Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 47992
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2021/10/24 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
10/24   

2007/9/10-13 [Reference/History/WW2/Japan] UID:47992 Activity:nil
9/10    Pretty funny review of book by 'former kamikaze pilot'
        http://exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=10133
        \_      "They were so obsessed with making the perfect death-scene
                that they even expected us Americans to be "impressed" with
                their mass suicide. That's exactly what Nagatsuka says
                about the thousands of Japanese civvies who walked into the
                ocean or jumped off cliffs after Saipan fell: "The
                Americans...should have been moved by the terrifying yet
                dignified spectacle of death...." Well, uh, no, Mister
                Nagatsuka. The Americans thought you were sick freaks. Some
                things don't translate as well as Top Ramen."
        \_ How can he be a former kamikaze?  He never got past training or
           he survived and got fished out of the water by the Americans he
           was trying to kill?
           \_ This is dealt with in the review.
              \_ What?  You want me to actually read a link?  Read?  I don't
                 have time for that, I'm too busy watching youtube videos.
2021/10/24 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
10/24   

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Cache (8192 bytes)
exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=10133
Browse Column War is like it says in the Book of John: "In that house there are many mansions." And the best war mansions are the ones nobody ever visits - like old war paperbacks you find for 50 cents at storefront bookstores, the kind that smell like mould and make the rent on old porn mags. That's where I found my current favourite book, I Was A Kamikaze, by Ryuji Nagatsuka. I bought the book for two reasons: the title and the cover art. The cover art was like a letter from home for me, the kind of art they just don't do any more: a Zero zooming down toward a US aircraft carrier. It's the details that make battle paintings so wonderful to look at, and this one had all the classics: the ragged AA holes in the Zero's tail flaps, the bigger gashes in the wing fabric, and the brown oil smoke trailing from the fuselage. If you're any kind of a man at all, you were once the kind of boy who used to trace those bullet holes with your fingertips while making little kaSHOO! I know I used to spend hours lying in bed eating Oreos and looking at covers like this, trying to figure out whether this particular Kamikaze was going to hit his target or end up as a big waterspout, going down cursing like a Japanese Yosemite Sam just yards short of the US flight deck. "I Was a Kamikaze Squadron Mascot" by Kutize Puppy And then there was the title. That is what they call in the communications business "A Grabber." Not to mention a riddle: whaddaya mean, I "WAS" a kamikaze? You don't see too many suicide bombers with their grandkids on their knee telling war stories. Turns out Nagatsuka, the author, was a cadet pilot in the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force who survived the war because his unit's big mission was scrubbed on account of bad weather, and by the time they found enough fuel to try again, the war had ended. You'd think the pilots would have had a hard time pretending they were sincerely disappointed not to blow themselves up: "Gosh darn that pesky rain! Nagtsuka is a diehard believer in the Imperial way of seeing things, and the way he tells it, he and his comrades really were sorry they didn't get to die. Decline and fall: From kamikaze moms to neon tourists That's the real fun of reading a book like this: soaking up the feel of a totally weird world. We totally gelded the Germans and the Japanese, turned them into shuffling tourists. That's why people are always doing "Boys from Brazil" books and movies about the revival of Nazism: because the fact is there's nothing as dead as the Nazis and Imperial Japan. Jurassic Park will happen before those dinosaurs come back. Everybody should read books like this just to see how dirt-dull and namby-pamby our world is compared to the zoo of a world we had in the first half of the good ol' 20th century. What we have now is a Nerf multi-culture, where people chow down on Japanese or Ethiopian or whatever food but make damn sure that the Japanese and Ethiopians and everyone else are turning into Ohioans as fast as we can squeeze them. Ethiopian food not bombs: Africa's greatest warrior culture as yuppie party food Just take the word "sushi." My translation of I Was A Kamikaze came out in 1985, and even that recently the translators had to put "sushi" in italics, like it's some exotic dish no English reader would have ever heard of. And I mean that literally: you can't even read this book in the original Japanese, because the geldings in Tokyo think it might inspire "militarism." The only way you can read it is the way I did, in translation. Man, the old-time samurai would be bummed if they could see Japan now. Instead of an empire you've got restaurant fads and car dealers: Yuppies in Anaheim and London and Moscow spending their paychecks on sashimi plates, but not a single samurai in Japan, and the only kamikazes are ignorant Muslims in bed sheets who couldn't pilot anything more advanced than a Plymouth (19 exceptions made). That's world history from 1945-2007: from cultured, polite kamikazes in Mitsubishi Zeroes, to madrassa flunk-outs in Mitsubishi Imprezas. One of things this book reminds you about is how civilized, almost femme, these guys were (when they weren't machine gunning people). Cadet Nagatsuka joined the air force as a French Literature major at Tokyo U, and he's always quoting some French song or poem. When he gets into the cockpit for what he thinks is his final mission, he has two things with him: a picture of his family and a novel by George Sand. I Googled him, Sand I mean, and found out that he was a her - "George Sand" is a fake name for this French dyke who liked to wear suits and smoke cigars when she wasn't writing books about feelings. Well, I remember Chapman had a copy of Catcher in the Rye in his pocket when he shot John Lennon. Try imagining the current crop of suicide bombers going to Allah with anything better than the Koran in their shrouds, if those things even had pockets. That world they call "Fascism" and don't want you to know about - it's all gone. They say violence doesn't settle anything, but that's one of the dumbest remarks ever made. War settles things so well you can't even see the remains - and that's exactly why people think it doesn't settle anything, because the wipe-out is too complete. Nothing but little wisps of the beaten worlds floating around. Like last week, when I was waiting out my lunch hour in the shade of an overpass and this old Southeast Asian guy marches down the off-ramp on that dry grass waving an imaginary baton like he was on the parade ground. Did he learn that at some mountaintop Green Beret firebase in the Highlands, or even fighting the Viet Minh with the French? More likely he's just an old fart who forgot to take his meds that morning. Civvies don't notice stuff like that, don't care about all these gone worlds. The kamikaze's world was insane, and I don't just mean from a 2007 perspective, I mean even to guys like Nagatsuka it was crazy, total contradictions everywhere. They cared about manners more than anything else, a little like the Confederate elite that way, or at least the hotheads like JEB Stuart (as opposed to the redneck hardcores like Forrest). But at the same time they let superior officers punch them in the face for every barracks demerit. They went to Imperial versions of USO shows where actresses told their last living sons to die for the Emperor and get reincarnated, then they went back to their bunks and whispered to each other, like one of Nagatsuka's friends does, "You and I are atheists." Going to a suicide mission with a French romance novel in your pocket was nothing to guys used to bopping from fancy pants student talk to bushido gore 20 times a day. Reading Nagatsuka's story you start to understand why he drooled at the thought that he could settle all this contradictory crap by diving his plane into a US carrier. But another thing you learn from this book is that kamikaze missions weren't as technically easy as you'd think. hitting the target was the tough bit: "Half our planes were caught by ack-ack, and dived into the sea without hitting their objective." The kamikaze pilots didn't come along till so late in the war that everything was in short supply. The planes they had were junkers, the fuel was usually "A-Go" ersatz that would blow up if you didn't keep your eyes on the dials every second, and recon was a joke. Just finding the target was iffy, as Nagatsuka and his squadron found out. And the lucky suicide boy who got to his target still had a lot to worry about, like hitting a ship, a moving target that was guarded by technologically superior US fighters, hidden by battlesmoke and in the middle of a hedge of AA fire. " Kamikazes had two options: high-angle dive (which meant facing the fighters) or wave-hopping (which meant AA and waterspouts). Like most last-ditch suicide techniques, the kamikazes had their biggest successes while the element of surprise was with them. There's a nice little table at the back of the book showing the steady dive in effectiveness, from an October 1944 attack where 18 kamikazes damaged 7 carriers to the August 1945 attacks that had pitiful results: 59 kamikazes died (me...