Last night, by way of explaining to my daughter more fully why Roger Sterling was so abominably rude to the guys from Honda in last week’s “Mad Men” I popped in the first episode of “The Pacific.” (As I’ve mentioned, since I’m currently reading the books that series was based on — I’m on Eugene Sledge’s With the Old Breed now — that theater is much on my mind.)
For most of us, buying Hondas and Toyotas, and even, most improbably, Mitsubishis (as in, the Zero) comes fairly naturally. There is probably less conflict in the national psyche over those than over, say, Volkswagen. But for those who fought in the less-understood Pacific war, the stress of fighting a suicidally aggressive enemy with seemingly superhuman commitment to his cause, would be something that would mark you forever.
But if we had a rematch with the Japanese, it might go differently.
Did you see the NYT story on the front page of The State today, about how Army training has been “walked back” a bit to make it less stressful on recruits who grew up playing video games instead of baseball? An excerpt:
FORT JACKSON, S.C. — Dawn breaks at this, the Army’s largest training post, with the reliable sound of fresh recruits marching to their morning exercise. But these days, something looks different.
This is the Army’s new physical-training program, which has been rolled out this year at its five basic training posts that handle 145,000 recruits a year. Nearly a decade in the making, its official goal is to reduce injuries and better prepare soldiers for the rigors of combat in rough terrain like Afghanistan.
But as much as anything, the program was created to help address one of the most pressing issues facing the military today: overweight and unfit recruits…
Now, I’m not about to call today’s war fighters wimps. Especially not the tip-of-the-spear types like the Marines, or the Airborne divisions, or the Rangers or other elites. They are, if anything, tougher than ever, and certainly more lethal.
But that story gives us a hint of what it would be like if the Army ceased being so selective because it was handling a mass mobilization such as that of 1941-45. Imagine soldiers who had never done a pushup in basic trying to make their way through a fetid jungle in 100-degree-plus temps.
But fear not, because in today’s WSJ, we have evidence that they would not be met with shrieking madmen eager to die for their emperor. Get a load of this:
Since the marriage rate among Japan’s shrinking population is falling and with many of the country’s remaining lovebirds heading for Hawaii or Australia’s Gold Coast, Atami had to do something. It is trying to attract single men—and their handheld devices.
In the first month of the city’s promotional campaign launched July 10, more than 1,500 male fans of the Japanese dating-simulation game LovePlus+ have flocked to Atami for a romantic date with their videogame character girlfriends.
The men are real. The girls are cartoon characters on a screen…
Love Plus+ re-creates the experience of an adolescent romance. The goal isn’t just to get the girl but to maintain a relationship with her.
After choosing one of three female characters—goodie-goodie Manaka, sassy Rinko or big-sister type Nene—to be a steady girlfriend, the player taps a stylus on the DS touch-screen in order to walk hand-in-hand to school, exchange flirtatious text messages and even meet in the school courtyard for a little afternoon kiss. Using the device’s built-in microphone, the player can carry on sweet, albeit mundane, conversations.
Wow. Get those guys charged up on saki, and they’re not going to be screaming “banzai,” but drooling over decidedly unwomanly avatars, hoping for a pretend peck on the cheek.
So maybe a nation of fatties could take them. But probably only in a virtual war, fought on a virtual playing field. At least our video games are tougher than theirs, if this is an example.
Maybe Harry Turtledove will take on this topic.