Japan has a rich history of anti-war films and literature. In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, novelist Tо̄ma Aisaka and Tokyo University professor Shigeki Uno discussed what it means to be anti-war in Japan today. Part of this discussion focused on the role of entertainment media such as Mobile Suit Gundam portraying the horrors of war to the public during Japan’s protracted peacetime.
Aisaka is the author of Dо̄shi Shо̄jo Yo, Teki Wo Ute (“Young Woman Comrade, Shoot the Enemy”), a bestselling novel about a female sniper active during the German-Soviet War. He expressed his desire to represent the female perspective in warfare, which has often been overlooked in historical accounts and fiction. At the same time, he indicated his awareness that, whatever the author’s intentions, fiction can be perceived differently depending on the priorities of the audience. For example, he mentions the manga adaptation of The unfeminine face of war by Svetlana Alexievichwhich is consumed as a ” me“produced in certain circles.
He continues: “The creators of Mobile Suit Gundam anime tried to convey the tragedies of war to young people in the form of entertainment. Despite this, it finally opened the forbidden door to “painting war as a cool thing”. Even though the generation with vivid memories of the air raids played a part in the show, this kind of misinterpretation still happens. At the end of the day, I think the only thing creators can do to avoid misinterpretations is to continue to speak out vehemently against war.”
Uno replied that it reminded him The wind picks uprealized by Hayao Miyazaki. Although the protagonist is the designer of the Zero fighter plane, he did not necessarily support war but rather sought the beauty of aircraft. Thus, his character embodies the contradiction between a noble pursuit and the reality of weapons of war.
“Within the individual, ‘I hate war’ and ‘planes are beautiful’ can exist side by side,” Uno said. “This complexity is also part of what makes us human beings.”
In the same interview, Aisaka professes that he has military geek interests despite his personal hatred of war. Due to society’s growing detachment from the lived experiences of the older generation, it is easier to compartmentalize war in this way.
“I think right now it’s easy to experience the horrors of proxy war through entertainment novels,” he said.
Source: Mainichi Shimbun