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95%Al Jensen

Barefoot Gen

はだしのゲン

Mangaka: Keiji Nakazawa 中沢 啓治
Born: 14th of Mar, 1939 Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan
Original Publisher: Shueisha
English Language Publisher: Last Gasp
Published: June 1973 to January 1974
Status: Finished
Number of Volumes: 10
Serialized: Weekly Shonen Jump 週刊少年ジャンプ
Genre: Historical, Tragedy
Demographic: shonen

Synopsis
Barefoot Gen is based on mangaka Keiji Nakazawa’s personal experiences as a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The series begins in 1945 in and around Hiroshima, Japan, where second-grader Gen Nakaoka lives with his family. Life is extremely hard, as food supplies dwindle and the bombing raids increase.

Gen and his family face even greater hardships after their father is caught speaking out against the war. Meanwhile, readers are left waiting for the other shoe to drop, as August 6, 1945 looms closer and closer. When the bomb finally drops, what remains of the city is annihilated, and Gen and the surviving members of his family must somehow survive life in the aftermath.

The manga is valuable not only in its depiction of the final days of WW2 and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, but also gen's struggles to grow up in postwar Japan, a real-life example of life in a post-apocalyptic world.

While definitely a work of political and historical significance, Barefoot Gen is also very much a shonen manga. There are light-hearted moments, and for the most part Gen maintains a positive, can-do attitude, which was itself very much a part of the ethos of post-war Japan.
Background & Impact
Barefoot Gen is one of the most-widely translated manga in the world, and one of the most well-known in the west, outside of otaku circles. It has sold over 6.5 million copies.

The manga has inspired multiple films, both animated and live-action, as well as a television miniseries, and even a stage play.