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Does 'historical background' of a doll bother you.

Jul 1, 2011

    1. Please let me know or move this thread if it is inappropriate. I just wanted to discuss and know what people are thinking about this issue, but I have to be honest that I'll be biased as I am tilted to one side.
      If there are similar thread I'm very sorry but I couldn't find it with searching DOA ^^;

      Recently I have noticed that a doll based on a real person Date Masamune is going to be released. I also have noticed that there are people who think it as a only doll, so there wouldn't be an issue on it, or it is very 'cool' to have a doll based from him.
      And there are people who think this as a serious problem.

      People who are opposed with this idea of the 'historical based' doll, claims that Date Masamune was a person who had slaughtered many people, which was almost bad as what Nazis did.

      I do agree with people who think it is inappropriate, as it would be outrageous to release a doll based on Adolf Hitler, it is very wrong to make a doll based on Date. I have realised that there are people who think Date is just an awesome and cool character from a drama or an animation, based on some old-day stories, I think it is ignorant of them, only want to know some cool and interesting facts from the actual history, what they care to know.

      If the company is so desperate to release a doll out, they could've just release with a different name.

      Different opinions are welcomed.
    2. TBH, I can't think of a single historical figure with real political power that didn't get "many" people killed, but somehow Date Masamune isn't on the same level as Vlad the Impaler, let alone Adolf Hitler.

      Oda Nobunaga, on the other hand... :mwahaha he's the one known as the "Demon Lord of the Sixth Heaven" to Date's more benevolent "One-eyed Dragon" and is the designated villain on pretty much every Sengoku period material written in Japan (except in the manga Drifters, where he's a cool Anti Villain grandpa type). If you're going to do a controversial Sengoku-era doll, he'd be a far better candidate. He's the one whose tactic for dealing with non-complying temples or fortresses like Enryaku-ji and Nagashima was to siege the grounds and burn everyone inside, including *thousands* of peasants, women and children who were refugees there.

      Anyway, it isn't even the first time Volks has created a super dollfie of a controversial Japanese historical figure -- between the assassination of Serizawa Kamo, the Shinsengumi harsh law code that punished even trivial crimes with seppuku, and the cold-blooded torture of a merchant who was hosting some sonno-joi rebels who wanted to set fire to Kyoto (he hung the man head down and nailed burning candles through his feet), the historical Hijikata Toshizou wasn't a particularly nice person, for example.

      To be honest, with the current Sakamoto Ryoma boom in Japan, I'm kind of surprised that they haven't tried doing a doll of him (and he'd look so good next to Okita and Hijikata :D). He's got the advantage of being considered an all-round likeable guy, even by most of those who like the Bakufu side better.

      tl;dr: Date Masamune wasn't Hitler, he wasn't even Oda, and nobody complained about Hijikata anyway.
    3. I wouldn't say Date Masamune was on Hitler-level. Going by Date Masamune's wikipedia article, it seems like he could be viewed as a pretty damn positive historical figure, especially in comparision to Hitler.

      If the argument was whether it's appropriate to make dolls based on historical figures at all, I would say "why not?" I've seen some Einstein and Edgar Allen Poe action figures before so a doll isn't very different. It has the pontential to be tasteless though, so that is something to be considered.

      If the argument was about making dolls based on negative figures known for cruel acts of murder and genocide, then it would cross a personal line for me. The creation of such a doll could be seen as a celebration of that historical figure, which is why there are no Hitler dolls. (...as far as I know and hope.) Such dolls would definitely be crossing the 'tasteless' line for me personally.
    4. The whole problem some people are having (esp. Korean bjd owners) with this doll is extremely valid and reasonable. For those who are not very aware of the seriousness of the situation, wars and mass murders are not "natural" things, and they always produce victims, massive deaths, disrespect and other unforgettable, permanent scars in countries' histories.

      I am Korean, and I personally dont intend to force non-Korean owners into boycotting this doll. I'm not even concerned about Volks for making this doll, because to the Japanese Date Masamune is a war hero. However, I would like all the bjd fans to know that behind the beautification and false justification of WAR, there is injustice and disrespect towards the victims and a country's history. Americans wouldn't cherish the Japanese attacking and murdering so many people in Pearl Harbor (imagine making a doll of the lead Japanese generals and making them look gorgeous for sale), or the tragedy at Hiroshima, or the long history of England and Ireland is also an example of unforgotten, deeply embedded scars. These arent things that can be just told "that happened decades ago. just get over it already."

      I totally agree with you, Rosemarygarden, that it will be so much better off if Volks releases the doll with a different name and concept, although it seems too late to fix the published problems by now (defaults and etc.). I have to wonder why the hell theyd start this in the first place, just to lose trust among foreign Volks fans. It's such a shame. Im just sad tht this happened, and also because I realized how ignorant people--especially those who share the same hobby--can be. Tragedy happened, and just because it was in the past doesnt mean it isnt tragic anymore. That's just common sense.
      I hope Volks understands the matter, as we understand their intention as well, and make sure that there will be no fights alike.
    5. Tasteless yes, but still viable. Some people will buy these dolls/figures. I personally would not, but that's just it, its a personal taste issue. For both the company willing to produce said doll, and the person willing to purchase it. I've seen Hitler action figures as well as Osama Bin Laden ones. Again, not for me, but obviously there's a market for it.
    6. ps-This Date incident is taken more sensitively and critically because the war he made such success out of with Korea was one of the worst, most say the worst, wars in the history of Korea. I wouldnt start talking about how Date isn't a big deal unless I understand the history-or at least just about the particular war- of both Japan and Korea in this matter.
    7. I agree with you, but I was thinking more of people like Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Richard Lionheart, or Napoleon Bonaparte (whose troops sieged and pretty much razed my home town to the ground *twice*, by the way). There comes a time when you just can't get particularly outraged by wars that happened centuries ago unless they were particularly full of atrocities -- and even then, to get back to my first reply, nobody outside of Romania would even remember Vlad the Impaler if Bram Stoker hand't made a fictionalized vampire based on him famous.
    8. I do agree with you on the market availability comment, but all most of us is trying to do is sending put a message and gain the lost respect. Again, for me personally, I dont quite mind that Volks actually tried to promote their Japanese integrity. However, because it is a large company internationally, they shouldve thought better and make sure they arent hurting anybody as well as their own business.
    9. It is notable that companies have produced dolls of Hitler. I think that exploring our history as a species, and the histories of the different cultures around the world, should not be limited by concerns about not offending people. I don't personally think that these kinds of things should be glorified, but I also think that creative expression is part of exploration.

      And remember - there are two sides in every war. One person's hero is always someone else's villain, and vice-versa.
    10. I think it is ridiculous to judge historical figures using modern values and psychology because those things did not exist at that time. Thus, I have no problem with Date being involved in the Japanese invasions of Korea. He wasn't even the leader of said invasions, so I am curious as to why people aren't brandishing about the name of Toyotomi Hideyoshi over his. Back then, it was a given of life that various armies and political powers would look to enlarge their holdings and attack other people. The Japanese did it to themselves, with various warlords through out Japan constantly attacking each other. The Koreans themselves 300 years before the Sengoku Jidai attempted to invade and take over Japan. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a work of Korean literature and also covers warlords fighting amongst themselves for resources and power. There are plenty of people who find the Vikings fascinating, and while they did have a very complex culture, there is no getting around the fact that they attacked civilian targets all of the time, and they certainly didn't spare the women and children.

      This sort of action is found in pretty much the history of any country. The Greek city states constantly fought amongst themselves. Would someone who takes issue with Date also take issue with the Iliad, which quite explicitly shows how many innocent people are killed during the Trojan War? Do they have problems with Julius Caesar, William the Conquerer, Napoleon? Take your pick of the Tsars of Russia who decided to invade and enslave Poland repeatedly over the course of its history? I'm Polish and actually find Russian history fascinating. I would have no problem with dolls or representations of say, Peter or Catherine the Great. Just about any Japanese historical figure is going to have done things we would find pretty bad today. Volks has already released Hikaru Genji, who while fictional in his story finds a small girl and raises her to be his perfect wife and still marries her at a very young age. This was perfectly acceptable practice during the time in which the character lived.

      Date Masamune lived 400 years ago. This is not something that happened within recent memory like Hitler. There are people still alive who experienced the atrocities committed by the Nazis. I have a very elderly relative who was placed in a concentration camp in WW2. That is something that happened in the modern era, at a time when it was considered unacceptable to do those things. A historical war of invasion for land and resources still is a completely different thing than what the Nazis did, which was to try and systematically eradicate an entire race of people from this planet.
    11. I would have to agree with sukeban when she says that Date Masamune wasn't on the 'same level' as Adolf Hitler. For starters, as far as I am aware, he never operated on a purist philosophy that demanded he must cleanse the world of all those who could be seen different from him. Although the Nazi's seem to have lost some of their 'sting' in recent years (you can now get nazi action figures apparently) I don't think any company is going to be rushing an Adollfie Hitler onto the shelves.

      Secondly is there a difference between a historical figure represented in a BJD and some sort of miniature statue? I have a little figurine of Emmeline Pankhurst on my TV. The suffragettes granted were fighting for a cause that many modern thinking people today would be all for, but by contemporary standards she was considered a vandal, with radical and dangerous ideas (she was imprisoned no less then ten times, each time leading her to hunger strike).

      Basically what I am trying to say is that history is history. I wouldn't buy a Hitler doll, but I would understand if someone did make it, lest we forget what the human race is capable of in it's darkest hours. But I also don't think that is likely to happen, while the occasional controversy is good for a company, most right minded business men and women (thanks Emmeline!) would never release a doll which has entirely negative association. For many the figure of Date is that of a man who strove against unfortunate circumstances (the loss of his eye in childhood due to small pox) and rose to the head of the clan, despite opposition from his own mother. He then when on to establish trading relations with the Christian world, and despite the fact it was later outlawed in Japan, his daughter was thought to continue to worship despite this. To me that sounds like a remarkable man.

      But also Kim is right (above), contextually speaking he was a man of his time. Surely you cannot judge him negatively for the fact that he had to operate within, what for all intense purpose, was a feudal system. Clan leaders often carried the blood of many men on their hands, but that is simply the way it was. You cannot judge him by today's standards. Hitler does not have the luxury of the distance of time and culture.

      Quite frankly it's absurd to even compare the two, all that accomplishes is make people dismiss historical figures outright. It would perhaps be better to compare him to Sir Francis Drake, considered by many across the world to be a pirate and a scoundrel, but to all English men and women of his day, and many still today, one of the greatest Captains in Queen Elizabeth's army. But he was just a man of his day. Interesting sure, but irrelevant when talking about the Second World War.
    12. ...Ouf. @_@ But you do raise a good point about creative expression not automatically being glorification. It is something I would probably kneejerk about, but my discomfort doesn't make it ethically wrong. It is hard to draw the line between glorification and creative expression, but I suppose intent should be considered in this case?

      RE: Date Masamune, I didn't realize how big a deal that war. I apologize for brushing that off with a five minute internet search.
    13. I hadn't though of that, but it's an excellent point. Who was it who said 'we cannot make our futures better, until we face the worst of our pasts'?

      Also isn't it good that such a doll is sparking debate about what is right and wrong 400 years later. For those intelligent thoughts alone, isn't it worth creating.
    14. And while most people automatically assume Vlad was an evil guy thanks to said impaling, in Romania as far as I know he is a very much lauded hero for standing up to the invading Turks.

      Only these events didn't happen decades ago. They happened 400 years ago, when the world was very, very different.

      I don't see why them making Date is shocking. In Japan, he is a hero and is experiencing a HUGE upswing in popularity thanks to fictional potrayals of him. Date created the city of Sendai, which was at the center of the March earthquake and tsunami. He's a rallying point for the people in those areas. They were going to have a Sendai Dolpa before the quake made that difficult to do for the time being. It makes total sense why they would have made a Date doll for Sendai, and now that Sendai has been called off, still release him because he is extremely popular in Japan.
    15. But also in regards to "These arent things that can be just told "that happened decades ago. just get over it already." I don't think that's precisely the issue at all. It's not about getting over it or not, it's history. History is history, but it is also biased depending where you are writing it from. Only shouldn't we be able to evaluate it from the clear sighted stand point of hindsight? You can't ignore, or forget about it. It happened, and you have to accept that, perhaps it is more valuable if we treasure even the negative and dark parts of our pasts, that way, maybe we wont repeat the same mistakes?
    16. I can honestly say that this is the first time I've ever seen Godwin's Law invoked in an opening post...

      I had to look up who Date Masamune even was before I could understand why this was such a big deal. Blame it on the Euro-centric US school system, I suppose. Now that I have - ouch. I can definitely see how that would upset people. At the same time, it doesn't bother me that they are making it.

      Art isn't always comfortable or safe. In fact, the best art (IMO) is designed to challenge the viewer's perspectives and beliefs. Even the Hitler doll Kiyokatari pointed out has merit. Yes, he was a horrible person by our standards. That doesn't mean that I can't appreciate the skill that went into creating the likeness.

      A more personal example, for me, is an excellent portrait I stumbled across on deviantART a while back (which has since been taken down). A self-professed anarchist from France had drawn a picture of Timothy McVeigh, with the remains of the Murrah Building as a backdrop. It was wonderfully done, had a detailed and appropriately themed background, and was almost a perfect likeness; but as an Oklahoman, it made me incredibly upset. I told the artist all of this, and it led to an excellent conversation.

      My point is, not wanting to see or not enjoying a piece of art, which this doll certainly is, doesn't mean that the piece is without merit. In fact, analyzing why the piece upset you in the first place often helps you grow as a person.

      This. I agree completely, ayreweth.
    17. There ARE always two sides to wars. That is exactly what ive been going on about. And like Japan is loving Date, it is certainlys natural for Koreans to be disgusted by him. Howth can they not be? Someone spoke of Toyotomi up there, and excuse the unspoken words but I think Koreans themselves are especially well aware of him. He isnt mentioned here because it wasnt him that was being released, and I really hope he never will be released for people to buy and dote on.
      Ive seen animes, read books, and heard things from experts. Ive seen many different side. Some of them ridiculously false, some ridiculously true, some shameful, some indifferent. Its not a todays news feed that certain countries glorify their heroes who are just the opposite of another, and there is nothing wrong with some people being offended by the commercialized form of Date, which will be definitely loved and treasured by the actual sculpts' owners. Point is, there are things wrong about Volks' decisoon in releasing such a controversial figure as a doll, and there are people disappointed by it. Im not really sure why the others are massively ridiculed by people being offended, because these people have the right to be offended and were not trying to burn the company down or dis Japan. Japan and Korea are in good terms nowadays, and korean owners LOVE Volks, we have been even before they opened up their first overseas Sumika in Korea. but on personal, patriotic levels, we wanted to show that its not that NBD kinda thing.
      More trust and loyalty we had for Volks, harsher the damage.
    18. That actually makes a lot of sense. Hijikata and Okita were released at a HT Dolpa Kyoto, wich was quite fitting, too.

      I also forgot about Volks doing Amakusa Shiro Tokisada, who led the Shimabara rebellion and is considered by Catholics a martyr... and by non-Catholic Japanese a bit of a villain/ cult leader.
    19. I can understand that, but I don't think you are being ridiculed in anyway for your patriotism or even your sensibilities. But for the same reason you can't look down or dismiss on others who 'glorify Date' as they are coming from a different cultural background. You mentioned the conflict between England and Ireland earlier, which is interesting because unlike Japan and Korea (who you said have mostly resolved their conflict) I have friends who wont be able to get jobs because they are Catholics, and will get beaten up in certain areas of Belfast just because they have Irish names, or who have been held at gun point because they are Catholic when they were just kids. Now no one is releasing a Gerry Adams doll, but there is something called the Orange men, who march into Catholic areas to celebrate their heritage. You might not agree with it, but you can't stop them doing it. The only time it becomes a point of contention is when those same rights of free speech are impeded on the other side, and Catholics are denied St. Patrick's Day parade (for example).

      But also this is a war that is 400 years old, and without meaning to be glibe, they do say absence makes the heart grow fonder. You simply cannot compare recent conflicts to older ones, because recent conflicts still havn't been resolved, people still feel the shock of it. While I do not mean to diminish the upset of having a doll of what is essentially (for Koreans) a war criminal, at least it isn't of someone like Myra Hinley. And even if it was, it wouldn't diminish it's value as a piece of collectible art, if anything it increases it.

      It is easy to dismiss 'collecting and playing with dolls' as a childish hobby, but shouldn't we be praising Volks for raising the standard of thought behind their dolls, unless of course they are just hopping on a popularity freight train to earn some extra dosh. If that is the case, doesn't that just dismiss any sort of cultural value that the doll has and relegate it from 'offensive' to 'tasteless-kich'?
      What I am trying to illustrate is that I (and I'm sure others) fully grasp it isn't a 'NBD kinda thing', but there are some things that are culturally ingrained, and aren't going to change, and you have to accept that when dealing with different cultures, you don't have to agree, but you do have to accept.

      Personally I commend Volks for taking a serious subject and raising debate. But also for creating, what will no doubt be a beautiful doll, with a dark past. As a collector, I probably wont buy it (for money reasons) but I commend those who want to own a part of Japanese history and culture, even if it does raise uncomfortable issues, especially if it raises uncomfortable issue.

      But also let us not forget what a man is and what a man becomes after his death are two very different things, for example, Abraham Lincoln was a racist. He didn't think black people should vote, but it would be absurd for him to think otherwise as this was a time when being non-white in america was equal to being considered an animal. But it doesn't stop him becoming the figurehead of the white agreement to emancipation, because despite that (political reasons to do with recruitment for the north in the civil war aside) he did think that black people shouldn't be slaves. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time. When we turn real, quite frankly ordinary, men and women of their times into monsters and heroes then it is easy for them to create controversy. Historical figures are merely that, ordinary people who happen to reflect the period of time they lived in.
    20. The thing is, I don't actually think there is anything wrong with Volks making Date. Do you also have issues with figures of Date or other representations of him? There are tons of figures of him available. There are other Date Masamune dolls even, Jun Planning is releasing one this July in their Pullip series. Volks is not the only one who see him as a hero and are portraying him in a positive light. They're a Japanese company who has a Japanese bias who are clearly making him for their Japanese audience where he is popular and loved. I highly doubt Volks sees him as a controversial figure at all. I was definitely surprised that people seem to feel he is some of villainous devil. I've always found him to be a rather interesting man, what with his interests in sending emissaries to the West in a time where that was something extremely unusual.