Manga Study Guide: Barefoot Gen/Character summary
The text: character summary
Gen Nakaoka(main character): Gen is a main character and a second son, portrayed as a protagonist in the manga; Barefoot Gen.
Shinji Nakaoka: Third and last son. Shinji plays an important role in showing the war from childrens’ eyes/perspective. He shows the way war affected innocent children like himself.
Kimie Nakaoka(mother) she is a hard-working mother, who is also pregnant.
Koji Nakaoka: First son in the family. He decides to go against his father by going to pilot training to clear the title ‘traitor’ of their family.
Eiko Nakaoka: Elder daughter of Nakaoka family. She is affected by the war and as she is mainly portrayed as a victim in the story. Since most of the main casts are men, she plays a important role, showing the affects to young, feminine girls.
Daikichi Nakaoka: He is a pacifist father. Through out the manga he stubbornly believes that war was started by the “people at the top”and that they brain-wash people to keep the nation on their side. Daikichi Nakakoka dearly loves his family and does anything to save his family. Nakaoka was a strong woman who protected her children but in the end she failed to protect her daughter, Eiko, and other son, Shinji, as well as her husband.
Akira Nakaoka: Second son of Nakaoka family. He was evacuated to the countryside to be safe from all of the bombing in Hiroshima.
(from this layout, we can see that most of the villains have some sort of relation directly to the government, therefore, we can see that the reasons are purely through patriotism: people who have been brain-washed by the ideas made by the government) Ryukichi (chairman’s son) (shows how youths are effected by the society. For example, school programs and propaganda)
sub-characters that appear in anecdotes/ sub-plots
Tamura (escapee from the country evacuation/ friends with Akira) Kumai (a kamikaze pilot Koji met on the way to his training) Mr.Horikawa (a legless man Gen helped) A carp owner Gen and Shinji met whilst stealing a carp for their sick mother
Each of these characters shows what the affects of pre-war and war time difficulties may cause. (Both mentally and physically)
Mr.Pak/Boku Pak (korean immigrant) he is portrayed as a protagonist, as he helps the Nakaoka family throughout the text. He plays an important role, as he becomes the key to showing that the stereo-typical Japanese way of thinking is not always correct. in addition, his relationship with the Nakaoka family is heart-warming and may create a different point of view toward immigrants. school teachers (they are directly involved with the government, therefore, they act as propaganda, to brain-wash the youths.)