「ナノカ」 (Nanoka)

I know we did this last week, and nobody wants to do it again, but Seikai Suru Kado insists, so we’ve got to talk about it: it’s the UN again. Unless things have drastically changed between the present and the day a giant alien cube lands in Japan, there’s no such as the ‘UN military’. Sure, there’s a the peacekeeping force, the guys in blue helmets who get shot at in movies, but that’s the purview of the General Assembly, not the Security Council. Indeed, if the Security council wanted to use its teeth, it’d probably just be licensing individual member states to take action. Read: NATO will go bomb Japan, I guess. And even then, in the real world I assure you’d there would be more than just a protest demanding the government submit to the UN. There would certainly be a similarly sized protest with signs saying, ‘To hell with the UN’.

But then even if everybody is scared of the Wam, I find it a bit hard to believe that the entire world is so gung-ho about bringing the hammer down on Japan so easily. In a story that makes such a big about negotiators and negotiations, one may have imagined that we would have seen some of that between Japan and the other world powers. Instead, it seems that it’s all an unilateral exercise, with the Security Council treating Japan as a rogue state from the get-go. I mean, even North Korea gets a visit from a Clinton once in a while, but Japan? Apparently, nobody wants to talk to them, and if Wam are really more dangerous than nuclear weapons (and I suppose they are, being of infinite potential and all), then perhaps a round of appeasement would not be uncalled for. No, perhaps I nitpick, but the immediate sanctions seem both excessive and unrealistic. I mean, a freeze of assets of all Japanese individuals? That is, frankly, ridiculous, and any negotiator worth their salt knows that’s a bluff. Such a freeze would mean a global economic crash then and there. True, Japan is no USA nor China, but they’re still nominally the third largest economy in the world as of the time of writing. Almost 6% of the world’s GDP. And I’m sure there are many interest groups in politics and business that would rather not see all that shut down. The global economy is interconnected. Such unprecedented sanctions would very much be cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face, and then the face will be free to invent a brand new economy for itself on the back of infinite energy, anyway.

In short, I don’t completely buy it. It feels, to me, that Kado is being rather heavy handed here, perhaps over eagre to turn Japan into a pariah in its story. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s just building on the ‘humanity is terrible’ guilt trip that it’s been stringing along. Let me play devil’s advocate and be apologist for humanity (since humanity apparently needs an apologist these days). There’s a lot of talk in Kado about how Wam is just a tool, and if humanity makes a mess of it then it’s all our own damn fault. Is it entirely? Is Za really, entirely blameless? That’s a large concession to make to an alien with inscrutable motives. Sure, he talks about possibilities, of differing opinions, and of finding the right answer, but the ball’s actually in his court a lot, isn’t it? He’s the one with the secrets to the Wam. He’s the one who insisted an open media conference, and then when then later decides, nah, let’s actually have private meetings instead. Za wants, Za gets.

Za wants to spread Wam to the world (by giving it to only Japan? Wah?), and perhaps we should have been given more time to think about whether we want to do that, and the best way to do it. Because, really, technology and society need time to catch up to each other. We’re still grappling with the implications of nuclear power today, and now suddenly Wam, named after the appropriate sound effect. Just a tool? Perhaps. But nitroglycerin is a tool as well, and we at least put on a pair of safety goggles before playing around with it. Not for Wam, it seems. Let’s just do it and see what happens: said the generals ordering their troops to merrily stroll across the Somme.

Perhaps it is the case that saying Za did something wrong to humanity by spreading Wam is rude and arrogant. Still, let’s not say there’s no responsibility here. When one drops a pebble into a pond, does one blame the water for rippling? And to say that Za did something right to humanity is rude and arrogant, too.




    1. I imagine the paper Wam is more of a concept rather than what is supposed to be a functional piece of hardware. Like setting of a firecracker to show the force of a nuclear bomb.

      Since we don’t get any thing like plausible material composition or anything more advanced, and just going from my limited understanding of advanced physics and quantum mechanics (-_-)…..I imagine the actual Wam are some kind of metal (maybe carbon>) somehow squeezed down into a 6 dimensional quantum object? Best I can think of.

  1. Perhaps it is the case that saying Za did something wrong to humanity by spreading Wam is rude and arrogant. Still, let’s not say there’s no responsibility here. […] And to say that Za did something right to humanity is rude and arrogant, too.

    I think the “rude and arrogant” bit has been misunderstood here. Had Za withheld the wam, he would be assuming the role of a parent to humanity — as if telling a child: “you can’t have this because I don’t trust you to handle it properly.” The PM is saying that it would be Za that is “rude and arrogant” in that case, not the people opining on Za’s choices.

    The wam is a really interesting concept. Abundant and cheap energy is the main reason that we’re not all serfs today. If energy moves from “abundant” to “limitless” and from “cheap” to “free,” it would be a radical change for all of us.

    So far the series is interesting and I liked the twist at the end of this episode. The whole series reminds me a little more of Arrival than I’d like, though.

    1. Either way, it seems that the Prime Minister was quite set on absolving Za of all responsibility for his actions, which is quite a preemptive and reductionist point of view. Even then, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  2. “there’s no such as the ‘UN military’” but then there’s the US like how Trump is sending ships to pressure North Korea, also pressuring South Korea to limit economic trade with the North, as sanction for not going along with the UN nuclear policies,

      1. Japan vs the World is stuck in WW2 time, and a big down turner for me.. like “see the poor Japanese!, all world are against them”.. but in WW2 there are and where no Angels either.. But here in the Anime it lacks this critical info

        So.. the path is becoming “lifeless” for me, just resurfacing some old trauma (that i think they are over it)

      2. We are so used to the deadlock in the security council from at least one member veto that we think that is how the UN always works. But if your not one of the 5 members with a veto yes the UN could single you out for crushing like it did for North Korea during the Korean war. This was because the Soviets were boycotting the UN and China did not have a seat yet a mistake the Soviets never did again. Although the security council has passed resolutions against several things in the past otherwise these resolutions have lacked enforcement methods and thus not been carried out. Passing a resolution without enforcement methods is a way one or more of the 5 veto members can voice disapproval while still blocking any real action to stop it from UN control. Here it is completely realistic if there is anything the 5 permanent members actually agree on and actually all are willing to enforce it the UN moves from toothless to a tiger.

  3. Yes it is our fault.

    Perhaps it is the case that saying Za did something wrong to humanity by spreading Wam is rude and arrogant. Still, let’s not say there’s no responsibility here. When one drops a pebble into a pond, does one blame the water for rippling? And to say that Za did something right to humanity is rude and arrogant, too.

    zaShunina’s only responsibility was giving wam to humanity and that was his right. He is not part of humanity so he was neither obligated to give wam to humanity nor keep it from them. Also, he didn’t do this out of malicious intent.

    Your analogy implies that it is inevitable that individuals will abuse the wam and it is, but it clears them of any responsibility for their actions. Everyone has a right to the wam and choice to decide what to do with them. That also makes them responsible for their own actions.

    I’m sure no one here would claim that the effects of the wam will be only negative or only positive. There will be blood shed over this, but zaShunina sincerely believes that we can overcome whatever obstacles arise and advance to make a better world. As proof of his sincerity, he has effectively handed all the reins over to humanity, revealing the simple production method of wam and losing his monopoly on it. It’s a bit sad that an alien that has yet to fully grasp human customs has more faith in humanity than we do.

    1. This is assuming he has no malicious intent. If I was an enemy of humanity – I would give them all weapons they could not handle because I know that humans lack the maturity to use it wisely.

    2. To make a counterpoint, if Za is not part of humanity, and clearly has limited understanding of it, should he really interfere? Do you believe in the Prime Directive? And Za can believe whatever he so desires, but he has no basis for it, since he’s clearly still learning about humanity on a step-by-step basis.

      It’s true that Wam are simply tools, and we are ultimately responsible for how they are used. But there are many dangerous tools that one should really not be swinging around without at least reading the instruction manual and attending a three-day training workshop. I mean, rocket launchers are just tools. If someone goes out and decides to give every person a rocket launcher and let’s see what happens, I’m going to reserve the right to call that a bad idea.

      1. He knew about humanity before he came and at this point I find it safe to say he knows enough and more. Plus he’s learning. He has faith in humanity. Faith they should have in themselves.

        The concept behind wam are simple. They’re just all-purpose electrical batteries. It’s fool proof. Rocket launchers are solely weapons and cannot serve any other function so that comparison isn’t even fair. I don’t even see how wam could be weaponized.

      2. But there are many dangerous tools that one should really not be swinging around without at least reading the instruction manual and attending a three-day training workshop.

        You make a good point. Also there are some humans who would intentionally mis-use dangerous tools for the sole purpose of causing harm, e.g., terrorists.

        Do you believe in the Prime Directive?

        (a) Star Trek was just a TV show 🙂 ;
        (b) Starfleet personnel violated the Prime Directive about as often as they mentioned it; and
        (c) More-advanced civilizations (such as the Organians, Melkotians, and Metrons) seemed to have no concept of it — they directly interfered with the Federation, who is less advanced than they — so even in the ST universe it doesn’t seem like a universal rule.

        I think the Prime Directive made sense in TV-show terms, for two reasons:

        (1) it gave an excuse for “playing down” to the level of competition (e.g., not bringing phasers to a knife fight) for the sake of building up tension; and
        (2) there’s a moral message about it being better to “earn” progress than to have it handed to you, that resonates with people.

        But I wonder if that moral message is really true. There are some scientists that claim to have invented nearly free energy. (Personally, I think it’s a scam, but let’s pretend for a second that it’s legitimate.) Aside from one guy who made the discovery, what did anyone on Planet Earth do to “earn” this invention? To the other 7-billion-plus of us, how is that discovery by one guy any different than a gift from the anisotropic being?

      3. The Prime Directive concept does have some merit. It is valid to worry about the costs of interventions. But I find this first argument against interventions invalid if we are talking about saving the lives of millions at the cost of billions saved from the result of the intervention. The second more valid Prime Directive point is interventions often are abused and used effectively for oppression instead in example colonization, yes there were some who took the “White Man’s Burden” concept seriously and actually only attempted to improve living standards in the colonies but way too many others it was a excuse for exploration of the colonies instead. And this applied outside of colonies in non government actions of various groups. Third reason for a Prime Directive is interventions can result if more negative than positive due to unexpected consequences. The Wham if able to be made into weapon’s of mass destruction would be an example of Wham being a bad thing. Last part of Prime Directive is a echo of the concept developed at the end of the Thirty Years War, maybe one of the worst war ever fought on basis of percentage of population killed and how they were killed it way worse than the World Wars. Here countries agreed that what ever a country did to it’s citizens it was only that countries business in order to remove the excuse for most of the war over people practicing the wrong religion would go to hell and that evil beliefs must be punished to prevent God from punishing all. The modern world has often rejected this concept most of the time over various abuses. The Prime Directive sort of a anti Vietnam War message already broken because this non intervention in other countries affairs concern was mostly Leftist propaganda as the Leftists had no problem with Communist nations intervening in other countries affairs only concerned if Western powers did the same. Vietnam was wrong because the population voted in a free and fair election for unification and the US ignored the vote. (learned this fact at the US Army Infantry Officer School of all places)

  4. In short, I don’t completely buy it. It feels, to me, that Kado is being rather heavy handed here, perhaps over eagre to turn Japan into a pariah in its story. I’m not sure why.

    The trope of Japan (or a lookalike country) being the target of unfair foreign aggression is a common one in several Japanese media. Bonus points if it’s the United States overstepping their bounds in a patronizing bear hug that violates Japanese self-determination or Communist China (or similar) trying to undermine the country.

    Japan, of course, would be blameless or justified during those tensions. In some problematic stories, it can veer into Imperial Nostalgia territory.

    Not every series can be like Concrete Revolutio. That show had its good dose of that trope too, but given its politically-charged setting it also made clear that Japanese people weren’t precisely innocent bystanders in all that.

      1. Power Plant Company will go instinct. Because every House, Car and so on, have their own Generator in the Basement, So no need of external Power Plant Generators, even these to charge the Batteries now

        Even Africa or other countries, can afford now free cheap Energy sources

        But, human emotions and instincts are still there, i do not think that this will turn out only peacefully

    1. Make a colony ship and get the fuck out of the planet as soon as possible with as many people as possible. Once terrorist groups use it, and the rest of the world replies, Eaerth will become Hell itself.

      Lord Nayrael
  5. The review jumped right to the meat and missed the emotional and dramatic effects of the episode. Wonderful WTF and Oh Crap faces were done. The emotional effect of making the paper Wham was wonderful and watching the girl genus try to eat the hand and then puzzle out the situation was wonderful.

    The term UN forces and military is correct. For the Korean War the forces were called the UN Forces in Korea per Wikipedia. The term UN’s military personnel was also used for the forces in Korea and in many of the UN’s peacekeeping forces until now. US troops have worn the blue helmet that symbolizes UN forces in several peacekeeping operations. It is correct that the UN has no standing army of it’s own troops but the troops contributed to official UN actions are considered UN forces.

    I find the UN panic believable although I would hope in reality we would panic slower. But this is a visitor with huge ship from another world I’m sure it got passions going high. Release of the Wham would in the short run greatly effect energy producers and reduce the power of the major powers so I can see a panic to get them under control. The only questionable action I can see is the powers at the UN acting this way not considering what the person who gave the Wham thought of his wishes being denied.

    It has been a short time I am quite sure the worlds financial markets are frozen from government action maybe even done as soon as the person in charge of locking down each countries markets saw the huge ship land. If not as soon as the markets started to panic they were shut down. A market shut down cannot continue forever without major negative effects but time is still short. The energy sector will take a dive but most other industries prices should actually spike higher as the massive reductions in production costs and travel costs come under consideration. There is no reason for a world wide negative economy as the cheap power effects will be positive immediately, tourism should boom as soon as Wham make hydrogen and other alternative fuels practical. It just the poor saps and countries in the energy business that will suffer.

    1. And that’s the tricky thing about sci-fi; they really need to sell you on their vision, or else suspension of disbelief breaks and the drama loses a lot of effectiveness. At the same time, I think the most interesting sci-fi also invites us to question its world-view to provoke thought about the future.

  6. At this point this show is reminding me of GATE: enlightened Japan put upon by the rest of the world. The higher profile of the JSDF in this episode only increased that impression. I’m curious where it’s going to go, but right now I see a potential to exceed the benign racism of GATE.


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