Barefoot Gen was the first manga I saw, I now realize. And I didn’t get it. I couldn’t reconcile the “cartoony” art with the story’s casual violence plus the nuclear ultraviolence. I didn’t get the pace, especially after vaguely realizing that Nakazawa continued his story in more volumes. At least the pages had been flopped for the English edition; if I’d been trying to read right to left, I would have been completely lost.
I like to think that with more background information about how Japanese comics were created and published I would have gotten much more out of Barefoot Gen. As it was, I got only the vague guilt of not being able to appreciate something that was Clearly Important.
Nakazawa, who was six when the bomb dropped, just died from lung cancer. Barefoot Gen remains in print around the world and has inspired three cinematic adaptations.