Digimon Tamers series head writer Chiaki J. Konaka has explained how the DigiFes 2021 “political correctness” live script was inspired by mainstream media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic; and apologized for dividing fans.
As previously reported, A live script at DigiFes 2021 featured a sequel for Digimon Tamers- with the cast facing off against “Political Correctness.” While characters initially mistook another for talking about actual political correctness (and it being a world-ending issue), an actual entity called Political Correctness had manifested; with an attack dubbed Cancel Culture.
Fan-subbing group The Wild Bunch included a content warning with their subtitles; warning viewers “This program promotes far-right politics and conspiracy theories.”
Some fans were outraged at the story. While some pointed out writing a story about fears of being silenced being spread to a sizeable fan-base as hypocritical; none seemed to discuss how they themselves were refusing to acknowledge another perspective.
Now, Konaka has addressed the live script on his blog. He explains he had not addressed the matter until after the pay-per-view of the event was distributed in Japan. He also disclaims that the content in the script was entirely his own, and not of Toei Animation or Digifest Organizing Committee.
“Also, since the distribution of this show was for the Japanese domestic market and is not a show that can be legitimately viewed by people outside of Japan,” Konaka explains, “I am not inherently responsible for expressing my opinions to the international community.”
Even so, Konaka acknowledges that the Digimon Tamers 2018 CD drama was heard with subtitles in several languages; and would eventually be known to fans worldwide.
While surprised the series 20th anniversary was celebrated in “such a big way,” he explains when he made the 2018 CD drama he was “convinced” he could make an official sequel. While he presented “Digimon Tamers 2020”, it was cancelled. This meant the villain of the 2018 drama, Malice Bot, could not be fully explained in depth.
As such, the DigiFes 2021 script had to be the sequel to the 2018 CD drama; limited by the medium of a live script reading. “If the new enemy is another strong Digimon or some other being,” Konaka explained, “the explanation will be complicated and the prelude to the drama we want to portray will be long. That’s why I abstracted the ‘virtual enemy’ this time.”
Konaka explains how the original 2001 series also used realistic elements such as the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. He continues, explaining that while “some of the words I used was controversial. However, I did not intend to condemn any particular person or group in this drama.”
He then explains what seems to be the inspiration for the piece. Konaka explains his frustration of the exclusion of alternative journalists from major news platforms in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the counter perspective was “hidden.” When it began, he had stopped opening twitter for about a year, and stopped watching CNN and other US news channels.
“I was frustrated by the exclusion of alternative journalists from the major platforms, and by the fact that the counter perspective was hidden.”
Konaka was also annoyed how Japanese mainstream media would refer to a positive PCR test as “confirmed infecteds” rather than a “case.” “I think that my feelings were reflected in Yamaki’s strong words,” Konaka explains; the character who was ranting about “the worst possible disaster that has struck the Internet and media.”
However, Konaka notes that the situation with the pandemic has changed since he wrote the script in early Spring 2021. “This is not so much about Japan as it is about the new difficulties that countries around the world are facing. So, it was no longer timely to send out messages to the rest of the world.”
The reception to the script was also discussed. Konaka stated that while some accused him of having “a particular label. I’ve never expressed any particular political beliefs. There was no anime that brought more diversity to that era than ‘Digimon Tamers’. So I was sad, but don’t worry.” For those fearing Konaka will return for more Digimon works, he reiterates his planned 2020 series was cancelled.
While Konaka was encouraged to not apologize, he apologizes for dividing fans.
“I will leave the Digimon Tamers 2021 blog to be read in the future by those who liked the original Tamers, and I will delete any comments that accuse me of being a bad person. A lot of people have defended me and told me not to apologize, but it’s very hard to see such a divide among the fans.
Let me just apologize for the fact that I caused it to happen.
I don’t want any more debate on this issue.”
Japanese manga and light novel authors have expressed their concerns about Japan’s freedom of expression being eroded by foreign influence. Record of Lodoss War author and creator Ryo Mizuno has expressed concerns that his works may be banned, after the “dark elf” episode of Community was removed from Netflix due to blackface.
Manga author Ken Akamatu (Love Hina) was invited to speak to the Japanese government; expressing his concerns of manga being “regulated by overseas standards,” while praising Japan’s “freedom of expression.” He expressed this concern once again during an online conference, adding his fears of political correctness.
Kadokawa President Takeshi Natsuno also recently appeared in an interview; discussing Japanese gravure idols. Therein he stated that manga had content that was more “extreme” than what is seen with gravure idols, and “This and other factors prevent Japanese manga from being reviewed by Google and Apple. […] I feel that we need to recreate standards that are appropriate for this Internet age, including such things.”
Later, Kadokawa themselves apologized for their President’s comments; stating they did not reflect company policy. Natsuno also offered 20% of his monthly salary as an apology.
Additional Images: Twitter