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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

On Comics: Peace, From Right to Left

Posted By on Wed, Jun 4, 2008 at 12:18 PM


By Matthew Shaer

Back in March, a US sailor – allegedly! – robbed and murdered a taxi driver in the Japanese port town of Yokosuka. This was bad for the Navy, so the Rear Admiral apologized directly to the taxi company, and a curfew was put in place, followed by some sort of new booze regulation for sailors.


Then this month, the Navy announced that it would go forward with plans to deploy – for the first time – a nuclear-powered warship to Yokosuka. This in a country, as Reuters notes, where "210,000 people died from [atomic] bombings or their effects" and "a nearly equal number [died] in subsequent years, according to Japanese estimates."

How will the military sooth frazzled nerves among the populace in Yokosuka?

Answer: a boatload of comic books. According to the Kyodo news agency, the 200-page Manga-style books will feature a Japanese-American sailor named Jack Ohara and a scene where Ohara puts out a fire on a warship.

Military publication Stars and Stripes further describes the hilarity: "Ohara gets seasick, knocks his knees on ladders and gets into trouble for eating food stolen from the mess hall. His mentor is Petty Officer 1st Class Elly Benton, a strong female character who, Waterman hopes, will resonate with Japanese women."


Still – for some reason – there are some Debbie Downers over there in Japan. In the same Stars and Stripes article, a random interviewee named Yukiko Yamaguchi expresses concern that the book, creatively entitled "CVN-73," will only "say the good things and be one-sided.”

Have no fear, Yukiko. The Navy covers all the important issues with plenty of nuance. Consider: "The only reference to the carrier’s nuclear propulsion — an issue that has fueled safety-based opposition from citizens groups — is a reference that 'the heart of the GW has a 50-year life span and doesn’t need refueling.'"

OK. Maybe not.

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Matt Shaer


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