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THE SILENT SERVICE

Japan, 1995 (MIFF 1996, Contemporary World Cinema )

Director: Ryosuke Takahaski

Further proof thar Japanese animation has more faces than the wild, over-the-top stylings of the manga we've seen of late in Australia. An extraordinary film adapted from a comic that sold over 28 million copies! A well researched serious manga. The Silent Service reflects many of the undercurrents of current Japanese political thought.

A collision between Japanese and Russian submarines causes, the supposed loss of the entire Japanese crew. The incident is puzzling to naval authorities who considered the vessels commander a genius in the field of submarine navigation. A subsequent investigation pops the lid on a coved conspiracy by fanatics to build a threatening new superweapon.

Captain Shiro Kaiedas mutiny and hijack of the world's most technologically advanced submarine is the frame on which is hung a story that articulates matters of Japanese militarism but does not outright condemn them Is it iust superb entertainment or something more sinister?

Ironically, despite the wild plot, some of the biggest fans of the serialised version of The Silent Service were members of the Self Defense Forces ( Japanese Army!). This was considered understandable by many pundits as military personnel have suffered from low public status for decades and the positive, assertive image the film projects of the navy was undoubtedly an ego-booster. More curious, and ominous. is the extreme political factions who consider original author Kaiji Kawaguchi the new Yukio Mishima did The Silent Service a bible for young rightists.

'This is dangerous manga.' claimed right wing critic Suzuki Yoshio. "It is coup d'etat In the manga world and a manga that invites a coup d'etat"

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