Discuss your reaction to the three films (1.Hadashi-no Gen, 2.Hotaru-no haka, 3.Godzilla) + two documentary (1.White Light, Black Rain and 2. Japanese in America during WWII) ——you can find it on YouTube) on the Pacific War.
World War II might sound very distant to many Americans, but it was a scar for many Japanese in Japan and the United States as well. Other than the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, many other major cities were bombed. Japanese Americans in the United States were discriminated and even dislocated due to the fear of spying on the American government. The aftermath of the atomic bombs and regular bombing were reflected in many Japanese films, such as “Hadashi-no Gen”, “Hotaru-no Haka”, and “Godzilla”. The documentaries like “White Light, Black Rain” and “Japanese in America during WWII” showed how Japanese people coped and lived past the pain of the Pacific War.
“Hadashi-no Gen” demonstrated the before and after events of atomic bombing. The life under imperialism Japan was already harsh. Food was insufficient and everyone needed to follow the military rule. When the atomic bomb was dropped, the blinding white flash dominated the screen. Normal citizens were reduced to mere shadows. The illustration of the instance of the dropping matched the description of the survivors from “White Light, Black Rain”. The anime showed people near the epicenter became burned skeleton or just burned marks on the ground. The main character, Gen Nakaoka, later saw the damage that the atomic bomb has done to his people. People were burned severely, which later maggots would crawl under later. In real life, the burn marks on people were often worse and irreversible. When I saw the wound on the people, I was shocked. I wondered how much pain the survivors have to endure at that time? how could possibly human beings bear the pain and gathered enough courage to tell people about their experience? The radiation after the atomic bomb also scared every Japanese living in Japan. “Godzilla” was a product after knowing the extremely bad effect of radiation. The monster arose from the ocean was the Japanese ultimate fear of environmental damage. The fear was real because the pollution was even worse today. The nuclear plant leaked rings a bell to everyone about the danger of using nuclear technology.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not the only two cities that got bombed. Other major cities were bombed by highly explosive bombs and fire bombs. Civilians have experienced loss of family members and their homes. “Hotaru-no Haka” was a masterpiece by Ghibli Studio that showed the life after the bombing of two young kids being dislocated by the bombing. The animated movie showed the dark side of humanity when everyone was trying to survive. Seita’s and Satsuko’s aunt slowly refused to take care of them because of scarcity of food. I was angry when I realized what the aunt was doing because she was giving up the future generation that could rebuild Japan for her own life. I would consider the act very selfish; however, I would understand under this extreme circumstance, people were too busy looking after themselves. They did not really care about others. Similar incident happened in the United States on a different standard. Japanese Americans were put into dislocation camps by the US government. The American citizens were in the fear that any Japanese American on the mainland would feed important tips back to Japan. This happened mainly due to the mainstream media vilified all Japanese. “Japanese in American during WWII” reviewed the dark part of this history. I strong felt this action was unjust and discriminatory because it violated American citizens’ basic human right. However, the government saw this action was just. The decision dimmed my view on the equality of freedom in this country
All these films demonstrated the ultimate effect that the Pacific War has on Japanese people in various regions. The atomic bombs have destroyed lives of many and even affected people in the future. Godzilla would become true if the Japanese government chose not to control the nuclear pollution. Even the regular bombing had profound effect on normal Japanese citizens. I understood people would be selfish in order to protect themselves in extreme moments, but “Hotaru-no Haka” was disheartening and sad to me. All the films were overflowed with sorrow, but all give a ray of hope in the end for the better future.
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