Cloudman as an attack on Japanese nationalism and xenophobia
First, let me briefly introduce myself. I'm pretty much a regular young adult with an appetite for high-quality storytelling. This is the main reason Killer7 was such a joy to play for me. The themes and storytelling techniques so fascinated me that I combed the internet for thought-provoking discussions and ideas about the game. This is how I found my way here. I've enjoyed reading several of the discussions on this board, but didn't feel I had much to contribute. Recently, however, I have developed the following theory about the "Cloudman" chapter, and I decided to share it here.
I believe "Cloudman" can be interpreted as a negative comment (shortened to "attack" in the topic title) on Japanese nationalism and xenophobia. Much of my evidence will come from this cutscene from near the end of "Cloudman." Feel free to familiarize yourself with it.
Before I get to that, I must first briefly discuss Ulmeyda and the Yakumo. "Hand in Killer7" states that Ulmeyda possessed part of the Yakumo. I subscribe to Topdrunkee's theory that the intended function of the Yakumo Cabinet policy parallels the intended function of the New American Century manifesto (see Catastrophe from the East). If the New American Century manifesto had the objective of making the U.S. a "ruler of the world," the Yakumo Cabinet policy likely could have a similar goal. To that end, the Yakumo would likely have been written to encourage the Japanese people that the position as a "ruler of the world" befits Japan. The easiest way to accomplish this, in my mind, would be to exploit nationalism and xenophobia among the Japanese population.
Historically, the Japanese have believed that their nation and people are superior to all others. This is not a unique belief, and this can be argued of several cultures and countries. However, there are features of the Japanese version of this ideology that set it apart from other incarnations, and in my mind, signify that it is stronger than others. First, Japan was a closed country for centuries, meaning that foreigners were usually prohibited from entering the country. Exceptions were made for commerce, notably with Chinese traders and, eventually, European traders such as the Dutch and Portuguese. Largely, however, foreigners were not allowed in Japan. This is no longer the case in the legal sense, though xenophobic attitudes certainly continue to exist. Additionally, Japan's shift to imperialism near the turn of the 20th century resulted in a ruthless conquest of East Asia the likes of which history had not seen since the Mongol Empire, which admittedly was a significantly more successful campaign (see this map of the chronology of Japanese Expansion). There is no telling how much farther the expansion could have gone had the Axis Powers won World War II.
Exploiting nationalistic and xenophobic attitudes seems like a perfectly logical way to unite Japan in a movement to bring the world under Japanese rule. Therefore, I believe an attempt at this was made in the construction of the Yakumo Cabinet policy. This is precisely the part of the Yakumo that I believe Ulmeyda possessed.
I must first admit that others have made strong cases to support the idea that Ulmeyda possessed a part of the Yakumo that taught how to rule through the mass distribution of misinformation. I believe that this is very likely, but I would argue that Ulmeyda could certainly have possessed more of the Yakumo than this theory implies. "Hand in Killer7" says that Ulmeyda "... possessed part of the Yakumo," not "a part."
If what I have so far theorized is correct, then how would Ulmeyda, a non-Japanese, interpret any appeals to Japanese nationalism and xenophobia that stem from beliefs in cultural superiority? I believe this can be explained by his "hobbies" of human guinea-pig testing and making vaccinations for several diseases. I believe Ulmeyda's interpretation of the Yakumo motivated him to create a superior people, one that is immune to several deadly viruses and that can travel across land faster than normal humans (I should note that I believe the reason for "Clemence's job" was to test how fast a person could travel in a supersonic car before being killed, and then to use the findings to improve that result. The ability to travel quickly on roads would be highly beneficial in a world connected by intercontinental expressways, and a group of people with that ability would have several advantages over others without it).
If you still think I'm onto something, you may now be asking "Okay mister, riddle me this. You said Suda 51 used this chapter to make a negative comment on Japanese xenophobia and nationalism. Where does that bit come in?"
“Don’t be alarmed! These are good citizens. No ‘Heaven Smile!’” -Andrei Ulmeyda
"I infected myself with all kinds of deadly viruses. I overcame them time after time, discovering vaccines and creating medicine on the way. I overcame all the symptoms... *sigh* but them... 'Smilies...' Hoo! they're different. The risks involved are at another realm. I mean, it's flirtin' with fucking death itself. I... I... I want you to kill me. If I catch Heaven Smile, you gotta kill me!" -Andrei Ulmeyda
My theory assumes that the Yakumo channels nationalistic and xenophobic attitudes, which are detrimental to a diverse, dynamic, global society, into factors by which Japan should become stronger. I believe this is reflected in Ulmeyda’s “hobby.” He infects himself with diseases in order to create medicine to strengthen himself and his society. The diseases here act like Japanese nationalism and xenophobia, and possibly other ideologies that strengthened Japan during WWII. Another historically cultural belief in Japan is the notion of death before dishonor. In WWII, this was taken to an extreme in the form of suicide attacks by military pilots, popularly dubbed “kamikaze” by English language translators shortly following the war’s end.
The Heaven Smiles resemble the World War II kamikaze pilots in many ways. For one, both of their names share an element of the divine (Kamikaze meaning "divine wind," and the word "heaven" in Heaven Smile). Most notably, however, is the fact that both of them are suicide bombers that come right toward you and will blow both of you up unless you shoot them down beforehand.
In the game, Heaven Smile is a disease. Andrei, however, refused to use this disease to create a vaccine, citing the daunting risks inherent in the process. Although it isn’t explicitly stated, we are led to believe that Andre has been involved in his “hobby” for a long time (“I overcame them, time after time…”). Chances are he’s experimented with several diseases in the past, each one more dangerous than the last, leading up to Heaven Smile, the one he refuses to try.
Kamikaze tactics, the ultimate embodiment of “death before dishonor,” were used late in the war. The first account of a kamikaze attack by eyewitnesses was a spontaneous incident on October 21, 1944 (ww2australia.gov.au, 2006, "kamikaze"). The first kamikaze special attack unit was formed before this incident, but did not launch an attack until four days later (John Toland, The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936-1945, Random House, 1970, p. 567) It was, therefore, one of the last war tactics adopted in Japan, much like Heaven Smile was the last disease considered by Ulmeyda. Lt. Yukio Seki, the commander of the attack unit, was concerned about the implications of Japan’s resorting to suicide bombing: “Japan's future is bleak if it is forced to kill one of its best pilots [referring to himself].” (Albert Axell & Hideaki Kase, 2002. Kamikaze: Japan's Suicide Gods. London: Pearson Education, p.16.) Although not as outwardly fearful as Ulmeyda, Seki’s obvious concern regarding the tactics reflects Andrei’s.
Ulmeyda’s ghastly transformation undeniably confirms the legitimacy of his fears. There is only one word for what he became: monster. I’d bet my bottom dollar that anyone who fears the threat of Japanese Imperialism would be quick to use this word to describe Japan and/or its people. Suda 51 obviously fears what he dubs the “Eastern Threat,” which certainly viewed WWII Japan as a monster. Suda has confirmed that the pulsars were launched from one of the “Eastern Threat” nations, most likely out of fear of a Japanese return to imperialism.
I would argue that Suda 51 uses the events of Cloudman to warn the Japanese people that if they are to survive in the 21st century, they cannot allow the world to view them as a threat. This can be most easily achieved by going straight to the source of the problem, nationalism and xenophobia. In Cloudman, Ulmeyda uses the diseases to strengthen himself and his society, but in the end becomes a monster whom the Killer 7 must destroy. During Imperial Japan, nationalism and xenophobia were used to strengthen the Japanese military, but the lengths to which the military went made Japan a monster in the eyes of many, which could even today lead to their destruction.
So there you have it. I would like to stress, though it should be obvious, that this is my sole interpretation, and that I don’t have a clue what Suda 51 would have to say about it! I welcome your feedback, positive or negative, and I’ll see you all around.
Written by Ry Discussion thread for this file