Anime World Order Show # 161 – No Kentucky Fried Movie or Shigeru Mizuki References

It’s been quite a while since we had him for the highly-beloved Sword for Truth review, but we’re finally joined once more by Evan Minto from Ani-Gamers to talk about Sunao Katabuchi’s finally-completed film, In This Corner of the World.

Introduction (0:00 – 43:06)
We catch up with what Evan’s been up to for the this past erm…half decade…since he was last on the show. Turns out it’s been quite a bit. We also talk MORE~! about Brain Powerd which we reviewed last episode, and in a feeble attempt to combat the neverending flood of ignorance and misinformation that we spew every single episode (including this one, no doubt), we call everyone’s attention to this thread by “Most Dangerous” Rachel Matt Thorn on the need to re-evaluate the legacy of Osamu Tezuka.

Promo: Right Stuf Anime (43:06 – 45:00)
We are proof positive that you don’t have to know MLG pro strats to blatantly steal the gimmick of (relatively more) popular Youtubers, but if Pop Team Epic is to your liking, you should know that Popuko and Pipimi preorders are still being accepted for another few weeks, unlike at Good Smile where their always close the preorder windows entirely too early. Whatever, shipping from Japan is really expensive.

Review: In This Corner of the World (45:00 – 2:07:28)
This is a more or less spoiler-free review of the other major theatrical anime release of 2016 besides Your Name: Sunao Katabuchi’s film adaptation of Fumiyo Kouno’s manga, which you can purchase both digitally as well as in print. It’ll run you about $15 for the Blu-Ray/DVD/digital combo package via Amazon, and it’s inexpensive enough (and good enough) that you probably do want to pick this version up now in addition to whatever potential extended edition gets made (should that see a domestic release). We hear tell that there was a third major theatrical anime release from that year, but such reports are unable to be confirmed at this time. Perhaps a future episode will investigate such allegations to see if they have any merit.

13 Replies to “Anime World Order Show # 161 – No Kentucky Fried Movie or Shigeru Mizuki References”

  1. The idea that Brain Powered isn’t bad, it breaks with tradition, strongly reminded me of the recent Anncast’s defense of The Last Jedi.

    1. I might actually like The Last Jedi more than The Empire Strikes Back. It is the opposite of Brain Powerd. It’s the Macross Frontier Movie 2: Sayonara no Tsubasa of Star Wars.

  2. Japanese media about the war have always bothered me. Imagine that the only movies that were ever made about the US Civil War (at least in the South) were about innocent children killed by freed slaves taking their revenge on whites. And innocent people who starved to death after General Sherman burned down Atlanta. And anti-slavery Southerners who were outraged at the government of the Confederacy for declaring independence over slavery. And stories about the lives of ordinary (non-slavekeeping, of course) people sewing clothes and repairing leaky roofs. Oh, and the Southern equivalent of Miyazaki writing a story about the guy who invented the slave collar because he wanted to create a thing of beauty.

    None of these would be wrong, exactly, or inaccurate. But after a long enough stream of these, you’d start to get the feeling that cumulatively the South had a blind spot over exactly what the war was about and were trying to sweep some things about it under the rug.

    There’s a reason why the people who mourn the firebombing of Dresden are mostly Nazis.

    1. Ian Buruma’s book The Wages of Guilt is an excellent comparative examination of how Germans and Japanese have remembered the war (the author is fluent in both languages); otaku should also check out his 1984 Behind the Mask, where he was writing about things like manga, Takarazuka, bishonen, and yakuza movies well before they became a hot topic in academia. Plus, he included juicy pictures.

      When I think about how vast the world of only manga is, and how I (or even the average Japanese reader) only know a small part of it, I wonder whether I can make definitive statements about its content. It may be the case that you indeed have to hunt for instances here and there in Japanese pop culture that acknowledge the victims of Japanese, rather than only Japanese as victims. Barefoot Gen is often thought of as only a story about Hiroshima, but it’s also very clear-spoken about how Japan had been conducting itself. In more recent years The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service has used the atrocities in Nanking and of Unit 731 as background for stories. I know at least two of the 1970s Japanese films Patrick Macias wrote about in Tokyoscope featured characters who had done brutal acts in China during the war.

      But if these instances have to be hunted around for, it may only support your point. Stories about how Japanese suffered during the war are perhaps understandable; after all, they did suffer (and many of the people who suffered hadn’t personally committed any crimes, let them occur, or looked the other way)…and of course, a movie, anime or manga is a commercial product, and its primary audience is going to be other Japanese. More disturbing, perhaps, are works (even works I might like) such as Yamato, Deep Blue Fleet, and Jin-Roh, that to one extent or another create alternate WWIIs where Japan fought the Nazis…our allies, Goto, our allies (H. Bruce Franklin has argued the Rambo films did a comparable thing, by making the American hero’s identity more like that of a Third World guerilla–i.e., like the Viet Cong).

      If we’ve gotten to the point where those who mourn the firebombing of Dresden are mostly Nazis, it might be because the generation of people who actually experienced the war is largely passed away now. In its time, it was controversial, even in the country that had authorized it. Coventry in England is a twin city with Dresden in Germany, and there are mutual memorials in each city, precisely because it was the other nation’s planes that had destroyed each.

      John Dower’s 2010 book Cultures of War (his 1980s comparative study of American and Japanese racist ideology, War Without Mercy, is where I first learned about the 1945 Momotaro anime film) talks about how during the 1930s and 40s the world gradually began to require greater and greater levels of civilian deaths before it became shocked; for example, Picasso’s famous “Guernica” commemorates a bombing that killed several hundred people in 1937; by 1945, you had to kill tens of thousands in Hamburg or Dresden or Tokyo or Hiroshima or Nagasaki to shock people. I have absolutely no doubt that the Holocaust, Germany’s occupation of the USSR, and Japan’s occupation of China show that the Axis powers would have had no qualms about doing the same to our cities, and worse, if they had the opportunity to do so. Which we did not give them.

      Instead of saying it wasn’t actually evil to burn the innocent and the guilty alike, I personally believe it would show more moral courage to say one committed evil because you believe it stopped greater evil. That may hardly seem a convincing argument, but the only solution to it is to stop conducting policy via bomb. A counterexample from WWII itself is the Nuremberg Trials, which actually tried to find out which individuals should be killed and which shouldn’t be, even though there were already reasonable grounds to believe the accused were all or mostly war criminals–something you can hardly say of the residents of an entire city. One might say, “Well, bombing cities is a necessary part of war,” but even on the everyday battlefield of WWII, if a soldier who had been fighting for Nazi Germany wanted to surrender, most times, they were allowed to live—although in this case you knew for a fact they were no civilian, and moreover that they had literally been trying to kill you and your friends a few minutes before.

  3. More on Brain Powered:

    Dub director Karl Willems and recording engineer Michael Iske made a guest appearance on actor Trevor Devall’s podcast (largely no longer available online). During a going-over of their credits, Devall thankfully asked them about working on Brain Powered (which he had a small role in). Here’s their response:

  4. Shit man, I feel arrogant to even consider posting a comment in the same thread as Carl Horn. Can’t be helped I guess.

    I noticed an interesting difference between how general viewers in Japan and the West watched and reacted to In This Corner of the World. Japanese viewers I saw generally seemed to experience the film straightforwardly as a vignette of life in ’44 and ’45 – affected by the events of the war but not about them. Western viewers, on the other hand, seemed to feel a greater sense of foreboding: for the fire bombings sometimes, but mostly for the dropping of Little Boy.

    I’m not sure exactly what to pin this to. Is it a difference in what Western viewers expect out of movie about the Japanese civilian experience in WWII? Perhaps it’s a symptom of All Japanese Media Is About the Atomic Bombings syndrome; and perhaps that’s an outcome of the fact that the Japanese have a whole fabric of shared cultural historical experience of which the atomic bombings are only part, and we do not. Or, it may simply be that people outside Japan don’t realize that Kure is separated from the city of Hiroshima by mountains.

    In any case, it’s interesting how a detail like that can create a difference in affect, especially since as you guys said, the movie is staged as it is partially to avoid this.

    I believe Maruyama said in an interview that the reason they had trouble finding funding for the movie wasn’t even that it was about the civilian experience. Rather, it was the lack of even emotional, tragic spectacle that you guys mentioned. Even a hardcore tearjerker would’ve been easier to sell.

    Rossellini’s Paisà is a good comparison, and the Italian neo-realists definitely had their influence. The movie that first came to my mind though was the 1989 live action Japanese movie Black Rain, which is more directly about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima – especially hibakusha – but has a similarly low-key approach. (This is not to be confused with the Ridley Scott action movie also from 1989, which would make an absolutely amazing double feature)

    Sunao Katabuchi actually did write, storyboard, and direct something like this before: the side-story of Ace Combat 04. It’s about a boy and his sister, whose parents are killed by falling debris from an air battle during an invasion of their country. The boy goes to live with his uncle who runs a bar, and ends up befriending the invaders’ top ace. They’re both stories of civilians who are powerless to do anything but watch the war going on above them, even as it deeply affects their lives.

    Katabuchi talks about this in one or two Japanese-language interviews, but shockingly, few interviewers have thought to ask him about this video game from the early 2000s that only the profoundly weird still care about. This is a shame because the cinematics are quite good, and he’s said on twitter that he’s always wanted to edit them together into a short film to show at festivals. It’s worth giving them a watch on youtube, just as a curiosity.

    He also mentions that the first thing he did when he got the job – which was just as production of Mai Mai Miracle was wrapping up – was to go visit airfields for research. Because, of course that’s what Katabuchi would do.

    Anyway, A Silent Voice is great fuck you =P

  5. Does this mean that there is going to be a Silent Voice review?

    And also:
    Grave of the Fireflies < Your Name < Silent Voice < In This Corner Of The World

  6. Well, I certainly feel honored. Thanks for taking the time to read my comment. I certainly appreciate it, and that goes doubly for Gerald’s kind remarks.

    I wasn’t planning on checking out this movie, but it sounds right up my alley. Gonna need to see if I can get my mother to watch it.

  7. I’m one of those that agree that “A Silent Voice” wasn’t good. Huge disappointment.

    About In This Corner of the World, I loved the manga!
    Waited for years to watch the movie, and it exceeded my expectations!
    I’m counting the days to watch the extended cut, the movie will be perfect then, because what they had to cut hindered Suzu’s development with her husband at the end.

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