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Gundam's Tomino, Yasuhiko Comments on War Themes in Girls & Panzer, KanColle

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge
Tomino: "There's nothing cool about [the military]."

On August 15, Gundam franchise creator Yoshiyuki Tomino and Gundam original character designer Yoshikazu Yasuhiko sat down for an interview to discuss the themes of war in anime to mark the 75th anniversary of V-J Day. In the interview, Tomino remarked on the casual use of warships and tanks in entertainment as sign that conflict isn't treated seriously by the younger generation.

"In the anime world, stories like Girls und Panzer and KanColle have come out. There are parts that I can accept as entertainment, but I wonder if this okay. For my generation it's thought, 'war shouldn't be represented this way' and it makes me uncomfortable.

He praised Sunao Katabuchi's In This Corner of the World film as a "rare work" for showing the conflict from the eyes of Japanese citizens and how the military closed in on civilian life.

"I don't know any other work like it," he said.

He then went on to say that every year in August, stories about World War II are remembered, but in his view, the national conversation is only ever about the lived experiences of the victims. Japanese people don't think about war through a realist perspective and discuss whether the Self-Defense Forces are good or bad.

Tomino stated that Japan won't see war again and instead is bombarded with environmental issues such as energy, food, water, and waste plastics. He sarcastically mentioned that despite these pressing problems, he wonders if the Japan Self-Defense Forces really has the time to create the Space Operations Squadron.

Finally, he referenced the public's perception of the military as "cool."

"There's nothing cool about it," he said. "After all, war must not happen. However, unfortunately we will never be rid of war thanks to the delusions of those who yearn for it." The Gundam creator stated that there will be no war in his next project, but Space Battleship Yamato 2205 will still come out. "Although I don't know what it will look like," he said.

Yasuhiko also spoke about his opinions on war and humanity.

"We're basically stupid," he said, referencing how war continues to repeat itself. "Yet what keeps our sanity in the midst of it all is not religion, justice, patriotism, or anything like that. I think that we're drawn to the perspective of the little people who are caught up in the conflict, and we see ourselves in them. When humanity is unable to see the effects they have on the little people, they tend to commit terrible mistakes."

Yasuhiko then discussed how he is drawing Inui to Tatsumi -Siberia Shuppei Hishi- (Inui and Tatsumi: Secret History of the Siberian Intervention), a manga about the Siberian Intervention. "That dispatch was despised by the world and regarded as a foolish thing. But the more I researched it, the more I understand that there was no other choice. I realized that I wanted to depict the plights of the little people and how they were being controlled."

He reflected that part of the reason people tell stories about history and war is to witness the precarious times that others lived through. If he had been born some years earlier, he could have been killed in an air raid or died on the battlefield. That small gap in age created a vast chasm in the life experiences between him and his parents.

"We, who were educated in democracy after the war, did not respect our elders. We berated them: 'Those were the guys who made the mistakes. Why did they participate in such an idiotic war?' The people who suffered in the war spoke little of their suffering, and because we received no retaliation we were free to run our mouths. But we were merely ignorant of their suffering. That's why I feel like we have to make amends, to tell them that they, too, went through terrible things," he said.

Source: Chunichi Shimbun


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