Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Those Obnoxious Nazis

The "Third Reich Decadent Coffee Shop," a Nazi parody as offensive to some as Hogan's Heroes, is from a ridiculous Japanese anime called Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer that turns out to be "deep" — maybe about ankle deep, but deep nevertheless. Not much actual Nazi stuff, more like a Ferris Buehler-style tweak of high school administrators' noses. Danke schoen, Mr. Rooney.

As an oblique reference to Japanese nationalism, the 30 seconds or so of Nazi swastikas may be of passing interest to social historians. Hayao Miyazaki has a similar, sentimental attachment to the pretty towns and countrysides of Japan's old Axis allies, e.g., in Kiki's Flying Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, and Howl's Moving Castle, the two latter films exploring the auteur's unsympathetic take on the madness of war. Anime tends to emphasize those personal and national failures that lead to apocalyptic urban destruction, as in Akira — more introspection, less retrospection — so genocide is not remarkably absent from a discussion no one entertains anyway.

Not to change the subject, but this leads me to wonder whether, in the decades preceding television and radio, "The Lost Art of Conversation" was actually a spectator sport for most of the gentry (meaning all children and nearly all women, plus en masse the modestly uninformed males of the species), as it appears to be in The Importance of Being Earnest (2002).



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