Monday, May 07, 2012

We're Not Gonna Take It

The Tokyo Shimbun has some of the most easy-to-parse editorial cartoons in the mediasphere of this blessed land.

However, May 5th's cartoon deserves a special exercise in exegesis.

The manga is the recreation of the teary retirement scenes from girls groups covered by the wide shows and sometimes even make the serious newscasts. The most prominent of these recent retirements was the "graduation" of Maeda Atsuko from the mega-group AKB48.

Here the girl's group name GNP54 -- the GNP standing for GeNPatsu, the contraction for genshiryokuhatsuden = nuclear power station (the cartoonist, after a suggestion from perhaps an exasperated editor, has an aside that GNP here does not mean "Gross National Product" as it normally would) and the 54 the number of nuclear power plants in this blessed land.

The ceremony here is the retirement of the GNP54's final member, Tomari Harako (there is a pun involving her personal name but I will try to keep this simple). Tomari notes the irony of her family name, which is a homophone of "where it stops." With a smile, however, she declares, "But I can be back!" -- which is met by rustling, scattered boos and expressions of surprise. Through her tears she shouts, "But, but with all your support, I can, all the other members can..." -- which rather than being greeted with cheering is met with silence. "Oh, so that's it..." she concludes, allowing the microphone to drop from her hand, the spotlight leaving her face and contracting into a fadeout.

What sets this editorial cartoon apart from any other we may have recently seen?

The Tokyo Shimbun put it dead center on its front page.

We're not gonna take it...
We're not gonna take it...*

Image courtesies: Tokyo Shimbun


Jan Moren said...

I don't know about Tokyo Shimbun; what is its status? Big local paper or smaller; populist or intellectual; leftist/progressive, liberal or conservative?

MTC said...

Herr Morén -

Tokyo Shimbun is the Tokyo Metropolitan District's home newspaper, with a claimed circulation of 545,000. It is a part of Nagoya's Chunichi Shinbun Group; a lot of content is shared between the two publications. As one of the prefectural newspapers it is a part owner of Kyodo News, meaning it gets all the Kyodo content in full.

The orientation is unapologetic center-left, without the intellectual confusion exhibited by The Asahi Shimbun in that paper's search for "balance." As a paper with an almost entirely urban readership, it appeals to the shared values of the white and blue collar urban workforces.

Avery said...

I didn't realize it was usual practice for Japanese papers to put, uh, editorials on the front page... although I do see the occasional editorial passing as a news article (less frequently than in the American papers).

MTC said...

Avery -

Op-eds on the front page? Very often. Editorials on the front page? Infrequent but not unknown. Editorial cartoons on the front page? Not very darn often.

TheStrawMan said...

Not to nitpick, but I thought the panels should be read left to right, top to bottom, except the center left panel (hence the red arrow) so that she says, "hoka no member mo..(go back up to the center right panel) kaettekorreru kamoshirenai desu"

Then gets booed, then says "sou desu ka..."

MTC said...

TheStrawMan -

Thank you for the nitpick.

The change would affect the narrative flow but not the semantics. So I will exercise the prerogative of just letting things be.