'Barefoot Gen' creator Nakazawa dies

28 December 2012 / 3 years 9 months ago

Source: AsiaOneManga artist Keiji Nakazawa, best known for "Hadashi no Gen" (Barefoot Gen), the semiautobiographical story of his experiences surviving the 1945 atomic bombing of this city, has died of lung cancer, it was learned Tuesday. He was 73.Nakazawa, who died on Dec 19 at a Hiroshima hospital, was known as a staunch opponent of nuclear weapons. Born in Hiroshima, he experienced the atomic bombing at age 6, when he was 1.2 kilometers away from ground zero.He lost his father, older sister and younger brother in the bombing. His younger sister, who was born shortly after, died not long after the end of the war. Inspired by manga artist Osamu Tezuka, Nakazawa decided as a child that he would become a mangaka.He got a job as a sign maker soon after graduating from middle school, but moved to Tokyo in 1961 to pursue his dream. His mother died in 1966. After the cremation, he found that her remains had been reduced almost completely to ash, preventing him from being able to collect some of her bone fragments, as is customary.He believed this was due to the effects of the radiation from the bomb, and later wrote that the incident enraged him, since he felt the atomic bomb had even deprived him of his mother's bones.Motivated by the event, two years later saw the publication of "Kuroi Ame ni Utarete" (Struck by black rain), Nakazawa's first work on the atomic bombing. "Hadashi no Gen" was first published as a series in the weekly manga magazine Shukan Shonen Jump, and ran from 1973 to 1987 under several different publishers. The comic was later published in book form, which has sold about 10 million copies. The story of Gen has been translated into about 20 languages. Its English version was completed in 2009.With the royalties from his work, Nakazawa launched a production company to make animated versions of "Hadashi no Gen" and "Kuroi Ame ni Utarete" in 1983 and 1984, respectively.Nakazawa announced his retirement in September 2009, citing vision problems due to cataracts and retinopathy. He has made more than 10,000 donations to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, including a draft of the first instalment of an uncompleted sequel for "Hadashi no Gen," in which he planned to depict the later life of the main character.He was diagnosed with lung cancer in the summer of 2010. He underwent surgery to remove part of his right lung, but the cancer metastasized the following year. On Aug 8, 2011, Nakazawa attended the memorial ceremony for the victims of the Hiroshima bombing for the first time.He said after the ceremony: "It's important to continue [holding this ceremony], but a ceremony alone cannot fully relate the dreadfulness of nuclear weapons. I'm again reminded of how important it is for people like me who remember [the bombing] to tell people about [our experiences] for as long as we live."According to his family, in his last days Nakazawa said he hoped a screening of the animated version of "Hadashi no Gen" could be held next year, since 2013 is the 40th anniversary of the start of the series. His funeral was held privately, attended only by close relatives.

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