Tokyo Damage Report

translation of Kobayashi Yoshinori’s manga: “Thou Shalt Be Pro-American!”

OK, I’m back with another Kobayashi Yoshinori translation.

This time his targets are American unilateralism, obedient Japanese, and , as usual, his own pomposity (in this episode, he’s playing his Evil Pro-American Twin!)

If you’re like me, the first thing you’ll notice is how dumb and basic his sarcasm is . . .but I’m pretty sure it’s intentional! A little context will explain this (I hope): Even though the surface of the comic is about America, the sub-text is a much more interesting debate – about Japan! – and the role of public discourse and dissent in Japan.

Specifically, it has to do with the Japanese rule of "Don’t make a fuss in public, don’t raise your voice." This is a central theme to all of Kobayashi’s manga. He wants to raise his voice and have his free speech, but he’s tremendously self-conscious about violating the taboo. He – like all Japanese – is scared of standing out like a sore thumb, and scared of being the "loud asshole who fucks up the harmony" . So his solution is to deliberately overdo it, to jump head-first into a worst-case-scenario of "Loud Asshole" and see what happens from there.(Check out how all the bystanders are staring at him throughout the comic. He could of drawn them ignoring him or cheering him on, but he didn’t!)

The American version of this is, if you’re fat girl with an overbite, you put a bunch of piercings in your face and get a sideways haircut on Myspace and you’re like: "IT’S OK! IT’S OK! I’M TRYING TO BE UGLY!" Kobayashi is like, "IT’S OK! IT’S OK! I’M TRYING TO BE THE GUY WHO IS OBLIVIOUS TO SOCIAL HARMONY!" And I think his dull/repetitive sarcasm is part of that persona.

. . .

Or it could be that he’s just not funny.

P.S. Contrary to stereotype, Japanese people *DO* get subtle sarcasm – check out the "suprise attack" gag on page 15 for an example.


THOU SHALT BE PRO-AMERICA!

Starring The Author himself, as: CHONMAGE!

(chonmage (pronounced, “chon-MA-gay”) is the name of the peculiar half-shaved Samurai hairstyle, but it’s also a vulgar contraction of “CHOdai AGEru”; which is a really ignorant way of saying “Gimme dat!” . (Hope you like it when jokes are over-explained because this is just the beginning)) (also, the flag on his back reads BUSH 4 LYFE!)

 

PAGE 1

PANEL 1: (this is a parody of the famous Edo-period play 赤穂浪士 (‘akou roushi’) (in English, “The 47 Samurai”) with Chonmage in the role of Asano’s retainer, who tries to dissuade his master (Asano) from starting a suicidal battle with the wily Kira)

CHONMAGE: Thou shalt be pro-American! Don’t be rashly insane!

PANEL 2: Thou shalt be pro- American!

PANEL 3:WIFE: (seriously, that’s her name, ワイフ ) What’s wrong with you?!? Wake up!

PANEL 4:Hah??

PANEL 5:‘Twas but a dream!

WIFE: What kind of dream?

PANEL 6: I hast dreamt that I’d found a ruffian who dost dare to criticize Honorable America, with such comments as, “Don’t act unilaterally!” and “Down with the Iraq war!”

WIFE: Scary!

PANEL 7;It seemed as if the U.S.-Japan alliance was beginning to fracture, so verily I did panic!

WIFE: If that ever happened, it would be the downfall of Nippon!


 

PAGE 2

PANEL 1: Right now, anti-American sentiment is increasing – in the Middle East of course, but also in Eruope and Canada!.

PANEL 2:At the Environmental Summit in Melbourne, Colin Powell was drowned in a chorus of boos!

PANEL 3: In the German elections, Prime Minister Shrader won by running on an “anti-Iraq-war” platform!

PANEL 4:In England, Prime Minister Blair has to deal with being called “Bush’s lapdog.”

PANEL 5:And in France, anti-war protests are occurring on a bigger scale than ever before. It’s common knowledge that Chirac loathes Bush, even though he won’t say it in public.

PANEL 6:WIFE: Poor Honorable America!

CHONMAGE: We must make sure that no such scoundrels doth open their mouths in Nippon! Yea, we must spread word to the masses!

PANEL 7;WIFE: Go forth and show your devotion, for Honorable America!

CHONMAGE: Yea verily! For Honorable America!

PANEL 8: WIFE! THOU SHALT C’MON!!!!

WIFE: Huh?


 

PAGE 3

PANEL 1:CHONMAGE: I mean, KISS Chonmage!

PANEL 2:WIFE: Oooh, you’re acting like a real American husband.

PANEL 3:CHONMAGE: LOVE IS OPEN!

WIFE: Ooh, husband!

PANEL 4: SANKYUU BERI-MACHU! I shalt sally forth!

PANEL 5:Everyone in this great land!

Thou shalt be pro-American!

Thou shalt be pro-American!

PANEL 6:Honorable America is the strongest land on Earth!

Honorable America can do anything it wants with the world!

PANEL 7;O what a great Empire America be-eth!

Please do us the favor of making us one of your states!

 

 

 

 

 

 


PAGE 4

PANEL 1: Thou shalt be grateful! Thou shalt not complain! Thou shalt democracy! Thou shalt love freedom!

PANEL 2:If you want to enjoy freedom, you can’t criticize!Let’s ostracize any rogue who thinks that America brought the terror on herself!

PANEL 3:Arabic people will be detained without evidence, transported out of the country, leaving their families behind!

PANEL 4: This is how we protect freedom and the public! Let’s learn from America’s example!

PANEL 5:Freedom of thought must take a back seat to politics! We musn’t obey China’s every whim for the sake of preserving diplomacy! Only for Honorable America shalt we do so!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

PAGE 5

PANEL 1:Thou shalt be pro-American!

We shalt cry together! We shalt get wroth together! We shall make war together!

If we shalt do these things, we too can be honorable white people!

PANEL 2: Thou shalt be pro-American!

Make sure not to do anything rashly insane!

PANEL 3:GUM-CHEWING NERD (to his friend): Hey, check out that douche with the “punk rock” hair!

CHONMAGE: Nu???

PANEL 4:CHONMAGE: He’s a crazy, I bet!

PANEL 5:CHONMAGE: AAh! He be-eth chewing gum, like unto an honorable American!

PANEL 6:CHONMAGE: Thou art precisely the pro-American type!

GUM-GUY’S PAL: (whispering) This guy’s nuts. Let’s split!

 

 

 

 

 


PAGE 6

PANEL 1:CHONMAGE: AAAHH! Behold yon bleach-haired and blue-eye-contact-lens youth! Certainly he walketh the correct path of the pro-American!

PANEL 2:CHONMAGE: Verily ,the kids of today are so loyal and obedient!!!

BLONDE KID: Yechhh, what’s up with this bozo???

PANEL 3:KIDS: run away!!!!

CHONMAGE: With youths like that, Japan will surely become absorbed into America, I haveth the feeling!

PANEL 4: Even the conservative pundits on Japanese TV ? if they too bleached their hair and wore contact lenses, wouldn’t their arguments be-eth more persuasive??

PANEL 5: Even my own chonmage is blonde!!!!!

PANEL 6:We should passeth a law, for the good of the Japan-American alliance! Massive fines for black hair shalt be the penalty-eth!

 


 

PAGE 7

PANEL 1: Oh! (shivers) Yon girl looks like Sadako from that movie, “The Ring!”

PANEL 2: Is she a psycho???

PANEL 3:Walking all bent-over like that, I cannot tell. . . is she a psycho girl??

PANEL 4: Psycho?? Psycho???!??

PANEL 5: Aah! (untranslatable pun based on the fact that “psycho” and “cellphone” sound similar).

PANEL 6: Aah! Thou art sending e-mail!

GIRL: WTF???

PANEL 7; If thou art sending emails on yon internet, America’s “Eschalon” computer system is watching you! Let’s show them a little something, shall we? Only for Honorable America! Let’s give them a little peek at you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

PAGE 8

PANEL 1:CHONMAGE: I dub thee. . . “Pro-Ameri-chick!”

PANEL 2:GIRL: kyaaaaaaaa!

CHONMAGE: Pro-Ameri-chick! Come back, Pro-Ameri-chick!

PANEL 3:GIRL#2: What’s up with him?

GIRL: He’s hentai!!

CHONMAGE: Hey! That’s . . . .

PANEL 4:CHONMAGE: Macdonald’s!!!!You can find one anywhere in the world. . . It be-eth the God of Globalization!

PANEL 5:(prays)

PANEL 6:The kids of Japan will be able to get morbidly obese, just like Honorable Americans!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

PAGE 9

PANEL 1:CHONMAGE: Huh????

PANEL 2:CHONMAGE: Thou! Thou! Yon maiden hence!

Is that black man an American or an African, I prithee?

LADY: Naturally, I’ll only hang on the arm of an American, ya dummy

PANEL 3:CHONMAGE: Such a pro-American!Even if he was the same guy, if he’s African, no way!But if he’s American, OK!

The truth is, Japanese girls are very conservative, pro-Americans, yea verily!

PANEL 4:CHONMAGE: (chasing them as they enter a hotel) Conduct thy diplomatic relations to thy heart’s content! Heal the rift in the Alliance! Support the Alliance! And don’t just support it from the rear ? support it from the front entrance as well!

AMERICAN: KUREIZII! FA-KYOO!

PANEL 5:I’m happy to see it with mine own eyes. Throughout the world, anti-American complaints are circulating, but Japan is pro-America from the old men to the youths!

PANEL 6: (by the way-eth, I’m only 36!)

GIRL: sob, sob, sob

CHONMAGE: N?? Hark! There be crying!

 

 


 

PAGE 10

PANEL 1:CHONMAGE: HOW DARE YOU BULLY THIS MAIDEN FAIR????

PANEL 2:STUDENT #1: Kanamori just got fuckin’ punched by a fuckin’ hobo, dude!

CHONMAGE: HUUUHH? What dost thou speak of???

PANEL 3:STUDENT #2: We went to the park to kick out filthy-cardboard-box-livin’-in-ass hobos and as usual, Kanamori tagged along – that’s when she got smacked up in the scuffle.

PANEL 4:CHONMAGE: WHAT? I WON’T STAND FOR IT!

PANEL 5:CHONMAGE: This be-eth an instance of “no-prejudice terrorism!”

PANEL 6:STUDENTS; “No-prejudice terrorism”?!??

PANEL 7;CHONMAGE: Forsooth! The world is in the middle of an Anti-Terror Campaign!

PANEL 8CHONMAGE: It is our duty to take revenge!

PANEL 9:STUDENTS: But, didn’t we cause the fuckin’ fight in the first place?

And doesn’t revenge just breed more revenge’n shit?

 


 

PAGE 11

PANEL 1:CHONMAGE: “Who started it” is absolutely! Not! An issue!!

Terrorism is bad, so we have to eradicate it!For the sake of democracy, we must not only make war, but forbid bad thoughts as well!

PANEL 2 : STUDENTS: I, uh, guess so. Sure, whatever.

PANEL 3:CHONMAGE: THOU SHALT BE PRO-AMERICAN!WE MUST SOLVE THE MATTER WITHOUT DELIBERATION, USING OUR STRENGTH!

PANEL 4:STUDENTS: Yeah! Let’s go!

PANEL 5:CHONMAGE: THOU SHALT DESTROY THE TERRORISTS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

PAGE 12

 

PANEL 1: CHONMAGE: You dare to rebuild your filthy cardboard homes, you vermin?Thou dost pollute our modern society!!!

PANEL 2:STUDENT #3: Ah! There’s a woman and child!

PANEL 3:CHONMAGE: COLLATERAL DAMAGE! NO PROBLEM!

PANEL 4: UOOOH! HUMAN RIGHTS IS SHIT! IT’S ALL PART OF AL QUAEDA!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

PAGE 13

PANEL 1:CHONMAGE: This be-eth a victory for pro-Americanism!

STUDENT #1: The hobo leader got away, though . ..

STUDENT #2: But we sure kicked a lot of ass, so whatever.

STUDENT #3: Nice job, guys!

PANEL 2:CHONMAGE: What? You varlets think it’s over just because you won?

STUDENT #2: Huh? What are you talkin’ about now??

PANEL 3:CHONMAGE: Knoweth thee not that there are other scoundrels who have the POTENTIAL to POSSIBLY harmeth us in the future?

PANEL 4:STUDENT #1: We can kick their ass over a “possibility”?

PANEL 5:CHONMAGE: IF IT’S FOR THE SAKE OF DEMOCRACY, OF COURSE WE CAN ATTACK A “POSSIBLE” ENEMY!

PANEL 6:STUDENT #1: Are you talking about RakI?

CHONMAGE: You mean ‘ Iraq’?

 


 

PAGE 14

PANEL 1:STUDENT #2: No, Raki! The kid Raki Hussein! That douche is always taking the side of the homeless.

STUDENT #3: And I heard he’s got a bat! A metal bat!

PANEL 2:STUDENT #4: But we’ve got a metal bat!!

CHONMAGE: Our metal bat is essential to smite those varlets who haveth metal bats!!

PANEL 3:CHONMAGE: FORSOOTH! WE MUST PREPARE THE “SURPRISE ATTACK”!!

STUDENT #3: If by ‘surprise attack’, you mean ‘premature ejaculation,’ then we are all experts.

PANEL 4:CHONMAGE: THE POODLES CLEARLY COOPERATE WITH ONE ANOTHER!

THE POOCHES DESERVE AN ENERGY DRINK! (I may have messed up this one, I admit)

PANEL 5:STUDENT #4: Mr. Chonmage! That Raki guy says he don’t have no metal bat!

CHONMAGE: Believeth not his words! Demand that he let us search!

PANEL 6:CHONMAGE: And in his house, and his room, verily we must demand it!

Even his diary, we must read-eth! We will escalate our demands until finally he refuses us! Then we shalt attack with vigor!


 

PAGE 15

PANEL 1: AFTER ALL, THAT(pre-emptive strike) IS HOW JAPAN STARTED A WAR WITH AMERICA! AND THAT’S WHAT GOT US ATOM-BOMBED!

AND THAT’S WHAT GOT US CONQUERED BY AMERICANS ? AND LED TO THE BRAINWASHING WHICH LED TO OUR PRO-AMERICAN ATTITUDE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!!!!

PANEL 2:THOU SHALT BE PRO-AMERICAN!DO US THE FAVOR OF MAKING US ONE OF YOUR STATES!

 

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  1. […] Thanks to Michael Gray at Pacific Lutheran for unearthing these.  More excerpts and translations from Kobayashi’s oeuvre are available here. […]

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