「乱階の夜」 (Rankai no Yoru)
“Night of the Approaching Disturbance”
After I brought up the controversy this series is edging upon back in episode two, it looks like Anime no Chikara dares to tread on that iffy time frame in history after all, as the story rapidly approaches its take on the Mukden Incident. Better known as the Manchurian Incident in Japan or the September 18 Incident in China, the controversy stems over the cause of the Second Sino-Japanese War, where the Japan’s Imperial Kwantung Army invaded Manchuria under the pretense that the Chinese dynamited the Japanese-controlled South Manchuria Railway. This led to the Nanking Massacre or “Rape of Nanking” six years later where Japan slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians in the country’s former capital and raped tens and thousands of women in addition to committing various other acts of cruelty (i.e. war crimes) just to make a statement.
However, the prevailing historical view on the bombing is that it was staged by Japanese militarists to give them a pretext for war, since Japan considered itself the dominant power in East Asia following their victory in the the Russo-Japanese War. Under the guise of a Pan-Asianism movement, Japan further attempted to justify its invasion of China and parts of Southeast Asia with propaganda such as the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, but eventually, the other countries that originally supported Japan in their cause saw that they were only in it out of self interest with little regard for their anti-British/Western ideals. In short, it’s a very dark part of history that was met with further controversy when it was discovered that the Japanese government was permitting the use of high school history textbooks that showcased Japan’s actions in a positive light.
Anyway, before I get carried away and turn this into an all-out discussion on Asian history (which I’m really interested in but not that familiar with, so feel free to correct me on any of the above), the big thing is that Senkou no Night Raid, a Japanese anime, will depict their version of what happened. The obvious thought is that Japan would never dare to showcase themselves in a negative light in an anime when they won’t even do it in their history textbooks, but surprisingly the producers at Anime no Chikara may just man up and take responsibility in some form. They have announced that the next episode, titled “Incident”, won’t be aired on any television broadcast (hence why there was no preview this week). Instead, it will be streamed online for free on the official website for about a two week period. Filling in on the TV time slot will be a recap episode on what has happened so far, told from the point of view of a key character to the story.
It’s unknown whether this was done because broadcasters weren’t allowed to air a Japanese production that potentially blames Japan for the Mukden Incident or if Anime no Chikara simply felt it would cause too much of a commotion, but I find this a pretty big deal when an anime episode of all things is being more or less censored due to political views. Not nudity, but history. It still remains to be seen if the stream will be region-filtered, where the biggest statement over censorship would be made if it ends up being Japan itself that is locked out. It’s unlikely given how the site says that watching both this episode and the recap that will be aired on television is key to getting the whole story, but damn, Senkou no Night Raid would be the next thing listed with the rest of Japan’s controversial treatment of their own history if that happened.
In any case, I strongly believe that the story is working towards pinning the blame on a Japanese person, but not all of Japan. In particular, Yukina’s brother Isao, who’s been acting in accordance to his own take on Pan-Asianism. He’s encouraged by a Japanese philosopher named Miki, whom he goes with to secretly meet with various other countries‘ representatives as they attempt to establish themselves in an era dominated by Caucasian super powers. The major qualm I had with that though is how they portrayed Isao’s actions as solely his own. I didn’t mind how they played up the notion that they were out of good faith towards truly uniting Asia, but by making him willingly become a scapegoat and betray his own country if needed, it allows Japan to play the “victim” card yet again. In other words, how they were supposedly caught up in a bombing conspiracy of the South Manchuria Railway set up by a small group of Japanese individuals and things got ugly after the finger-pointing started.
The wounds are far too deep to cast this off as a mere misunderstanding, but I’ll give credit to Anime no Chikara for having the guts to depict history in accordance to the prevailing view if things really turn out that way. I still see the fictional Sakurai Kikan as their way of trying to save some face however, claiming they had a secret agency out to stop these Japanese extremists who acted alone. As for Isao, it’s pretty clear that he honestly believes what he is doing is right, seeing as he tried to convince Aoi to join his cause and had his subordinate hold off Kazura, Yukina, and Natsume without any obvious intention to do them harm. In the latter case, it was pretty cool seeing a battle of super-human powers, with Kazura eventually figuring out that his opponent’s teleportation ability is limited to a set number of fixed locations.
The biggest question mark at the moment is the reappearance of the girl from Aoi’s past, who we were led to believe is dead yet helps our protagonists here. She appears to be voiced by Kawasumi Ayako as well, the narrator of the series, leading me to believe she’s the “key character” in the series that the recap episode next week will center around.
* It’s kind of ironic how English was the language of choice during the secret meeting when they were trying to rid themselves of British/Western rule. Out of all of them, the Indian representative was the only one that sounded fluent.