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May 17th, 2010

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12:55 am - Anime skating on thin controversial ice. Good? Bad?
Ok, so I was browsing through some anime looking for something new to watch when I came across this one;

Title is Senko no Night Raid  and the official summary is: 
"The story is set in Shanghai in 1931, when the Imperial Japanese Army has been dispatched to mainland China due to the relatively recent First Sino-Japanese War, Russo-Japanese War, and World War I. In this cosmopolitan city of intrigue, there is a special military spy organization called "Sakurai Kikan" that has since been buried in history."

My first reaction was a bit of a ".....what the hell?  Are you serious?".  Then I thought, well it's just an anime right?  So maybe they won't touch the super controversial stuff and just have a plot based in that time.  Then I go on wiki and find out that episode 7 will not be aired on tv and only streamed on the internet, in its place a "summary" episode (7.5) will be aired on tv.  Why?  Well it doesn't specifically say but my guess is because of the contents of episode 7:

"This episode will be streamed exclusively online. It will depict the point of view of the Japanese in Manchuria during the events leading up to the Mukden Incident." (Summary from wiki.)

The Mukden Incident which led to the invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese was, according to wikipedia:

"On September 18, 1931, near Mukden (now Shenyang) in southern Manchuria, a section of railroad owned by Japan's South Manchuria Railway was dynamited.  The Imperial Japanese Army, accusing Chinese dissidents of the act, responded with the invasion of Manchuria, leading to the establishment of Manchukuo the following year."  (Who exactly dynamited the railway is still a topic of controversy to this day.)

So...I get artistic licence and often good art is controversial and all that good stuff, and the anime has a disclaimer stuck in there that it's a work of fiction...but...just....seriously, why would you jab a knife into peoples' wounds that have just begun to heal?  Yeah, some say the Chinese are too nagging and they should learn to move on, heal that wound faster, but the fact remains that some haven't, either by choice or because they can't for whatever reason.  What they SHOULD do according to some people has no relevance on what they ARE doing,  rightly or wrongly.  When I debate about the invasions of China by various countries in the past century my temper flares when usually in debates I can remain calm.  Why? I honestly don't know.  Is it because of my being born a Chinese? Is it because of my parents' teachings?  As a matter of fact it confuses me to no end since I left the country at a very young age and can barely remember the time I spent there, so logically I have no clue why I feel so attached to that piece of land and the people there.  The fact, however, remains that for whatever reason it is I react more passionately where China's concerned.  For those people that some accuse of being unable to let go of the past, possibly myself included, I would presume it's the same thing.  They/We can't always put into words why they/we can't move on, but something is blocking that path.  Maybe it'll take longer time, maybe they/we are seeking something to close that chapter in China's history and they/we have yet to find it.  Some people point to Germany and say that the Western countries don't begrudge Germany like how China tends to begrudge Japan, so why can't  the Chinese give it a rest already?  Well, maybe in the West the people have found their closure, be it in the form of pointing all the blame on the Nazi party and thus, finding closure when it fell or the fact that Germany never denied the Holocaust and paid for it (however, when the occasional loony denies the Holocaust one will notice the violent backlash against him/her).  I don't know, but I know that just because the Western countries have made peace with Germany doesn't mean that that should be the standard response expected of other states who went through tragic times in history.  The people of different countries are different.  They react to things differently be it due to circumstances, culture, history and many other variables.

Anyway, back to the anime.  A quick google on "Senko no Night Raid discussion" brought back forum after forum of heated debates and some peoples' tempers are flaring like crazy (like here, here, here, and here).  More importantly, I think, not only are tempers flaring, but wounds are getting opened.  Granted Sino-Japanese relations are getting better these days and for everyone's sake I hope it continues to progress forward, but by no means are anti-Japanese sentiments in China completely quelled or even close to it.  There are still survivors from that generation that experienced those tragic times first hand, and the generation after that grew up hearing those stories from their parents.  This anime, and particularly that episode 7, aren't exactly helping to mend the situation I don't think.  I wonder what's next?  An anime on the Nanjing Massacre?  (Actually, morbid curiosity makes me wish they would make one on that because I'd want to see how they depict that one.  The political streak in me has some morbid tendencies I guess.)

*Sigh* On one hand it is just an anime, meant for entertainment, but on the other...it's hard not to react.  I think it'd be like if Osama Bin Laden made a movie on 9/11 to depict his side of the story and Afghanistan broadcasted it internationally.  I think even if a disclaimer was stuck on there that the movie is a work of fiction...I don't think it'd be much comfort to Americans.

[EDIT]: On a happier topic, I found a great website for downloading anime directly instead of off torrents;


Navigate the site using the top bar, you can browse through their database for anime, dramas and mangas or use the search to find a specific series.  They have a lot of older series as well as the newest series this season and it's all free direct download, no need to sign up or anything.  The speed is also really good, at least from my internet connection.

(12 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:May 16th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
I think a lot of the complaints are coming from people who haven't watched the show. I mean, there are legitimate things to complain about, like the butchery of Chinese accents and the pacing issues, but as far as the actual story... I was expecting a lot of typical revisionism and I've been surprised. The "villain" is definitely the Japanese Army... which seems to be pissing off a lot of conservatives in Japan (at least on 2ch), as they would prefer to sweep things like the Mukden Incident under the rug and never speak of it being a Japanese plot. It's kind of scary what today's Japanese high schoolers don't know about WWII and the invasion of China. Nanjing Massacre? They don't even know what that is. In a sense, maybe it's good that an anime can touch that time period. In Germany, people have not been allowed to forget what the Nazis did. In Japan, the truth is being allowed to disappear from society's consciousness. Not that one anime can fix that, but... maybe the willingness to make the anime at all shows that some attitudes are changing.

I'm going to reserve judgment on Night Raid until I see how it handles episode 7, but so far I think the message from the main character has been to question nationalism and revisionism. I don't think the anime will be able to weasel out of the issue with the usual "oh, we didn't know what was going on back then, we were just following orders, sorry about murdering loads of people" excuse.

But anyway, Night Raid doesn't have the feel of Japanese propaganda, and I've seen/heard some Japanese propaganda that makes me sick. It's not groundbreaking anti-propaganda work, either... the scenes where characters worry that the Japanese army is being taken over by manipulative extremists are buried in silly episodes about chasing cats through Shanghai and things like that. It's been disappointingly cautious about mentioning Sino-Japanese relations at all.

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