Music Game Group Surprised By Nazi Complaints

Music Game Group Surprised By Nazi Complaints

Kishidan, a Japanese pop group, showed up on MTV wearing Nazi-style outfits late last month, drawing international criticism.

Kishidan typically dresses as high school thugs from the 1970s, wearing bosozoku (biker gang) style outfits. Kishidan is tongue-in-cheek look at Japanese gang culture from days gone by. Their music is poppy and fun and is known to Western gamers thanks their appearance in Nintendo DS music games Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and its sequel.The group looks similar to the characters in Ouendan, but the similar appearance might be a coincidence.

The group does wear a variety of goofy outfits because the retro schoolboy dudes. Kishidan’s Nazi-inspired outfits didn’t have swastikas or S.S. emblems, but did feature red arm-bands, skulls and iron crosses (the lead singer, however, always wears a red-arm band). Didn’t anyone foresee a possible brouhaha? Probably not.

Why would they when this imagery does occasionally pop up in unexpected places, like role-playing games, Killzone 3 promotions and even accidentally in kids’ shows, nobody in Japan really bats an eye. Take last fall when Pond’s ran an ad campaign, featuring stars of the all-female theatrical troupe the Takarazuka Revue.

The campaign featured 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”. Actress Rurika Miya’s on-stage photo is of her as Gestapo colonel in Takarazuka’s musical The Prisoners of Lilac Walls. The campaign print campaign featured posters all over the country’s urban centres. Yet, I was the only one who stopped and stared. Nobody else cared.

One’s background shapes their perception of the world around them. From the time I was a kid, it was imparted that the Nazis were pure evil. When studying World War II, special attention was paid to the genocide carried out by the Nazis.

In Japan, of course, the Nazis and the Holocaust are studied, but for obvious reasons much more attention is paid to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the hibakusha, or survivors of the atomic bombings.


It’s also important to remember that Japan fought on the same side as the Nazis during the war, and the country has a minuscule Jewish population. Neither of this excuses anything, but rather, this puts everything into context. Moreover, the Nazi swastika looks similar to the Buddhist manji, a counterclockwise swastika that is used to mark Buddhist temples on maps. The ancient symbol has no relations to National Socialism, and when Japanese people see it, then think Buddhist temples. But Westerns might do a double-take if they see two large manji on cemetery gates. I know I did the first time.

After Jewish rights organisation the Simon Wiesenthal Centre said the Kishidan outfits caused “shock and dismay”, drawing international media attention. SWC Rabbi Abraham Cooper said, “Such garb like the uniform worn by Kishidan is never tolerated in the mainstream of any civilised country outside of Japan. As someone who has visited Japan over 30 times, I am fully aware that many young Japanese are woefully uneducated about the crimes against humanity committed during World War II by Imperial Japan in occupied-Asia, let alone about Nazi Germany’s genocidal ‘Final Solution’ against the Jews in Europe… But global entities like MTV and Sony Music should know better.”


Sony issued an apology, saying, “We deeply regret and apologise for the distress it has caused the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and all concerned.” The group also apologized, adding it would dispose of the uniforms, adding that it would dispose of the uniforms. MTV also deleted all images of the group. Out of sight, out of mind, no?

The reaction online in Japan has been interesting. Many seem annoyed that Japanese people in Japan cannot wear whatever they like without getting criticized by people who live in other countries. Others can’t believe that wearing boots, a red arm and pendants can cause such a ruckus. While some were baffled that Kishidan was allowed on MTV wearing such get-ups. “If I’m going to be honest,” wrote one Japanese netizen, “didn’t anyone foresee this being a problem?” Like I said, probably not.

Culture Smash is a daily dose of things topical, interesting and sometimes even awesome — game related and beyond.


  • Let’s face it, the NAZI’s had style, and i’ve always wanted an SS uniform, however i doubt i could wear it to any costume parties without some douche taking offence.

    • You’re an idiot. Imagine being a jew during WWII. The fear, the torture, and the horrific final moments before death.

      Suddenly Nazi Germany isn’t so funny anymore.

      If you wore an SS uniform to a party, you would be the douche, and anybody taking offense would be normal.

    • A douche taking offense? Do you even know what WWII was all about? How many people died during battle and whilst in captivity? What about the ruin nearly all of Europe was left in that even today still hasn’t fully recovered from? From the grandson of someone who fought in the war, you sir are a douche and if you go around intentionally wearing these clothes to look like a Nazi for ‘fun’ remember this- it wasn’t for ‘fun,’ it was a symbol ( and still is) for fear and hell for the captured and the men fighting for your safety and freedom.

    • I have to agree. The people inside some of those uniforms did many horrible things, but the uniforms still look very sharp.

      I guess the main problem is seeing the uniform makes the associated thoughts of death camps and the like come to mind and possibly even imply support.

  • Sort of reminds me of Charlie Chaplin movies. He used to wear nazi uniforms and mock them! Some people just dont get “black comedy.”

    • There is black comedy, and then there is a confused attempt by a Japanese pop group to be “cool” by wearing Nazi themed uniforms.

      This isn’t black comedy.

  • Some ‘douche’… what, like a Jew or Holocaust survivor?

    I think we all know who the douche would be in this scenario.

  • One thing I always find happening when Japan and WW2 come up is that westerners- particularly Europeans and Americans- is that they always bash Japan for its ignorance of what happened in the European side of the war. Which is absolutely hypocritical- I’d bet real money that the average European or American student wouldn’t learn a damn thing about the Pacific campaign outside of “Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, America nuked Japan, fuck yeah!”. I bet Australia doesn’t even get a mention, let alone the thing that started the Pacific side of WW2 in the first place, the second Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945) in which an estimated 20+ MILLION people died. 20 MILLION PEOPLE. Yet how often does that get brought up? Virtually never, outside of Asia (unless things like Unit 731 get smugly brought up as an excuse to Japan-bash). Hell, I bet most people don’t even learn about Soviet deaths either (also 20 million+), because they’re not “the good guys”.

    Japan is ignorant of WW2, but the rest of the world isn’t innocent of it, either.

    • No country was “good” during WWII, however, there are examples of some countries that were significantly worse in their treatment of human beings than others.

      And yeah, we all know that lots of people die during wars. Is that news to anybody?

      The fact remains that the attempted genocide of Jews by the Nazis is one of the worst atrocities ever committed in human history. Most other war related historical events pale in comarison.

  • Its all political. Depends on where you come from and what your government tells you and what it leaves out. Most military are the bad guys, or are good guys involved in bad things on behalf of their country.

    People always get so offended based on their limited understanding.

    When I worked for Foxtel we had some Christians complaining that Foxtel was running a Foxmas promotion and this was sacrelige to Christmas. Little did they know that most Christian holidays were stolen from the original Pagan celebrations.

    Hint: Easter Bunnies and painted eggs have nothing to do with Jesus.

    Why are we not offended by seeing people dress as American soldiers after all the atrocities they have comitted throught the years and are still comitting in the Middle East and all over the world?

  • this is the problem in this country and many other countries to, ppl dont have any education and understanding in what really happened in WW2 and how many ppl were killed all talking about jewish, what ppl dont talk about is the gypsies the ppl were eradicated almost, you cant compare only numbers but must consider also the percentage there was an estimated 80% eradication of gypsies and about 15% jewish but even that ppl think nazis were cool, some nonbrainers who dont know shit

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