The Spectral Presence of Internment Camps in Modern Media

Written by Jackson Eflin

The internment of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor was an atrocity, something that haunts the popular conscience of America and is thus often suppressed or forgotten, especially in mainstream media. An exception to this came in the third season of Teen Wolf, in which the primary antagonist is an internment camp’s vengeful spirit.

In the “The Fox and the Wolf,” aired March 4, 2014, we are told the story of Noshiko Yukimura, mother to a main character, who was interned in 1943 and suffered under the corruption of the soldiers running the camp. The prisoners riot, but that devolves into a massacre of many Japanese-Americans, which is later covered up. Mrs. Yukimura begs her gods for vengeance, and they send a Nogitsune, a trickster spirit. However, this backfires when the Nogitsune attacks both soldiers and prisoners, indicative of how the spectral presence of the camps haunts all Americans, both Japanese and non-Japanese.

In the present day, the Nogitsune has returned from its grave to possess a teenager, a son of a soldier, and wreaks havoc.  Public structures are decimated, and heroes die.  Noshiko’s husband states that, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Without knowing the history of the camp, the protagonists cannot navigate the Nogitsune’s illusions and mind games.  These deceptions are filmed as normal scenes so that the viewer does not realize that what they are seeing is untrue, reflective of the way a socially sanitized version of history can be easily believed by those not actually looking for mistruths.  It is only after learning the history that they have any hope of stopping the cycle of violence and chaos. While in our world deaths in the camps were mostly sporadic, as opposed to any substantial massacres, these losses of life and livelihood represent an aspect of history that has largely remained buried and ignored in mass media.  While the events of Teen Wolf are inflated, the message stills stands that reconstructing history is the only way to properly comprehend that which haunts.  Knowing why the haunting takes place allows it to be understood and potentially laid to rest.

 

 

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