Preferring Live Action over Anime – Hadashi-no-Gen

Over the past week, for work on my the conference paper I will give in May (see Splitting Atomic Symbolism: Differing Words, Images, and Sounds of a Nuclear World), I have re-watched Hadashi-no-Gen (はだしのゲン) (Barefoot Gen) (dir. Masaki, 1983), watched Hadashi-no-Gen 2 (Barefoot Gen 2) (dir. Hirata, 1986) and watched Hadashi-no-Gen (Barefoot Gen) (dir. Nishiura and Murakami, 2007). The main conclusion that I came to from watching these was to reaffirm how much I prefer to watch live action performances over anime.

For those who are unfamiliar with these narratives, I should first point out that the style is not the only difference. In all three cases, however, they are based on the real experiences of a child who was in Hiroshima on the day of the atomic bombing and cover his experiences both before and after that day.

The 1983 Hadashi-no-Gen anime is amongst the list of most well-known anime films in Japan, I suspect. You can find out more about on IMDb (where it has a rating of 8.0 from 7.8K ratings). I think the second anime film, which picks up the story at a later stage, but includes in the first couple of minutes, key images from the first film, has a lower rating of 7.2 from 1.1K reviews on IMDb, which undoubtedly reflects not only how less well-known the film is, but also that its lack of coverage of the bombing itself takes away one of the critical storylines.

The 2007 live action version (there are also other versions), focusses back on the main story.

The 2007 version was first shown on TV over two nights in August 2007. It is somewhat ironic that it was part of a series, called ‘Sen-no-Kaze-ni-Natte‘ given that this is a song that I associate with my visits to and attendance at JL123 memorial events in Ueno-mura, and this particular programme was shown on the nights when I arrived in Japan for my first fieldwork trip related to my research on JL123 (the second programme was on the night that I first went to Ueno-mura).

The 2007 version has many less views that the anime versions – just 81 at the time of writing – but has a 7.7 rating. This is on the low side in my view – to the extent that I have now included it in my list of My Top Movies and TV Shows. But some of that may simply be, as I realise more and more, that I prefer live action over anime. I used to say that I wasn’t a fan of anime or manga at all, but, as I have discussed in a post about Kurosagi Shitai Takuhaibin, that is too simplistic. There are many examples where there are both live action and anime versions of a narrative and I have previously discussed Nihon Chinbotsu/Japan Sinks which is another example of this (see “Nihon Chinbotsu” – Japan Gets That Sinking Feeling… twice and “Japan Sinks 2020” – Japan Gets That Sinking Feeling… again).

As I wrote above, the viewing of these movies ties in with my work on images of the use of atomic weapons, in particular, and Visual Packaging Culture. I will do another post in due course with a list of the ones that I have gathered and would welcome people to send me suggestions of others to view.

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