No, We Don’t Need To Talk About Politics

No, We Don't Need To Talk About Politics
But apparently, we all should or else the end of the world is nigh… nigher than ever before in fact.

I’m not into making articles on recent Western anisphere drama. I’ve had so many chances and controversies yet ignored them all. For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure if I wanted to go for clicks on this blog, I’d probably incite nerd rage rather than writing tl;dr recommendations that nobody reads anyway. So I don’t like doing this. But since this nonsense happens about every three weeks anew, I figured I might as well dedicate one article towards ~political anime warfare~ in general.

What brings me after many such other nonsense blowups to this is the first episode of Rising of the Shield Hero doing a thing wherein our isekai’d hero gets wrongfully accused of rape and from thereon becomes a vagabond in saving a world he has lost all hope in. As one would expect, this turned into the latest of numerous screeching fests on how this apparently propagates that all women are bad and some even worse, with, of course, ANN being at the forefront of it. Not that parts of the opposition are any better. Long story short, Internet drama. I really shouldn’t care. But here we are anyway.

I’m not going into this latest case specifically – I think the wrong rape accusation setup is kinda cheap and silly but don’t see politically/culturally/socially motivated input in it – rather than the phenomenon at large: People putting political meaning into anime for self-validation and Internet wars.

Politics Goth Loli Enough

And this isn’t an isolated incident. Just going from the start of last season to this one’s, we’ve had plenty of cases. How many more fucking scandals do we need? This garbage is getting tiresome and it’s not like anything is ever going to change along the lines of “I used to be a Republican but that Shield Hero incident really changed my mind and now I vote Democrat”. So let’s just recollect from recent memory:

– Goblin Slayer episode 01
– The Zombieland Saga trap thing
– SAO had some attempted rape again
– Oh no, Back Street Girls on Netflix
– China making a cartoon about Karl Marx
– Shield Hero

So clearly there’s plenty. Now, uh, here’s an appeal to those of you turning every even slightly controversial anime happening into an issue of politics: Can you ever fucking not? I’ve been actively following anime for almost ten years now, this shit wouldn’t have had ground to foster on back in 2009.

Well. Technically, this isn’t new or at least not a mere 2018 thing. Back when Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu aired, we got some wonderful piece on how it apparently glorified gun culture and won’t Japan just think of the poor US of A already? But it’s becoming increasingly more frequent. Dies Irae TV also comes to mind. Coupled with the hilarious complaint of “how dare this get adapted in the current political climate?” and those were still the relatively moderate takes.

Oi there, chucklefucks, answer this: Why should Japan care about the American political climate? You’re responsible for your own tragedies.

Politics High Octane

How do the people who theatrically launch these complaint bombs even function? Oh wait. Feeling good about being angry is such a nice thing after all. That’s how. Nothing quite like a good bogeyman. That’s what you get up in the morning for. That’s what gives your life meaning. And looking for bogeymen in anime, now that’s the new hotness in town. Your hobby can be relevant to common belief systems too, now you no longer need to hide it! Heck, I’m starting to feel it’s become controversial to say “Fuck your politics, I’m trying to watch anime” – so let me at least point out that anime are not your political props, you self-masturbatory dimwits.

This wouldn’t be much of an issue if it was the occasional ANN tirade as we’re used to them but worse even, it’s everyone doing this these days. Looking for people to follow on anitwitter? Alright, first of all, filter the gacha dipshits. Then filter the political activists. Now pick from the scraps. Does it absolutely have to be this way? I mean, we all like anime or at least I’d like to think we do. We should be divided by preferences of taste, not politics.

I’ve seen comments on how Wasshi/Tougou from Yuuki Yuuna is a nazi. I’ve seen comments on how Togashi is a communist for insinuating that a world where poor people starve and rich don’t isn’t quite the magnum opus you’d take it for. It’s nauseating. Political BS everywhere. I’d also like to state for the record that I don’t hate people based on whether they’re left or right with things. I just don’t want folks to throw a cable into my soup just because they couldn’t find a hair in there.

Politics Nyanta And The Gun

The thing about this is that getting involved in this in any way, shape or form means that you lose. I’m clearly losing here as well since I’m wasting my precious time writing something barely anyone will read and almost noone will agree with. Anyway, you lose. Just for caring. You seriously think getting angry at ANN and leaving a steaming turd in their comment section only for them to maybe delete it so you can get twice as angry will help? No. As I’ve said before, getting involved is always an automatic loss. It’s unironically the principle of “LOL U MAD”. And being mad sucks.

You see, websites like ANN thrive from bullshit like this. Good journalism costs money, hate clicks bring money. Which, oh I wonder, of these two will they side for then? With this nonsense, they don’t just bring in the traffic of those who agree with them but also plenty of those who don’t and the harsher the tone, the more they’ll get agreement from their core audience and traffic from the ones who hate them. Online marketing 101. It’s a win-win situation. They look good on paper for those they need to be on good terms with while going for exploitative shock effect content to piss off the other side and profit from it. Intellectually lazy and morally dishonest? Sure. But it brings in the $$$. What do you think their weekly Darling in the FranXX echo chamber hate sessions were good for when they could have just dropped something they disliked like normal people would? People getting angry on twitter and sharing their articles so they can fume over them don’t get they’re actually helping them. And mind you, I don’t hate ANN. Not more than others do anyway. Which is to say I spit on them a moderate amount but my point still stands. I just don’t see any reason to support political outbursts like this. So when you see them: Don’t share them. Don’t bring attention to them. Worst case scenario, use ad blockers.

Politics MahoIku Point

As far as the Shield Hero thing in particular is concerned, I just don’t get these rants to begin with. It’s also always the same pattern. Get angry over what you imply to be the anime’s philosophy. Then relentlessly attack the author. Make the author solely responsible for everything politically wrong with this world. This is no longer about you writing about anime. This is about your personal war between you, someone who dislikes an anime, versus… a person you don’t know and who doesn’t know you either and lives on the other end of the globe! Rest assured, they will not see your attack coming!

But does there even need to be an attack? Just leave the author out of your grand critique, will you? “I don’t know this person but I’m going to character assassinate them anyway” is your modus operandi? Really? Not to mention the blaming game of how their work is making this world a worse place just by definition. Oh, the real world implications of a fake rape accusation in fiction and the slavery thing. Woe is all of us for them. People raping churches and burning women left and right because of Shield Hero. I assure you, I’ve talked to SAO and Goblin Slayer survivors and they still suffer from the aftermath.

Jokes aside, I heavily dislike the “this is personal and if you don’t think so, you are part of the problem” train of thought. Fuck you for trying to drag me into your hilariously banal problems as you try to incite yet another cultural war.

Politics Femdom Drill Hair

And then there are specific political incidents that get alluded to for some bizarre contextuality. I’ve encountered the notion of “this is a critique of the #metoo movement” several times by now – and the right will tell you that that’s a good thing whereas the left believes it’s a bad thing. Turns out it’s neither since Shield Hero has clearly nothing to do with that. It’s just that Americans are so self-absorbed about their hashtag and culture wars they think this Japanese author traveled back in time to write about their politics several years before those became a thing. Whatever isn’t part of their own little bubble needs to become part of it and therefore get adjusted since we wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not sure what made them this way. Maybe it’s a trauma. Maybe the Republican uncle from Texas who comes to every family party for some inexplicable reason did that “If liberals are so smart, how come they always lose?” joke too often? Maybe it’s the know-it-all Democrat teacher from grade school who made them write “Climate change is real, you nimrod” on the blackboard for 50 times. I wouldn’t know. But this is deep-seated political hatred applied to… anime… and quite frankly, we’d be better without this nonsense.

Anyway. You want political shitflinging and confirmation of your values? Go to YouTube. Watch one of those “Ben Shapiro utterly DESTROYS triggered feminist”/”Rightists – too stupid to realize Trump’s tax policies they’re being told are actually Bernie’s” based on your political orientation. And don’t forget to buy your “liberal tears”/”punch a nazi” tea cups on your way out. You’re a critical thinker and part of the resistance after all! So be my guest. Be on YouTube. But this is not YouTube.

Politics Aoi Really Tells It Like It Is

And if I haven’t made myself clear enough already, just because this article has been sparked by ANN going apeshit on Shield Hero, please don’t assume I’m merely singling out leftists here. Political hysteria affects both sides. You think rightists aren’t part of the problem? They’re just as bad. “If you don’t like Goblin Slayer, you’re an SJW!” is a statement I’m not making up. And that’s still just silly. Worse, I’ve seen more and more people link to shitholes like Sankaku Complex and One Angry Gamer. How low do you have to sink just to spite the other team? Because that’s what this is about. Tribalism where your goal isn’t to make your side win but the other side lose.

So no, I am not sorry for liking some thing you are politically antagonistic towards. And I don’t feel like playing for anyone’s team. Can’t we just all go back to not talking about politics and instead talking anime as usual? Because guess what, Shield Hero will go on to be a rather normal show with no political beef because there never was any in the first place and people will stop caring. Just like it happened with Goblin Slayer. Until a new anime comes along and does a thing which people shriek over so the merry-go-round of IMAGINARY ANIME POLITICS FRESH OUTTA THE OVEN PICK A SIDE WHILE IT’S STILL HOT can start spinning once again.

Politics Fox Girl

So don’t get into bad anime drama. Instead, watch ~good~ anime. In fact, I’ve made a list of good ones just for you to give them a try so we can still get some use out of this post:

– Noein
– Gankutsuou
– Ping Pong The Animation
– Mouryou no Hako
– UN-GO
– Yomigaeru Sora

I hope you’ll have fun with these, they’re some of my favorites.

So let’s discover things that are good®! And not Internet drama. Which is very much almost always bad.

7 thoughts on “No, We Don’t Need To Talk About Politics

  1. The problem is that people can’t say that anime is good anymore except if it does not totally agree with their point of view. That is why it is so important to them that anime must be on their side. If the meaning of an anime supports or is interpreted to support their political view then they will say that it is good if the message of an anime goes against or is interpreted to go against their political belief then it is a bad anime by definition. I think the reason for this is that if they see themselves enjoying an anime which goes against their politics even slightly then that means that they are evil or something.

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    • More or less this.

      People come into entertainment with more of a fixed world view these days that they project onto entertainment in general and as a result, whenever fiction clashes with their belief systems, it gets quickly and angrily dismissed. Things are PERSONAL now. 10 years ago or so, fiction was not labeled as “toxic” or “offensive” – now the idea that Shield Hero and so on can have negative influences on society as a whole or insult you as if you were having an argument with a bad guy has fostered and taken a hold of huge parts of the Internet. An “us vs them” mentality has come into existence and trabalism has started to prevail. Conservative fear mongers of the olden days screeching at violent video games have made way for pseudo-intellectual progressives shaking at politically incorrect content in anime.

      Things get even sillier in the case of Shield Hero as people soon started to treat it as a pro-slavery story, applying hundreds of years of racial tensions in America from the past to a modern Japanese writer they know nothing about – who probably also doesn’t know or care about America’s oldest political issues because why the should they. Everything is a constant struggle against the other side nowadays, even if there is no other side to speak of.

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  4. “don’t forget to buy your “liberal tears”/”punch a nazi” tea cups on your way out.” THAT WAS GOLD! I liked so hard and at the same time I wanna cry from people’s deep entrenchment.

    So here’s where we differ: I do believe it’s difficult to separate the personal and the enjoyment from the political. That’s not necessarily bad. It’s AWFUL when it’s done to such extremes, in a conflation of fiction with reality and with finger-pointing strategies.

    I’ve enjoyed both Shield-Hero and Goblin Slayer and I did occasionally wince but I found the anger over the top. I’m just slightly uncomfortable with how some men may find justification in this narrative to slut shame. I can’t hold the author totally accountable though unless I’ve seen an actual statement of his concerning real people. It’s good keeping in mind that despite some narratives not being meant as political messages some certainly have such tone, like in the case of GATE (heck, it was used for JSDF ad).

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    • >I do believe it’s difficult to separate the personal and the enjoyment from the political.
      I mean, yeah, but that’s largely what we should do, especially reviewers who are supposed to be functioning adults. The moment you use anime for political venting is also when you make it very obvious you’ve never made it out of the tumblr/twitter rage bubble. I really do wonder how some of these people go through life.

      And, well, most of Japan is a rightist country so the entire thing of “NO YOU MUST PANDER TO MY WESTERN SENSIBILITIES EVEN THOUGH I’M A MINORITY IN MY OWN COUNTRY TOO” strikes me as delusional at best and moral imperialism at worst.

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      • When I said the separation is difficult, I didn’t mean it as a moral imperative. I meant it as a reflection of things. A writer doesn’t write in void, a reader doesn’t read in void either. Personal beliefs will shape storylines, a particular lens will give a certain interpretation – and it doesn’t even need to be a lens you took from an academic cupboard; your experiences shape your lenses and that’s how you get knee jerk reactions. This is this, and bullying or shaming is that.

        But yes, cultural context needs to be taken in mind without also avoiding voicing an opinion because “it’s their issue about their country”. That’s why learning a bit of the language or reading about its customs , history and current issues is important.

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