Anime is a unique medium that provokes different emotions. Most anime tend to focus on entertainment across many titles and dramas. But there are important anime that have a more noble purpose one of those being Barefoot Gen.

Even if you have never seen the film you are probably familiar with it on some level. I am guessing that you may only know about the famous graphic depiction of the bombing of Hiroshima.

Beyond this iconic scene lies a very hard but important film that everyone should watch even for non-anime fans. It changed my life by making me rethink my approach to life.  My goal is to share how and why this film changed my life. By doing this I want you to think about your own life and re-evaluate it.

I am only going to spoil when absolutely necessary.

Anime is a unique medium that provokes different emotions. Most anime tend to focus on entertainment across many titles and dramas.

But there are important anime that have a more noble purpose one of those being Barefoot Gen.

Even if you have never seen the film you are probably familiar with it on some level.

I am guessing that you may only know about the famous graphic depiction of the bombing of Hiroshima.

Beyond this iconic scene lies a very hard but important film that everyone should watch even for non-anime fans.

It changed my life by making me rethink my approach to life.

My goal is to share how and why this film changed my life. By doing this I want you to think about your own life and re-evaluate it.

I am only going to spoil when absolutely necessary.

Is Barefoot Gen a true story or based on a True Story? 

Keiji Nakazawa created Barefoot Gen manga in 1973 which detailed his experience during the Hiroshima bombing.

In the film Gen is Keiji. Not all of the film is 100% accurate to Keji’s experience but the important parts are. I always found it disturbing that Keiji actually took the skulls of his sister, father, and brother from the house that they died in.

The visual parts of the story showing the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima are accurate.

One of the most inspirational parts of this story is Keiji and his ability to not only live through this but to move on. Not many could see so much death and destruction at a young age and keep going. Keiji made the manga about his life experiences to teach others what happened. Now that you know the back story let’s talk about the impact of the film on my life.

Gen and his siblings
Gen’s family is based on Keiji’s family during that time. Barefoot Gen film at 8 minutes 23 seconds.

Keiji Nakazawa created Barefoot Gen manga in 1973 which detailed his experience during the Hiroshima bombing.

In the film Gen is Keiji. Not all of the film is 100% accurate to Keji’s experience but the important parts are.

I always found it disturbing that Keiji actually took the skulls of his sister, father, and brother from the house that they died in.

The visual parts of the story showing the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima are accurate.

One of the most inspirational parts of this story is Keiji and his ability to not only live through this but to move on.

Not many could see so much death and destruction at a young age and keep going.

Keiji made the manga about his life experiences to teach others what happened.

Now that you know the back story let’s talk about the impact of the film on my life.

Gen and his siblings
Gen’s family is based on Keiji’s family during that time. Barefoot Gen film at 8 minutes 23 seconds.

How Barefoot Gen taught me to not take things for Granted

Gen and his brother getting food for their mother
Times were so bad that Gen and his brother had to steal food. Barefoot Gen film at 18 minutes 31 seconds.

Speaking for myself I think most people take the life they have for granted.

In the film Any Given Sunday, Al Pachino’s character gives the famous “inches” speech. I won’t quote the whole speech just his one part.

“You know when you get old in life things get taken from you. That’s, that’s part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff.”

I always interpret this to mean that you only realize the importance of something when you no longer have it.

Barefoot Gen also reinforces this idea.

Here are some examples.

During this time in Japan food was hard to come by. It obviously got worse after the bombing but even with money people good not get food. Gen constantly complains about it and even steals a fish from a neighbor’s pond to feed his mother.

Today we are not living in war conditions. We have stores that supply us with possibly too much food at very cheap prices. I am also amazed at how much food is available with a budget of under 200 dollars a month in the US. This is something that I never really thought about until after seeing these characters struggle with issues in their lives.

Speaking for myself I think most people take the life they have for granted.

In the film Any Given Sunday, Al Pachino’s character gives the famous “inches” speech. I won’t quote the whole speech just his one part.

“You know when you get old in life things get taken from you. That’s, that’s part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff.”

I always interpret this to mean that you only realize the importance of something when you no longer have it.

Barefoot Gen also reinforces this idea.

Here are some examples.

During this time in Japan food was hard to come by. It obviously got worse after the bombing but even with money people good not get food.

Gen constantly complains about it and even steals a fish from a neighbor’s pond to feed his mother.

Today we are not living in war conditions.

We have stores that supply us with possibly too much food at very cheap prices.

I am also amazed at how much food is available with a budget of under 200 dollars a month in the US.

This is something that I never really thought about until after seeing these characters struggle with issues in their lives.

Gen and his brother getting food for their mother
Times were so bad that Gen and his brother had to steal food. Barefoot Gen film at 18 minutes 31 seconds.

Gen loses his family at a young age after the bombing of Hiroshima. His older sister, father, and younger brother died under the rubble of a burning house. Gen’s newly born sister dies of malnourishment. Only his mother survives through the experience.

I am thankful in my own life to still have my two parents and most of my grandparents. All of my siblings are alive and I can see them anytime I want to. Usually, I find my siblings to be a nuisance more than something special. But after seeing Gen lose his family you realize how lucky you really are to have your family alive and well.

Every day in Hiroshima and other parts of Japan there was also the threat of air raids. Thus alarms would go off to warn people to flee underground. Most of the time it’s a false alarm. But that constant threat always kept people on edge.

Today the US is in peace and the threat of an air raid is not likely to ever occur.

Gen and his brother in the arms of their parents
Gen lost most of his family something that I have never experience. This is something that I never thoughts of. Barefoot Gen film at 27 minutes 49 seconds.

Gen loses his family at a young age after the bombing of Hiroshima.

His older sister, father, and younger brother died under the rubble of a burning house. Gen’s newly born sister dies of malnourishment. Only his mother survives through the experience.

I am thankful in my own life to still have my two parents and most of my grandparents.

All of my siblings are alive and I can see them anytime I want to.

Usually, I find my siblings to be a nuisance more than something special.

But after seeing Gen lose his family you realize how lucky you really are to have your family alive and well.

Every day in Hiroshima and other parts of Japan there was also the threat of air raids.

Thus alarms would go off to warn people to flee underground. Most of the time it’s a false alarm. But that constant threat always kept people on edge.

Today the US is in peace and the threat of an air raid is not likely to ever occur.

Gen and his brother in the arms of their parents
Gen lost most of his family something that I have never experience. This is something that I never thoughts of. Barefoot Gen film at 27 minutes 49 seconds.

Scenes from Barefoot Gen that were Eye-Opening

Gen and Kondou taking care of Seiji
Gen and Kondou have to clean up Seiji’s burn injuries. Barefoot Gen film at 1 hour 6 minutes 30 seconds.

When Gen and Kondou agree to take care of Seiji who was burned from head to toe.

Kondou is a boy that Gen and his mom later adopt. He shares a resemblance to Gen’s younger brother. In order to earn money to buy Gen’s baby sister formula, they took this job. Gen’s mother was too malnourished to breastfeed so the formula milk was absolutely necessary.

The hard part of this job was to clean the maggots and work in a very smelly and dirty environment.

So many people complain about their jobs today but most people would never do something like that myself included. Think about how bad things were back then. These boys had to clean maggots off someone to afford formula milk for a baby. You would never see that today.

I realized that I am lucky to be born in a time where my mother did not depend on formula milk to take care of me. You and I may not have been aware of this because no one remembers being a baby but it does not change how lucky we are.

When Gen and Kondou agree to take care of Seiji who was burned from head to toe.

Kondou is a boy that Gen and his mom later adopt. He shares a resemblance to Gen’s younger brother.

In order to earn money to buy Gen’s baby sister formula, they took this job.

Gen’s mother was too malnourished to breastfeed so the formula milk was absolutely necessary.

The hard part of this job was to clean the maggots and work in a very smelly and dirty environment.

So many people complain about their jobs today but most people would never do something like that myself included.

Think about how bad things were back then. These boys had to clean maggots off someone to afford formula milk for a baby.

You would never see that today.

I realized that I am lucky to be born in a time where my mother did not depend on formula milk to take care of me.

You and I may not have been aware of this because no one remembers being a baby but it does not change how lucky we are.

Gen and Kondou taking care of Seiji
Gen and Kondou have to clean up Seiji’s burn injuries. Barefoot Gen film at 1 hour 6 minutes 30 seconds.

Gen and his mother Kimie are forced to leave Gen’s father, brother, and sister to die in a house fire.

This is the hardest scene for me to watch. Usually, in films, the characters can lift the rubble off the person but in this case, it does not happen.

You almost want to go in the film and save this family. I can’t comprehend what Keiji was thinking when this was going on. You helplessly watch your family die in one of the worse ways possible.

It’s from this moment that I understood how my family is precious and I should never take it for granted. Because they could be here today and gone tomorrow. In once scene in the film, Gen and his family are eating dinner together. In the next scene, he goes to school not knowing that last night was the final dinner he would share with his family.

Gen and his mother trying to save their family
Gen and his mother trying to save their family. This is was one of the hardest scenes in the film to watch. Barefoot Gen film at 37 minutes 5 seconds.

Gen and his mother Kimie are forced to leave Gen’s father, brother, and sister to die in a house fire.

This is the hardest scene for me to watch.

Usually, in films, the characters can lift the rubble off the person but in this case, it does not happen.

You almost want to go in the film itself and save this family.

I can’t comprehend what Keiji was thinking when this was going on.

You helplessly watch your family die in one of the worse ways possible.

It’s from this moment that I understood how my family is precious and I should never take it for granted.

Because they could be here today and gone tomorrow.

In once scene in the film, Gen and his family are eating dinner together.

In the next scene, he goes to school not knowing that last night was the final dinner he would share with his family.

Gen and his mother trying to save their family
Gen and his mother trying to save their family. This is was one of the hardest scenes in the film to watch. Barefoot Gen film at 37 minutes 5 seconds.
The mushroom cloud from the bombing of Hiroshima
The mushroom cloud from the bombing of Hiroshima. This is the most impactful scene in the film. Barefoot Gen film at 34 minutes 32 seconds.

The bombing scene and the aftermath

It depicted how bad the bombing was especially in the aftermath. This consisted of people walking with their eyes balls falling out of their sockets and dying of radiation sickness. No one should have to witness or experience that in their lives ever.

Thankfully most of us never will. I don’t think about the fact that my body functions normally with no immediate ailments. Watching this made me consider these benefits.

Gen’s mom giving birth.

When Gen’s mom goes into labor, Gen looks for a doctor to help out. This occurs after the bombing of Hiroshima so there was a good chance that the doctor was dead or helping other people.

Gen is not able to find the doctor and has to help his mom deliver the baby by himself. The idea that I could be in serious medical danger and not have a doctor able to help me is terrifying. I am thankful for the health insurance that I have. But even more thankful that I live in a time where this reality back then would not happen today.

The bombing scene and the aftermath

It depicted how bad the bombing was especially in the aftermath.

This consisted of people walking with their eyes balls falling out of their sockets and dying of radiation sickness.

No one should have to witness or experience that in their lives ever.

Thankfully most of us never will.

I don’t think about the fact that my body functions normally with no immediate ailments.

Watching this made me consider these benefits.

Gen’s mom giving birth.

When Gen’s mom goes into labor, Gen looks for a doctor to help out.

This occurs after the bombing of Hiroshima so there was a good chance that the doctor was dead or helping other people.

Gen is not able to find the doctor and has to help his mom deliver the baby by himself.

The idea that I could be in serious medical danger and not have a doctor able to help me is terrifying.

I am thankful for the health insurance that I have.

But even more thankful that I live in a time where this reality back then would not happen today.

The mushroom cloud from the bombing of Hiroshima
The mushroom cloud from the bombing of Hiroshima. This is the most impactful scene in the film. Barefoot Gen film at 34 minutes 32 seconds.

What my Approach to Life Before and After Watching Barefoot Gen

What my approach to life before watching Barefoot Gen

  • Prior to watching the film, my approach to life was selfish and petty.
  • I took most of what I had for granted.
  • Getting angry at little things that did not matter.
  • Always feeling sorry for myself.
  • I generally had the wrong perspective on life
Gen and his siblings sleeping in their house
I was taking my family for granted before watching this film. Gen was with his family one day and the next they could be gone. Barefoot Gen film at 10 minutes 40 seconds.
The dead people being collected
After seeing how people were suffering in Barefoot Gen. I realized that many of my problems were not that serious. Barefoot Gen film at 48 minutes 51 seconds.

What’s my approach to life after watch Barefoot Gen

  • Try to avoid getting angry when possible
  • I make an effort to end conflicts even if the blame comes to me
  • I stopped feeling sorry for myself
  • Many of my issues after reevaluation turned about to be not real problems.
  • All of my happy ideas are written in a journal
  • Anything that is a problem I now work to fix instead of complaining about it.

What life lessons can we learn from Barefoot Gen

1. Be grateful for what you have

  • Family
  • Job
  • Health
  • Access to food at the store
  • Living in a time of peace
  • Having all of your bodily functions working correctly

2. Think before you act when getting upset

3. Try to think about other people’s situations before complaining. The key is to pick your battles and put things into perspective.

4. If you can help out others when you can

5. You have to always keep moving forward

Gen moved on from what happened to his family to write manga and tell his story

Gen making a monument for his dead family members
Gen’s ability to move on after his family died taught me to keep moving forward. Barefoot Gen film at 59 minutes 22 seconds.

Final Thoughts

Barefoot Gen is not only a fantastic anime but an important piece of history that needs to be watched. The bombing of Hiroshima never gets discussed often as other aspects of WW2 or other atrocities in media today. If you have never seen the film then watch it. Also, encourage others to watch it as well.

I know that if more people watch the film then they will also rethink their lives.

It changed my life and if you go in with an open mind it will do that same to you.

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