I was just given YouTube links to what may possibly be the most incredible videos I have ever seen. I realize that this is a claim that I often make, but this time it’s different. Really.
Videos are embedded after the break.
The short OVAs were made based on a manga called ムダヅモ無き改革 (Mudazumo Naki Kaikaku), the details of which can be better explained by Wikipedia. The gist is that it’s a comedy where caricatures of world leaders resolve political disputes by playing Japanese-style mahjong. It also happens to star Junichiro Koizumi, the former Prime Minister of Japan, as a bad ass son of a bitch who wins every game with his “Rising Sun” move, which is basically a rebranded 十三么 (Thirteen Terminal) or 国士無双 hand. The parody works because it is so incredibly over the top that you really have no choice but to laugh.
It’s interesting how Japanese anime and manga (well manga in particular due to the lower barrier of entry) have a unique way of intentionally stepping on political land mines without batting an eyelid. For example, I really just can’t imagine any other country in the world produce a mainstream title like Hetalia: Axis Power. It’s just unthinkable, except maybe as a fan-fiction on 4chan.
Perhaps this no-sacred-cow attitude towards political parody is a backlash against the highly rigid and conformist social order, or perhaps people in Japan simply do not find politics to be something that has to be taken seriously. Whatever the reason is, I think it’s an awesome subculture. There’s just something about our obsession with political correctness that makes me uncomfortable at times. I guess this is why I actually find shows like South Park and Harold and Kumar can be rather meaningful beyond the toilet humour or George Bush on a Segway.
From a Chinese perspective, I can easily see how such parodies could be construed by outsiders as nationalistic propaganda, and I understand why. But really, it’s all a matter of perception. The nature of the show’s presentation is really no different from, say, Team America. People are easily offended and I don’t think that creators should try too hard to appease them, ala Nice boat.
To conclude, the Internet is an awesome place.
P.S. Anime Yulia Tymoshenko collecting protection money is adorable.