Digimon Tamers Writer Chiaki J. Konaka Responds to Overseas Backlash Over 20th Anniversary Stage Play
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Digimon Tamers screenwriter Chiaki J. Konaka responded to overseas backlash over the anime's 20th anniversary live script-reading play in a blog post on Monday. The original story, which served as a sequel to Digimon Tamers set in the modern day, featured a number of politically charged words and themes, including "political correctness" and "cancel culture."
In the play, the Tamers are reunited to fight against a new villain, which takes the form of "Political Correctness," that threatens the real and digital worlds. Chief officer Yamaki dramatically describes it as "the greatest problem facing the internet and media" because it forces people to "conform to a single values system" and "censors real news to replace them with fake news." Although the Tamers are initially nonplussed by Yamaki's breathless call to action, they are shaken when "Political Correctness" takes on a physical form and launches into attack. The villain's special attack is called "Cancel Culture."
Konaka opened the post by stating that the content of the play was entirely his responsibility, and not at all that of Toei Animation Inc. or the Digifest Organizing Committee.
"Some of the words I used were controversial," he wrote. "However, I did not intend to condemn any particular person or group in this drama." He also denied expressing any particular political beliefs.
Nevertheless, Konaka admitted that his feelings regarding the mass media's exclusion of "alternative journalists" during the COVID-19 pandemic were "reflected in Yamaki's strong words."
"When the pandemic started, I stopped opening Twitter for about a year. I also stopped watching CNN/US, which I had subscribed to on cable to see what was really going on. And I've been reading what independent alternative journalists are gathering from open sources, referring to links as I go," he wrote. Konaka wrote that in his opinion COVID-19 is real but incorrectly claimed that "SARS-CoV-2 has not been isolated and segregated."
That claim is false according to Reuters fact checkers. The false claim spread via social media last year as a method to question the validity of the COVID vaccines.
Konaka's post also stated that he would delete any comments that criticized him as a "bad person."
In an earlier blog post from May, Konaka decried the deplatforming of the YouTuber James Corbett. He wrote that while he did not agree with everything Corbett said, he described him as someone who "analyzed the situation rationally, and simply continued to sound the alarm around the dangers, not just of the illness but of the societal situation happening in the world."
Corbett's views have included blaming Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for "manipulating" the virus and pandemic, that the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011 and the Apollo Moon Landing was a hoax, along with other unsupported conspiracies.
At the time, Konaka remarked that the situation has inspired him with his fiction, and that he has been looking for ways to portray it through symmetry and symbolism, even if it does not exactly match reality.
Konaka's recent post explains that the situation has changed since when he first wrote the reading play script in early spring. "This is not so much about Japan as it is about the new difficulties that countries around the world are facing. So, it was no longer timely to send out messages to the rest of the world."
He finished by apologizing for creating a divisive story.
"A lot of people have defended me and told me not to apologize, but it's very hard to see such a divide among the fans. Let me just apologize for the fact that I caused it to happen. I don't want any more debate on this issue," he concluded.
The DigiFest 2021 event was streamed within Japan until August 7. Konaka wrote that he refrained from commenting on the event until after it concluded streaming.
As background context, the post also mentions that he had once pitched an official sequel to Digimon Tamers set 20 years later, but the pitch was turned down. He also mentioned that it was difficult to reassemble the old cast and/or make them play significantly older versions of their characters, so the 2021 reading play was conceived as a continuation of the earlier 2018 play instead.
The Digimon Tamers anime debuted in Japan on April 1, 2001.
Source: Chiaki J. Konaka's blog