01 January 2005

Anime & Society Series Part Eight <p> I find it interesting that though Sony marketed Full Metal Alchemist to young teens, the story itself is oft times very dark in overtone and has presented problems for distribution in the America—just how much blood and gore will have to be cut out of this anime series? The premise is this: instead of technology developing such as airplanes and computers, the world of Full Metal Alchemist developed Alchemy into near science.... However, life alchemy is a forbidden avenue and when the young boy’s mother dies he and his brother attempts resurrect her with alchemy only to open a Pandora’s box. In that incident the younger brother Alphonse Elric is sucked into the vortex that opens for attempting to summon her from the dead and the older brother, Edward Elric, uses alchemy to save his brother by affixing Al’s soul to an inanimate suit of armor.... So here we have the two main characters of an anime, one is a discorporate soul in a suit of armor and a handicapped older brother who regains mobility through the use of prostethies called ‘automail’. The setting of the Anime resembles WWI era Austria and Germany and is a world in a state of military dictatorship. Ed becomes a ‘dog of war’ a solder in order to find a cure for his brother and his lost limbs through the vast resources on alchemy held by the military.... What kept me riveted to this anime series were the philosophical and ethical struggles that the brothers and the rest of the players in the series dealt with in the issue of alchemy and the role of the military in people’s lives. This series never pulled any punches in it’s original Japanese version and there was some really graphic scenes, though justified I think. </p>
Hikikomori are not Violent! Part I <p> During the holiday break, I was checking links to my blog, I have noticed that many who first across the topic of hikikomori hit upon the BBC report, “Japan's Missing Million” as well as other news items that came out in 2000 and 2001.... The term of 'hikikomori' in the public eye is inextricably intertwined with violent behavior, owing to the various high profile cases of violence and murder attributed to hikikomori in recent years.... The recent spate of media reports in the newspapers involving violent attacks attributed to hikikomori may be the primary reason for any public awareness of the social withdrawal problem. Japanese have come to attach 'hikikomori' to gruesomely violent incidents recently occurring in Japan, which only serves to further stigmatize the rest of the hikikomori: In 1988 and 1989 there was the “Otaku Murders” of Tsumoto Miyazaki. On May 3rd 2000, the hijacking of a bus in Saga Prefecture where the 17 year-old 'hikikomori' held a 6 year-old hostage. Another 17 year-old, in a dispute about a haircut, clubbed members of his high school baseball team with a baseball bat and later went home and killed his mother with the same weapon because she would not give him spending money. In 1990, a 27-year-old man kidnapped a 9-year old girl; the girl had lived in his room for 10 years—unknown by his mother or through her abject denial of the situation (Asahi Shimbun 2000, Larimer 2000, Rees 2002, Reuters 2001, Tolbert 2002).... In fact, many of the symptoms ascribed to hikikomori are not culturally unique to Japan or its education system at all, but rather fit the description of clinical depression found in other affluent media-saturated societies such the United States (Fox 2001).... the vast majority shut themselves up at home for six months or more without showing any other signs of neurological or psychiatric disorder“ (Tolbert 2002). </p>

Michael Dziesinski

I'm a University of Hawaii PhD in Sociology discussing youth issues in Japanese society in this blog.

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