Kafuka on Haiti

Is Pat Robertson moe?

Is Kafuka Fuura moe?

On the surface, these are unrelated questions.  And yet, there are more similarities between the two than may be apparent at first glance.

Not, in fact, Pat Robertson.

The defining characteristic of the Sayonara Zetsubo-Sensei character Kafuka Fuura has been called her irrepressible optimism. And yet it is not solely optimism that marks her as a character – it is the total and complete willingness to disregard the reality she faces to put a “happy” spin on things that makes her weird, even Kafkaesque.

Sayonara Zetsubo-Sensei functions on many levels, including metahumor and social commentary as well as obvious, sheer absurdity. When we encounter a character like Kafuka with a persistent trait, we may be tempted to attribute some greater design, to look at reality for examples of hidden meaning.

Independently of this, we might note a bizarre, even perverse tendency to attribute natural disasters to the angry hand of a disenfranchised God. Not only laypersons, but clergy have insisted that disease, famine, floods, and other natural disasters are admonishments from heaven. It happens in the Catholic Church; it happens in the Anglican Church; it happens in the various independent Protestant denominations. Nowhere was this more powerfully illustrated than in the moments following Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake.

They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.’ True story. And so the devil said, ‘Ok it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another.

Pat Robertson

Why, one asks, does this happen? It happens because the sheer cruelty of such a disaster, the sheer terror of the fact that the world can abruptly turn lethal, triggers cognitive dissonance. Surely, if God loves us, and if we haven’t done anything to deserve this, then it can’t happen, and yet it has happened.  This apparent contradiction must be resolved somehow.

For some, it is easier to believe that the fault comes in the assumption, “people don’t deserve this.” By assuming that a cruel disaster is a supernatural act of justice, this conflict is resolved: God is in control of everything, and those who were made to suffer deserved to suffer. This denies the existence of meaningless tragedies at the cost of rendering one permanently incapable of empathizing with the victims of those tragedies.  It is not the path taken by most people, or by most Christians, but it is a path taken by a vocal few.

I would never say that this is God’s judgment on New Orleans or any other place.

Franklin Graham

Kafuka, like Pat Robertson, rebels against what she cannot accept – in her case, the undesirable extraordinary – by coming up with a completely different story of events. This comes at the small cost of rendering her wildly out of touch with reality. She is a literary example that illustrates the absurdity of extreme denials.

How could there be such a thing as a hikikomori, which I’ve only ever heard about on TV, in our class?  No way!  She must be a zashiki warashi!

– Kafuka Fuura

Let us not fall into this trap.  Haiti has been hurt.  She needs help, not fanciful stories of her people dealing with the devil. It is funny when Kafuka Fuura spins her tales, but it’s not so funny when a former Presidential candidate who beat George H.W. Bush in some states starts spinning these tales.

Yaoi Press has a manga charity auction to benefit victims of the recent Haitian earthquake.

Author: moritheil

One might be forgiven for thinking that Moritheil is a postmodern literary critic who started reviewing video games in 2001, and spent the early 2000s learning at the right hand of con staff and fansubbers. However, those rumors are spurious: Moritheil is actually a distant relative of Genghis Khan who stands poised to conquer the world via the Internet. Follow along at http://twitter.com/moritheil.

6 thoughts on “Kafuka on Haiti

  1. It’s not the god(s) or anything supernatural, it’s the lack of organisation and the unexistence of the actual working government that caused such disaster over Haiti. Yulia Latynina, a journalist my father regularly listens to, mentioned that there was an earthquake of the same power in Los Angeles, however, there were only about 48 victims. On Haiti, the buildings were built, excuse me the language, through the ass, because the money went not where it should. 200.000 victims, that’s Hiroshima in the first time, I think. I mean, wtf.

    And if anything, why would gods even care and ‘bring justice’ upon us? The only thing they need are believers, and what we do with ourselves isn’t of any interest to them. Given that they exist, on which not anybody will agree with me.

  2. Hilarious & Important post! Strangely, this same discussion came about with the roomie last year while I was watching Zoku. If anything, the manga itself is playing Kafuka as a growing miasma of denial that is steadily growing as a sort of social backlash that is clearly similar to that of Robertson’s near clinical-rantings. Again, it’s back to the will or ability to tackle challenging concepts & events beyond our control.

  3. Interesting commentary. I have never heard of this anime, but I didn’t need to have.

    Also, “the internet has left me in despair” is basically the most useful image you could have lying around. Haha.

  4. @Eugen – Indeed, the lack of infrastructure in Haiti made rescue, relief, and aid much more difficult.

    @wintermuted – When you put it that way, I shudder to think of the possible effects of “a growing miasma of denial” on governmental policy.

    @Raquel – It’s true; the Internet is a factory for despair.

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