A popular portrayal of state manipulation of a populace is a quote from the movie Gladiator, where some Greek dudes say something about giving the people something or another. Well, that’s made-up ancient history.
Looking at the other direction, the future of Japan is not the brightest in some ways. This week some rich Japanese guy said they’re turning to robots and immigrants to support its rapidly aging population. It already is the oldest population in the world. If children are our future, well, then Japan doesn’t have too many to count on, per capita.
Can robot hotel bellhop keep my bags after I check out?
I want to point out these two ingredients: generational pressure as a structural stress in the lost gen Japanese (and their subsequents) and the simple fact that people crave entertainment when in these uncertain times. There is probably some academic term that describes the condition these cultural forces create, not unlike how cold Canadian air and jet stream moisture from the west cause a Nor’easter during the cold months of the year in the US Northeast. Please enlighten me if you know what it is.
The term I have for Anzu, though, is a pressure release valve. Academics have long coined Japanese subcultural trends and identity politics in these ways. Sure, cartoon idols (or real ones, for that matter) are a significant improvement over slaves and indentured servants fighting for the death for the public’s amusement, as far as civility goes, but both can effectively diffuse tension.
As entitled as kids and young adults may seem from the eyes of the older generation, it is not a bad place to begin. Rights only exists when they are recognized. To recognize rights, you need to know about them first. And before we know, we have to learn. When you already are entitled to such, it is natural to demand it, regardless if privileges or rights may make a better label to the things Anzu demands (casually).
Of course, in another sense, Anzu’s demands is satirical. If we compare her to another comrade’s idol persona, Uesaka Sumire’s act doesn’t even “go there” really, as it is more Russophilia than it is Leftist. Nonetheless these acts taps lightly on our ingrained, post-Cold War subconscious and remind us that in an increasingly individualized society, shared rights still exist. Together we are strong. Even if today such strong sense of unity that our fathers or grandfathers have is becoming a thing of the past, from lifetime employment to strong union protections.
And in a funny way that links right into 団結, which is one of the core tenets of IM@S thematically. Danketsu, as the term goes, makes that cultural ideal contextualized that fits the cultural norm of today’s society where people work together, even if they may be competitors. It’s really an oddish concept to just call it “Unity” as translations go, but such is the careful duality of the world IM@S portrays. I think it’s more like the “collaboration” strategy in a conflict resolution setting (as opposed to say, zero-sum competition or compromise), in which in a pop-culturally accepted, ideal communist world, the whole is greater than the sum of their parts, and despite our lazy selves, we work hard.
That’s why Anzu is best idol, right?
[I wish there was some English-language media study available regarding anime and games of the 2000s, because that was certainly a trend, these otaku-rehabilitating stuff. It would be interesting to read on how these works tried to achieve these goals.]
The joke aside, I think that by channeling to these subconscious stresses and fears and a way to address them in a pop culturally sensitive way, Anzu as a concept can be attractive.
It makes you wonder what is inside Kirari, too.