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Keiji Nakazawa's semi-autobiographical account of the bombing of Hiroshima, which depicts a second grader, Gen, surviving the bombing in 1945. Barefoot Gen (Hadashi no Gen in the original Japanese) was first serialized in 1972-73 in Shukan Shonen Jampu, the largest weekly comic of it's time. It was the first Japanese manga to be translated into English (collected in four volumes, published by New Society Publishers). In 1983 it was released as a full length animated feature (Orion Home Video). American critics tended to fault the work for being too graphic, and for making too strong a case against nuclear war.

Along with Joe Sacco's Palestine and Art Spiegelman's Maus series, Barefoot Gen shows that comics can be a serious artform. The story is gripping, the characters are believable, and the author doesn't pull any punches. I got sick several times while reading this book. The art is an interesting combination of standard issue manga style drawing and precision detail medical illustration quality drawing.

The comic also has tremendous value as a documentary work. The author includes many details about the everyday life of Japanese during the war, regular people's ambivalent attitudes about the war, and lots of gory medical facts about radiation sickness and other diseases of post-bombing Hiroshima.

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