Monday, October 16, 2006

(untitled 111)

I decided to be a rabid, anti-war bleeding heart liberal today.

Allow me to explain.

In my Japanese literature class, we started a unit on WWII era Japan today. We were discussing a story titled "Blind Chinese Soldiers" (a short excerpt of which you can read here) by renowned author Hirabayashi Taiko and how it related to the politics and society of 1940s Japan. It's a terribly interesting story - I highly recommend reading it if you get the chance. In the course of the discussion, however, we got on the topic of the atomic bomb and Hiroshima. My professor, having anticipated this coming up, brought a film titled Hadashi no Gen (Barefoot Gen) on that very subject. It portrays the bombing of Hiroshima in an anime format, which has a more powerful effect than you might think. Similar to Art Spiegelman's Maus, the abstraction of the characters involved provides the reader a window into their lives. A photorealistic depiction of a character means that only one person in the world can be that character. An abstract portrayal of a character opens the doors; any one of thousands of people could realistically be represented. (I'm trying to succinctly summarize Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art and not doing such a great job. Read the book - you'll enjoy it.)

The point I'm making here is that despite the cartoonish quality of the film, the depiction of the effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was horrifying. Absolutely horrifying. The class was absolutely silent for a while afterward. It was intense. I didn't talk to anyone until I'd sat in the library, calmed down, and listened to Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Under the Sea. I just felt so strongly against war. I actually thought to myself as I watched the film, "How on earth could we have dropped two bombs on Japan?"

That said, I feel a strong need in my life to be an anti-war nut. Feel free to respond as you will.

(my apologies for the slew of links. it's like i'm channeling bawb or something.)

1 comment:

Melyngoch said...

You have, of course, read Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five -- as far as artistic endeavors which give me a highly affective political response, it's watershed.