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The Atomic Bomb In Japanese Cinema

So incrediblly honored to be a part of this wonderful collection of essays that explore the extensive collection of stories about the atomic bomb in popular cinema. This publication was released as a tribute to the 70th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the hope is keep the stories of these generations alive for the future generations to understand how catastrophic the effects on the hibakusha were. In order to tackle the complex subject, author Matthew Edwards took the time to collect and delve through the fateful stories that we have heard and have tried to explain through the history of film.

Here is an excerpt from my chapter:

Anime and the atomic bomb as a spectacle has been a frequent motive used in the post-apocalyptic visions and imaginations of Japanese animators and their creations, as films like Akira (1998) and Barefoot Gen testify. Yet, one of the most interesting atomic bomb films to emerge in recent years is Hibakusha (2012), a short American animated film that chronicles the life of atomic bomb survivor Kaz Suyeishi, and directed by Steve Nguyen and Choz Belen. With a nod to Japanese anime, and the work of Masaaki Yuasa, the film charts the story of Kaz Suyeishi who at the age of 17 experienced the bombing of Hiroshima. Having spent a lifetime talking to audiences about the bombing and the impact, Nguyen and Belen felt compelled to document her life; her story. Their film is a moving and sad portrait of the effects of the bomb and a film that resonates with the need to find peace. The film, like Suyeishi's message, does not pass judgment nor point the finger; it doesn't ask why the bombings happened. What is refreshing about Nguyen's and Belen's vision is that they tackle the aftermath of the bombing and the obliteration of not only the city of Hiroshima, but also its inhabitants and their injuries and scars. These scars, and the legacy of the bomb on Hibakusha survivors, on both a physical and psychological basis, are explored during the film which culminates in a brillant scene when Suyeishi encounters Captain Tibbets in a live TV debate where he is unrepentant of his actions and argues that the dropping of the bomb was necessary to end the war. Overwhelmed by this, Suyeishi collapses. This scene expertly capsulates the impasse this part of history has created over this issue; primarily between Japanese and Americans. In another great sequence, Suyeishi mistakes the Enola Gay for a beautifu angel spreading her wings in the sky. Moments later we bare witness to the Angel of Death wreaking misery and destruction on Hiroshima, reducing the city to a red flaming inferno of twisted metal, burning homes and rubble, all beautifully recreated by animators at Studio APA.

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