Anime World Order Show # 116 – Bizarro Gaijin Sex in Japan, Also Hayao Miyazaki Movies

We’re joined by Mitsugi from the Anime Addicts Anonymous podcast for a SPOILER-FREE discussion about Hayao Miyazaki’s newest film released in Japan this past weekend, The Wind Rises. So don’t worry if you haven’t seen it, because basically nobody outside of Japan has. This includes us.

Introduction (0:00 – 47:00)

The Otaku USA “Best Anime of 2012-2013” free PDF is now available to all. It consists of articles previously only available in print. Half of these are articles written by Daryl. But they also have contributions from Paul “Unicorns” Chapman, Erin Finnegan, Mike Dent, and other crazy cats so check it out. And hey, if you dig it then consider subscribing. Subscriptions are cheap. Onto the email:

We reviewed Barefoot Gen in Show 58. This review inspired a man to go to Japan and visit Hiroshima. The exact same review also inspired another, more different man to create this:

Go vote that up, favorite, comment, etc.

We talk to Mitsugi about his wacky, yet surprisingly typical, life as an Assistant Language Teacher in Japanese elementary schools. Naturally, this leads us to talking about the unsurprisingly typical tales of debauchery that gaijin English teachers in Japan are up to, be they pornography shops or maid cafes. This leads straight into the themed cafe discussion. Let it be known that the Gundam cafe has a unique bathroom, perhaps even on the level of the one in the robot zone the Most Dangerous Ones, Patrick Macias and Matt Alt, hit up:

Daryl keeps using Peepo Choo as his sole frame of reference, a manga we reviewed in Show 90 focusing in large part on Americans visiting Japan with preconceived notions that are proven false. In Mitsugi’s case, the preconceived notions were all true! Mitsugi also briefly weighs in regarding the new Dragon Ball Z movie recently released in Japan. AAA reviewed it in full on their own podcast.

Review: The Wind Rises (47:00 – 1:33:46)
Having seen Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film in Japanese theaters, Mitsugi weighs in on the Japanese movie-viewing experience. We speculate on the future of the place, and without delving too deeply into the specifics of the plot evaluate how we think this stacks up overall in the Ghibli hierarchy of things. (As Daryl previously established, I Can Hear the Sea is most likely the worst, thus edging out Tales From Earthsea.) All our burning questions are answered, including but not limited to “so how the Hell is Hideaki Anno’s voice acting talents, anyway? Was he cast purely because Gainax is across the street and Miyazaki in his senility forgot about Khara?” Whatever, Khara’s around.

NEXT TIME: it’s been too long since we’ve gone off to outer space. Also: Gerald, Paul “Unicorns” Chapman, Jeremy “Unicorns” Kaufmann, and others are looking to crowd-fund a horror comics anthology. Skin Crawling Comics is headed up by Rachel “Unicorns” Pandich, who’s got some experience with this stuff thanks to her work on the crowd-funded Womanthology. (This one will be better than that because it has MEN working on it. *puts on fedora*) To give incentive, we said “if anyone pledges at the $100 level they have the option of FORCING us to review ANY ANIME OF YOUR CHOOSING (fewer than 26 episodes).” Someone took that slot IMMEDIATELY. The only course of action is to open…MORE slots. Perhaps Gerald, fearing for his life and our sanity, will opt to up the bounty? WHATEVER, I’M WRITING THIS INSTEAD OF PLAYING SHADOWRUN RETURNS OR PAYDAY 2…or uh, working on Otakon panels since that’s in two weeks…er, I mean, did you see the front page story of Yahoo! that one time?

28 thoughts on “Anime World Order Show # 116 – Bizarro Gaijin Sex in Japan, Also Hayao Miyazaki Movies

  1. I wonder how Disney will try to release this film or will they pass on it and let G-Kids release it.

    Surprised none of you have popped up on a Pacific Rim review podcast yet 🙂

  2. What, no Pom Poko in the Ghibli poll? [No, because despite the fact that I added in the fourth option to make it obvious, the joke was that all the Studio Ghibli titles with “sea” in the title haven’t been particularly good. Also, Pom Poko is cool! Whispers of the Heart is built upon THEIR CORPSES. –Daryl]

  3. As a guy who loves both film and “beautiful planes,” and who has consistently been disappointed by the lack of a real creative spine in his recent movies, I’m really looking forward to this one. I’m sure it’ll be a challenge selling something like this to a western audience, but I hope it does get a theatrical release of some sort.

    I feel I should offer a historical correction, in that kamikaze were not involved in the Pearl Harbor attack. Kamikaze only came towards the end of the war, when it was clear to the Japanese that the war was lost and the soldier and pilots felt obliged to give their lives to the fight in whatever way possible. The zeros used in the Pearl Harbor attack were primarily there to strafe the air fields and engage any American fighters that made it into the air. The actual bombing was carried out by torpedo and dive bombers.

    I’ll be sure to check out the AAA podcast. I’m going on a long car trip tomorrow, so I might download a few and check it out.

    Anyway, cool episode.

  4. I can’t wait to see what they’re forced to review. I hope nobody pulls their punches too much. I’m crossing my fingers for someone to force them to review Nanoha the Movie 1st. I’d love to hear them try to resolve the mind-melting, undeniably awesome action scenes from it with the voyeuristic shots of both clothed and fully nude nine year old girls (who act like they’re having midlife crises). I don’t think the first TV season quite has the oomph to make them acknowledge anything good about the Nanoha franchise, but the movies are some serious eye candy.

  5. This episode calls to mind the newfangled PC diatribe of “developed” and “developing” countries. The very idea that countries stop developing is ludicrous enough, but the line drawn in the sand between the two seems at times arbitrary; Japan seriously lags behind its peers in the domain of civil rights and liberties, and looks only to lag behind further (if you haven’t heard, PM Abe wants to rewrite the constitution). It seems like everything from Yasukuni visits and bidding for the Olympics could single-handedly be linked to a desperate attempt to maintain a veneer of success and prestige, as if that alone is worth all the Fukushima-scale disasters in the world.

    I think there is a fitting allegory in Studio Ghibli. The anime industry is much like the industry at large, and Miyazaki is a leader that has changed very little while the people under him have quietly changed a great deal. This latest entry would seem very symptomatic of that, and I hope it gets seen worldwide, if only that people might simply talk about it.

    • If Miyazaki has not changed much, is that a good or bad thing? It could be argued that Miyazaki is one of the few remaining exemplars of Japanese industry and craftsmanship that was once seen as leading the world.

      Miyazaki has gotten where he is not only because of his artistic talent, but because of his willpower, discipline, and a desire to work hard and keep working hard that has not left him over the course of his fifty-year career. It is in the last two decades that Miyazaki has achieved his greatest critical and financial success as a filmmaker, during the same era when Japan as a whole has been seen to slowly decline.

      I sure wouldn’t want all anime to be directed by H. Miyazaki, Esq. But it’s a laugh if some Japanese critics should call him “un-Japanese.” He is the Japanese who has not given up in the 21st century; if anyone has the right to interpret the 20th, and speak to his country’s shame, it is he, for Miyazaki is one of the few that still reflects his country’s glories.

      • No doubt Miyazaki has a tenacity and the laurels to go with it; his is a shining example of “practice makes perfect”. I only wish he’d perfect his practice. He is so enchanted with the romance of the Showa that I cannot help but fall in love too…until it becomes a sickly sweetness.

        That said, I definitely disagree about speaking to the country’s shame. I would be pleasantly surprised to see the man restrain himself long enough to dwell on the pain of an era he scarcely inhabited. I would submit Oshii, but we know how that can go. Rather, I feel the finest capable people are no longer with us; cinema auteurs Hideo Gosha and Kinji Fukasaku come to mind.

        Gripes aside, I want to see this movie. Different is promising.

      • The Zero was primarily intended as a dogfighting plane, so even if it was used for war, it’s one perhaps that Miyazaki could consider with some sense of romanticism, even chivalry–pilot vs. pilot a la Porco Rosso, as opposed to the infamous role that bomber aircraft played during that era. Daryl brought up Leiji Matsumoto (who is just a few years older than Miyazaki), and I am curious as to what he would think of the film–as was mentioned, it sounds almost more a Matsumoto story.

        It’s natural for an American to think of the film as pointing a shadow toward the future of Pearl Harbor. But in 1937, the year Jiro began work on the Zero, the Japanese war in China was already underway, including the bombing of Shanghai by the Imperial Japanese Navy. At the time, it was considered to be a new level of ruthlessness toward civilians (as was the more infamous bombing of Guernica that same year–our allies, Goto, our allies). But as John Dower notes in Cultures of War, what happened in Shanghai would look puny by 1945, with the American campaign of firebombing and eventually atomic bombing, with or without the fruit drops.

        Many people, both in the U.S. and Japan, prefer to think of the war as having begun at Pearl Harbor and ended with Hiroshima, but its first and last battles were fought in China, and most of the people who died were Chinese. In other words, the war was not coming at the time Jiro started building the Zero; the war was already there, with Jiro’s earlier A5M seeing service in China that same year. I’ll be curious to see the exact timeframe of the events depicted in the film–that is, how far into the 1930s it goes–although I understand it’s not meant to be a strict recounting of history.

        I notice that no one has commented on the bizarro gaijin sex, despite it being the lead item in the episode name. Was this a psychological test Anime World Order administered upon their listeners? “Let’s see what they’re REALLY interested in–the new Miyazaki film, or those sordid revelations.” If so, it would seem the AWO audience has passed, and in the words of Harland Sanders (Col., KY), you must be “mighty proud…mighty proud.”

      • Do I detect a fellow East Asian history nerd? The War was one of my favourite topics in school; the impetus behind that ruthlessness, that miasma of Neo-Shinto and post-facto Bushido and whatnot, all churning together into a home-grown fascist regime is as fascinating as it is horrifying. That the elites want that back (?) is increasingly on my mind; could I one day be jailed, deported, or worse?

        Like I said, I haven’t seen it, so I’m only responding to what Iistened to here. I’m not an American, and I’m not even like most Canadians, so I’m not sure I made my position very clear. I guess I just really find those things I mentioned about the socio-political atmosphere in Japan pretty concerning, and cannot help but be nonplussed that I’m going to see a movie about airplanes. What about how this country was a mess until 1960? What about how it may well be a mess again? Do you know? Do you care? Maybe that’s not a realistic expectation to have of the guy, but art is subjective and stuff, so there you go.

        RE the bizarro gaijin sex, I haven’t been to one of the parties, but I’m going on my second speed dating date tomorrow. Should I encounter Miyazaki along the way, I will naturally be compelled to forgoe my own romance and pester him to discuss his.

      • I’m not smart enough to be nerd ^_^ but I did learn about the war in school, and being an anime fan on the west coast of the U.S. (or Canada, I would expect) brings you in contact with a lot of otaku who are Asian–you could expect to find in a California anime club not only kids from Japanese families, but Filipino, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. (I was surprised when Daryl expressed amazement in his Sakura-Con review at encountering actual Asians at an anime con, but that was just because I was taking my own experiences for granted). Anyway, the point here is that I grew up hearing their perspectives on the war, too. Anti-Japanese feelings were by no means confined to white Americans. Some of the other Asian kids would say that their parents or grandparents weren’t too happy about them being into Japanese stuff; their older relatives had sometimes lived under Japanese occupation and in some cases fought against it.

        As with so many things, it’s a generational issue. I went to Anime Evolution at the University of British Columbia. The opening ceremony was held in the War Memorial Gymnasium, and I noticed a display in the entrance hall honoring (if I remember correctly) the last Canadian to die in World War II–a Royal Navy pilot, killed fighting the “Japs,” as the citation read.

        It’s certainly true that Japanese nationalists sugar-coat or deny what Japan did during that era, but I also feel it’s true that the Chinese government has at times cynically exploited that past to stir up nationalism, while not doing a very good job repenting of what they’ve done to their own people in the decades following the war. It wasn’t the Japanese who killed all those people in Tiananmen Square, and even that was nothing compared to the Cultural Revolution or the Great Leap Forward.

        My understanding is that My Neighbor Totoro takes place in the late 1950s, more or less the same period evoked by Jin-Roh. Both of them, of course, step away from reality in their own ways, but I think each film also has something to say about Japanese reality in the time they evoke. If it’s true that Japan was still cleaning up the mess, part of that clean-up was trying to restore and reaffirm a sense of peace, connection to the land, and family ties. The premise of Jin-Roh is that the recovering country would rather set aside people like the Panzer Cops; the Wolf Brigade understands that in truth they fight to preserve themselves and the kind of people they are, not for the security of the state.

        Oshii has said he hates the police, by which I think he means those real-life police who serve authority. By contrast, I think he can respect fictional cops like Goto, who, if it came down to it would put protecting the people over the state, or fictional cops like Fuse and Tohbe, who admit that they are a band of wolves. If the essence of fascism is obedience, Oshii has no genuine sympathy for fascism, even if he thinks fascists dress cool ^_^ Maybe Miyazaki’s problem, if one wants to call it that–he’s an artist, not a politician–is that he wants to exalt the romantic side of past aviation and aviators while only acknowledging in passing the colossus of war to which they were attached. If Howl’s Moving Castle was Miyazaki’s way of expressing his rage toward those who started a war, I would say that maybe he should have followed Takahata’s example and chosen a different war as his subject, one that his own country started.

      • I should say that, reading The Economist review of The Wind Rises, it looks as if Miyazaki does portray the devastation of the war, but he seems to view Jiro as being neutral and not a person to be blamed for it.

        Maybe if it were possible for Miyazaki to take a more nuanced view? That designing fighter planes when the war in Asia was already on wasn’t the act of a neutral engineer, but that Jiro didn’t intend for the war to become as brutal as it turned out? That he was patriotic but not someone who desired or welcomed mass slaughter? As I said, a fighter plane is not a tool of atrocities. Pearl Harbor was an infamous sneak attack, but it wasn’t a war crime–it was a military strike against a military target (this is why many Japanese were taken aback at the casual equivalence some Americans made of 9/11 to Pearl Harbor, although I remember people here were in no mood for nuances at the time).

        I’m curious to read his memoir now and see how Jiro presented himself. The talk about the film makes it sound as if he was a pure-hearted youth who loved flight above all. But it seems reasonable to guess that he might also have been caught up in the patriotism at the time, especially if it was financing his work.

  6. Hey a just started listening to AAA Podcast a few weeks ago. This episode is a fine tie-in and thanks AWO for another quality episode.

  7. It looks like Creamy Mami did indeed meet its goal on Anime Sols. I’m glad to see at least something succeed there. [The first Black Jack set also just met its goal! That seems to show the difference between focusing on ONE crowd funding project at a time versus like, nine. Of course, a whole new round of funding will have to start for the subsequent sets, and both projects really only succeeded due to high-dollar donations from a rather small amount of people as opposed to lots of people wanting the sets. –Daryl]

  8. Is it really that bad that Miyazaki’s new movie touches on the building of an aircraft that goes on to be used in WWII?

    There are lots of movies/books/history where something someone creates is used to do bad things, why is this movie getting picked on a bit for this reason? Is it just because its WWII/Pearl Harbor? I don’t see how telling that part of history is somehow bad, just because of the plane’s later use. The designer of the plane isn’t a bad guy simply for creating it. [We asked and answered all this stuff during the review already, so I’m not sure why you’re asking it as if we never brought any of this up. –Daryl]

    I’m glad that The Wind Rises is not standard Miyazaki fair fare. Having something different and more serious/challenging is a good thing. I can’t wait to check it out myself.

  9. I’m really surprised that you guys said Kuroko no Basket is not popular in North America. It’s on Crunchyroll. I like it. My father likes it. I know some diehard fans are popularizing it on their YouTube channels. [Very little at this point ISN’T on Crunchyroll. Flowers of Evil is on there. So’s DD Fist of the North Star. That doesn’t mean they’re popular enough to support a retail release. Kuroko’s Basketball is several popularity slots below Eyeshield 21 on Crunchyroll, and Eyeshield 21 isn’t popular enough in the US. Liking something yourself and it being popular are two very different things. This entire podcast is testament to that! –Daryl]

  10. There is nothing sexual about the name “Bonehimer,” alright? Its an innocently misspelled Yu-Gi-Oh card about a seahorse that “wanders the seas sucking dry any creature it may encounter.”
    http://images.wikia.com/yugioh/images/archive/e/ef/20101106065402!BoneheimerLON-EN-C.jpg

    In regards to making more, sure. My plan is to make some anime related parody flash toons, but first I needed to relearn to use flash. Thus I did this short, will possibly do more in between other projects.

    Was a lot more interested in the DBZ movie review than of The Winds Rises, which accurately sums up my engagement with the mans work. So I am glad he did something different. Especially if its more Takahata “like.”

  11. Hah! Giant commissar hat Daryl? Did you mean over-sized Soviet commissar hat? Or super-over-sized W40K Imperial commissar hat?

  12. As someone who works in a junior high school in Japan (and judging by Mitsugi’s words, I must work quite close to him. There aren’t many parts of Ibaraki that are that close to Tokyo) I think by the time they go to high school they have quite a lot of useful English grammar under their belts.

    The issue is there’s a lack of focus when it comes to speaking in class. Also, in the long run, Japan gets along okay enough using only Japanese in the business world, with only a select few bilinguals going on overseas trips. That may be changing though, with the inner-company languages at Uniqlo and Rakuten being English.

  13. Mitsugi’s comments on how the maids don’t seem so moe when they’re down on the street passing out flyers rang true. I saw a guy, evidently a cafe manager, haranguing a maid in broad daylight on Chuo-dori for the job she was doing. It was one of the times I’ve asked myself, “What the fuck are you gonna do except hustle? Besides pimpin’–and you really ain’t got the stomach for that.”

  14. The animesols progress seems bizarre. Until recently, Creamy Mami was at around 50% of its goal. They must have either gotten a huge groundswell of support at the last minute, a single pledger who pledged a huge amount, or had animesols reduce the goal. Only the first of these is not a bad sign.

    Blackjack has $15075 with 135 supporters. That’s over $100 each. The DVD set is just $40 which means most of the support is coming in from high-pledge supporters, which may also be a bad sign.

  15. Good to hear a new episode after all this time. I was all but certain it was en route to becoming a dead site, but man what a return. Best ep I’ve heard so far. Lookin’ forward to the next installment.

  16. Hi, long time listener, first time commenter, etc. Anyways, I think this news item is not unrelated to the release of this movie:
    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interest/2013-07-25/hayao-miyazaki-pens-essay-on-japanese-constitutional-reform

    Of course, Miyazaki has always been a dirty communist, but I don’t think I’ve seem him speak out so publically and directly on the issue of constitutional reform and Japan’s role in WWII. Now, this could be in response to Abe Shinzo gaining the majority in the parliament, something that hasn’t happened for half a decade or more, and the threat of axing Article 9 looming larger than ever. But you also have to wonder if this was not a way for Miyazaki to tell his East Asian market, which Ghibli probably cares more about than the American market, that even though his movie was a love letter to the Zero Fighter, he does not condone what it was used for during WWII.

  17. I was wondering, have you guys listen to Anime3000’s Other side take on Miyazaki? Do you think they have any valid points in their general disdain of the guy?

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