Monday, July 12, 2004

Wolfwood in a Bush ad?

My SO just found this on an anime board: one of George W. Bush's recent ads uses a photoshopped compilation of anime images, most recognizably Wolfwood from Trigun, as a stand-in for the Yakuza. has done a very nice job analyzing the claims of both the Bush ad and the Kerry ad the Bush ad is responding to, so I won't deal with that here.

What I do want to look at, however, is the Yakuza image contained in the Bush ad. My SO and I both watch anime, and we were both shocked that a campaign would use anime art this way. We first read that the base image was of Wolfwood, but my SO quickly recognized the eyes as coming from Yu-gi-oh, so we trawled the net for likely source images.

bush ad analysis

Here's what we have gathered so far:
  • The base character is certainly Nicholas D. Wolfwood from Trigun.
  • The eyes are almost certainly from the character commonly called Yami Yuugi in Yu-gi-oh.
  • The nose and mouth are likely from a character in Akira, though since neither of us has ever seen it or read it we don't know for sure. We found two images from Akira that contained noses and mouths that are extremely similar to the "Yakuza" in the ad, but while they're both close we don't think they're an exact match.

This is utterly unbelievable. First, this seems like copyright violation, something you'd think campaign ads would try to avoid. Second, I can't believe the Bush campaign would be so lazy as to quickly photoshop together three anime images to create a "Yakuza" image (done so poorly that even casual anime fans can figure it out). Did they think nobody would notice? Would it really have been that hard to have a new image drawn for the ad?

The images they've chosen are baffling. Using Wolfwood as the base image is ridiculous; I don't want to spoil Trigun for anyone, but he's certainly not a mobster (he's a priest who helps orphans, not to mention that he lives on another planet). Yami Yuugi is the spirit of an ancient Egyptian pharoh who's inhabiting the body of 16 year old boy. The combination of images they've used would be like combining the torso of Clark Kent, the eyes of GI Joe, and the nose and mouth of Wolverine and then using that image as an example of corrupt American businessmen. It just makes no sense.

We're also both rather offended by the ad, for a number of reasons:
1) This is plagiarism, plain and simple.
2) That they likely thought nobody would notice (or care about) their plagiarism strongly implies that they believe nobody of worth watches anime.
3) They've bastardized and misrepresented a character that we, and many other Trigun fans, love.
4) They seem to be using a Japanese mob organization as a punch line, which seems very inappropriate.
5) They are completely misrepresenting Kerry's positions.

And, finally, since this is plagiarism, and since George W. Bush approves this message, does this mean that our president now approves of plagiarism?

Here are links to the sources of the images I used:

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