What do you make of shows that combine moe imagery with military settings/themes (Girls and Panzer and KanColle come to mind) in light of Japan's current political situation, specifically the seemingly heavily opposed reinterpretation of article 9 of the Japanese constitution and tensions with China
Hoo boy is THAT ever a landmine of a question. This is normally the kind of question I'd just nope out of, but this is a Patreon question, so HERE WE GO.
It's kind of unsettling! There's no getting around that. It's the political situation that makes this all so fraught and troubling - between rumblings of reinterpreting article 9 and Abe's general tendency towards belligerent conservativism and historical revisionism, there's a frightening hardline conservative streak in Japanese politics, and that makes questions of media a little more relevant.
And we /do/ have some media worth talking about here. There's stuff like GuP and KanColle, which basically filter military hardware and even military history through the twin fandom lenses of cute girls and catch-em-all categorization. But that's nothing new - fandom's always been fascinated with military specs and always framed everything in cute girls. The shows I find more troubling are ones like Mahouka or GATE, which are less about making the military cute and more about making actually military doctrine palatable. Framing China as all treacherous spies, or wars of invasion as necessary wars of liberation resulting in unavoidable casualties, seems to me a lot more worrisome than making battleships cute.
And the next question is obviously, so what? If you find this stuff troubling, what do you do? To which I think the answer is the same as the answer always is with media - you can engage in meaningful criticism and still enjoy things. Just like how lots of shows frame female characters in troubling ways, or have opinions on society you might take issue with, you don't have to agree with everything a show is saying or doing to engage with it, and other people aren't "wrong" for liking it. It's just something very, very worth keeping in mind and actively discussing.