The farther the Barefoot Gen storyline gets from the atomic bombing, the more it feels like an epic story. The first few books were dominated by a singular event: the bombing and its horrific aftermath; although the bomb certainly is the central thread of the following books (and probably the whole series), by the midpoint, the series is so much more about family, friendship, faith, and resilience. Clearly, the series has always been about survival, but the further it moves from the bomb, the more it seems is at stake.
In the fifth volume, The Never-Ending War, more than two years have passed since the bombing, and the Hiroshima at the center of Nakazawa's Barefoot Gen is descending into the chaos of organized crime and American occupation. This has probably been my least favorite in the series, as the various plots and subplots seem more disjointed from the story of the previous volumes. There are some new characters which will take some getting used to, but I'm sure they'll be welcome to the established (but dwindling) cast.
I picked up this particular volume on the seventy-first anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. I have every intention to finish this series in the coming weeks, but I do not intend to leave my study of the atomic bombs there. Undoubtedly, there are images in these pages that are forever seared into my memory, a testament to Nakazawa's heartfelt and honest illustrations.