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Anthropomorphising the War on Terror
June 15, 2008 1:43 PM   Subscribe

Afuganisu-tan is a simple and impossibly cute manga illustrating the background and development of conflict in Central Asia. In which we learn that "Afuganisu-tan gets picked on a lot and has bad luck." Also, "Meriken is a superhero fanatic and has a tendency to think her version of justice is right for everyone."

(Linked site is one of the many that are hosting scanned translations of the manga panels and accompanying memoranda. The original site is no longer functioning.)
posted by hellopanda (34 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think I'm getting a bit bored of the same theme over and over. Cute though.
posted by unpoppy at 1:57 PM on June 15, 2008


Leave it to Japanese to turn every damn thing into weird pictures of little girls.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:02 PM on June 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


It helps to understand the differences in National Identity and culture between the "stans" - that is, if it's anywhere close to reality. But it really needs to be extended beyond the countries already depicted (Rus-ya? Iraken?)
posted by wendell at 2:22 PM on June 15, 2008


That is a nice pun, I must say.
posted by Class Goat at 2:26 PM on June 15, 2008


I like how Afuganis-tan's appearance is based on the famous green-eyed Afghani girl from the 1985 National Geographic cover. And by "like", I mean "am deeply creeped out by."

I have always liked anime and manga more often than not, but the "tan" phenomenon makes me want to whip out a paddle and say, "Did somebody say 'weeaboo'? 'Cause I think I just heard somebody say 'weeaboo.'"
posted by Countess Elena at 2:34 PM on June 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Meriken is a superhero fanatic and has a tendency to think her version of justice..."

To make the analogy accurate, she should have two versions of justice. One she applies to herself and her obedient friends, the other she applies to everyone else.
posted by Clay201 at 3:07 PM on June 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


One she applies to herself and her obedient friends, the other she applies to everyone else.

Look, when good guys kill bad guys it's good, OK? Sheesh, you moonbats with your moral equivalence.
posted by fleetmouse at 3:11 PM on June 15, 2008


They've wisely removed part 27. The introduction of "Muhammad-tan" led to Japanese embassies burned worldwide
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:26 PM on June 15, 2008


I thought "weeaboo" meant "Foreigner who tries way too hard to be Japanese". Since Afuganisu-tan and friends are Japanese creations, wouldn't the creator just be a Japanese geeks?

As for creepy personalizations, there's always Nevada-tan. For a while there, "-tanning" something was the otaku version of the tasteless joke.
posted by Maxson at 4:58 PM on June 15, 2008


Without trying to offend, can somebody please explain to me this Japanese obsession with anthropomorphizing things as schoolgirls? Is it an innocence thing? Is it sexual? Or is it one of the great unknowables?
posted by Popular Ethics at 5:03 PM on June 15, 2008


The premise sounds familiar.
posted by not_on_display at 5:10 PM on June 15, 2008


Popular Ethics, I can explain it by telling you that an extreme minority of Japanese people have even heard of "anthropomorphizing things as schoolgirls", much less obsess over it. It's like asking about "this American obsession with dressing up as animals".
posted by Maxson at 5:17 PM on June 15, 2008


Really Maxson? What about the predominance of schoolgirls in anime and manga? I got the impression that this was a more widespread meme, akin to America's obsession with cowboys.
posted by Popular Ethics at 5:21 PM on June 15, 2008


Let's not mix up things like "schoolgirls in anime and manga" with "anthropomorphizing things as schoolgirls". The former is a general claim, the latter is pretty darn specific.

With that said, I'm pretty sure the "predominance of schoolgirls in anime and manga" is because most famous anime and manga is aimed towards highschoolers (both male and female) and young men. After all, the biggest manga publication in Japan is called "Shounen Jump" for a reason: it's aimed towards male teens ("shounen" means "young man") .

Adding to that is the Internet distortion filter. I'm no expert on the subject, but from what I've heard, Americans are exposed to a double filter when it comes to anime/manga- the stuff more prone to obsessing gets focused on and the stuff most likely to be translated is that which is weirdest from that bunch. Hence the salmon porn only a few days ago: why translate (or make a FPP on) a salaryman manga when you can get a laugh out of fish fucking?

So I wouldn't claim a predominance of schoolgirls in anime and manga means Japanese people are obsessed with schoolgirls. It's a niche of a niche. Most Japanese people are obsessed with the same things Americans are- money, fashion, and getting laid.
posted by Maxson at 5:42 PM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I stand corrected; this is in fact a Japanese creation. "Weeaboo" may not apply in this jurisdiction.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:21 PM on June 15, 2008


I didn't think that "Japanese people were obsessed with schoolgirls", but I'm interested in cultural expressions of common desires (like getting laid). You've given a good analysis Maxson, thanks.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:34 PM on June 15, 2008


If the language you are using in your comic strip (manga, whatever) is meant to be read from left-to-right, then the action should be read left-to-right as well. Combining english with right-to-left panel action just doesn't work.
posted by yhbc at 6:43 PM on June 15, 2008


YHBC, properly written Japanese is read top-to-bottom, with columns read from right to left.

Left-to-right lines read from top to bottom (the order we use) is a recent thing in Japan. It happened long after western-style bound books arrived, and long after the convention of reading pages right-to-left got established there. And it far from universal even today; newspapers are still printed vertically, as are most captions in advertising.

The convention of reading book pages from right to left continues to be used for the same reason that we continue to use the QWERTY keyboard: because everyone is used to it, and there's no really compelling reason to change it -- bitches by gaikokujin notwithstanding.
posted by Class Goat at 7:00 PM on June 15, 2008


On the subject on the -tans:

Add to this that many of the -tans, like the OS-tans, were the product of Futaba Channel, which was the inspiration for 4chan, and has similar meme generative qualities. To wit: it's a bunch of late ten to twenty something anime nerds who have nothing better to do than draw moe pictures of schoolgirls.

tl;dr: NEERRRRDS
posted by zabuni at 7:05 PM on June 15, 2008


I stand corrected; this is in fact a Japanese creation. "Weeaboo" may not apply in this jurisdiction.

Someone translated it.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:42 PM on June 15, 2008



Look, when good guys kill bad guys it's good, OK?

And what do you call it when bad guys kill bad guys?

Listen, we've got to get rid of this childish idea that there are white hat countries and black hat countries. Any government that thinks it can get away with it will blow people up in order to keep or gain power. And on the day it does so, it's a bad guy.

India's a much better country than Pakistan (at least, by my standards). More freedom, less religious fanaticism, more progress generally. Does that make it okay for India to occupy Pakistan, set up a puppet government, and send its military in to bomb everyone who resists? If you answer "yes," you've just made a really good case for allowing Belgium and France to occupy the US and set up a puppet government in DC. Unless of course you want to apply two different standards: one to us and the other to everyone else in the world. But, then, that would be hypocrisy.
posted by Clay201 at 8:58 PM on June 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


This comic hit the Central Asian blogosphere last year and was not liked.
posted by k8t at 9:18 PM on June 15, 2008


Oops, looks like they're over their bandwidth limits . . .
posted by arnicae at 10:43 PM on June 15, 2008


If you answer "yes," you've just made a really good case for allowing Belgium and France to occupy the US and set up a puppet government in DC.

They're welcome to try, but unless they can walk on water they won't get very far. There's a rather large moat in the way.
posted by Class Goat at 12:26 AM on June 16, 2008


unless they can walk on water they won't get very far

Yeah, but then we're talking about the moral questions rather than the practical realities, aren't we?

I mean, if we want to just say that might makes right, then we can do anything we want. We don't have to bother with questions like "Do we have the right to impose an anti-democratic government on Iraq?" We can just ask ask "Will it cost too much money?" and "Will it take too long?" Oh wait. That's what we've been doing.
posted by Clay201 at 1:30 AM on June 16, 2008


Central Asian blogosphere

(?)

(!)
posted by Afroblanco at 5:52 AM on June 16, 2008


Oh wait, you mean that thing kids do with the tin cans and the string. Cute.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:53 AM on June 16, 2008


k8t, can you elaborate? What were the objections? Did it have any defenders?
posted by No-sword at 6:25 AM on June 16, 2008


Also, yhbc, you actually raise an interesting issue. In the olden days of translating manga, publishers would often flip the pages to get the left-to-right effect (they would be replacing any text anyway, so the mirroring effect didn't really matter). They would often also redraw the sound effects to be an English "BAM!" or whatever.

Later, though, English-speaking manga fans became obsessed with "authenticity", so publishers started keeping the original page layouts (even if it was weird combined with the left-to-right text, as you point out), and retaining the original sound effects since they are graphic elements (as is done in this strip—note the explanations above and below the panels).

Think of it like CDs vs vinyl. The latter is inconvenient in lots of ways, but it has diehard fans who insist that it delivers a better experience and feel superior to those who prefer the former.

(In this case of course it's probably less about authenticity than "I can't be bothered messing around with this in Photoshop more than the bare minimum necessary.")

posted by No-sword at 6:35 AM on June 16, 2008


Thanks, No-sword. It's nice to know I'm not the only casual onlooker to have noticed that.
posted by yhbc at 6:46 AM on June 16, 2008


Later, though, English-speaking manga fans became obsessed with "authenticity", so publishers started keeping the original page layouts (even if it was weird combined with the left-to-right text, as you point out), and retaining the original sound effects since they are graphic elements (as is done in this strip—note the explanations above and below the panels).

My understanding was that the decision to abandon flipping was a simple question of economics: it's far faster and cheaper to not flip, which is why first TP and then everyone else in the industry (except Dark Horse, I think) switched to not flipping. I don't think fan demand really played much of a role.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:39 AM on June 16, 2008


It's kind of nice to see international relations being put on the level of OMG DRAMA!! of highschool girls. The motivations of the movers and shakers get too much credit in the books of history as deeply thought out and sage actions, whereas when they're actually happening, it seems like it's often more about people throwing hissy fits over a molehill and making it everyone else's problem instead of acting like adults.
And of course, all the two-faced behind-the-backs gossip and wheeling and dealing and alliances is all right out of highschool.

(Hmmm - perhaps US schools aren't as educationally useless as they're so commonly made out to be? :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 8:26 AM on June 16, 2008


Ah, interesting, LBJ. I stand corrected. I bet it was more like "Hey, we can not only get away with not flipping, we can sell it as a feature!" than "We must make the fans happy, and stop flipping!" and I just heard it spun the latter way.
posted by No-sword at 3:27 PM on June 16, 2008


hi i mirrored the comics, the googlepages site keep showing the bandwidth exceeded warning

mirror site here
posted by ntoken at 12:03 AM on June 17, 2008


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