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Monday, February 20, 2017 

Political manga

The Japan News wrote about political manga stories for the "post-truth" era, hinting at how, in true form to kabuki, not all political manga books reflect reality. At the beginning, they say:
In his book “Trump: How to Get Rich,” Donald Trump writes: “I am the creator of my own comic book, and I love living in it.” With an intensely powerful personality, the current U.S. president seems far more adaptable to comic form than his former presidential rival Hillary Clinton or former President Barack Obama.
Hmm, is that a compliment to Trump? If it is, it's sure doing a lot more for Trump than what the mainstream American press are willing to. It certainly says something when a foreign paper's more favorable than local press are.
Having said so, manga that portrays real-life politicians heroically should be read with caution and taken with a pinch of salt. Manga essentially appeals strongly to emotion rather than logic and reason. The protagonists are usually illustrated handsomely, whereas the antagonists are depicted unattractively. History has proven that cartoon caricatures often tend to be used as a tool for political propaganda.
On which note, the main example given is:
In “Shippu no Hayato,” the protagonist and other young politicians such as Eisaku Sato, Masayoshi Ohira and Kaku-ei Tanaka, who all later served as prime ministers, are depicted as handsome young men, which was far from the reality. On the other hand, those working for the GHQ, including Gen. Douglas MacArthur, all have villainous looks. Hayato boldly rattles on in Hiroshima dialect, and the political and diplomatic exchanges are rough and violent, akin to gang warfare. Sure enough, this manga is far more exciting and thrilling than Saito’s epic, but it makes me rather uneasy because it is so easy to understand. How can post-WWII history be simplified to a morality tale that rewards the good and punishes the bad — with Japan on the “good” side?
The above certainly sounds like something written by somebody who sided with the Japanese fascists/imperialists, if I'm reading this correctly, which is disturbing. So the columnist's points are well taken here. In a land where kabuki's supremely surreal style is put to heavy use in more ways than one, which can result in liberties taken for all the wrong reasons, you certainly need to be wary of what specific products are like.

And if the writer's being respectable to Trump, which must have what to do with the positive meeting he and Shinzo Abe had at least a week ago, that's very flattering.

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