Beaten by the Black Rain isn't a well known anime, but it should be. This very well might be the most disappointing anime sequel I've ever seen. One of my favorite anime films of all time is a 1983 anti-War film called Barefoot Gen. I think it's vastly superior to Grave of the Fireflies and I will readily defend it as an unfairly overlooked classic. Black Rain is the sequel to Gen made by the same writer/director just 1 year later. This anime is just fucking baffling! It takes EVERYTHING that Gen did right and does it wrong! WHY Mr. Nakazawa?! Why would you do
This anime deals with the discrimination faced by survivors of the atomic bombings. These bombing victims were constantly, wrongly treated as if they were dangerously radioactive and shunned by much of Japanese society. That's a tragic but unexplored area in anime that could have led to an interesting film. Sadly, that isn't the path this film goes on.
The anime deals with the lasting psychological scars left by the air raids and atomic bombings. The author, Keiji Nakazawa, said he wanted to release his pent up anger, frustration, and hopelessness onto the page. The long lasting psychological impact of historical injustice is also a topic rich for exploration. The American novelist Toni Morrison has done great work in that area for example.
All the problems with this anime basically fit into 2 major areas. Firstly, the Americans are so cartoonishly demonized and portrayed as SO 1 dimensional that it becomes a joke. The other major issue is that this film takes place in the 1980s and not 1945, yet all Japanese and American characters in the entire film hate each other like the war is still ongoing!
Rather than summarize the whole plot about an anger filled bartender and his experiences with evil American tourists, I'm just going to give you the film's highlights.
1. American tourists show up at Hiroshima to mock the Japanese and celebrate how many people the bomb killed. Another American tourist shows up to take pictures of some physically deformed people born after the bomb and mock their handicaps. I would be ASTOUNDED if Nakazawa actually encountered American tourists in Hiroshima that behaved this way. Maybe James Allsup and Logan Paul went on a Bill and Ted adventure, traveled back to the early 80s, and that's who Nakazawa encountered. Even then, certainly not an accurate portrayal of average Americans.
2. An American runs into a bar with a revolver and shoots at the ceiling while screaming "Japs! You are the uppity!" This raises several questions. Firstly, how the fuck did this drunk get that revolver past Japanese airport security? Secondly, why does Nakazawa think Americans talk like Starfire in Teen Titans Go?! This movie is the stupid, the boring, and the hateful.
3. A prostitute sleeps with American tourists to give them syphilis and fantasizes about how painfully they will die. This film takes place in the 80s, when syphilis could be cured with a basic penicillin shot!
4. Another prostitute refuses to sleep with an American sex tourist because of the atomic bombings. The American than rapes her while screaming "America Strong! America always win!" I have no further comments. It's just a laughably stupid scene.
5. An American vagabond randomly breaks into a bar in Hiroshima and tries to rob the place. The bartender ninja kicks the gun out of the American's hand and strangles him with his bare hands. "You fat pigs can't fight without your guns!" he shouts in triumph. Suddenly, the American pops back up like Jason Vorhees and stabs our MC in the back while screaming "Rememba Pear Haba! America Revenge!"
On the one hand, this is made by a survivor of the atomic bombs and he's simply trying to get his anger out and do some self therapy. On the other hand, Nakazawa didn't just keep this as a rough draft in some diary. He released this piece of shit to a global audience and completely undermined the masterpiece he made just 1 year prior! This movie is hysterically bad, but then you feel horrible for laughing. The art and production value is strong. Someone REALLY had faith in this movie...for some reason. I went easy on this movie by even giving it a 4, mostly because I felt bad for Nakazawa. If you looking for classic anime that time forgot, PLEASE don't see this one!
From Nakazawa Keiji, the creator of Hadashi no Gen (Barefoot Gen) and Kuro ga Ita Natsu (Summer with Kuro). Kuroi Ame ni Utarete (Beaten by the Black Rain) follows first and second generation survivors of the Hiroshima bombing. It's easily Nakazawa Keiji's most resentful film.
The characters in this movie have a very low opinion of Americans, and the director doesn't project a flattering depiction of Americans. The characters have no outlet for all of the negative emotions they experience, so they try to get revenge on oblivious tourists by saying and doing reprehensible things. They're acutely aware of how irrational and unfair they're being; they
can't move on from their experiences due to heavy discrimination against atom bomb survivors.
Ultimately this movie is the manifestation of all the pent-up bitterness and resentment that atom bomb survivors had for the inescapable circumstances that surrounded them in post WWII Japan. The Japanese government and the Japanese people failed them, and Americans were oblivious to their struggles. It's a bit of a downer, to say the least. The movie doesn't vilify or justify the actions of its characters. It leaves judgment up to the viewer. Some of these people behave terribly, some try to move on, and several of them die regardless of what they were doing.
It's a polarizing movie. Some people will appreciate it, most people will see it as a pointlessly hateful and ugly movie. I'd recommend seeing it despite any preconceptions you might have. If nothing else, this movie has convinced me that atom bombs are far more destructive than we think they are, and they have ruined far more lives than Wikipedia gives them credit for. The purpose of this movie is to showcase the terrible things atom bombs can do in the hope that we never resort to them again, and I think it succeeds in that endeavor.