Money quotes from Patrick Macias

Patrick Macias, journalist/author and expert on Japanese anime/manga culture, is one of my favorite commentators on Japan. Though I can’t say I share his affinity for Ultraman reruns and shitty 1970s Japanese rock bands, part of what I like about Macias is the fact that he understands Japanese culture but nevertheless takes what he enjoys from the country (namely otaku culture) without compromising his personality or values. A recent interview he granted podcast Otaku Generation featured some of his typical wit. I’ll transcribe some of the choice quotes so you don’t have to listen to the tinny, irrelevant banter of the questioners:

“I was told that the worst that I could do as a gaijin writer on Japan was to live in Japan because you need this perspective if you want anyone to pay attention to you. Otherwise you’re just one of those kind of circus monkeys they have on the TV shows there who sort of read the newspapers in the morning talking about American foreign policy even though even though they haven’t been in America for, you know, 10 or 15 years.”

“Pizza is a joke in Japan. People should be arrested for what they call pizza there. I think the mafia should just go over there and start shooting people ‘cuz that shit is not pizza. It’s like a tortilla with cheese on it and tomato sauce… And you don’t get that bloated, gassy feeling two hours later. It goes down too easy. With pizza, it’s got to be a struggle against your own humanity to digest it. At least American pizza should be… Even Mama Celeste would destroy the average pizza in Japan. Totino’s party pizza is gourmet compared to what you can get in Japan for top dollar.”

“Patrick: They close off the street traffic in Akihabara on Sunday and the street fills up with wotaku, with amateur idols, and cross dressers. There’s a new kind of wotaku, where guys buy sailor suits and dance with their favorite idols in the streets. It’s pretty sensational. There’s a lot of them. I don’t know if there’s a new word for it, I think I would classify them as ‘wotaku’, but they’re basically trannies. This is a new kind of fandom that really kind of blew my mind. I didn’t see this one coming.

Questioner: You see a lot of those at the American anime conventions, you know, the older guys who use it as an opportunity to be trannies for the day.

Other Questioner: Yeah but that’s like, one time every convention. I think these guys are coming every weekend, right?

Patrick: Well, when it comes to American otaku and Japanese otaku, I think American otaku want to follow the example of what Japanese fandom looks like. We want conventions and dojinshi and maids and dressing up like trannies and all that stuff, so it makes perfect sense that both sides are into the same thing. Just stay the hell away from me! … You see people laughing behind their backs non-stop… It’s a very judgmental situation, but there’s not an ethical component to that. No one will challenge you. In America I think someone would come up to you and say, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ …People would be offended to do that sort of thing, but in Japan it’s more like ‘That’s funny, but I’m not going to send you Hell for it.'”

“A lot of the animation that they’re making [in Japan] is actually made in India or the Philippines or Korea. It’s really hard for me to call some of that stuff anime because there’s not a hell of a lot of animation going on in some of the new shows. You get like a talking mouth for 3 minutes and you feel like ‘wow this is great, I feel like I’m being treated to something really spectacular here.’ … The average anime is made by some underpaid guy in India, sort of like the guy you call when you have problems with your ISP. You want that guy making your anime? … I heard some amazing stories that Chinese prison labor, political prisoners in China are being used to produce animation… Also I think one animation company in South Korea got busted because they were exporting the work to North Korea to do the actual animation. They were just taking the money and forcing people in North Korea to do the actual work… I don’t follow any current anime so avidly, but I pay close attention to what’s happening behind the scenes because it’s a much freakier and terrifying story than anything I can find in fiction.”

“One thing we were saying is that anime is everywhere in Japan, but elsewhere it’s kind of dying. A lot of it is being outsourced, and there’s not a lot of new talent going into the industry… [People] realize that they can make more money in video games or… a convenience store on a monthly basis than they can doing anime or manga. It’s hard, it’s tough. Japan is trying to use anime and manga ato promote Japanese culture. You see the Tokyo Metropolitan Government doing things like the Tokyo Anime Fair. You have politicians saying this is Japan’s soft power, anime, mange, Puffy AmiYumi, music, stuff like that. But there’s not a lot of support for these things. There should be a foundation, there should be a grant, something, but it’s just not there.”

“[In Japan] you get respect by playing by the rules – by not grabbing the food first before the oldest guy at the table does, or by not drinking before everyone else does first. You get points for observing those things and paying attention to them, but at the same time no one’s ever going to think you’re Japanese if you’re American. You can’t win. There’s definitely a time to do the gaijin smash, and just go in there like the Hulk and just destroy everything… You can play it either way. They both have their advantages and their strengths, but the one thing you learn in Japan is to just be a little more considerate. Even in America I find it’s being respectful and saying thank you a little more. Not necessarily bowing like a robot, but you kind of begin to appreciate just genial human kindness.”

I didn’t catch the rest of the 3-hour interview, but I am 100% sure that Macias gets tired from there and lays off the more insightful commentary, which is good for me since I happened to get tired of listening at the exact same point!

43 thoughts on “Money quotes from Patrick Macias”

  1. I don’t really like that ‘perspective’ argument. I think it is a rhetorical device which lets ignorant people talk bullshit all they want. I don’t know much about this guy, but I know some pretty average reporters on Japan who espose absolutely the same philosophy and get things wrong wrong wrong all the fucking time. And yet when someone challenges them on their crap, they pull out the ‘you’ve been in Japan too long’ card.

  2. I think willful ignorance in terms of understanding a foreign land is an easy trap to fall into, and it’s one that I find myself in now as a temporary resident of Thailand. I don’t even pretend to follow the local news anymore most of the time, and for once I can’t be bothered to care. After gaining some knowledge of one area of the world, it’s been a jarring experience to realize how little that knowledge comes in handy in a new environment (especially of course in terms of language), and moreover a daunting task to try and start from scratch again, especially when I have very little incentive to do so. On the other hand, the circumstances are much different for someone like a reporter. To confuse this willful ignorance with a necessary perspective is a disservice to the idea of the pursuit of the truth.

    Now that it’s become almost certain that I’ll be settling down in Japan for a while (more on that later), I’m interested in the attitudes of fellow expatriates as a guide for how I want to shape my own experiences.

    Macias brings up the poster-boy gaijin on TV image again, but of course there isn’t a line to cross past which one automatically becomes “that guy.” But there may be a practical element to Macias’ ideas if he wants to stay relevant to the otaku crowd back home in the US. If he’s not careful he might disenfranchise some of the key people he’s appealing to as a writer. I don’t know the reporters you’re talking about, but they may feel the same applies to them. If that means they get Japan wrong, I suppose there’s the Letters section to straighten things out?

  3. ‘To confuse this willful ignorance with a necessary perspective is a disservice to the idea of the pursuit of the truth.’

    A few things wrong with this
    1)To claim that necessary perspective wears off when you live in your subject country for a number of years is just silly. You can live in Japan and be critical about events here. Japanese journalists do this every day.

    2) It assumes that ‘Japan’ has some sort of independent ‘perspective’ and isn’t a society with a diverse range of views and opinions, which would account for the the western media taking Japanese pop-pshychology phenomena and turning them into a representation of overall ‘Japanese’ behaviour. (Think parasite singles or shut-in teenagers). It also accounts for the growing number of articles in the NY times, Guardian et al. citing ‘Japan’s’ increasing nationalism.

    3) It also assumes that this (non-existant) ‘Japanese’ perspective is something that needs to be resisted. In other words, to fight the good fight, you need to work from the assumption that any trend here has to be placed in a negative light in order to derive some sense of ‘THE’ truth. This might be a useful attribute for a political journalist, but when you are reporting on say, the Korea wave in popular culture of late, and you take it for granted that the hate-Korea wave is not just a minority backlash (as I have seen misrepresented in the NY Times) then you are distorting the truth, not reporting it.

    4) It assumes an independent ‘American’ (or whatever) perspective that would be receptive to serious reporting, and that this perspective really is fair, balanced and professional when it comes to choosing stories. I’ve read an article in an academic journal written by a formal American bureau chief in Tokyo complaining about fact that editors in America during the excess years of the bubble did not really want ‘serious’ pieces from Japan. Japan, instead, was a goldmine for funny shit that kept people tittilated. Economics was boring. Girls being chased by lizards in game shows was fun. This framed Japan in a certain way that haunts the way it is presented overseas today. To tittilation I would add outrage. Take the whale issue, for example. I have only ever once seen a western newspaper article – oddly in New Zealand – that seriously explains, engages and critiques Japan’s official position on whaling. Most of the other stuff is merely pap that allows the (Western) target readership to feel superior.

  4. Here’s an example of how perspective does not mean neutrality from the post above:

    ‘Pizza is a joke in Japan. People should be arrested for what they call pizza there.’

    I’m assuming his audience is from the U.S., where pizza (save, so I’m told, New York pizza) can be pretty ghastly too. And I assume he is talking about pizza from Japanese dominos etc. Comparing Japanese dominos with American dominos is pretty pointless because you’re talking about different micro-levels of shittiness. Perhaps the Japanese shit has corn in it, but the American style shit is still shit.

    But this is the kind of thing I am talking about. There is no such thing as an ‘authentic’ Japanese pizza. Pizza, real Pizza, you know the stuff like they make in Italy can actually be very very VERY good in Japan. How do I know? Well, having eaten it in both Italy and Japan (as well as the States) and being able to compare, I have to say that a lot of the pizza in smaller Italian joints in Japan is second to none. That and the Neopolitans have judged a Japanese guy the world’s best pizza maker a couple of years running. But what do they know? They only invented the stuff.

    So there’s your perspective. If you’re a dude whose job it is to sit around and play computer games all day, you are probably fed on a diet of dominos and pizza hut, so when you go to Japan and get lumps of corn and crab on your soggy piece of crust covered with processed cheese, you are more likely to consider it a ‘joke’. If you are someone who wouldn’t go near dominos, or even izakaya pizza, you’ll be pleasantly surpised by offerings in Japan. Personally, when I read an article about pizza, I don’t want to know how bad it is. I want to know where the good stuff is and where I can get it. None of this has anything to do with time spent in country or nationality, or whatever, but it does show how ‘perspective’ is never neutral, and that people who claim ‘perspective’ are more often that not using it as a euphemism for ‘bias’.

  5. Macias is one of my favorite writer when he was writing for EIGA HIHO
    I don’t think he has any bias,perhaps some taste though.and I agree with him about pizzas, I miss those AMERICAN pizzas,not the genteel Napolitan ones.

    Bryce:I agree with all of your comment ,it is refreshing after I was reading comment at Japan-U.S discussions at National Bureau of Research of Asian Surveys.The place makes me want to sign into nationalist camp!

  6. I agree with Bryce’s comments as well. Just think about the Japanese equivalent. Would anyone suggest that a Japanese America expert needs to get out of the States in order to understand what is really going on?

    Also, I think that Macias’ take on recent anime / manga is just plain wrong. There has been a huge rush of new blood and new talent into the industry (in Japan) lately. Also, the manga sections of American bookstores have now become larger than the “teen lit” sections in many cases. They are apparently re-doing “Betty and Veronica” to make the art and the storytelling more “manga-like” (according to Canada’s “Globe and Mail” today). I’ve had dozens of Chinese and Korean students tell me that their parents hate Japan but that they like it because of anime, manga, dorama, etc. Various magazine surveys of young people in different areas (UK, USA, Canada, Hong Kong) suggest the same thing. What more do you want? Anime and manga “dying” outside? Kinda a joke. Here he sounds like a guy that needs a bit more perspective.

    I 100% agree with his “human kindness” point, however. Many people characterise Japanese as “robotic” in their social responses, aptness for avoiding confrontation, etc. but I think that sometimes we need to call a spade a spade and a diamond a diamond — I think that many Japanese are just genuinely considerate.

    Ace – As for the NBR guys…. That’s what an economic view of the world will get you.

  7. Taking cover for Macias(sorry M-bone!)
    Don’t know about manga,but I think Anime is in decline both in productivity and creativity in Japan,It is an irony that at the same time anime is getting the global audience.But most of the anime are made by TV station who wants to get profit by rental and sell DVDs.not by attracting viewers on television.Think about all those animes shown around 3’oclock in the morning,obviously they are not intended to show to the 11 years olds.But to the grown-ups who wish they were still at that ageAnime is now a “contents”not a piece of work created by enthusiastic craftmenMacias knows this since he is attached partly to the golden age of anime in Showa that were smuggled into states.

    I was interested to Macias for the fact that his editor,mentor,and translator is Machiyama Tomohiro,the legedary editor for TAKARAJIAMA(Treasure island)magazine.Machiyama,a zainichi korean now living in Oakland,Ca,covering Hollywood movies and American entertainments for various Japanese magazines.
    He is now writing his own life stories in HON-NIN magazine about how he grew-up under Korean farther without any cultural bondage to things korean.

    In this issue Machiyama also write about Macias who were born as MexicanAmerican
    under the Mexican mother,a Highschool Spanish teacher,who never taught her son a single word of Spanish for she thought it could jeopardize the participation to mainstream American society.So like Machiyama,Macias became sort of a cultural
    exile who could find his place only within the realm of other country’s pop culture.
    In Machiyama’s case it was American new cinemas and for Macias,Japanese pop culuture.

    So if Macias thinks anime is losing it’s shine compared to what it used to be than he must have some good reasons to say so.I think.

    Since you are a globetrotting gourmant you might already know plenty about the good Tokyo pizzaria.But here is my recommendation.
    La Piccola Tavola in Eihukucho on Inokashira line.It’s said to be recommended
    pizzaria No.148 by Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana,AKA Pizza police.
    It is currently my favorite pizzaria in town.

    Talking about Pizza police, what do you all think about WaPo coverage of the Sushi police, another ‘rising Japanese nationalism’ genre.I though that was rather an offensive article.

  8. Thanks Adam, although I’m quite capable of taking care of myself.

    December6. I type fast.

    Aceface: Sushi police? I’ll look into it. The best pizza I’ve had in Tokyo was in Nakao. For the life of me I can’t remember the name, but I think it started with a V. The place was also opposite a dance studio. I would thoroughly recommend it, if you can find it. It’s also recommended by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, so you might be able to get the address in Eihukucho.

  9. Re: Sushi police.

    Got it. I’ve saen this somewhere in Japanese newspapers too.

    AF: I actually agree with the WaPo that the creditation scheme is a little ridiculous. Japanese tourists have guidebooks that tell them where wa-shoku can be found, and expats and returned longterm residents of Japan can generally sniff out good restaurants within a few weeks of arrival. As for those that don’t know the difference, well, who cares? You’re right though, the bit about nationalism is the typical shit you see in mainstream western newspapers in Japan.

    I’m kind of surprised that this scheme hasn’t found its way to an Mutantfrog post yet. Adamu? MF?

  10. I thought about doing a post on the topic, but I just don’t know enough about Japanese restaurants outside of Japan to give a very informed opinion. I had barely ever even tasted Japanese food before coming here to study for the first time, and I’ve only actually been in the US for a year since then.

    This bit cracked me up though.
    “What Toshikatsu Matsuoka found instead was something he considered a high culinary crime — sushi served on the same menu as Korean-style barbecued beef.”
    Gee, maybe he was eating at a Korean restaurant. Just because sushi is on the menu doesn’t mean it’s even pretending to be a Japanese restaurant.

  11. Ace – Looks like we both agree that manga is on something of a high right now. If you think that anime is hitting a low, I’ll have to ask – compared to when? Let’s face it, there has always been a lot of garbage on TV with a few classics mixed in the TV / OVA market. Do a top 10 for any five year period since the 1980s and I’ll bet that a top ten from 2001-2006 looks just as strong. The Golden Age of anime in Showa? Yes, Yamato was great. Urusei Yatsura was as well. But were Ranma, Dragonball, etc. really better than what is coming out now? I don’t think that Showa was the Golden Age anyway, early heisei (Miyazaki’s prime, Evangelion, the Ruroni Kenshi OVAs) was probably it.

    One recent example of something that many write off but is actually very good is “Hagane no Renkinjutsushi” (Full Metal Alchemist). The “good guys” in the show have acts of genocide in their past. This is a major theme in the series and, well, a pretty major theme for Japan, the USA, etc. I’d even argue that “Hagane” has more intelligent things to say about mass killing than most reportage…. Just one example of an industry with an excess, not a lack of talent at present. Ithink that anime themes have been broken open to some degree – interested creators can deal with things that would not have been touched in the 1980s because the medium is maturing.

    All of those shows at 3 in the morning on TV Tokyo and pay channels are like icing on the cake as they did not exist “back in the day”. Some good stuff has come out in those time slots (Moso Dairinin (Paranoia Agent) would never have seen the light of day in the 1980s).There are major parallels with the USA. Many say that the best thing on US TV is HBO’s “The Wire” which does low ratings on TV but makes it up with a devoted audience and DVD sales. Bad thing or new way of looking at TV content? Anime is the same way.

  12. M-bone:
    Well .above the post was basically intended to say about Macias and my opinion is “The kid is alright”.
    I still think Anime was better back in the day.Don’t know about you ,but Macias is 30something now and I too am in the wrong side of the 30’s and maybe that influence our attitudes.And I also want to say that all of anime you’ve mentioned Ramma,Ruroni Kensin,Dragon Ball and Hagane,they are all best selling manga based.Not original anime.All the Tatsunoko pro(Gatchaman,Speed racers).and Japan Sunrise anime (including the Gundam franchise)were originally crafted for Television.Yamato was roughly based on Reiji Matsumoto’s original and this is a disputed issue but is actually created by the producer Nishizaki for anime.Some like Japan Animation’s World Classic Tale series like Haidi ,The Dog of Flanders and Rascal the Racoon were chosen from literature and added new life by successfully translated to anime.Evangelion is the exception since anime started first and manga followed afterward,but lot of old timers of the fandom were interested how Gainax had reconstructed the genre by using patchworks from old anime of the Showa days,And about Miyazaki ,Well .his best works are not the recent ones,It is Conan,not the detective nor the barbarian,but the one of post-world war 3 dystopian youth survival tale or Lupin3 the Castle of Cagliostro.but they are my taste and I’m not pushing it.

    I’ll get back at Sushi police issue later,guys.

  13. Ace – I’m on the “right” side of 30, but not by much. Most of my favorite anime were made before 1985 (Galaxy Express 999, Ashita no Jo, Castle of Cagliostro I have seen 25 times) and I love classic Tezuka manga (own about 150) and I dig Shirato Sanpei (Kamui) so I didn’t just spring out of the cabbage patch (so to speak).

    Point well taken about most of what I mentioned being manga to anime but, Macias has his top 10 anime up on his blog and half are from manga so I don’t think that is a major issue about the present stuff.

    In any case, I 100% agree with you guys when you say that things like Mirai Shonen Konan (future boy Conan), classic Lupin III, Macross, Galaxy Express 999, etc. just rule (I would throw in Urusei Yatsura, Patlabor, VOTOMS, and a whole pile of 1980s gold, I alsolike Tiger Mask, Kyojin no Hoshi, Dororo, and a bunch of earlier stuff). This is the best stuff ever. However, that does not mean that the stuff coming out now is a waste of time. There is some very good anime being made. I think that we need to keep an open mind. Satoshi Kon’s recent run is impressive and Oshii Mamoru keeps on trucking. There is some young blood coming up as well. Berserk is from a few years ago but it has some GREAT chilling moments (going beyond the manga) and Monster is the same. We have to keep in mind – something like Yamato may be wonderful if we think about the historical context of its production, but would people take it seriously these days? I’m kinda glad that the human race = Japan overtone of that show has given way to anime that are more inclusive of different human groups (look at the new GUNDAM Seed). Come to think of it, Seed is a good example of anime reinvented – it has really good things to say about war and atrocities.

    In any case, I didn’t say that Macias is dumb or anything, he is a smart and entertaining writer, I just think that he is wrong on two points – anime is dying outside of Japan and that the new stuff is not good. Anime has gone mainstream in much of Asia, is taking up more and more shelf space in North America (Marvel Comics is creating a “marvel manga” series to cash in) and there is plenty of strong stuff being made in Japan at present. I love the old stuff but I’m not going to write off the new stuff either. Also, Macias is talking about video games stealing anime’s thunder while the Ameircan blogsphere’s big Japanese games expert Chris Kohler (writing on Wired magazine’s Game/Life blog) has been writing for years about a lack of new talent and ambition in the Japanese games industry which has been less and less influentialy internationally (outside of the DS and its throwback titles). I see the problems in Japanese games but anime and manga seem to be still going strong – both in terms of bottom line and creativity.

  14. M-Bone:
    BERSERK anime going beyond manga?Really?
    I thought BERSERK is one example of manga cannot be tranplanted into anime format successfuly.Since anime picture is too flat(or SUPER FLAT should I say?) compare to Manga’s gloom and doom texture.And most of the gags are handwritten to get an effect to break the tention of the narrative.It is pretty difficult task for voice actor to translate that tone naturally.Although I can’t tell since I’ve watched anime once for 10 seconds while I was zapping at midnight a decade ago.

    For GUNDAM SEED,As an original viewer of MOVILE SUIT GUNDAM way back in ’79,(I watched the very first episode of ガンダム大地に立つ,pretty excited but nobody in the class paid interest to it at that moment of history)I detest the whole idea one gundam fights another.especially when all the characters are not designed by Yasuhiko Yoshikazu.period.

    I think the VTR changed the whole idea of anime watching.The first gundam has some what like a Shakespearean kind of status in my generation for every body gets the tune .It could only be happening with a kind of oral literary sort of tradition attached to the early fandom of anime which if you miss the show on TV ,you find out how great it was nextday at school from the guys who saw it firsthand.andyou just have to wait and wait for the re-run while the firsthand guys triumphantly tell you OVER AND OVER AGAIN how great it was and how could I miss it. Now with YOUTUBE and everything there are just too much information and selection,you just don’t have that joy of knowing ahead of others.and that too probably makes Showa anime lovers swell.

    Why do I always type like some old counterreactionary when I debate with you,
    I’ll get back at Sushi police tomorrow.

  15. I think that the Berserk anime goes beyond the manga in two areas – the addition of a very creepy score and the energy with which it does some of the battle and camp scenes. I also think that Berserk, as a story, is served well by being cut off. I think that the last 10 or so volumes of the manga have been pretty lame (I get my fix for that kind of thing from another manga called “Cestus” now). Anime and manga have different strengths – just look at the Nausicaa manga and film. The film’s visuals inspire awe in a way that the manga (which uses very small panels) does only infrequently. The manga, however, is far richer in detail and can afford to vary the pacing (in a way that would annoy film watchers, this is always easier in print).

    I was not sold on GUNDAM Seed when I first heard about it but there is something to be said for a show where characters explicitly discuss racism, atrocities, etc. and one that questions the role of weapons of mass destruction in war, the slaughter of POWs, the influence that racial hatreds can have on armed conflict, etc. If this is not a rogue’s gallery of the most important issues facing the world at present, I don’t know what is. The original GUNDAM is a masterpiece, but its characters were stronger than its ideas. I think that the opposite is true of the newer series. This is one of the reasons that I still think that anime has a lot of energy – there are series going in a very different direction than the classics and exploring new ideas.

    I agree with your assessment of early anime fandom. I’ve been around North American anime fandom since the early “fansub” days. There was next to no info (I can remember when there were 50 or so anime web pages on the net in English), we had to wait weeks to get tapes, etc. It was limited, but it was great. Now I think that some people have access to too much and miss the classics as a result…. I find it kinda funny when people describe Evangelion as an “old” anime.

    The reason why you sound like a reactionary when you answer me? One of the reasons may be that I am a trained / pro historian. We tend to look at cultural works from different areas in as “value free” a way as we can. As a result, I tend to think a lot about quesitons like “what are people today getting out of Seed?” Since I look at just about everything in an aesthetic way and also as an ideological product in a certain time / historical context, I tend to think about what works mean the most of most people rather than just what I find “better”. This involves taking two steps back. You, on the other hand are in the thick of things in Japan, no? Looking more for things that will light your fire so to speak?

    I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say about the Sushi po po. I agree that most of the coverage of it in English has been shockingly bad….

  16. M-Bone:
    Thanks for the collection It’s reactionary not counterreactionary,I’ve been reading too much on Mongolian revolution lately,just confused with counterrevolutionary
    You are right about historian VS Nativist theory,I ‘ve just ranted at Frog in the well,Although I just left a”sorry”message ,I’m regretting to death.Perhaps I’m becoming the living proof of “Japan goes right”syndrome.Give them my regard if you have any chance to talk to them.

    Sushi Police:
    BRUTUS magazine occasionaly publish special issue on how good the Japanese foreign food restaurant when compared to the REAL ones,They invited The Pizza police from Naples for the pizza issue,and a French man called Francois Simon,the restaurant critic at LE FIGARO for the French cuisine a la Japon one.I enjoyed reading them for there are always complaint how Japan ruin the product of the western civilization.

    Now this Simon fella wrote a piece on the pseudo-sushi boom in Paris(I’ve read it in translation at Couriere Japon or somewhere) and alarming the readers to be cautious since most owners are non-Japanese and not properly trained so there could be a danger of food poisoning or may not go as far as that but might bring “the bad currency override the good”kinda situation for Japanese restaurant scene in Paris.For knowing it takes years of on-the-job training to be a sushi master in japan,I agreed with that.

    Back in the 80’s I had an experience at the Howard Johnson’s in Phoenix,Arizona ordering so-called TERI-YAKI CHICKEN and I got a half still-frozen chicken with pinneapple sauce all over on it .I wouldn’t say someone should be arrested for it.but I thought that may not be what I would call teriyaki by any sense.Could be a yes in Hawaii but never in Japan.Also have an experience of eating a sushi in my wife’s hometown Ulaanbaatar, the Japanese restaurant served with the fish come from China made by North Korean with the badge of Kim Il Sung presumably a public servant coming there to get some foreign currency for the DPRK.Wasn’t bad actually.

    So with these experience I thought this idea of creditation scheme may not be bad
    or at least harmless for the restaurant goer,and could help bringing the level of sushi abroad to the better ground.

    I’ve also remembered this Newsweek Japan coverage of How the west gets Japan wrongly but that’s OK issue folowed by ‘How Japan gets it wrong with Bla..,oops. African American cultures and it is a good opportunity so Newsweek Japan will kick your ass into the american style PC boot camp and streighten you up ‘ issue.
    Both article were written by Deborah Hodgson, an Aussie journalist.Have no clue how and why a white woman from Downunder fit herself into the position of preaching the attitude toward black americans to the whole Japanese public,but many in Japan got the message and have some idea about it.

    The AfricanAmerican PC thing was enlightening,but the world can take Japan wrongly or not and there’s nothing you in Yokohama can do about it,but sit in the backsheet and watch,while viceversa happens among hillbillies in Hokkaido,or Shizuoka or somewhere the reporters would surge over like an army of piranha rushing for human fresh.rips off all the dignity from entire country is not amusing.

    Yes I am over simplifying the issue,but so does WaPo piece on Sushi Police.Pehaps the use of the word ‘sushi police’ by the guy who wrote this start all the rage,or the bureaucrat taking charge of it was a mistake.But this tendency of Japan=state controling everything and current situation=flag waving nationalism rising is too much of a simplification,especially when it is being applied to this Sushi debate

    But then again the detail the reporter choose for the article clearly indicates somekind of national essentialism .and might take us to debate like KoKKa No Hinkaku vs renegate market oriented capitalism though.

  17. I’m also a bit frustrated that so many people are equating the sushi police with widespread jingoism. Most of this debate ignores the fact that a lot of “Japanese” restaurants are just bad. Some people see this as a reaction against “fusion” dishes and make the point that you can get all kinds of crazy sushi in Japan, but nobody seems to mind. I think that this is missing the point. The sushi police is simply an effort to draw some distinction between good Japanese food and the rest. I’ve gone to “Japanese” restaurants in a number of countries where they whip a chunk of frozen snapper in the microwave to defrost it, chop it up, and serve it as sashimi. I’ve also seen local newspapers in Canada, New Zealand, etc. RAVING about the most average Japanese food and comparing it with what is served at the kind of French restaurants where you end up paying $120 a head without wine. Some kind of context is needed and a sushi police certification can be a good reward for Japanese restaurants (Japanese managed or not) outside of Japan that serve good food.

    I can remember when “Spirited Away” came out – one American critic thought that it was a commentary on teen prostitution in Japan. In other words, the guy knew one sensationalist thing about Japan and used it as his frame of reference. This happens with the “new nationalism” idea as well. People read about this in the NYT and use it to understand anything that goes on in Japan. None of this on “Mutantfrog”, however. Makes the site a must read.

  18. I guess nobody is criticizing whether the Japanese restaurant is owned by Japanese or not.nor ‘fusion’japanese food as fake.And agrees everyone abroad has their freedom to choose their favorite restaurant.It was zainichi Korean who invented the belt drive sushi,which lead tp the way of discount suchi.and I have no doubt the chinese and koreans are contributing the price down and ‘democratization ‘of sushi
    in the U.S or elsewhere.
    It is the idea that the effort and the time one invest to gain superior skill to become a sushi master should be awarded somehow and perhaps creditation scheme might serve this objective.

    About ‘Spirited Away’
    Actually Miyazaki did mention about teenage prostitution and workethics among teenagers and from this interview Machiyama Tomohiro wrote a commentary criticizing there are the motif of teenage sexualexproitation in the movie.So this american critic may not so outfocused.

  19. Miyazaki also said that AIDS was an influence on Mononoke Hime but this does not mean that it is what the film is about…. In any case, Chihiro is about 10 years old so I don’t really want to think about that. I think that “Sen to Chihiro….” is clealry about “lost” youth. Teen prostitution is one shade of lost, but by that logic, you can argue that the film is about teens getting hooked on shabu or sniffing paint thinner. I don’t like to boil a film down to essences like this and this one is about a lot of things….

    I agree 100% that the sushi police should be about rewarding good Japanese food. I’m kinda interested in who exactly is going to get to travel around the world doing the tasting at Japanese government expense….

  20. “I’m kinda interested in who exactly is going to get to travel around the world doing the tasting at Japanese government expense….”

    I’m volunteering for this.It’s a tough mission but somebody have to stand up for your country, you know.

  21. Sorry for joining in so late, so I’ll try and respond to all the main points of discussion at once.

    The “sushi police” might be a fine thing for the Japanese Restaurant Association or some such private organization (if it exists) to engage in, but as a governmental project it simply invites ridicule, and reinforces the common stereotype of Japan as fundamentally a nation of people who approach their chosen specialty with the irritating focus and humorlessness of an otaku.

    Certainly there is plenty of bad sushi out there, for example I saw a sushi restaurant in Urumqi, capital of Xinjian province of China. For those who don’t know, Urumqi is smack in the middle of the desert the city farthest from any ocean in the entire world-a fact which did not inspire me to try their preparation of raw fish.

    Note that sushi restaurants in the US are run mostly by Koreans and Taiwanese. I’m not aware of any run by non-Taiwanese Chinese, but they probably exist. A lot of Japanese food, such as sushi and teppanyaki, are very ordinary food in Taiwan having been popularized during the colonial period. Incidentally, the famous “Japanese barbeque” restaurants in the US, where they cook various teppanyaki foods in at the table and put on a silly little show is a derivative of Taiwanese teppanyaki, and many if not most or even all of those “Japanese bbq” restaurants are actually Taiwanese owned. This is not authentic Japanese cuisine by any stretch of the imagination, but it is certainly a cuisine. I think really good coverage of this issue would discuss this sort of thing, perhaps with some actual statistics.


    Gundam Seed is a pretty interesting show. I’ve never actually seen much of the original Gundam, or Gundam Wing or any of the other 50-dozen Gundams out there, but after a long campaign one friend finally convinced me to try this series and I enjoyed it pretty well. What I find really fascinating about the show is the fact that it’s appeal is largely based on the visceral/voyeuristic enjoyment of big battle scenes and cool robots fighting each other, but the entire show is basically a critique of war-reliving the message of Imperial Japan.

    I haven’t really seen as much golden age anime as I probably should have. Like most Americans of my generation I first started watching anime (not counting stuff like Voltron from my childhood, which I had no idea was from Japan and was very liberally translated anyway) in high school, having been introduced to it by some friends who were very serious aficionados of the stuff. So, most of what watched in that period was Heisei era-Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Ranma, Serial Experiments Lain, Slayers, Lodoss War, Ghost in the Shell, Akira, Perfect Blue, Ninja Scroll, etc. Ironically, I haven’t been following anime much since I first came to Japan so I’m not really sure about the quality of the latest stuff, but in general I am very, very skeptical of statements that say we are in some degenerate period that doesn’t compare to the Golden Age of yore. For example, Gainax works like Evangelion or FLCL are really fantastic pieces that absolutely require the previous 50-60 years of anime history to even be possible.

    “And about Miyazaki ,Well .his best works are not the recent ones” Howl was a bit weak (I actually happened to read the original novel last week, and I thought it was a better story than the one in the film), but I would say that Spirited Away and Mononoke Hime are up there. I do think that Totoro is one of the most perfectly constructed films of all time, in any genre.

  22. MF:
    ‘common stereotype of Japan as fundamentally a nation of people who approach their chosen specialty with the irritating focus and humorlessness of an otaku.’is a diehard image cannot be dismantled from our side.And in this case you can’t blame the readers interprete like that especially with the term’Sushi Police’ invented by WaPo.

    Like I said above,My point strictly limited to sushi and the lavor of love by sushi masters of both Japanese and foreign citizen for their ambition of better sushi making.
    I agree with you it’s no job for the bureaucrats.but then again I was reminded by all these Aussie Beefs campaign by Austaralia in Japan and ‘if it’s not bottled in Champaigne then it’s just a sparkling wine’ by French.Or perhaps the fuss about chocolate in Belgium and Switzerland against EU regulations.
    These are all about country brand thing aren’t they?
    I’ve covered a story of Kimchi war waged by Korean government at CODEX, a UN backed international congress stating food standard, back in’01 .And the Japanese industry and critics were pretty much sympathetic to Korean argument against made-in -japan-pseudo-Kimchis.So the move could be justified to some for Japan’s interest to keep their precious’soft power'(in this case sushi)intact.

    And young man ,You’ve got to watch the FIRST gundam or perhaps buy a manga by Yasuhiko, if you ever want to talk about that robot war anime.Watching SEED and talk about Gundam is like jarjarbinks loving 6yearold never heard about Empire Strikes Back saying I’m a biiiiig Star Wars mania.

    Yes, this is a mumbling from a Japanese guy who approach his chosen speciality with the irritating focus and humorlessness of an otaku……

    By the way Merry Xmas to you all from Tokorozawa!

  23. I think we’re pretty much in agreement on this here. What I’m saying is that it’s generally recognized that attention to detail and high quality and specialization have traditionally been highly regarded values in Japan. When taken to an extreme, these same values are what crosses over into “otaku” territory, which again is not necessarily a bad thing, but is certainly being reinforced by article like this one. I think this otaku style obsessive single-mindedness has been the primary stereotype of Japanese people in the West for decades now, if not longer. For a long time we mostly saw images of the robot salaryman or factory worker, whose life was his job, and now we mostly see images of otaku, whether akiba-kei or oversensitive food-nazis.

    Yes, sushi is kind of a national brand, but unlike Champagne it is not in fact something limited to Japan. Korea has a history of eating at least sashimi and possibly sushi (I need to check on this) maybe as long as Japan and maybe even longer, and all kinds of Japanese food are common in Taiwan because Japan encouraged them to take in all sorts of Japanese culture for 50 years!

    I know I need to see the original Gundam some time. My defense is that it never got play on American TV, unlike Gundam Wing which was played a couple of times in its entirety on Cartoon Network several years ago. Like I said, one of my friends finally pressured me into seeing Seed, but I will see the first one someday! Lately I’ve not been watching anime much at all, but reading manga, mainly by older artists. For example, I recently read the series わたいは真悟 by 楳図かずお as well as some of his old horror comics, and I’m also reading a lot of Mizuki Shigeru’s work. As far as I know, neither of these authors has ever been translated into English, which kind of astounds me. I would love to take on that job someday if possible…

  24. MF:
    Well ,regarding sushi creditation scheme,I think people who come to the sushi bar literary go there to taste a small bit of Japanese culture and for that they probably wouldn’t mind what they eat is made out of “attention to detail and high quality and specialization ,taken to an extreme,” especially they are paying good money for it. What I think is bothering you guys(and WaPo reporter) is the whole idea that bureaucrats are interfering isn’t it?.In Europe and Japan where bureaucracy is the main vehicle of modernization,laissez-faire is not always a virtue.(I’m sure you are familiar with this debate from tradewar days of the 80’s)Their interferrence as quality control watch dog.are sometimes legitimaized for setting standard for the industry.
    Whether it would be translated as a rational policy seeking for the better quality of life or an” otaku style obsessive single-mindedness” is the choice of the writer. In my opinion France usually described as the former and Japan as the latter in the American media,and that is not entirely our fault.I think.

    “Korea has a history of eating at least sashimi and possibly sushi ,maybe as long as Japan and maybe even longer,” You’d better check with multiple literature,hence sashimi and sushi could be the legacy of the colonial rule,and they are ashamed of it from nationalistic angle while enjoy it in daily life.
    I mean, if that was not the case,why would they own a”Japanese restaurant ” in the first place,instead of the righteous Korean one?I know the Koreans do eat sushi frequently and sashimi had pretty much become an everyday diet.So I presume their sushi bar is more reliable than the Taiwanese one ,where back in the colonial days sushi was not so popular due to the fact Taiwan is in subtropics.

    Mizuki Shigeru has this awesome minor work that was reprinted couple years ago called 鬼太郎のベトナム戦記’Ge ge ge no Kitarou goes to the Nam ‘ Mizuki worked on this book collaborating with the Anti vietnam war movement group in the 60’s.Pick up a copy if you have a chance,I liked it.

  25. Perhaps the US media would disagree, but I have to say I find both Japan’s and France’s government regulation of the national language to be too big brother-ish. A little chaos never hurt anyone, right?

  26. Mutantfrog – I think that Gundam Seed is a very smart show for the same reasons that you mentioned – it is explicitly critical of Japanese history and manages to deliver those messages in a show aimed mainly at 14 year old mecha freaks. I have always been fascinated by how prolific this type of critique tends to be in Japan. Ace – I love the original Gundam but Seed has added interest for us foreign Japan-watchers because it is a potent statement on war and peace made in and for today’s Japan. I get into the old one more but I think that Seed is a perfect product for today. Ditto for Full Metal Alchemist.

    I also agree with you on the quality of the new stuff. I consider Eva to be the high point in the history of anime and quality things are still being made. As I said before, we can treasure the old stuff (you should check out some things like the original Galaxy Express 999 movie if you need a taste) but the style and themes do not speak so loudly to young Japanese today. Anime needs constant reinvention and it is getting it.

    About Miyazaki – Aceface’s comment that some of Miyazaki’s best work is decades old is a wise one. I feel that he peaked in the 1990s but things like Mirai Shonen Konan (Future Boy Conan) rank among the all time greats. Anyone reading this who has not seen this series and can get their hands on it should see it ASAP.

    On Mizuki Shigeru – An all time great. Recently, I read his “Soin Gyokusai Seyo!” (Everbody to their deaths! or something like that) a war manga based on his own experience (dude lost an arm in the South Pacific, wow). His “Showashi” (History of Showa) is also great (and talks a lot about Japanese atrocities for those interested in the issue of honest war representation in Japan). He has done some other interesting stuff like a bio of Hitler that I have been trying to hunt up.

  27. Yeah, Eva is certainly at least a high point, although I’m not quite convinced it’s the absolute peak. But even if it is, so what? You can’t have a genre redefining masterpiece every single year. As long as the general state of things remains healthy I think we can still hope for something to come along and top it. I haven’t seen more than an episode or two of Full Metal Alchemist. It looked pretty good but I don’t really remember anything. I should try it from the beginning sometime.

    I read all 8 volumes of Showashi pretty recently. I don’t have “Soin Gyokusai Seyo!” but I do have the Hitler one, and of course piles of his Youkai related stuff, “Akuma-kun” “Kappa no Sanpei” and several volumes of his most classic work, “Gegege no Kitaro.” It’s a crime that his stuff hasn’t released in English yet.

    Anyway, there is some very interesting treatment of war crimes and so on in Showashi. He is clearly trying to deal honestly with something that he finds very uncomfortable and doesn’t dwell on it too much, but says a lot more than many people. For example, he mentions the Nanjing Massacre, but I think he avoids naming numbers, and I don’t think he specifically talks about sexual slavery/comfort women, but there are some hints, and pretty clear depictions of comfort stations. What really stands out, in his treatment of war crimes, is how he actually tells the story of his own cousin, who was convicted as a class B war criminal for executing POWs. He makes a point of explaining that his cousins unit was ordered to take care of these prisoners, but not having enough food for both the soldiers and prisoners to survive ended up executing the POWs. The key word is explain-he isn’t trying to make excuses, exactly.

    He also has a bigass three volume manga autobiography, which I think is entirely different pages from the autobiography sections of Showashi. I own that too, but haven’t yet looked at it.

  28. A day in Planet Sushi:
    One of my colleague is working on a report about a sushi bar in Jerusalem owned by a Israeli Arab husband and Jewish wife with Thai sushi masters.They are excluding octopus and squid from the menu for not being kosher…,
    The couple are not trying to be ” an authentic Japanese restaurant,but seeking to be like a NewYork style sushi bar”they also want both Jews and Arabs to come to the restaurant,but it is mostly the Jews who come by.For that they hire a man from Sri lanka to search the belonging of the customars at the door for suicide bomber protection.

    Now about Sushi Scheme,It is about making a sort of Zagat Survey or MICHLEN guide for Sushi bar on this planet .It’s about stars,Two stars, One and a half stars,
    It is about grading,classyfing,honouring.What ever you like to call it.

    “Perhaps the US media would disagree”
    It is not like putting a star of the david on the door of the establishment owned by “impure Japanese” and unleashing Japanophiles to smash the window or something.
    If you don’t like it you could simply ignore the scheme or perhaps you could use them to impress…, I don’t know,your girlfriend maybe?

    “have to say I find both Japan’s and France’s government regulation of the national language to be too big brother-ish.”
    ボーナスアップ、インフレ、メタボリックシンドロ-ム、アジア・ゲートウェイ戦略、リストラ、ドメスティックバイオレンス、コストカット、データ、ディープ・インパクト….I didn’ t know we were in the same league with France on that one.These just picked up from the Japanese newspaper on my desk.I took a glace for about 40 seconds.Don’t know about French,but looks like our big brother either not watching us hard enough or ain’t watching us no more.
    These “little” chaos wouldn’t hurt anyone,that I agree.But could pursuade people to go to nearest bookshop and grab a copy of”国家の品格The Dignity of the Nation”.
    Mathematician Masahiko Fujiwara got to known to the public for preaching the protection of national language from the flow of English,you know.That too wouldn’t harm anyone,but I don’t find it amusing either.

  29. Mutantfrog – Showa-shi was written before the big early 1990s comfort women debate so that is why it was not in there. I was only when documents were discovered in 1991 and 1992 and more South Korean voices began to be heard in Japan (after real democracy and freedom of speech came to that country in 1988 and 1989) that the scale of the “comfort women” problem and related crimes came into focus. There were earlier books about it (Senda Kako’s Jugun Ianfu books sold over 500,000 copies in the 1970s) but it only became a major historical issue from 1991. I love Mizuki’s yokai stuff as well….

    Also, I think that Mizuki was wise to stay away from Nanking numbers. Most historians in the USA (Joshua Fogel, etc.) put the number at between 100,000 and 200,000. In the eyes of the Chinese government, this would make you a denier. In the eyes of the Japanese lunatic fringe (seriously we are talking about a few writers here, not a trend among Japanese historians like Chang and others claim) it makes you a crazy commie. You can’t win and the bottom line is, an accurate number is not possible given the evidence that we have. 3rd party (German, American) witnesses on the scene in 1937-1938 put the number at around 40,000-50,000 which would make them deniers too…. I favor a higher number myself but there really are no good historical sources for this problem.

  30. Just reminding you all that Mizuki is a liberal but also a WW2 veteran and a cartoonist ,not a bullet proof 21century liberal nor a trained historian.Therfore his perspective is understandably limited to certain level.He also helps drawing some illustration for the exhibition of war victim memorials in Tokyo,and here the ‘victim’ is strictly limited to Japanese national only,like The Great Tokyo air raid,Siberian internment and retreat from Manchuria.So one can criticize him for taking part of drawing a literary ‘Japan as Vicim’picture.

    Since MF brought Nanjing to the subject and M-Bone with the name Joshua Fogel,
    I would like to add one thing I felt regarding the book ‘TheNanjingmassacre,History and historiography’ edited by Fogel.Forgot the name who wrote the forward but it was some big shot in the holocaust study and he was criticizing with the usual Germany>Japan angle.Now he was saying something quite unfamiliar to me about
    German movement against Vietnam war by so-called 69’ers in Germany.According to this proffesor,the Germans were against the war in Vietnam as a task given to Post-War generation to show themselves and the world that they are no Nazis,while Japanese were against the war simply they it was just the trend of the times.No historical perspectives nor self criticism.I may not be precise with the word here
    but correct with the tone of his criticism.

    Now Mizuki’s work on Kitarou in Vietnam,I’ve mentioned in earlier post,there is a sequence of Kitarou debating with a Vietcong girl that Vietnam is a concern but Japan is afterall a bystander.And Vietcong girl replied furiously Japan has everything got do with it ,hence Japan Inc was getting tons of war boom related contract with both Saigon and Washington and supplying U.S force with bases in homeland.There were references to Imperial army’ s stationing of French Indochina which brought famine in the region and even back in the days of 唐Tung China,阿倍仲麻呂、Abe-no-nakamaro,an ex- Japanese student settled to Tung and later a court official for middle kingdom,was assigned as a biceroy of Vietnam by emperor of Tung.thus took part of the Chinese oppression of the Vietnamese.
    There is nothing special about this Mizuki’s work since these discources were widely shared by Japanese public thorough media ,What is interesting is that these political discources are reflecting even in the pop culture of the times.

    This book edited by Fogel, happens to be one of a very few book that has a small description of Japanese society facing history opposing to the ‘complete state of denial’school.For that I was pretty dissapointed with the choice of the writer of the forward for he is not fit to the task.
    But I can’t bring up’GeGeGe no Kitarou’ as an counterargument and an evidence of Japanese historic conscious in actual historic debate.and nor can you with the Gundum SEED since they are,afterall no serious works by historians.(somehow Kobayashi Yoshinori is an exception for reasons unknown)
    So there is a gloom future of this vicious circle emerging foreign Japanologist giving political ammunition to our former victims and that irritates ordinary Japanese which make them turn to the rightist.

    Random thought on Mizuki Shigeru from a Japanese guy who approach his chosen speciality with the irritating focus and humorlessness of an otaku……

  31. Good points about Mizuki. He definitely did write Showashi before comfort women were a big issue- not just Korea but also Taiwan was just going through the early period of democratization when he started. And as for Nanjing, it was also several years before Iris Chang’s book came out, so while the historical incident was somewhat of an issue, talking about the numbers killed wasn’t as quite a big a deal yet. I haven’t yet read the scene where Kitarou visits Vietnam, but it sounds interesting. Maybe I’ll get to that volume in the near future.

    Incidentally, although Showashi doesn’t describe sexual slavery, it does in fact have a clear depiction of soldiers visiting a comfort station-although the way he draws it leaves it a little bit ambiguous whether or not he went in himself… BTW, do you happen to know off hand what memorials Mizuki has helped design? That would be interesting to know, or especially to see pictures of.

    Now, I feel that I should add that couple of weeks ago I was in a bookstore and saw a magazine with a somewhat inexplicable photoseries of two members of the indy band Supercar hanging out in Mizuki Shigeru’s house, surrounded by all his Kitarou merchandise. There was one really funny picture of the two of them on his couch, which Mizuki in the middle with a kind of grumpy/friendly old man expression on his face.

    It is interesting how Kobayashi has managed to use his manga essays to sneak in the back door and become a pundit type. He may not be a proper historian, but that didn’t stop him from being a member of the “Atarashii Kyokasho tsukuru kai”!

    “Now about Sushi Scheme,It is about making a sort of Zagat Survey or MICHLEN guide for Sushi bar on this planet .It’s about stars,Two stars, One and a half stars,
    It is about grading,classyfing,honouring.What ever you like to call it.”
    Yeah, it’s a totally reasonable project-if it were coming from some sort of company like Zagat and Michelin do. For the government to be running it is just weird. They should have gotten some big Japanese company to fund it as a PR thing- like all those Hitachi signs in Valuable Cultural Property areas.

  32. Ace – I have no problem with Mizuki or any other Japanese author or creator using the Japanese as victim image as well as they are willing to look at the victimizer view as well. Mizuki has done this (several times) and I find the victim / victimizer mix to be very rewarding (from the perspective of a reader and a fan).

    Also, there are some young scholars (I am one of them, I’ve published stuff, not just lying) who are interested in using popular culture to challenge the idea that Japan is mired in “historical oblivion” (as Iris Chang put it). I have written about Mizuki’s war writings in a “professional” capacity. Don’t be depressed about foreign Japanology. As soon as I get some free time, I am going to write an article about Gundam Seed and anti-war ideology in Japan and I am sure that there are many people working on similar themes.

    Mutant – While it was before Chang’s book, it was right after the BIG mid-1980s Japanese debate about the Nanking death numbers. Have you read David Askew’s article (you can get it at about the Japanese Nanking debates? Probably the best work on the subject in English.

    In Soin Gyokusai Seyo! Mizuki draws himself lining up at a comfort station but having to give up because they were closed for the day. I think that the prostitues in the story were Japanese, in any case.

    Kobayashi and the Atarashii Kyokasho – I think that he has already quit. A few other cultural types like Hayashi Mariko (author) also signed up, but most of them have distanced themselves from the group. Most of the bosses of the organization are not historians either. Nishio is the main man and I think that he studies German Philosophy (Hegel, etc.). Kobayashi is a real pundit – he just illustrates his essays. Did you know that he used to be considered something of a lefty? He spoke out against discrimination against the Burakumin and for those who got HIV from tainted blood products and took the government to court.

  33. MF:
    I saw Mizuki’s illustration on the introduction of this museum in Seibu shinjyuku line,
    and mistakenly thought the whole exhibition is assorted with Mizuki’s works.I just called the museum and they told me it is just the posters.But there are other manga
    artist who were born in Manchuria has exhibition there.I just copied some info from
    their web pages.(I don’t know how to link it, sorry)

    平和祈念事業特別基金は、今次の大戦における尊い戦争犠牲を銘記し、かつ、永遠の平和を祈念するため、 いわゆる恩給欠格者、戦後強制抑留者、引揚者等の関係者の労苦について国民の理解を深めること等により関係者に対し慰藉の念を示す事業を行うことを目的とした独立行政法人です。
    開館時間: 午前9時30分~午後5時30分 休館日: 月曜日(祝日または振替休日の場合はその翌日)、年末年始、新宿住友ビル全館休館日 所在地: 東京都新宿区西新宿2-6-1 新宿住友ビル31階
    現在、特設展示コーナーでは、赤塚不二夫氏・北見けんいち氏・高井研一郎氏・ちばてつや氏・森田拳次氏など、中国からの引揚げ経験を持つ漫画家たちが当時の労苦などを描いた絵画を展示中です。平和祈念展示資料館のお問い合わせは 03-5323-8709

    Kobayashi Yoshinori:
    “Atarsii Kyoukasho wo Tsukurukai”is the ragtag of professors and intellectuals with few exceptions but totally outcasted from mainstream msm. Kobayashi happens to be the only hipster since he was a radical liberal for most of the time and the only guy who has young readers counted more than hundred thousands. Impressive number for history books, but a minor leaguer among the world of manga
    I don’t recall they have any historian among them,may be one or two,perhaps.and now it’s split into pieces, because of the former Chairman Nisio Kanji’s deportation.
    Kobayashi is more important to Liberals and critics abroad for targeting practice,but that’s just my observation.

    Sushi scheme:
    “it’s a totally reasonable project-if it were coming from some sort of company like Zagat and Michelin do. For the government to be running it is just weird. ”

    See! That’s why I think Americans are reasonable people!
    It only took four days and couple hundred words of e-mails to change their mind about the Sushi scheme from pejorative ‘food nazi’ to the elevated status of ‘simple weirdo’.

    My question is why do you even think voracious profit-seekin’,shamfully short sightin’,self righteous and merciless capitalistic private enterprise could do an important mission like the sushi creditation.
    Sure, Krispy kreme wouldn’t need any special expertise to make a doughnut,it’s all made by bloody MACHINE !
    Everybody can do it,I know I can.All what it takes for Krispy Kreme is you go and get some doughnut from your nearest Mr.Donut and dump them into over sugar saturated condensed milk,and Voila! You ‘ll get yourself a ‘melt in your mouth ‘ doughnut ,Rght?
    But a sushi,however takes years of training and learning from your mentor sushi master.It also requires to use a bit of old fashioned device,which is called YOUR OWN HANDS.Therfore it is more difficult,more delicate,and more SOPHISTICATED!

    Thus requires more careful approach to grade a food like sushi and such a task shall only be handed over to the good people of Kasumigaseki who are also the distinguished graduates from Univrsity of Tokyo,or at least the equivalent from the one in Kyoto.With their devoted effort, we,the common folks can sleep peacefully in futon without a doubt, the good name of sushi would be kept secured.

    Supercar? I thought they’ve got split a year ago or so.

  34. I read an interview with Kobayashi a few weeks ago where he talked about how his dad had been a marxist, and he had started out left wing himself and then flipped around. Reminds me of Christopher Hitchens a bit. Kobayashi and Hitchens are also alike in that it mainly seems to me to be liberals who take them seriously-not conservative intellectuals. I do find his stuff very interesting, partly for the content but more-so for the form of his manga essays. He may be a minor player in the manga industry as a whole, but he certainly dominates the narrow manga essay genre.

    “Food nazi” wasn’t intended to be my characterization, just what I assume people reading these articles are thinking. My opinion of the food certification thing is the same as in the beginning: a little bit silly and misguided, but not something you can seriously link to the right wing movement in Japan.

    Yeah, I just checked and Supercar did break up in 2005, but this was a used bookstore and I didn’t check the date on the magazine.

  35. M-Bone:
    Thank you for the kind words.
    “Don’t be depressed about foreign Japanology.”
    Well,I’m not being depressed by the criticism to Japan any more than the collateral damage to our intellectual relationship with the East Asians seeking mutual understanding which is still in the very primitive stage.And I don’t want to blame foreigners any more than I blame my country man.

    I think you are trying to go middle ground on the issue.Now that’s a challenge, Like walking on the razor,you get constantly attacked from PC crusaders from the west,Grudge-filled jihadi from the east as ‘Japan apologist’and the Japanese liberals are unreliable while the rightist(and the revisionist) will run to you from the distant horizon to give you the bear hugs.
    All I can say is God speed and good luck with your Gundam papers!

    Your idea on bureaucrats = Agent Smiths.Right?
    How about the gentrification of the bureaucracy,’the commission’for Sushi scheme.

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