or they are merged into a singular entity they are both emotionally draining experiences. This is at its most powerful in one emotionally crippling scene, the likes of which I hadn’t seen before or since. The scene in question is when Gen goes back to his house after miraculously surviving the explosion. You might be expecting it, you might not, but it doesn’t change the fact that you will cry here. You will cry like a baby.
I won’t spoil that scene any further, but it is needless to say that it is one of the most heart wrenching things I have ever seen in film. Thanks to not shying away from the truth, Barefoot Gen can be used as a proud example to advertise the fact that cartoons aren’t just for kids. Animation can be powerful, beautiful and incredibly poignant. As an art form it can be relevant to the issues in society and present them in a very real way without the need to projecting such issues onto anthropomorphised animals. The animated form can avoid those pitfalls that Disney is so fond of.
The film might represent something that will mean something to all the fans of animation reading this, but there is still an actual film under all this. As much as it is a celebration of the form, it is also a film that couldn’t be done as well in any other cinematic form. This is true for one reason.
The first reason is that it’s too graphic. The animation may be very dated by today’s standards, still the skeletal figures, the melting skin have the power to shock. If somebody was brave enough to make this film in the current age without shying away from the punches I feel it wouldn’t escape without turning the story into an orchestra of gore. If this did happen it would be presented via computer graphics, so not only would it be depicting something gruesome it would also look false. This would make the viewer focus on the spectacle rather than the story which is where the films greatest strength lies. The story would be crushed under tonnes of atom, ash and death.
The film evokes such sadness merely by having the character’s cry, it may be common in anime, but its still effective. Naturally these are sad films. Some scenes will be scarred into your memory, what with the imagery and the emotional intensity. That is to be expected, but at the same time the strength of the human spirit plays a great part too. It would be all too easy for this film to spend all its time being miserable and upsetting (like its brother in arms, Grave of the Fireflies), but it doesn’t. Their city may have been turned to dust, they may have lost many of their loved ones and those who survived may be slowly getting picked off by starvation and ‘Pika’ but the protagonists are always laughing and smiling, not letting their circumstances beat them. It’s these scenes that balance the film and stop it from being unwatchable, the instrinsic optimism makes this a film to watch rather than an experience to be overwhelmed by.
In my opinion it is this balance between the harsh and the beautiful that put this down in the annals of history as one of the greatest anti-war films ever made. Barefoot Gen is a cinematic classic that everybody should see at least once in their lifetime. read more
Jun 4, 2010
Preceded by: Future War 198X-nen (1982)
Followed by: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
BAREFOOT GEN (1983)
The second generation of animefans may have not been too fond of overblown drama and high ideals but also had a positive effect on the ones who wanted to make features such as this. Up until then the effects of the Hiroshima bombing was a sort of taboo nobody was allowed to speak about openly because it was causing them a big grief and the country was trying to recover from all that. Anime up to then where only indirectly showing the horrors through fiction in the forms of alien invasions or huge robots leveling cities. But after the country was finally restored in the 80’s and the newer generation was not so fond of taboos, movies such as these were now freely presented to the public.
Did you know that all those old series about huge monsters attacking Japan were in fact the fear of a nuclear attack, dressed in scary (and beatable) forms? Did you know that all those huge combining robots fighting the monsters were in fact the depiction of Japan’s will to survive and flourish, despite all odds? And did you know it all began with the use of the first atomic bomb? Oh, yes, anime were born out of the angst and hope of the Japanese people for a better future. They were nothing more than their idealized fears and dreams, in a childishly understood way. But what about the real story behind all that? What about the truth, without the metaphors that gave birth to Godzilla, Mazinger, Ultraman and the rest of the bunch we take for granted today in anime?
This movie is based on a very old manga, drawn by a Hiroshima survivor. It is a highly dramatic depiction of the horror of the bombing’s aftermath. If you cannot bear scenes of utter gloom, death, suffering … and complete human ignorance, please stop reading and look elsewhere. This movie exists solely to make you feel nauseated with people who are suffering, rotting and dying like dogs. It also has several messages on how will and courage overwhelm all atrocities, but they will feel pretty fake and silly before the dread of the holocaust.
The animation is very old and simple figures and objects cover the screen. Τhey will seem very crude if you haven’t been raised with old titles. And just imagine that the graphics in the original manga were twice as ugly.
Everything is supposed to depict the lives of normal and mostly poor Japanese people, living in a normal city during the Second World War. And it is depicted with essential lining and details. The bombing aftermath is equally simple in detail but the horror alone is enough to make you forget that. Who cares about the details when you have to bare the endless agony of normal people? So, don’t expect cool tattoos, weird cloths, neon glow stripes, mechanized limbs, or anything eye-catchy in general. The movie is not about trendy dressed kids, saving the world with superpowers or huge robots. It’s about everyday people suffering and suffering and suffering some more… in very disturbing ways.
So, we have simple backgrounds and character figures, as well as rather crude animation. Anything good to look for? Well, yes, the visual effects. The animators made an excellent work in making you sick and dreaded with simple optical tricks. For instance, the name of the city is presented in huge, bold letters, almost screaming that something bad will follow. The really long scene of the explosion is amongst the most nightmarish things ever made into animation. It has no realism around it but symbolically speaking, it succeeds into making you feel sick. There is no way you will find it cool, like in some cheesy shonen series. And the bleak colors following the bombing almost to the end really succeed into keeping you depressed.
Voice acting is generally terrible; it simply sounds too fake. There is no way people would talk in such a dry way, under such circumstances. I think I can put the cause of this on the original mangaka who wasn’t a professional writer but a simple survivor who wanted to tell the story. You can also say it uses the silly way characters in cartoons were using in the 60’s.
Music themes are simply there to make you feel bad. There is not a single memorable music theme and the ones heard are either of really low volume or simple and sudden drum beats.
Sound effects are as masterful as the visual effects into making you feel like life has lost its meaning with a few simple acoustic tricks. Eerie sounds, rumblings, moans and many similar creaks that give you the goose bumps.
As for the story; oh, you know already. A simple family is living a simple life until one simple day and out of the blue KABOOM! Hell breaks loose and the family must find a way to survive this nightmare.
For starters, most of the events in the movie are based on the real experiences the author and his family went through. They are depicted in an overdramatic way, but are real nonetheless. So don’t dare to think even for a second that the events in it are fake, because they are not!
Second, don’t expect the Hollywood formula of most disaster/survival movies. There are no cool characters outrunning explosion bursts, jumping around severed electric cables and saving people in distress with mambo jumbo acrobatics, before the cavalry arrives to save the day with high tech helicopters and medicine supplies. Hey, that’s not how it happens in American movies! This is terrible! This is awful! This is unbearable! … Yet it is real... There were no such things during that time. There are no such things even today! You will witness people almost waiting to die, doing stupid things, crying instead of trying to do something, dying in horrible and meaningless ways. Because this is how things really were back then.
Since the atomic bomb was used for the very first time, people had no knowledge of it. They didn’t know that radiation would kill them if they stood around the bombed area. They didn’t know that drinking contaminated water was instant death. They didn’t know the reason of why their hair and teeth were falling off or what was killing their babies. Most of them didn’t even know how to read and write. Their ignorance is what makes this mess even worse. Since we viewers know of all the above, it is very heart breaking to see them dying because they didn’t know. Dreadful but true. The events in the movie are unbearably realistic.
Still, the story is not without its flaws. For starters, there is no mention of WHY the bombing took place. The people are presented like they do not care about the war, something that is a lie. The Japs were in reality quite cocky back then, since they were assured that their navy would conquer the world. The bombing is depicted like it happened without a reason when in fact it happened because the Japs “had it coming” because of their overconfidence into attacking the almighty and politically amoral America. The movie presents the Japanese people as victims in an unjust war they had no part in and the Americans in a cameo appearance of a generic villain without a reason.
Also, another mistake is how the survivors keep going through will and faith alone but the negligence of the authorities is almost not shown. In reality, the survivors received almost no treatment by the army or the neighboring areas, as they were seen as lepers and the living proof of their overconfidence that led to this tragedy.
Still, the story is far more realistic than almost any other anime title. There aren’t many titles that deal with the Hiroshima tragedy, as the Japanese people didn’t like to talk about their unconditional surrender, following the bombing. It was a lot easier for them to replace the bomb with an alien monster and Gen’s willpower with a huge robot… Almost like saying that a stork is what brings the babies. This movie is a very hard step forward into admitting what really happened, without disguising this whole mess with pretty colors, cheesy story, cardboard characters and a lame happy ending.
Unfortunately, there are no prevailing characters in the story. The dreadfulness of the events overshadows the otherwise simple characters. Gen and his family are as simple as characters can get and act quite passively and apathetically most of the time. Their terrible voice acting and their too-goody attitude make things even worse. In general, Gen is the epitome of the average Japanese male’s ideals and nothing more. “We will not give up! Keep going! We will survive! Life goes on!” Pretty cheery stuff that can only appeal to old Japanese folks. Youngsters prefer amoral, trendy dressed, longsword-carrying heavy-dudes these days and not idealistic boy scouts. You won’t remember the characters but the tragedies that befall them.
It is a very famous historical movie, based on real events, experienced first hand by real survivors. Rewatchability is too low as in no freaking way I would want to watch it again! You’ve got to be a masochist of the highest order if you want to face all this meaningless suffering and death all over again. No! Never again! But it will sure be memorable and wll be appearing in your nightmares for the rest of your life!
I DIDN’T ENJOY it one bit! It made me sick! It gave me nightmares! It caused me psychological scaring! … But for a good reason. It’s such titles that really make you think about the awfulness of war. It makes you really wonder how easy it is to press a button and kill millions of faceless people you don’t know of on the other side of the planet. It sounds cool to be able to seal the fates of so many people, doesn’t it? And what if a few millions die, there are still 6 billion of us, right? Who cares about justice if you have the power to PLAY GOD WITH PEOPLES’ LIVES?!!! MMMHAHAHAHAHA!
Well, if you think you are God, please do not watch this movie. It aims at making you compassionate and more humane. It will probably even inflict you with guilt about things you never done or haven’t done yet. Keep away!
If you so much want more of this, there is also Grave of the Fireflies and Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. read more
Aug 21, 2008
Gen is an energetic ten years old boy, living with his pregnant mother, his pacifist father, his overbearing older sister (about fourteen) and his loyal disciple, Shinji, whose maybe six years old. The war with America hasn't yet reached them in Hiroshima; they have food shortages, and every now and then they are rudely awakened by air raid sirens, but other than these inconveniences they are able to live their lives without the threat of being killed on a daily basis. But their mother is getting sicker, and baby in her womb is in danger of dying. Gen and Shinji take it upon themselves to find good, healthy food for her to eat. The movie is a feel good, heartwarming story about family trying its best to live their lives while their country falls apart around them; that is until August 6, 1945. On that fateful day Gen is on his way to school when he glances into the sky and sees a lonely B-29, the sun reflecting off its wings, flying overhead. A young girl beside him comments on how strange it is to see an American bomber all alone. Gen drops a pebble and bends down to pick it up; a moment later the sky turns white, a thunderous boom splits the air, and Gen looks on in horror as the girl who, seconds before, stood beside him took the full force of the atomic blast, her eyes melting out of their sockets, her skin instantly turning charcoal grey, skin peeling off her arms and legs. The visuals of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima is almost enough to make me a pacifist, its devastation so real and unquestionably brutal that only a heartless monster could watch it and not think about how evil war is. It’s all too much for anyone with a weak stomach; a small girl instantly turning into a skeletal; a baby suckling on the breasts of its already dead mother; a young boy trapped beneath the weight of his own home, screaming, pleading, for his mother to save him before the atomic fires burn him to death. A dead infant in its mothers arms; zombiefied children, transformed by the radioactive fire, shambling about in the ruble, their eyes and skin melted away, seeking out the relief of water and drowning to death once they find it. Gen survives by sheer luck, but his family isn't so fortunate. The death and sorrow of these twenty minutes of film are almost unsurpassed in film, anime or otherwise.
Unfortunately once the initial shock of the bomb subsides the weaknesses of the film return in full force, driving the memory of those twenty minutes away and forcing the viewer to suffer though another hour of bad writing, bad acting, and an overall bad war commentary. No attempt is made to make Gen into a rich, three dimensional character; he serves as a plot tool only, the eyes though which we are shown the devastation of the war, but little more. The film takes the most illogical plot turns, and the characters act and speak in ways that will make most people scratch their heads in confusion. When the filmmakers realize this, they kill someone else off, but this time the emotional impact is more like a cheesy soap opera then anything else.
Barefoot Gen is simply the cartoony version of Grave of the Fireflies. It is in every way Graves’s inferior, in animation, music, character development and plot, it fails in every way to match the creative guineas of Ghiblis classic film. Those who have never seen Graves might find this a breath of fresh air, but to those who have Gen will be nothing more than a cheap imitation, void of the same life and warmth which resonated so well with Graves. If not for the twenty minutes of death and suffering, this film would be nothing more than a bad war movie.
Film one; 3/5.
Film 2; 2/5.
Overall; 2.5/5. Rounded to three.
Replay value; low.
Feb 4, 2009
Barefoot Gen: 9/10
A line from Apocalypse Now kept creeping into my head whilst I watched this - "The horror, the horror..."
Barefoot Gen more than lived up to my expectations. I'd read before watching that it's very similar to Grave of the Fireflies, it being a story about children trying to survive during World War 2, and they are indeed worthy of being spoken of in the same breath. There aren't many films, live-action or animated, that have the sort of impact these films do on viewers.
Barefoot Gen is a story told from the viewpoint of a child; the story being about the Hiroshima bombing. Instead of rushing into the bombing, time was spent showing the viewer Gen's (Gen is the main character) family and how they struggled to survive with little to no food. Gen spent a lot time with his younger brother during the early section, trying to find food for their pregnant mother and, basically, acting like kids do. This early pre-bombing section was good because it allowed viewers to become emotionally attached to the family and made them want the family to survive.
And then, suddenly, the atomic bomb hits and, in graphic detail, you see people falling apart and getting burnt alive. Eye sockets fall out, skin melts...it wasn't easy to watch. Gen then rushed back to home to find his father, brother and sister all stuck under their house, which had collapsed due to the blast. After Gen and his mother couldn't lift what their family was stuck under, he had to pull his mother away from their family in order to save themselves due to the fire spreading, but he first made a teary-eyed promise with his father: his father made him make a non-verbal promise that he'd protect his mother and the child growing inside her.
It continued like that until the end. It was realistic to the point of being painful to watch. Animation or not, it was hard not to see what was happening as real. Barefoot Gen was based on the real life story of the author, so it'd be wrong to view as "just a silly cartoon" because of the lack of real actors, but it's rare for animation to have that sort of impact on me.
There were a few things I wasn't impressed with, such as the semi-annoying voice actor of Gen, how easily Gen's brother was allowed to be replaced by someone who looked like him and how well Gen and his mother handled losing their loved ones, but the good outweighed the bad. It was a wonderful film, and I highly recommend it to anyone with interest in the more realistic side of anime.
Note: I'm going to include a little extra, going into some detail about the sequel. It's too short to post as a review on its own so I decided to add it to my review of the first film.
Barefoot Gen 2: 7.5/10
Barefoot Gen 2 continues the story three years after the end of the first film. Japan has started to return to normal but there are still problems like starvation and people being homeless. The bombing resulted in a lot of kids having their entire families killed, and that obviously meant there were a lot of kids living on the street, unable to even get education because people need to pay to go to school in Japan. The story in this film focuses on a group of kids Gen befriends and shows how, even after the bombings had stopped, Japan was still far from repaired.
In all honesty, there didn't need to be a sequel made. The first film covered everything important and only the left the aftermath, which was never going to be as powerful as what came before, to be shown. The film had potential but a lot of the potentially interesting aspects, such as how people with burns from the atomic bomb were treated like monsters, were never looked into too deeply. Although I didn't feel the film was bad, I felt it wasn't made with the same amount of effort as the first and, quite simply, the story was weaker due to it not having to cover anything as horrific as what was shown in the first film.
A decent sequel, and a very nice DVD extra (both Barefoot films are on the same disc), but not worthy of a high rating. read more
Jul 20, 2008
Feb 12, 2010
It was so damn annoying! I was ripping at my hair as Gen ripped at his!
So why was it so irritating?
First, Gen's voice. He has the most annoying voice I've heard in any anime to date. I don't know if people liked hearing voices like this in 1983, but from a 2010 viewpoint, I couldn't stand it. It's loud, obnoxious, and stays that way all throughout the movie.
I'm sitting here, trying desperately to see the emotional qualities of the movie, and this voice comes out of nowhere, blasting at my ears and detracting from what little sentimental elements there are.
Which leads into my second point. The characters are distant. This is no After Story. The characters aren't shallow, yet they seem to be hopelessly so! How is this possible?
Well, the first half hour is spent trying to connect us with the characters. But it fails. It fails horribly. Part of this is due to Gen's horrific voice, but part of this is due to the not-so-autobiographical nature of the movie - my third point.
Yes, this is based on Nakazawa's own experiences, but it is (quoth Wikipedia) "loosely based." That means it shouldn't be taken as 100% true. And thank God it's not, since there are so many stereotypes in it. The old man lets you get away with the fish? Oh goody. I could care less. The woman suddenly changes her mind?
Because it's both autobiographical and fiction, there's an incompatible mix of the horrors Nakazawa experienced and the stereotypes he didn't. Even if he did witness them, I'm sure they weren't as awkwardly presented as in the film. The old man stares Gen down for what seems like a whole hour while Gen and his brother try desperately to guilt trip him. Huh. Is that really how it goes in real life? The woman changes her mind in two frames. Woah, now that was fast. I wonder if she even had time to think!
But enough about Barefoot Gen's faults. Let's see what good things it has to offer:
1) The horrific sights and sounds of Hiroshima. I didn't find it hard to watch, but it sure is something. I especially liked the accuracy of the storytelling (dropping the bomb on the T-bridge, the rain, the water, the dead and half-dead, even the maggots). If you've never learned about WWII or the bomb, this is going to be a wake-up call. If, like me, you already know about what happened, this might not be as shocking, but it's still worthwhile to see.
2) There's nothing else.
Barefoot Gen is essentially an animated documentary of the bomb. That's all there is. If you want to see a good WWII anime, go watch Ushiro no Shoumen Daare or Grave of the Fireflies. Don't watch Barefoot Gen. If you want to see a drama, don't watch Barefoot Gen. If you want to see a story, don't watch Barefoot Gen. If you want to see an anime, don't watch Barefoot Gen.
But if you really want to watch Barefoot Gen, skip to 30:00 and leave it on for ten minutes. You'll be blown away (very mean-spirited pun unintended). Just don't watch any more, or you'll be painfully disappointed. read more
Apr 24, 2009
Jul 6, 2008
For those of you who haven't finished this part of your history books, skip this huge spoiler:
The city of Hiroshima gets bombed. People die. A lot of innocent people die. Barefoot Gen is WWII unfiltered, and unapologetic (and a little over-exaggerated, but you can suspend your belief because of the important point it's trying to make) . It doesn't pick sides, but exposes the horrors of war through animation, which makes scenes that would have been unwatchable a lot more palatable. (Seeing children turned to ash in a live-action movie... Eh. I haven't seen the live-action adaptations, but I'd probably feel worse after watching them)
Like the other super-sad-WWII-movie-people-mention-when-they-talk-about-animation-as-an-artform, Grave of the Fireflies, BG uses painted cells to show what the war would look like to children. That's probably the most heart-breaking part of all. The two brothers in the movie and other children experienced things nobody should ever have to-things that, unfortunately, real children had. It's like a memorial to the survivors of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but it's never preachy. In fact, I think I liked this better than GotF because of how hopeful (if somewhat cheesy) the ending was. But after the bleakness before it, it's a welcome relief.
Jan 13, 2013
Barefoot Gen takes place in Hiroshima, as we see Gen and Shinji live with his family and working their very best to help them in a time of need, since the bombings destroyed half of Japan's cities in the war. Gen and their family lived the good life until that fateful day when the bomb, created by American WWII scientists, was dropped in Hiroshima and everyone got burned through radiation in their bodies, due to the power of the atomic bomb and therefore, Gen's family get killed in the blast, leaving Gen and her mother as the only survivors. Gen must now find a way to protect her mother by any means necessary to survive.
At first, Barefoot Gen starts like a cutesy anime in the first few minutes with the happy tone and music, but when the bombing begins in Hiroshima, all happy thoughts are thrown into the floor like melted ice cream. Dead bodies everywhere, people moaning while dying from radiation, even babies die in front of you and you got yourself a terrifying experience that will scar you and will make you think of the consequences that we've done in WWII. It also boasts one of the most haunting scenes in film history: The scene of Hiroshima being destroyed by the bomb. Yeah, it is that scary and I feel sorry for them that they had to die. I understand that Japan started this with Pearl Harbor and that the Japanese soldiers were ruthless killers during WW2, but America just went too far with this bomb and If I rewatch this movie again, my anger will just burst to extreme levels. Also, Gen is a strong character throughout the entire film as we sympathize on his journey to bring hope to human life after the bombing and will never give up on himself, even if his family is gone after the incident. There are more emotional teary moments in this film, but I will not spoil the movie even further, cause I might piss off some anime fans that never watched or heard of this film.
The animation by Madhouse, while dated, still holds up and I'll never forget the haunting animation scene of the bombing in my life and the music is serviceable, but nothing groundbreaking. The Japanese voice-acting is great and while they yell a lot in this movie, you will get used to it pretty well, except the English dub, in which they make Gen sound like Popeye's testicles that dropped in the morning and the english voices ruins the emotional moments of the film. So skip the dub and wath the Japanese version instead.
Barefoot Gen is well made film like Grave Of The Fireflies and it must be seen to be believed, if you have the guts to see it. read more
Apr 30, 2012
The movie is prominently focused on how these events effect Gen and his mother, who wind up being the only survivors of the bombing. A good amount of the first half of Barefoot Gen is focused on Gen's family life showing how they are barely getting by financially and dealing with receiving limited food rations from the Japanese military, a believable element to Japan in the final days of World War II which got elaborated on in Grave of the Fireflies. To a certain extent, Gen and his family's struggles before and after the atomic bomb dropping were believable for the time period, though the mood is usually inconsistent at points with Gen getting in comical antics that take away from the serious mood of the movie and the over-dramatization of some parts of the story such as Gen's final chat with his dying father and siblings.
The presentation to Barefoot Gen is a bit subpar with visuals that are clearly outdated and look to be on par with a late-70s TV anime series, though it still gets the job done in showing off the macabre setting of Hiroshima after the bombing. The music also doesn't do too well in flowing with the dramatic mood of the movie and none of the musical tracks stick out too well.
Overall, Barefoot Gen made for a decent watch in seeing a believable depiction of how Japanese civilians were affected by the dropping of American atomic bombs in the final days of World War II despite its subpar presentation and some rough elements to its storytelling. It's nowhere on the caliber of Grave of the Fireflies' powerful storytelling, but it is still worth a look if you are looking for an anime believably based on major Japanese historical events. read more
Jun 21, 2010