Barefoot Gen (of 1) (Mania.com)

Review Date: Tuesday, April 27, 1999
Release Date: Tuesday, April 27, 1999



What They Say
Drawn from Keiji Nakazaw’a true life experiences surrounding the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima during the summer of 1945, Barefoot Gen tells the story of one family’s struggle to survive in the aftermath of one of World War II’s defining moments.

As the film begins, six-year-old Gen has lived nearly his entire life in the shadow of war – a war fought in distant lands far away from the life he knew with his family in his native Japan. Yet, nothing he had ever experienced would prepare him for the horrors which follow the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Legendary animation producer Masao Maruyama has created a critically acclaimed adaptation of Nakezawa’s autobiographical graphic novel. Barefoot Gen remains a vivid, poignant, powerful and authentic document of this milestone event. In bringing Nakazawa’s memories to life through animation, with haunting images forever etched in out minds, Maruyama has made a masterpiece and an advocacy for future world peace.

The Review!
Based on Nakazawa Keiji’s manga (available in the US BTW), Barefoot Gen tells the story of a Hiroshima family in the days directly before, and directly following the Hiroshima bombing. Gen and his brother Shinji are typical boys of the day, playing army and starving because their family has not food ration coupons. But they also love each other greatly, along with their, father, mother and sister Eiko. The plot has changed from the manga, and to go into detail would be a major spoiler, but suffice to say, the restructured plot works just fine, and all of the drama is intact. This is a VERY important film, and belongs in any otaku’s DVD collection.

Onto the translation. Let’s get this part out of the way, the movie is dubtitled, I first noticed this when I was finding major errors in translation, and switched to the English track. Lo and behold the words matched exactly. Shame on you Image, you could have gotten the original translation as easily as the dub script. Another complaint is the PURPLE subtitles. Why couldn’t they have just used bordered yellow or white ones? Much easier on the eyes. As expected, the dub is terrible. The Japanese actors for Gen and Shinji (and later Ryuji) have a good range of emotion, while their American counterparts(the usual suspects from Streamline, women pretending to be boys) shred their characters with little, or incorrect emotion. Their shear lack of proper voice acting talent is as usual, abundant. A new dub of this film must be done, one that preserves the quality of the film.

The film transfer is very good, considering that the movie is closing in on 20, and there has probably not been a new print in quite awhile. The audio is not the world’s best on the Japanese track, but that’s to be expected on theatrical anime of the time period. It would have been nice if they cleaned it up a bit and made the audio sharp and clear like in the dub track(too bad I’ll never listen to THAT again, all that effort gone to waste).

Onto packaging: They use the dreaded snapper, and the art on the back seems sparse and not really representative of the film, they make it seem more childish than it actually is, even though there’s a warning of extreme violence on the back(which BTW, is worded in such a way, that I would guess that people were going to die bloody deaths from machine guns, not visual representations of the horror of the bomb.

A final word. Two years ago I visited Hiroshima, and seeing all of these places in the flesh gave this film an extra edge for me, as I can picture all of these places. If you are ever in Japan, I suggest you visit it, not only are the used shops great J , but you will see the horror that was inflicted there, and share the vow that it shall never happen again.

Features
English Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Language

Review Equipment
N/A



Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: D
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Image Entertainment
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 83
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Barefoot Gen