After a long absence, it is time for me to officially step away from writing here (just me, not the site’s other writers). As a parting post, I would like to share my thoughts on anime that stand the test of time. Even older titles that were created with a Japanese audience in mind can still be relevant today. I was reminded of this recently when the real world seemed to imitate one of my favorite movies, Mamoru Oshii’s Patlabor 2.
A faction of the military of an American ally declares martial law. It deploys tanks and soldiers and announces that it is in control of the country. The faction justifies the coup as necessary because of the failures of the country’s elected leadership. Unfortunately for the plotters, the attempt fails. Other factions of the military remain loyal to the government and the would-be-revolutionaries are quickly defeated.
This is the basic plot of the over twenty year old movie Patlabor 2. Patlabor’s continued relevance became clear little more than a month ago in Turkey. When I first saw the reports of a coup by a faction of the military, complete with F16s flying low over the capital, I immediately thought of Patlabor. The quick end to the coup and the reputed involvement of a shadowy mastermind mirrored Patlabor’s coup story and reinforced the connection.
The parallel events also refute the common critique that anime’s message is not universal. Mamoru Oshii admitted that he thought Patlabor 2 “may be difficult for Americans to understand” as it is “based on political programs that exist in Japan, so it has quite a few deep meanings within it.” But, the issues explored in Patlabor 2 were as relevant to the coup in Turkey as it was to anything that happened in Japan. For example, the risks inherent in a military that sees itself as not subordinate to elected officials were exposed in Turkey just as they were explored in Patlabor.
The universality of anime is what has helped it gain fans far outside of its homeland. Even after several Hollywood adaptions have bombed, Hollywood recognizes the appeal of anime to Westerners as evidenced by the upcoming Ghost in the Shell project. While I will not be actively writing about anime, I remain excited to watch it and see how life imitates art in the future.
My sincere thanks to Bateszi for the opportunity to write on his site, and to Celeste, Kiara, and Bateszi for being great blogging colleagues.