Barefoot Gen Is Non-fiction and Why That Means Something – 12 Days of Anime Christmas

Phew welcome to day 3 of the 12 days of anime Christmas, I hope you’re excited! Historically I have used this challenge to talk about my most emotional moments from the favourite shows that I have watched specifically within that year.

So naturally I had to talk about barefoot Gen considering it impacted me so much. The film was a brutal and horrific tale of Gen  who has entire home and livlihood destroyed by the Hiroshima bombings.

Keiji Nakazawa portrayed the events of the film honestly and for that the film was so much more difficult to watch. Recently I found a letter on ANN from Nakazawa to Obama (who was president at the time) encouraging his attitude towards nuclear weapons.

Within the letter he revealed that the story of barefoot gen was non-fiction and had actually happened to him. And learning that was a punch to the gut. Knowing that the events I saw actually happened really makes the film so much more special to me.

I remember coming out of that film thinking that nobody who saw it would ever drop a nuke ever, I don’t even think I’d want the experience of a nuke to happen to my worst enemy after seeing what happened to people.

The sad thing to me is that Gen’s story is a happy story in comparison to the other people in Hiroshima because he didn’t die and his mum lived. It’s horrific imagining all of the other things that could have happened to other people.

Most of the time writing to a president to ask them to read your manga seems foolishly stupid. However if it’s for a purpose such as this I seriously commend Nakazawa for sending it. I have the belief that if we send the film to all the countries with Nukes to watch it the chances of nukes actually being used will drop rapidly (from already very low rates hopefully)

The emotional value and impact of the film cannot be understated so I highly recommend you watch it despite it’s sadness.

Oddly now I find myself enjoying sad anime a lot now, I think there can often be really value messages from experiencing sad shows and it’s hard to explain but it can sometimes be sad in a really good way where it’s so fascinatingly entertaining to you as a consequence.

I do intend to make full notes on the film and create a massive review of it at some point in the future. But that looks a while off so I guess you’ll just have to wait!

This letter is seriously worth reading in my opinion and it brought me to tears. I’ll leave it bellow here


Dear President Obama and Family,

My name is Keiji Nakazawa. I am a Japanese cartoonist, a citizen of Hiroshima, and the author of “Barefoot Gen,” a graphic novel whose hero, Gen, is a young boy whose pluck and courage help him survive the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and its terrible aftermath.

First of all, I would like to offer you my sincere congratulations on your election to the presidency of the United States. I am writing to you because, with the recent completion of the English translation of all ten volumes of the “Barefoot Gen” series, it is my hope that you and your family will find time in your busy schedules to read Gen’s story.

This year, the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, residents of those cities felt for the first time that our long-cherished dream of a nuclear-free world might really come true. What gave us hope was your speech in Prague on April 5 this year in which you declared your commitment to a “world without nuclear weapons.” On the occasion of the anniversary of the bombing, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba coined the word “Obamajority” to express his belief that the vast majority of the world’s citizens share this commitment with you. As one such citizen, I too would like to declare my unwavering support for your initiative.

I was especially moved when I read a newspaper article that mentioned your visit in October 2007 to the exhibition of A-bomb panels at DePaul University in Chicago. I could not help thinking that what you saw there may have helped inspire your determination to achieve a nuclear-free world.

I know that such a goal will not be easy to achieve — as you stated in Prague, perhaps not in our lifetimes. But as a significant step in that direction, it is my hope that you will come to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hear the voices of the atomic bomb survivors first-hand, and visit the Peace Memorial Museum here in Hiroshima. Such a visit by the leader of the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon would be a persuasive indicator to the other nuclear powers of the United States’s sense of moral responsibility as well as your own personal commitment.

As perhaps the busiest person in the world, your schedule may not permit such a visit any time soon. In the meantime, however, I hope that you, your wife Michelle and your daughters Malia and Sasha will read “Barefoot Gen” together. I believe that you will find it a useful means of understanding the actual experience of the atomic bomb victims, and of preparing for an eventual visit to Hiroshima.

Barefoot Gen” is not a work of fiction, but is based on my own experiences as a survivor as well as those of my family and friends. It is my prayer that Gen’s story will help galvanize the commitment of peace-loving people around the world to the goals you have so eloquently expressed. I also pray for the health and happiness of you and your family.

Sincerely yours,

Keiji Nakazawa

Hiroshima, Japan

August 20, 2009


Souce for this letter: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interest/2016-05-26/barefoot-gen-author-undelivered-letter-to-president-obama-discovered/.102516

(Though I’m sure nobody has this copyrighted)


Thank you for reading day 3 of the 12 days of anime Christmas, I’m sorry if this was really sad for you because it was sad more me! I’m sure it won’t stay this bleak and sad for the whole 12 days so let’s hope for something more uplifting tomorrow!

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