Off Stage, She's Pretty, On Stage? She's A Nazi

The swastikas in Call of Duty: Black Ops are getting replaced with iron crosses in the upcoming Japanese dub.

Western cosmetic brand Ponds is using members of the all-female Takarazuka Revue theatre troupe in its latest campaign. This is what Takarazuka's Rurika Miya looks like off stage. What's she look like on stage - as a Nazi?

The Takarazuka Revue performs a wide variety of shows that range from The Great Gatsby to a theatrical version of lawyer game Phoenix Wright. (A sequel followed in 2009.)

Since the Takarazuka Revue is an all-female group, male parts are also played by cross-dressing women. The female performers tend to have a very distinctive tall and thin look. The Revue shows and actors inspired the work of a young Osamu Tezuka, who would explore gender ambiguity in works like Princess Knight.

The most recent campaign that Western cosmetics brand Ponds is running features Takarazuka talent on stage, with the tagline "Behind the performance, there's Ponds". Images of the actresses "on stage" are contrasted with them images of them "off stage".

Miya's on-stage photo is of her as Gestapo colonel in Takarazuka's musical The Prisoners of Lilac Walls. Likewise, fellow Takarazuka members appear in their own posters with comparisons between their stage roles and off-stage appearances. It's just that those other actresses aren't shown in Nazi get-up.

Granted, this is a role Miya played, but the posters, which are displayed in train stations and on billboards, make for an arresting and unsettling comparison. The Nazi totenkopf is clearly visible, and it is highly unlikely that Ponds would select this image if the campaign was running in America or Europe (One would think that Ponds, a Western brand, would know better!). It is hardly her most famous role and other parts she's played have far more innocuous costumes. Then why this Nazi image?

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Square Enix is removing the Nazi swastikas from the dubbed version of Call of Duty: Black Ops. Square Enix has yet to provide Kotaku with a comment as to why it is removing the swastikas; however, the reason seems to be related to possible confusion between the Nazi swastika and Buddhism's counterclockwise swastika, or manji as it's called in Japanese, could cause in a Japanese language version.

During World War II, Japan fought with Germany against the Allies. That, coupled with a microscopic Jewish population, means there seems to be less awareness of the atrocities the Nazis committed. Most people just aren't attuned - hence young idols referring to Adolf Hitler as "Uncle Adolf". That isn't to say that normal Japanese people think the Nazis were swell (they don't), but something like a Gestapo uniform doesn't exactly cause a knee-jerk reaction like it would in the West. But here, it's just some uniform that Takarazuka is wearing while shilling make-up - not an outfit that symbolises the murder of millions.


Comments

    "coupled with a microscopic Jewish population, means there seems to be less awareness of the atrocities the Nazis committed"

    Know what happened in WWII? Many people died. A very small number of these were jews. More Japanese people died than jews. Granted, if you take the jews' statistic at face value, there were 50% more jewish deaths than Japanese but don't discount the Japanese casualties! WW2 is not about jews! Why did the Soviets not get a mention? They're less-represented in Japan than jews.

    Might want to remove that backwards-racist, religious bias there: not everyone learnt from USA history books.

      You make the first statement and then make the second, admitting that the first is incorrect.

      This is the kind of comment that will have guests being barred from making comments, as they are on so many other sites.

      The Jewish Holocaust was a horrific crime against all of humanity, the impacts of which are still felt today. You set-up straw men and compound the factual error by conflating genocide with conventional war.

      If you were a registered user, you would be barred. Shame on you!

      Syntax Error

        BTW - Thank you Brian for your article.

        Guest, I believe the point of the article was actually around contrasting differing cultural attitudes. Evidently, beyond your understanding.

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