Robots, Kamikaze and War Memory: How a Children’s Comic can Help us Rethink Postmemory in Postwar Japan

Allen, Matthew (2022) Robots, Kamikaze and War Memory: How a Children’s Comic can Help us Rethink Postmemory in Postwar Japan. Asia-pacific Journal-japan Focus, 20 (10). 5703.

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Abstract

This article uses the example of a children’s manga from the early 1960s to investigate how the reconstructed heroism of kamikaze can be seen in the context of postmemory. In postwar Japan the tragic character of the kamikaze has been invoked in many movies, in television dramas, and in novels, manga, and biographies. The tragedy of kamikaze has also appeared in numerous privately run sites of war memory such as the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots and Yūshūkan, the museum of the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. Many such representations of kamikaze have portrayed the young pilots as pathetic but patriotic figures who generate strong empathy in readers/viewers that conform with the tropes associated with Marianne Hirsch’s idea of postmemory. This essay suggests that postmemory with respect to kamikaze is illusionary, and that the comic in question, Robotto Tokkōtai, is a powerful example of ironic discourse that is in fact a counter postmemory reading of the role of kamikaze. Drawing on contemporary sources’ readings of memory and postmemory, the article suggests that partial memorialization and partial amnesia go hand in hand within early twenty-first century Japan’s nostalgia for the kamikaze.

Item ID: 75481
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1557-4660
Copyright Information: Copyright of all published articles remains in the possession of the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2022 08:25
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4401 Anthropology > 440107 Social and cultural anthropology @ 50%
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430301 Asian history @ 50%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1307 Understanding past societies > 130702 Understanding Asia’s past @ 70%
13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1302 Communication > 130201 Communication across languages and culture @ 30%
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