Otaku USA Magazine
Hiroshima Survivor Upset Barefoot Gen Is Being Pulled from Classrooms

The manga series Barefoot Gen, based on the life of creator Keiji Nakazawa, is about what a boy and his family experience from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. It’s been used as an educational manga and as a warning for the dangers of nuclear bombs. In 2023 the city of Hiroshima has decided it will no longer use the manga as educational materials in schools.

This didn’t come out of nowhere. There have been people asking for the manga to be taken out of schools. In one scene, a desperate Gen steals someone else’s fish. Concerns were raised that this might lead to a “misunderstanding” — perhaps that, out of context, kids might think this okays stealing. The Hiroshima city education board declared that, “a partial extract of the work makes it difficult to convey the true nature of the atomic bombing.”

Other people are very upset at the idea of Barefoot Gen being taken out of the curriculum. Japanese paper The Mainichi interviewed one of them, 78-year-old Hiroshi Sugibayashi. Sugibayashi was also a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

“My current wish is for the manga to not be erased, as someone who lived the life of Gen,” he said. He believes he remembers creator Nakazawa as a boy when they were struggling to get on in the aftermath of the bombing.

Sugibayashi first became aware of the manga when it was an assignment for his son. “This is written about me,” he thought, relating to the character and what he went through.

“I was desperate to get by, and this life of mine was also that of Gen. I feel as if our lives were rejected.” Sugibayashi remarked. “I can talk about episodes from that time. This is my duty as someone who is alive today.”

Creator Nakazawa is no longer alive to give his thoughts. Barefoot Gen is published in America by Last Gasp.

Source: The Mainichi


Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.