Oy Vey Anime! A Follow-Up

In my last article, I used my Judaism as a springboard for discussing the controversial Tweets of anime director Kazuyoshi Yaginuma. I mentioned that while I'm disappointed in his remarks about The Holocaust and Israel, his outlook on both stems from a mindset built on Japanese militarism and a lack of exposure to Jews in large numbers. I still think he's an awful person, and he's shown no remorse when confronted, but that part of the equation needs to be factored in as well. For now, I can only hope that Yaginuma's reprimanded, which seems to be the case judging by Signal MD's recent post. To quote the site's English translation directly:
"Statement by SIGNAL MD concerning Tweets under the name of whom the director of 'Recovery of an MMO Junkie'

It has come to our attention that a series of Tweets under the handle, @yaginuma_san, apparently made by Mr. Kazuyoshi Yaginuma have included anti-Semitic comments. SIGNAL MD wishes to make it clear that it is strongly opposed to and deprecates anti-Semitism and all forms of racism or discrimination.

Mr. Yaginuma was director of the anime 'Recovery of an MMO Junkie' produced by SIGNAL MD, has never been our company member and is no longer employed by us.

Assuming the comments which appear under the Twitter handle @yaginuma_san, were indeed made by Mr. Yaginuma, they are not linked to his role as director of 'Recovery of an MMO Junkie' and are not supported by SIGNAL MD.

We will continue to create works that are moving and enjoyable, with the philosophy of giving excitement to many viewers and working to create works that satisfy our clients.

Thank you for your support and understanding.


This is both reassuring and not so reassuring. On one hand, it's awesome that Signal MD isn't standing for Yaginuma's Antisemitism. Accountability's tough to come by these days, so every shred of it is refreshing. Especially when it involves quashing hateful rhetoric that reflects badly on a company's image. As a Jew myself, it also provides some semblance of closure.

This statement shows that there are limits as to what's accepted by employees. Granted, sometimes that can work against the employees, as evidenced by Nintendo's firing of Alison Rapp a few years back, even if what they do is legal and within their jurisdiction. Still, reprimanding an employee for reflecting poorly on a company, as is the case with Yaginuma, makes me hopeful. It also makes me wish more Western institutions would take notes (I'm looking at you, Twitter!)

Still, for all the good this gives us, I can't help but be a Negative Nancy and take fault with facets of its phrasing and intent. If you'll indulge me, I'd like to point out the parts that are concerning.

Let's look at the opening statement. The words "it has come to our attention" and "apparently" stick out like a sore thumb. Why did it only come to Signal MD's attention now? Was Yaginuma not extensively-screened before being selected as an anime director? Keep in mind that Yaginuma's Tweets date back to 2012, perhaps even earlier. Recovery of an MMO Junkie debuted last year. Considering Yaginuma's Antisemitism began in Japanese, wouldn't it make sense for a Japanese company to check for red flags?

Also, why wait until now to post this? Why wait until people complained? I get that Signal MD's probably busy with plenty of other concerns, but this isn't a scheduling screw-up or delay. Yaginuma, like it or not, is their ambassador of anime to the outside world at the moment. His Tweets reflect badly, and isn't honour something Japan prides itself on?

And what's this "apparently"? Yaginuma's Tweets were objective and concrete. He openly challenged the authenticity of the gas chambers! He openly called out world Jewry for conspiring to control the world's institutions! He openly virtue-signalled the word "goyim" to alt-right Twitter handles! This isn't "apparently", this is "actually"!

Signal MD's statement, confusingly, goes on to mention that Yaginuma was never part of their company, yet is no longer employed by them. I can't call myself an expert in Japanese anime, but that sounds contradictory: if Yaginuma wasn't part of Signal MD, then how's he no longer employed by them? Was he fired? Forgive me for playing dumb, since it's possible he was under a time-sensitive contract, but I'm getting a "rinsing our hands of guilt" vibe from this remark.

The next part of the statement, which-again-assumes that Yaginuma wrote these Tweets (even though he), doesn't help. Signal MD says the Tweets don't reflect Yaginuma's work on Recovery of an MMO Junkie. That's true to an extent, but an artist can never be 100% separated from their worldviews. I try to not let Roman Polanski being a statutory rapist influence my enjoyment of The Pianist, which I consider one of the greatest movies about The Holocaust, but at the end of the day he's still a statutory rapist. And JK Rowling, brilliant an author she may be, can't divorce her own recently awful hot-takes about diversity and representation from Harry Potter, so neither can I. The author can influence public perception of their own work sometimes.

So while Yaginuma may not "reflect Recovery of an MMO Junkie", he reflects Signal MD. Like I said earlier, his Tweets aren't new. They go back almost a decade, and not catching that is an error on their part. And while screening doesn't catch everything, it should definitely catch an influx of offensive Tweets. There's no excuse.

I'm also worried because Yaginuma's expressed no regrets for his behaviour, even showing open honesty on Twitter about his Antisemitism. This is most-apparent in his response to Ellation's Twitter handle, where he angrily mentioned that his Tweets to Lynzee Loveridge "weren't for public discussion" before bringing up the Jewish financing nonsense again. If that's not reason for alarm, then I don't know what it is. Especially since it's common for awful people with power to feign innocence and either hide like cowards, or play the pity card, when caught. If you want proof, peruse the responses of predators that were dragged into the open with #MeToo.

I get it: people often make comments or remarks that come back to bite them. I'm no different in that regard. But whereas I'm willing to take responsibility, someone like Yaginuma won't. They'll simply use a diversion tactic and hide behind an illusory smokescreen, hoping it'll shield them from accountability. If Signal MD wants me to take their statement of apology seriously, they need to own up to this behaviour properly. Because, to quote a famous rabbi, "If not now, when?"


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