Thursday, April 30

Manga as tool of political propoganda

The rise of Japanese manga as political commentary medium advancing sets of political beliefs that bears some reminiscent to Yukio Mishima's attempt to indoctrinate post war Japan into old Imperial mold of rightist thinking again using his literature power (which he failed and commits a very public suicide in Japanese Self Defense Force HQ). This time though, mangas like Spirit of the Sun (the author here appealing to Japanese youth to have pride to be Japanese again in national crisis), Rideback (this manga talks about fears of globalization destroying local political culture specifically Japan) and even seemingly every seinen manga published by Kodansha which I can recall, don't have much socialist or left wing slanted titles.

Most famous political manga in Japan is Silent Service which even got debated in Japanese Diet (parliament). This remarkable manga which still in top 10 of best seinen manga in Japan readership (2006) talks about a rogue Japanese submarine XO who hijack the submarine and declared his ship as independent neutral entity "Yamato" despite it is built as joint US-Japanese SSBN (nuclear submarine). 2.2 million copies were sold by 1992 and still enjoys massive popularity even today in Japan. In the end, he sailed to UN HQ in New York to appeal to the world that everyone should dismantle their nuclear arsenal or to be destroyed. Predictably, the US Navy is the baddies here, they tried to stop the Yamato from accomplishing the objective. To many readers it seems very naive politically but as ideologue on pacifism, it is remarkable poster boy in backhand manner.

However a discussion of politcal manga cannot be complete without talking about controversial Yoshinori Kobayashi. Famous for his Gomanism Shingen / ゴーマニズム宣言 and his more infamous statements were like for example, total veneration of Kamikaze Corps, denial of Nanking Massacre and comfort women issue is a fabrication of anti Japanese propaganda. He is the darling of Japanese media and often appear in morning shows to give opinions on current events. His rise to international fame is when 2 major liberal newspapers known in Western world; NY Times and Le Monde wrote a scathing article on him for his neo fascist stand. To the end, he still defiant and his latest manga "On Taiwan" is published outside of Japan despite angry retorts from Chinese.

Stay tuned for more later, as I will discuss what I think of Eagle, a manga of Japanese-American become US President advocating pacifism.

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Shogakukan Inc fighting manga piracy

Manga piracy is just as big as anime digital piracy, just less known. Shogakukan, one of the big player in Japanese manga industry declared war on piracy. They releasing manga chapters concurrently in Japan and USA at the same time to take away greatest weapon of pirates, waiting time for translation. One of the work got this benefit is Kyokai no Rinne, latest work of Rumiko Takahashi.

It remains to be seen if their plan will be successful or not. With the manga export market value of 12 billion yen (2005) which equals to 1.2 billion USD, it is no joke.