Barefoot Gen

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"Barefoot Gen" was released in 1983.

The story follows the life of Gen, along with the remnants of his family, as they survive the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. It’s often compared to "Grave of the Fireflies" because it takes place during the same time period and both films follow small children. The major difference between the films is that "Barefoot Gen" is ultimately uplifting, while "Grave of the Fireflies" is ultimately depressing.

The major point in "Barefoot Gen" is: No mater how much you’re beaten down, you must come back. This is illustrated at the beginning of the film when Gen’s father tells him about the wheat, which grows back no matter what happens to it. During the film it’s proven as Gen survives the initial bombing and the aftermath. The point is also illustrated in the lives of the different characters he meets in his quest for survival. And when the film ends, the wheat is mentioned again. This film is put together better than almost any other anime. It’s able to show scenes of both joy and sorrow while maintaining its point.

"Grave of the Fireflies" is a lot simpler. Its point is: War is a waste. War takes the lives of two wonderful children and destroys them. There are no real happy moments in that film. In the beginning the children have hope, but things just get worse and worse, until they die, for no good reason. The entire movie was: Look at these wonderful children. Isn’t it horrible that they’re going to die for essentially nothing?"

Both cartoons are simplistic with their idealized characters, but they are both very good. In my opinion, "Barefoot Gen" is the better film because it works well with both happy and sad moments. Also, it contains one scene so powerful I can barely watch it: The ideal happy family being burned alive. Sure, these perfect people are cliché, but it’s horrible even when I know it’s going to happen.

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Gallery Created: 1/21/2004

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