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Subject: Historical Revisionism... rss

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CJ
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I'm starting to wonder if the publisher of these games is deliberately tapping into the sizable historical revisionist market that exists in Japan (through the range of manga, novels, TV and film) as a deliberate and directed marketing strategy. Whilst some have raised issues about the art (which is a non-issue in my mind) the fact that the Japanese were allied with the Germans during WWII or, more tellingly, the enemies of Great Britain and Russia makes me think this is what is happening.

For those who don't know, there is a sizable and vocal section of Japanese society, across the social strata (including recent Prime Ministers), that not only views Japan as the victim of WWII aggression by the US and UK but also as a cruelly obstructed benefector of the SE Asian countries it invaded. This usually manifests itself most noticably in the publication of school textbooks that gloss over, or proclaim as righteous, the Japanese invasions through the 30s and 40s - much to the ire of the Koreans, Chinese and Philippinos.

When Barba*Rossa was released I smiled wryly at the furore over the art and general concept but thought it an interesting take on the deck-building genre. With the release of this one, though, I am genuinely fascinated by the emerging trend of what I suspect is a publisher tapping into the latent nationalistic passive-aggression of much of modern Japan's society. I say this given that the game is quite obviously themed to cater for the domestic market, not least because it features Nazis as heroes (the art wouldn't raise an eyebrow in Japan).

Presumably they'll get around to releasing the Yanks at the Battle of the Bulge (at some point) and the triumvirate of enemies will be complete...

Any thoughts amongst others here who have spent time in Japan?
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Simon Lundström
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Short answer: Not a chance.

Long answer: There are a lot of weird guys in Japan who claim trying to gloss over the horrors Japan did during the wars. A card game about the German Afrika Korps being part of a glossing-over conspiracy? Not very likely. It's the works of a military nut who's as obsessed about WWII as any wargamer. That said, the Germans aren't as regarded as "The Evil Ones" as they are in Europe, simply because Japan didn't see closely or suffer from the Holocaust; much like that Japanese aren't regarded in Europe as "The Evil Ones" during WWII, simply because Europeans didn't see what the Japanese were doing in Korea and Manchuriet. Therefore, thinking the German war uniforms are cool and that some of their officers were awesome isn't met with the same "wtf nazi!!!11" as it would here. Anyone making such a game in Europe would probably have to be half Holocaust-denier simply because otherwise, his/her knowledge of public opinion about the German WWII army would stop him/her from making a game in which the German army is depicted as cute girls. In Japan, not so. The German army is just another army. It's nothing special about it. So, no.
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I agree with everything you say regarding the Japanese view of Germany but I don't share it regarding the view of the British or Soviets (or Americans). Having lived there I'm sure we would agree that releasing a product based on the Japanese military is pretty much a non-starter unless it was a deliberately politicised product catering for a niche nationalist community (unless you say otherwise). So, I wouldn't lump this in the same category as Yasukuni or black vans. However, having seen the amount of material available in manga and televisual form that does tap into revisionist sentiment I am not convinced this wasn't a deliberate marketing decision.
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Simon Lundström
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There are a lot of manga and stuff about heroics Japanese during WWII; and although some of them probably are intended as being pro-Japan, many of them simply want to focus on military heroism, regardless of who was the "good guys", and every single one of these shows are often misinterpreted as being pro-fascist. I'm sure there are several revisionists publishing manga here and there, especially since most of these revisionists are old grumps sitting with the producing money.

Not Arclight, though. Had I not seen the insides of Arclight Games, I might not be as convinced as I am. If this was been a deliberate marketing decision, then about every single guy at Arclight games are really really good actors when it comes to shield their hidden motives, because it's it's just a bunch of guys wanting to publish cool games. I've met Yoshizawa and he gives the clear impression of a simple military nut. I haven't really discussed politics with him, so I can't be sure, but the mere thought of that guy trying to be a revisionist by doing this game is really chuckleable. Not to mention thinking the CEO would do such a thing deliberately. Being pro-Japanese WWII isn't really met with applauds in every single corner of Japan, so that would be a huge marketing fail to do so. From what I've learned about that company, I'd be HUGELY surprised if anyone in that building tried to be revisionists via the games they do. Also, I'd laugh my ass off.
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Tiago Nunes
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In all the years I've been a fan of japanese culture and pop culture (I'm no expert though) I still get confused by it. In some ways they can be very liberal and aloof about certain topics (such as this one), and in other aspects they can be the most conservationist there is.

An interesting culture indeed.

Too bad these games have about 0 chance of getting an English version For all the fame Europeans get about being so liberal, we can be real prudes about some things... Every time I get Tanto Cuore out for a game I get stares, but if some old men in the park play cards with actual naked women no one cares.
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Matthew Rooks
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elgin_j wrote:
For those who don't know, there is a sizable and vocal section of Japanese society, across the social strata (including recent Prime Ministers), that not only views Japan as the victim of WWII aggression by the US and UK but also as a cruelly obstructed benefector of the SE Asian countries it invaded.


This statement is utterly and completely false, to the point of embarrassment. Although Japanese primary and secondary textbooks have been infamous for glossing over some of the atrocities carried out by the Japanese military regime during WWII, the political party that tried to propagate textbooks that focused on 'positive' aspects of he Japanese military during the war was largely ignored, and the textbooks were never adopted into school curricula. Today's texTbooks include objective accounts of wartime atrocities like the Nanking and Nanjing massacres, comfort women, forced suicides in Okinawa, and medical experiments on prisoners of war by the Japanese.

To say that there is a passive-aggressive nationalistic attitude with much of Japan's society is completely outrageous.

Barbara Rossa is a game aimed at a niche market of hardcore military/anime fetish otaku who read magazines, play games, and collect art of past, current, and fictional wars from all eras and countries. You couldn't be more incorrect with your completely off-base suppositions.
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The op is absolutely correct. Though I am not Japanese I have read a lot of manga and japanese books in english. I have also watched a loy of kurosawa movies and I read a book about japan by an american once i cant remember the name but he was a journalist so it was a real book about japan. Also i have studied anime in my freetime since college so i know what i am talking about. And everything the op says is true about japanese people. They have always been this way. Dont forget it was japanese nationalism that led to ww2 with the bombing of pearl harbor. If the japanese hadnt done that ww2 would never have happened. And we know it is nationalism because its not like anything bad ever happened to the japanese people. So the only logical explanation is nationalism.

I am grateful to the op because now i realize how wrong and revisionist this game is. Did you know there was not one single woman involved in the barbarossa campaign? And the only woman close to hitler at the time was eva braun and she is conspicuously absent from any mention by arclite. Very damning evidence of revisionism i think. I am going to buy another copy of barbarossa and then burn it to send a message to arclite and the nation(alistic) of japan. You cant play fast and free with the facts! I strongly urge everyone here to join me and do the same.

Japan must be stopped.
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Looking forward to the Battle of the Bulge, or Normandy, or whatever other campaign Arclight decides to do for their next war game.
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Diz Hooper
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While I have noticed a lot of movies, comics and TV specials about wartime Japan, I get the distinct feeling that the OP hasn't actually watched any of these first hand. These war stories are always about individuals and almost always focus on the individual tragedy that people face when their lives are ground up in a dehumanizing war machine. These stories are typically very anti-war.

As for as the OP's attempt to analyze Japanese society by looking at Barbarossa, it's hard to take seriously. This game is way way outside of the mainstream, and in no way represents what the average Japanese is thinking. If you played this in public in Japan, you'll get the same stares that you would get in Europe or America. Face it, this games is for freaks and geeks.
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thdizzy wrote:
While I have noticed a lot of movies, comics and TV specials about wartime Japan, I get the distinct feeling that the OP hasn't actually watched any of these first hand. These war stories are always about individuals and almost always focus on the individual tragedy that people face when their lives are ground up in a dehumanizing war machine. These stories are typically very anti-war.

The first thing I thought of when I read this was Grave of the Fireflies.
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CJ
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jigmelingpa wrote:
elgin_j wrote:
For those who don't know, there is a sizable and vocal section of Japanese society, across the social strata (including recent Prime Ministers), that not only views Japan as the victim of WWII aggression by the US and UK but also as a cruelly obstructed benefector of the SE Asian countries it invaded.


This statement is utterly and completely false, to the point of embarrassment. Although Japanese primary and secondary textbooks have been infamous for glossing over some of the atrocities carried out by the Japanese military regime during WWII, the political party that tried to propagate textbooks that focused on 'positive' aspects of he Japanese military during the war was largely ignored, and the textbooks were never adopted into school curricula. Today's texTbooks include objective accounts of wartime atrocities like the Nanking and Nanjing massacres, comfort women, forced suicides in Okinawa, and medical experiments on prisoners of war by the Japanese.


Whilst the intent of this thread was never to have a spat I am afraid I must disagree. Textbooks were introduced to state schools in the Tokyo area several years ago and whilst it wasn't many it kicked off a significant diplomatic furore with China and Korea (amongst others).

On a tangent the current Prime Minister is notable as being one of the few of the past 10 years who has taken an active and vocal line on non-attendence at Yasukuni. Koizumi, for all his greatness, used to sign the visitor book as 'Prime Minister' along with his 100+ cohort of MPs who used to accompany him. Numbers haven't dipped that much in recents years - just the PM declines to go.

As for the historical revisionism - it's a plain fact. I've used to read manga at public schools; I watched it in dramas; anime and film both feature it from time to time. The raft of media is available to buy in any sizable bookshop/multimedia store. It might not as popular as the magical princess genre but it is there if you look for it.

I know nothing about the company or the individuals involved. I asked a question because I was curious. I suppose the next question I might ask is whether we'll ever see the Manchurian version with the Chinese as the focus...
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I've seen and heard some pretty ignorant/delusional things while in Japan when it comes to Asian relations (such as Japan not being a part of Asia) and I find it very unlikely that Arclight is hoping to glorify World War II as part of a pro-war effort. The game doesn't portray either the Germans or Italians in a favourable light for that: the armies are full of goofy looking females, most of which seem to be invading for the hell of it. There's no sense of good vs evil portrayed in the game. It's one army of scantily dressed ladies against another. The women aren't even posed to look heroic or patriotic. Barring the actual gameplay everything about this game and it's setting is ridiculous and designed in good fun.

If Arclight was looking to turn people pro-war then they could have picked a war or setting that was pro-Japanese. Had they chosen to make the art and story focus on Japan in World War I and II instead then I could maybe see a pro-war effort. As it is everything about this game is too silly to take seriously.
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Matthew Rooks
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Let's go over, point by point, the language you used that renders your claims invariably exaggerated and outright false:

elgin_j wrote:
For those who don't know, there is a sizable and vocal section of Japanese society, across the social strata (including recent Prime Ministers),


The section you speak of is neither sizable nor vocal. Yes, there are nationalist extremists, but they are right-wing crazies that are completely ignored by society. The same can be said of any country, like Germany, for example. The Yasukuni Shrine visits always spark outrage in Korea and China, and while I completely agree it is a stupid thing for politicians to do publicly, it is a long-standing tradition to go here and honor those who died in wars in Japan (not just WWII). Saying that these visits imply the government is white-washing war crimes made by Japan is a claim made by sometimes over-sensitive media outlets in Asian countries, and continues to be a sore point. This does not make Japan, a country still paying wartime reparations to Korea and China, a "victim" or "cruelly obstructed benefactor."

elgin_j wrote:
This usually manifests itself most noticably in the publication of school textbooks that gloss over, or proclaim as righteous, the Japanese invasions through the 30s and 40s - much to the ire of the Koreans, Chinese and Philippinos.


Just not true. Public schools use state-mandated textbooks that clearly and objectively portray war crimes committed in Japan during the war. See my earlier post. This is another over-hyped story by over zealous media outlets in Asia that are not reporting facts.

elgin_j wrote:
emerging trend of what I suspect is a publisher tapping into the latent nationalistic passive-aggression of much of modern Japan's society.


"Much" of modern Japanese society? Really? I would love to see some figures you have that back your statements up, rather than anecdotal nonsense based on outlandish news stories reeking of hyperbole. It is very dangerous to make such broad, sweeping claims about a country and its people when it is clear you know very little about the subject matter, and lack any hard evidence to show as support.
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Matthew Rooks
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elgin_j wrote:
Any thoughts amongst others here who have spent time in Japan?


Seeing as how you have received no support for your claims from various people who have or are currently living in Japan (most of whom have been here for 10 years or more), I think your question has been answered.
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Right wing nationalists are as much a part of society here as Klu Klux Klan members are in American society or Neo-Nazis are in your country. They have no impact on mainstream society. In fact, Japanese tend to be the most politically apathetic people on the planet. Just try to teach a discussion class based on political topics. You will get NO response.

By the way, reading manga does not count as research in any field.
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thdizzy wrote:
In fact, Japanese tend to be the most politically apathetic people on the planet. Just try to teach a discussion class based on political topics. You will get NO response.


Whilst irrelevant to the op I will disagree here on both the above points. The Japanese are no more apathetic than the British (I have not spend enough time in any other country to make any meaningful observations) in my experience. With the population now made up of more pensioners than children, and therfore a different make-up of many western countries, I would suggest that actually voter numbers are probably higher as Japan doesn't suffer youth apathy to the extent of elsewhere. Likewise, the amount of political stories in the daily media indictate that there is significant interest in this area.

As for a discussion class, it can be difficult to elicit responses regardless of the topic. This is not unique to Japan - it is a dynamic present in many far eastern countries. It is a cultural tendency and an indicator of the relationship dynamic in the room more than anything. Not wanting to express your opinion is not the same as not having one and in my experience I found people more willing to discuss controversial topics, including politics, as I was not Japanese than they might have been if they were speaking with a fellow native (and that was certainly explicitly expressed to me by a number of people over the years).
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elgin_j wrote:
The Japanese are no more apathetic than the British (I have not spend enough time in any other country to make any meaningful observations) in my experience. With the population now made up of more pensioners than children, and therfore a different make-up of many western countries, I would suggest that actually voter numbers are probably higher as Japan doesn't suffer youth apathy to the extent of elsewhere.


Again, there you go making inaccurate assumptions without checking facts. Japan has a lower voter turnout rate (69%) than the UK (74.9%), Korea (74.8%), Turkey (73.5%), Spain (77%), Ireland (74.9%), Australia (84.4%), Germany (80.6%), and about 55 other countries in the world.

Please stop with your armchair political/social science diatribes. It is not becoming to make generalizations about people based on anecdotal experience and suggestions that are not grounded in reality.
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On second thought, please don't stop! I'm having fun refuting your false claims and flawed logic. The best way to demonstrate the truth (i.e. the opposite of just about everything you have suggested in this thread) is through the continuous repudiation of your misguided, amateurish theories.
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elgin_j wrote:
Japan doesn't suffer youth apathy to the extent of elsewhere.

Isn't Japan a country with hikki-problems? (You know, the 20–30yo+ guys who just sit att home doing nothing, leeching on their parents) Though we have a fair share of them here in Sweden too, they're never taken up as a social problem.

My experience with Japanese is that they're pretty uninterested in politics. I can count the rare number of times I've come into a political chat with a Japanese, and when I have, it's been rather a "yeah, maybe" response. Then again, I can't say I've really tried, maybe I'm just reluctant to discuss politics in Japanese. Or, as you say, they simply don't want to say their opinion.

What politics I HAVE had chats about is very local and internal – like it's a huge financial problem with taking care of the elderly, that certain laws for married couples actually (before, now changed) have discouraged women to get a work instead of being a housewife. General, broader topics like "what should we do with the environmental problems" or "hey, what if Greece actualy goes bankrupt?" or "Isn't it horrible, what happens in Syria?" is like "huh?". I can picture the occasional elder guy still bearing a grudge against America and the Allies, but any neo-Japonism among the youths of Japan? No way.

But that's just my experience. Can't say I know it all.
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elgin_j wrote:

Whilst irrelevant to the op I will disagree here on both the above points.


The political apathy of the Japanese is irrelevant to their political views on Japan's place in history? What I'm trying to say is that most people don't care about the war. It never comes up in conversations here. We are here on the ground in Japan. Why do you insist on ignoring our real practical experience with the Japanese?

Making up facts and insisting they are true without any evidence just isn't working for you.

To answer your question about why Japan produces a game such as this--it's just eye candy. The people who make this and buy this aren't thinking on a political level.
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jigmelingpa wrote:
On second thought, please don't stop! I'm having fun refuting your false claims and flawed logic. The best way to demonstrate the truth (i.e. the opposite of just about everything you have suggested in this thread) is through the continuous repudiation of your misguided, amateurish theories.


You're quite right. I concede to your facts. The Japanese are a politically apathetic nationality who don't have opinions on politics, or WWII. Afterall, if they've never discussed such matters with you, how could they...

Your stats were also quite interesting. Quick google search found some of the countries you mentioned with lower voter turnout, some higher but within 1%, and a couple notably higher. As for Australia, well, seeing as it is a criminal offence not to vote, I'm afraid that isn't an appropriate comparison. Still, who am I to argue with your unimpeachable facts and logic. Thank you for showing me the error of my ways.
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elgin_j wrote:
Thank you for showing me the error of my ways.


You're quite welcome! As I said, it's been quite enjoyable.

Determining accurate voter turnout rates can be a tricky business, and can vary when considering local/parliamentary/presidential elections within international comparisons.

But at least I have actually provided some statistics and specific references to the points that have been brought up. This is something that you have failed to do even once. You have been making generalizations based on what you think to be true, and it is quite apparent that believing something to be true does not make it so.

Next time, in order to avoid getting in over your head by laying out wild claims in a public forum, check your ideas against facts, make note of those facts, and use them to support and strengthen your opinion. This is Debate 101 stuff.
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thdizzy wrote:

By the way, reading manga does not count as research in any field.


Unless you're researching comics and what place it has in humanity's culture

But I'd at least recommend reading the books by Scott McCloud also, not only manga
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The ignorance displayed here is astounding. These Japologists are beyond unbelievable. Manga is not reserch?! Manga MEANS research in Japanese! It comes from the chinese character for "to search, discover" and the character for "repeat pointless endeavor ad naseum".

The meaning is not much unlike that of this thread.
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jpwrunyan wrote:
The ignorance displayed here is astounding. These Japologists are beyond unbelievable. Manga is not reserch?! Manga MEANS research in Japanese! It comes from the chinese character for "to search, discover" and the character for "repeat pointless endeavor ad naseum".

The meaning is not much unlike that of this thread.

And the etymology of a word has everything to do with its modern meaning.

How ... nice.
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