Review of Zipang (2004)

Moving picture

The modern Japanese AEGIS Destroyer Mirai (“future”) is transported back in time to WW2.

Science fiction in the form of a time slip from the present to the past, like Hanmura Ryō’s Sengoku Jieitai (1971).

The time travel in Zipang is portrayed as a fluke, neither clearly supernatural nor necessarily purposeful, which is weak. In contemporary Russian science fiction, specifically the popadantsy sub-genre at the turn of the millennium, such accidental time travel was infected with narcissism and nostalgia, but that is not precisely true here. Zipang is not the story of modern Japanese bringing glory to the old empire. It does not include any truly spectactular deviations from history and does not involve Kaneda Hidetarou’s once-proposed “500,000-ton battleship”, the IJN Zipang. The consequences of time travel are instead examined quite carefully and seriously.

Historiographically, as a treatment of the memory of WW2, Zipang is a cut above the usual Japanese standard. For an overview, see Pascal Lefèvre, “What if the Japanese could alter WW2?: A case study of Kawaguchi’s manga series”, Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art (SJoCA) vol. 3:1 (fall 2016).

References here: “Don’t mention the war!”.

moving picture Japanese production animation fiction series