Posted by psgels on 10 November 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



In case you’re wondering: I recently discovered that there were quite a few WWII-movies that I have yet to see, so I’m going to be watching and reviewing them in a sort-of mini marathon for the next couple of days. Today I’m taking a look at Barefoot Gen, as it portrays the citizens of Hiroshima before, during and after the bombing. In particular a young boy called Gen.

It’s another movie that’s hard to watch. Most of these movies go for subtlety and shy away from showing the biggest amounts of violence. Barefoot Gen does not. Especially the scene of the bombing is truly gruesome. In this act, more than one hundred thousand people died, which translates to roughly a third of the city’s population. Barefoot Gen tries to make sure to show the true horrors that went on in Hiroshima at that point.

The problem with this, however, is that this movie was its time far ahead. And by that, I mean that some of the things it wanted to animate, it simply didn’t have the resources, technology or budget for. This movie was created in 1983, in which anime was still in its relatively early stages. Because of the animation errors, the victims of the atom bomb sometimes look gruesome, while at others they look like those zombie people you see in cheaply animated fantasy flicks. The animation simply wasn’t able to show enough details of all the victims that pass the screen, which is a damn shame. I wonder what would have happened if this movie were to be animated today.

Gen as a lead character does an adequate job. There’s not much depth in this guy, but you can see that he’s an innocent young boy who is caught up in everything and especially for the movie’s time, he’s well portrayed. He likes to fight and play around, but he’s colourful enough to carry this series as its main character. His mother surprised me: I really thought that she would turn into another one of these stereotypical mothers who are completely useless and too mentally weak to do anything, but she actually shed away her stereotype to become something more realistic than that.

With these reviews, I don’t intend to judge the characters or the settings themselves, nor do I intend to offend anyone. We all know horrible things happened back then. There’s no need for me to repeat it. Instead, I’m simply judging the storytelling here: are the characters well portrayed? How much impact did it make on me? Is it properly animated? That sort of stuff. Barefoot Gen is a flawed work that was a bit too ambitious for its time and resources, but it’s definitely worth the watch.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 7/10
Setting: 8/10

One Response

  1. Avatar Hela says:

    If I remember well -I included this work in my dissertation a couple of years ago, it’s based on the true experience of the manga author. It’s important not to judge anime, manga or any other medium by today’s standards as it’s obvious they will fall short under certain aspects. What we have to remember is what they contributed towards their medium in their own time.

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