「東は東」 (Higashi wa Higashi)
“East is East”
Just when I thought Anime no Chikara was ambitious for animating the Mukden Incident, it turns out that was just a precursor to their real goal — the untold fictional events leading up to the Second World War. While probably less controversial, the scale is by far and wide immensely incomparable, as Takachiho Isao suggests a war to end all wars may be necessary. I can’t speak for everyone, but when an anime tackles something of that magnitude, I’m totally drawn in just to see what its fictional take on it is. I haven’t mentioned this yet, but one of the reasons why the whole Senkou no Night Raid espionage theme has been so appealing is because it reminds me of Metal Gear Solid 3‘s fictional take on the Cold War. In other words, we have a fictional story that adheres to historical facts yet includes characters with superhuman-like abilities to spice things up.
Considering how everything that’s taken place up to this point has been geared towards the upcoming Second Sino-Japanese War, I actually found the change of focus to World War II a rather big twist. It didn’t seem like one while actually watching this episode, but hearing Isao say that there are good and bad results from Ishiwara Kanji‘s conspiracy behind the Mukden Incident and insist that Lytton’s report would uncover the truth behind it really changed my perspective on things. All this time, I was under the assumption that Isao was involved in it, but it turns out his goals are much greater than the raw resources of Manchuria. Instead, he’s guided by the events of the First World War that concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 1919. Subsequently, the treaty led to pacifism and the self-determination of nations, but only to the extent of the Western and European world.
Upon hearing Isao remind us of that fact, it was pretty easy to conclude that he felt another war of that magnitude was necessary to bring the same to the Eastern world before he even suggested it, much like Kazura did when he was reminded of when Ishiwara gave a military school speech on how a weapon of mass destruction would be necessary to bring about the war to end all wars and quench the human fighting spirit. However, Isao doesn’t seem intent on dropping the atomic bombs he has at his disposal to realize his vision of a world where Asians would be seen as equals to their European counterparts, for which he cited a passage from Rudyard Kipling‘s “The Ballad of East and West” to get that point across. With the way Isao cleverly demonstrated the destructive power of the atomic bomb to Lytton and his other investigators back in episode eight, I suspect that was his way of getting them to acknowledge Asians as their equals and release control of the colonies they have in their continent. If that is indeed his plan, it would also be consistent with why he felt the Mukden Incident had some positive outcomes, namely the arrival of the Lytton’s investigation committee whom he used to spread word of the atomic bomb back to their home countries.
Analysis and speculation aside, the other parts of the episode involving Sakurai choosing to keep Aoi’s incident with Shizune off the record since he still needs him, Yukina sharing the visions Isao gave her with the others, and the Sakurai Kikan looking for evidence that the Chinese are smuggling in weapons from Germany at the Dalian port turned out to be a really good foundation for the episode as a whole. The mission in particular had Westerners looking into where a massive amount of ore was taken, which foreshadowed Kazura’s arrival to a secret base where Ichinose is developing the nuclear weapons. Yukina’s hesitation on the other hand depicted how traumatized she still was from what Isao had shown her and resulted in what I felt was a rather nice night scene between the Sakurai Kikan to help calm her down. It also showcased more of Natsume’s character and how he’s aware of everyone’s state of mind, plus some of the awesome music in this series that you can’t really get a feel for unless you watch it yourself. Finally there’s Shizune, whom the episode didn’t make specific mention of, but the official site indicates that emperor Puyi never got a chance to meet with her in the end.
According to the preview and the episode eleven synopsis on the website, Shizune’s now with Isao, making me wonder if she also believes in the his Pan-Asianism aspirations. The bigger shock was Kazura buying into Isao’s beliefs and saving him from Aoi and the others’ trap. Kazura’s obviously still conflicted with his decision however, which is why he continues to confide in the notebook that his grandfather left behind containing a passage to help guide him if he ever felt lost in life. Objectively speaking, he was probably the most likely one to change sides given his military background, but it’s still a surprise to see him actually do so. Anyway, given how there are some viewers who feel that the whole anime genre has fallen into an endless rehash of the same premises, I can’t help but wonder why an original series such as this isn’t getting more attention. It doesn’t help when the series is undersubbed I guess, which almost compelled me enough to supply my own translation just so that those who are interested can watch it. Unfortunately, I have no real plans to pick up translating on the side when I’d much rather focus my time on the site.