Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Friday, November 10, 2017

GATE Is Military Propaganda

So Gate...

On the surface, GATE is a dumb little anime in the mode of a guy saves the world by being super special awesome at role playing games that have been taking over the medium over the past few years. And it is that but it's also propaganda for the Japanese Military.

Okay let's back up.

World War II specifically how it ended with the nuclear bombing of cities with large-scale civilian casualties had a profound effect on how the Japanse have viewed warfare ever since. Japan is the only country to ever have nuclear bombs used against them in warfare. I am speaking as a western outsider who only really consumes Japanse culture through mass media but those themes are evident.

In the immediate aftermath, there was a lot of consideration for the causes of the war. Specifically what hyper-militarization cost the nation. To be fair some of that was forced upon the Japanese as a war concession by the United States but culturally it was still there.


How did that happen?

How did the whole country, the whole of society up and down get on board with attacking both China and the United States?

For better or worse the most interesting thing about GATE is just how remarkably pro-military it is. And it's not hard to see that as a reflection of growing Japanese right-wing nationalism. Specifically, the show views the military as the most functional institution of Japan's society, and in the story very much tries to circumvent checks the Japanese government has put on the military to prevent the sort of hyper-militarization that lead up to World War II and Sino-Japanese wars.

In fact it goes even further to frame what is essentially a military occupation as a good thing.

Furthermore, it frames Japan's Self Defence Forces as the most proficient and moral military amongst, The United States, Russia, and China.

It's not like I've never seen any of these elements alone before. Ghost in the Shell, for instance, has a lot of negative things to say about the United States and isn't exactly against using force as a means to solve problems.

It's just that GATE in the form of a breezy lark feels kind of insidious. I know to turn on my brain and critically examine political philosophizing while watching Ghost in the Shell but GATE is just so damn subtle in it's framing that it's hard to even recognize that it does have a political worldview that permeates its story and taken to its logical extremes that worldview is concerning.

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