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The Plastic Seriality of Atomic Bomb Manga: Art, Biopolitics, and Barefoot Gen



Keiji Nakazawa's atomic bomb manga, Barefoot Gen, a ten-volume series, published between 1972 and 1985, is lauded by Hillary Chute as a documentary comic which registers Nakazawa's conscientious efforts to take "the risk of representation" to "intervene against a culture of invisibility." Thomas LaMarre, in his study of Barefoot Gen, focuses on Nakazawa's dynamic deployment of the "plastic line" to articulate a politics of resistance. Drawing upon Chute's and LaMarre's observations, I propose to read Nakazawa's Barefoot Gen as a documentary comic that not only documents or critiques history, but also capitalizes on the manga's proclivity for repetition, a formal device inherent to and inseparable from the serial nature of manga as a cultural medium, to register the atomic bomb survivors' everyday efforts of survival as well as to give expression to the cluster of bewildering and disorganized sensations assaulting their meaning-making schemes, rendering them both victims and witnesses to a traumatic experience whose affective forces they can neither understand nor escape. Moreover, Nakazawa, as a shōnen manga artist, while highlighting the horror and the spectacle of the atomic bombing, also insists on using the ethical as a counter discourse to the biopolitical, as he articulates and prioritizes the discourse of the affiliative bonding among the victims and the discourse of human dignity. Barefoot Gen, in this sense, projects a naive but persuasive solution or response to a series of complex social problems that are both political and historical in nature, but it does so by drawing attention to its serial form on the one hand and its media specificity-its serial and iconic capacities and its interweaving of plastic and structural lines-on the other.

Parallel abstracts

邱特(Hillary Chute)將中澤啟治發表於1972年至1985年間的原爆漫畫《赤腳阿元》歸類於記錄歷史的紀實漫畫,推崇中澤大膽採取「代言」與「再現」為敘事策略的作法,並認為藉由這種紀實的策略,中澤更能切入與批判當代社會對原爆議題視而不見的文化。拉馬爾(Thomas LaMarre)在討論《赤腳阿元》時,則聚焦分析作者如何活用「可塑線條」來展演他的政治理念,他指出《赤腳阿元》啟動「可塑線條」(plastic lines)的爆發力,使得「生命」在被「政治」納入「生命政治」之際,還得以留存抗爭的可能。本文延續並補充邱特與拉馬爾的觀點,而將焦點由中澤的再現紀實策略、他對可塑線條的靈活運用,移轉至漫畫中的連環與章回敘事。這種連續與重複的敘事手法,使得作者既得以紀錄原爆倖存者的創傷經驗,也可凸顯出見證書寫為倖存者代言的功能,而成為原爆者宣洩情感的出口。更重要的是,作為一位以青少年為主要讀者的漫畫藝術家,中澤除了著墨於描繪原爆浩劫的恐怖景象、勾勒出浩劫後生命為政治所綁架的生命政治之輪廓之外,更堅持在反覆搬演的章節敘事中爬梳倖存者之間跨越主體的情生意動,藉此開展出歷史創傷的開創性倫理意涵。面對原爆所引發的一系列有關歷史、政治、倫理的層層相扣的議題,《赤腳阿元》以回歸倫理作為回應,固然反映出作者的近乎單純的理想主義色彩,卻因作者堅持以漫畫作為媒介、套用日本連環漫畫的類型、發揮漫畫可塑迴路敘事反覆搬演的渲染情感功能,而更具說服力。

Parallel keywords

原爆 紀實漫畫 創意抗爭 可塑性 章回性


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