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“American Hijiki” by Akiyuki Nosaka

Nosaka is most noted for “Graves of the Fireflies”. He was versatile and multifaceted: writer, singer, lyricist, actor, and politician. He dedicated his entire life to tackling the theme of war. When he was 15, Japan lost the war. August 15 of 1945 was the watershed moment where values literally turned upside down. “Bestial” America became a country we aspired to, English turning into the language of hope from that of the enemy, the emperor becoming a human being.

In this story, the protagonist Toshio and his wife host and entertain her friend the Higginses. He tries to satisfy Higgins with drinks and women. The readers are exposed to the complex feelings Toshio’s generation has towards America. They have so called “the Great American Allergy”. When they were children, they saw huge American soldiers who represented sheer power. They were the ones to whom kids had to succumb. Gradually, Toshio comes to realize why he’s trying that hard to make Mr. Higgins crazy with women or alcohol. “I want to bring him to his knees”. The battle never leaves his generation and traumatic experiences haunt them forever.


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