On August 6, 1945, the Japanese city of Hiroshima was attacked by a Uranium gun-type bomb 'Little Boy' by the United States after obtaining consent from the United Kingdom. The explosion wiped out 90% of the city and immediately killed 80000 people. Hiroshima’s devastation failed to elicit immediate surrender from the Japanese during World War II and three days later, on August 9, a Plutonium implosion-type bomb, 'Fat Man' was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The two bombings killed at least 129000 people, most of whom were civilians. This remains the only use of nuclear weapons in the history of warfare. The bombing of the twin cities saw the final stages of World War II. A relief of happiness and togetherness of families and friends all over the world was witnessed when the war ended. The leaders of the involved nations shook hands and moulded ways for new friendships. The war had truly ended, or has it? Fast forward to 2018, newspaper headlines that read, “Syria air strikes: Russian fighters jets bomb targets.”, “Syrian air strikes kill over 200 civilians in 10 days.”, “Young girl relives surviving deadly ‘chemical attack’ on Syrian city.” The world still seems to be walking on the similar paths, even after seventy years. Syria isn’t any different from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The world hasn't changed and continues to make the same mistakes over and over again.
These two Japanese cities and their neighbours suffered the effects of the Atomic Bombs, the loss and shock of how unexpectedly their lives were cut short and the agony and hopelessness of losing their once beloved land. Japan, as we know it, now, has advanced drastically following World War II. It is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world with people determined to work for a better future. They have long left their past behind, but they certainly have not forgotten it.
As Rine Karr, a blogger at Girls in Capes says, “Stories are an important part of human race. Oftentimes, we read and share stories because we want to be entertained. Yet, many stories are told because they are important memories that must be preserved and should never be forgotten.” The words manga and anime, bring to mind the two best known Japanese exports. They also have a huge worldwide audience, with dedicated readers learning Japanese to understand the culture better. Anime is a Japanese animated production which comprises of shows and movies. Manga are comics, typically drawn in black and white and it is read from right to left. The precise and alluring drawings and graphics have attracted many ardent fans across the globe. Manga is also often adapted as anime. Through these two platforms, the creators and writers like Keiji Nakazawa, Fumiyo Kouno and many others explore the life after the A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They subtly weave narratives of the people who have survived the bombings.
An example of such narrative is the famed anime movie, 'In This Corner Of The World', directed by Sunao Katabuchi, based on the original work by Fumiyo Kouno. It presents a historically realistic narrative and depicts the life and struggles of Japanese people during and after the World War II. The film is set roughly 10 years before and after the atomic bomb. The traditional culture and nature of the Japanese is clearly described and contrasted with the haunting and irrevocable grief and loss of innocence brought by the bombings. In her other manga, 'Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms', Fumiyo Kouno explores two multi-generational stories. The first one takes places ten years after the bombing of Hiroshima. The story deals with Minami Hirano, a woman in her twenties who is a survivor of the attacks. She managed to escape when she was a teenager, along with her mother and brother but lost her father and two sisters. Minami has post-traumatic stress disorder which is depicted in flashbacks to the day of the bombing, which makes her uncomfortable and hard to open up to her close ones.
These stories let the world know about the bombing and its aftermath. There was an increased risk of cancer, congenital disabilities and mental retardation among many children, both born and unborn due to the radiation. Many children also experienced mutations and post-traumatic stress which had a massive impact on their upbringing. Thousands of lives were lost, the cities were left to ashes and the land infertile. Those people barely survived on the bare necessities. And the ones who survived were still dealing with the trauma of it, mentally, physically and emotionally.
What have we learnt from our past? Bureaucrats continue to make decisions in the boardrooms to bomb homes of the civilians only to hone their egos and feel powerful and superior. This is the world we still live in. The Syrian conflict which started as a peaceful protest against Bashar Hafez al-Assad, the current President of Syria, as we all know has now involved many other countries like US, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Chemical weapons are being used against the civilians which are almost leading to the third great war of the world. These nuclear weapons are strong forces of power for all the countries alike. It denotes strength and power like none other. Many countries, like India, have nuclear weapons as a fall-back option for defence purposes. It protects a nation against any external forces. Contradicting its purpose of destruction, it also prevents war, is the point most used to justify the existence of nuclear force. History has shown the cost of war is one we can't afford, and yet we persist trapped in paranoia. The situation in Syria says otherwise, weapons are weapons no matter their intention. We are all well aware of the consequences of war, we’ve read and heard about the sufferings of the Japanese and still read about how the civilians in Syria, are being subjected to weapons of destruction. The Syrians are suffering the same fate as the Japanese did, years ago. The Japanese have not forgotten their past. The stories told by them through manga and anime are living proof and example of how haunting and harrowing the effects of nuclear weapons are. These subtle stories should serve as a reminder to the world and the perpetrators of bombings. These weapons strip people of their homes, livelihood and most of all, their identity. And nobody has the right to take away someone’s identity.
Karr, R. (2016, June 13). Review: Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms By Fumiyo Kouno [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://girlsincapes.com/2016/06/13/review-towneveningcalm-kouno/
Pagkalinawan, C. (2018, April 13). The Influence Of The Atomic Bomb On Japanese Media By Connor Pagkalinawan [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://sites.temple.edu/americanicons/2018/04/13/the-influence-of-the-atomic-bomb-on-japanese-media-by-connor-pagkalinawan/
In This Corner of The World (film). (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_This_Corner_of_the_World_(film)
Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (n.d). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki
Syrian Civil War. (n.d). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_civil_war
Image Credit: The Telegraph
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