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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

Review: Barefoot Gen - Out of the Ashes

Barefoot Gen, Volume Four: Out of the Ashes - Keiji Nakazawa, Project Gen

This has probably been my favorite of the Barefoot Gen series so far. The first two books in the series, dealing with the bombing and the immediate results, are easily the most "forever seared into my brain." In them were images that I cannot shake. These were strong for their visual storytelling and I'll likely always think of the first two volumes when I reflect on this series.

Of the first four volumes, Out of the Ashes has the most well-rounded story, however. It touches on many aspects that are much more personal, including the spiritual, and questions of loyalty and honor. The beauty and horror of the few deaths in this fourth volume are as unforgettable and heartrending as the mass casualties in the first three volumes.

Out of the Ashes is nearly perfect, but it does still rely on way too much comic violence for my taste. I've complained about that before with this series, but frankly, I don't care for the every-other-page hitting for the sake of comedy. I understand it may be part of the style, but personally I find it detracts from the heart of the story.