Influence of Nuclear Destruction on the Evolution of Japan

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Influence of Nuclear Destruction on the Evolution of Japan

“The strangest thing was the silence. It was one of the most unforgettable impressions I have. You’d think that people would be panic-stricken, running, yelling. Not at Hiroshima. They moved in slow motion, like figures in a silent movie, shuffling through the dust and smoke. I heard thousands of people breathing the words, ‘water, give me water.’ Many simply dropped to the ground and died.”

~Setsuko Thurlow

In a flash, 120,000 corporeal humans are destroyed. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remind us of the terrible power humans can unleash, and the horrors of nuclear destruction. So if we as Americans are distressed about this event, imagine what the Japanese think. The bombings are still very present in the minds of Japanese, and one does not have to look very far to see evidence of this. Everyday Japanese remind themselves of the past through popular culture. Japanese animation (usually referred to as anime), manga comics and feature films all heavily rely on nuclear war or apocalyptic weaponry as either the main story or a huge plot device. Such a cataclysmic, culturally altering event is difficult to forget. The memory of the nuclear destruction at the end of WWII is ingrained in Japan’s collective unconscious, as reflected in everyday pieces of Japanese popular culture, especially anime films and manga.

Japanese are “still suffering from the sociological and physiological after-effects” of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Kawasaki 20). The direct victims and survivors of the bombings, called hibakusha, are not the only casualties of this event. Beyond these people, their friends and relatives all share a coll...

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...nk heavily about reality, existence, and time. While viewers need not constantly think of the nuclear destruction that brought about this art, it is important to once in awhile reflect on how this reality came to be, and recognize history and the changing face of a nation.

Works Cited

Akira. Special Edition. Pioneer Entertainment, 2001.

Grave of the Fireflies. Cmp/Us Manga Corps, 1988.

Kawasaki, Shoichiro. A Call from Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Tokyo: Asahi

Evening News, 1978.

Linner, Rachelle. City of Silence: Listening to Hiroshima. New York: Orbis Books, 1995.

Munroe, Alexandra. Scream Against the Sky: Japanese Art after 1945. New York: Harry N. Abrahms, 1994.

Neon Genesis Evangelion. Perfect Collection. A. D. Vision, 2002.

Tasker, Peter. The Japanese: A Major Exploration of Modern Japan. New York: Truman Talley Books, 1987.

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