Hideo Kojima is a Japanese game developer, with his most notable work being the Metal Gear Solid series. He was largely influenced by American movies, though despite this, he has repeatedly implied that he held anti-American views on the world, with several of these views also being placed within various games in the franchise and forming a crux to the series since at least Metal Gear Solid 2 where he stated in his grand game plan that America was the biggest evil out there. His anti-Americanism was such that he even had the identity for Ishmael in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain changed from Huey to Big Boss (and by extension, create a different "Snake" as the player character to act as a decoy) specifically to avoid a pro-American bias in terms of morality as well as showcase the perceived ridiculousness of American concepts of morality akin to Moby Dick. Agness Kaku, the former localizer for Metal Gear Solid 2, has also noted the hypocrisy of Kojima commenting on and condemning American soldiers and not even bothering to look back at his own home country of Japan, even citing the Japanese Red Army's involvement in the Lod Airport Massacre in Israel in 1972, as well as the death of a Japanese mercenary during the War of Iraq.
He was also a radical leftist, with his stories since Metal Gear Solid 4 and to a lesser extent Metal Gear Solid 2 often preferring total anarchy over law and order, promoting post-modernism as well as various nihilistic messages, as well as condemning patriotism. His leftist ideology was especially and most infamously apparent in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, which included the Sandinista National Liberation Front as being good guys, the CIA being demonized, various leftist talking points against America, praising the Argentine Marxist terrorist Che Guevara, and to a lesser extent Mao Zedong and Jean Paul Sartre, praising May 1968, and some LGBT themes. On a similar note, Hideo Kojima during an autograph session gave the hand signal used by the left-wing Brazilian gang Comando Vermelho (Red Commando). He was also a Barack Obama supporter, and held extreme anti-nuclear and anti-war views (although this did not stop him from deifying the likes of Che Guevara and Mao Zedong, the former of whom actually attempted to start a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis.). Some of his commentary in Peace Walker and The Phantom Pain also holds an anti-colonial sentiment. He also denies even the existence of absolute morality and the concepts of absolute justice and corruption, as well as the concepts of Good and Evil, and also implied that the only reason war and nuclear weapons exist is because of the Cold War.
He was later kicked out of Konami for spending too much resources on the then-in development Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and formed a new Kojima Productions under the auspices of Sony.
In a later interview, when asked if he was interested with the current political shift, Kojima said "I'm definitely interested in what's happening in politics now, especially in America. With politics moving to the right, I'm afraid of this kind of movement in America."
He is also a friend of J.J. Abrams, and to some extent the Wachowskis and Guillermo del Toro, all of whom were radical leftists. In fact, Kojima in an interview implied that the Wachowskis' film The Matrix was essentially a movie version of the themes he intended to explore in his then-next game idea, Metal Gear Solid 2.
- https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jul/18/hideo-kojima-interview-metal-gear-solid-phantom-pain "With Ground Zeroes he [Hideo Kojima] escalated the stakes by taking aim at North America’s contemporary policies towards terror suspects. “In the past the US was the centre of the world, where everything was happening,” he says. “I think my stories have always sought to question this, maybe even criticise it. But the situation is changing. America is not seen as the centre of the world any more. So the focus of my stories is shifting alongside with that change in the real world.” "It’s a diplomatic answer, but Ground Zeroes is not an especially diplomatic video game. Its incarcerated terror suspects kneel in wire cages, bound at the hands and feet with blinding sacks over their heads. As you hoist them on to Snake’s shoulder and sprint to the evacuation helicopter, some break down in tears either through fear or relief. It’s grimly political. “[Guantanamo] was definitely something that I made decision to address in the game,” Kojima says. “Hollywood continues to present the US army as being the good guys, always defeating the aliens or foreigners. I am trying to shift that focus. These movies might not be the only way to view current affairs. I am trying to present an alternate view in these games.”"
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Grand Game Plan (http://www.gamepitches.com/2012/01/kojima-productions-metal-gear-solid-2-sons-of-liberty-design-document/), page 36-37.
- Absolute evil in MGS2
Westerns -> Native Americans
Post-WWII war films -> Germany, Japan
Cold War-era spy films -> Russia
Post-Cold War films -> China
Following the signing of the friendship treaty between the US and China -> Japanese businesses(the collapse of the bubble economy)
1990s -> Terrorism
- MGS2’s evil
- Absolute evil
People used by them: Solidus -> current President of the United States of America
Colonel Gurlukovich -> a Russian who wishes to see his country rebuilt
People they must be careful of:
Vamp -> ex-Stasi
Old Boy -> former Nazi army colonel
Snake -> a spy for China?
- http://www.metalgearinformer.com/?p=25955 Yano says that Kojima explained the structure of MGSV to him as early as 2011, and all the different elements were already in place: from the themes (such as phantom pain and retaliation) to the motif of Moby Dick. “However, at that point Ishmael was actually Huey. Snake was Ahab, and Diamond Dogs’ enemy was America. It was set up so that the story, being told by Huey (Ishmael) as an American citizen, would be biased toward the American perspective, showing America as being right the whole time.” According to Yano, the Moby Dick connection is also meant as an allegory for the powers that drive the world, as whales used to be more than just a source of food. “Of course their oil was prized, but also other parts such as the bones and baleen played an important role in people’s lifestyles. […] World maps are thought to have come about thanks to the whaling trade. In short, whaling was inseparable from people’s lives at the time. You could even say it had “infiltrated” their lives.” With MGSV, Kojima brought this theme to a new century: “What’s important is that Kojima-san didn’t just transplant the motif from Moby-Dick. I think it’s more a case of these two creators, Melville and Kojima, relentlessly thinking through the way that the world works, and arriving at the same answer.” This connects to the setting of the game: “if we look at the game from the energy perspective, it’s obvious that Afghanistan and Africa would be the settings for the events in MGSV. Each produces oil, and each is a source of rare metals and other mined resources.” Of course, both Moby Dick and MGSV share the theme of revenge. “As Skull Face stated in MGSV, the world is an endless loop of action and reaction. It’s always an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. […] Like Moby-Dick, MGSV is also a tale of revenge.” Why was Ishmael changed from Huey to Big Boss? Yano believes the answer to that lies in what Ahab represents: “Although Ahab has only his personal revenge, when the character is superimposed onto American righteousness, he serves as an analogy for how justification for revenge based on instinctive national memory is converted into a just cause.” He continues: “But in MGSV, it’s actually America that’s the overarching Moby Dick. Big Boss is Ahab in the sense that he’s been maimed by America in the past. Big Boss turns his yearning for revenge into bonds that bind him together with comrades who share his wish to retaliate against America (or its self-righteous justifications). However, from America’s point of view it’s Big Boss that’s Moby Dick. So what we can see in MGSV is actually an attempt to depict battle between Ahab and Ahab, or perhaps Moby Dick and Moby Dick.” This, according to Yano, explains why Kojima chose to switch the role of Ahab from Huey to Big Boss. “To be more precise, the aim is to reveal that the system the world runs on defines Big Boss’s existence as “evil.” That’s why MGSV tells you distinctly that Ahab is you, the player. It says, now you have to experience first-hand the absurdity of being branded a villain by the manipulating ways of the global status quo. […] For that message to be put across, it can’t be Huey telling it, since he’s on the American side. It has to be Big Boss himself that delivers the message.”
AMERICAN MILITARISM AND JAPANESE SOLDIERS
Raising the subject of Japanese nationals who could have been a source of information for Kojima lead us on to an even more interesting discussion, the slight obsession Kojima has with American militarism. AsAgness succinctly put it, "Why is Mr Kojima writing about a country he's not a part of, and frankly doesn't know that much about? Watching abunch of Michael Bay movies does not... I mean, it teaches you about America, in that we let a guy like this direct a lot of movies, but why doesn't he write a Japanese game? You know, same kind of action, same kind of stealth. There is darkness in Japan as well, and there's of course the potential for a lot more in the future, in any country which happens to be peaceful. There are a lot Japanese mercenaries. If you remember there was one killed in Iraq a few years ago."
I point out that Kojima actually hired Japanese former-mercenary Motosada Mori, as his main military consultant. Agness went on, "But it's still this idea that if you're Japanese, or a game is Japanese, it's not cool, and I have come to loathe that attitude, with a passion. And I can go on a big rant, about how it's a product of internalising cultural imperialism from the West, or a kind of self-loathing, or desire to forget the past. It's not very long ago that a bunch of Japanese people sprayed an Israeli airport with machine-gun fire."
Ultimately, as Agness explains, there's a lack of authenticity when you focus on a country not your own, especially when there's plenty of material in Kojima's native Japan to draw upon, "I think it's a bad formof playfulness to play at being another country's soldiers. It's inauthentic, and ultimately makes a fool of you, I think. I mean, yeah, it's just a game. But you know, if it's just a game, then why not try something creative? A lot of the Japanese guys that join the French Foreign Legion, or go on to become guns for hire in places like Iraq, they do so because there is no place for them in society. Most of them join the [Japanese] Self Defence Force, but it's not enough for them. They actually are soldiers at heart, for better or for worse, so they leave the country because they're, you know...I think it's good, speaking as a civilian, because there is no place for stone killers in this country right now. And that's an interesting thing, as well, that because of what you are, you have to sort of wander the Earth, looking to fight in other people's wars, for money. To try to find whatever meaning you can. That to me is a good starting point, I think."
- http://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/features/kojima-death-stranding-aims-to-be-a-new-sort-of-game-of-war-w499148 (archived version here)
“Through my interaction with users following the releases of Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2, Metal Gear Solid and MGS2, I learned something interesting. Why is our world this way? If war and nuclear weapons are atrocities, why do they continue to exist? Younger generations didn’t know the answer.”
“I decided to portray the era that was the cause of this dilemma in MGS3 (2004). The game is set in 1964 amidst the U.S. and Soviet Cold War. Some young people aren’t even aware that a political state known as the Soviet Union once existed. I felt it was my duty to teach them about this past.”
“What caused the U.S. and the Soviet Union, allies in WWII, to become enemies and build nuclear arsenals against one another? Enemies formed from man-made ideologies. Good and evil. There is no such thing as absolute justice or corruption. I wanted to show and have players experience the fates and thoughts of characters who are controlled by the changing status of good and evil across eras. That is why I made Big Boss, the “evil” enemy of the “right and just” Solid Snake in Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2, the hero of the story. I wanted players to experience what it is like to be called evil, just as Christopher Nolan did shortly after in Dark Knight (2008), in which Batman, the symbol of justice, takes upon the mantle of villain for the sake of Gotham City.”
“MGS: Peace Walker (2010) is set in Costa Rica 1974. Here I wanted players to think about what armed forces and nuclear armament mean in a country that has no military. If nuclear weapons have the power to destroy the world, then why is having them a deterrent? In the end of the story, the hero Snake, chooses to keep nuclear weapons at his Mother Base for this very reason.”
“In MGSV: Ground Zeroes (2014), the Mother Base built in Peace Walker is destroyed by an enemy force, imbuing the player with a sense of loss and a desire for revenge. A relentless enemy leaves the player with nowhere to run, and they are drawn into inescapable conflict.”
“The continuation, MGSV: The Phantom Pain, is the execution of that revenge. Players gather a fighting force and resources to build up an army and secure nuclear weapons as protection. As the player progresses through the game they feel their desire for revenge, and their sense of “justice,” that has been a common thread through the series, begin to waver. Additionally, the online game mode offers players the choice to disarm their nuclear arsenal, with the goal of completely ridding the game world of nuclear weapons. As far as I know, this goal hasn’t been achieved yet, but if we can’t disarm ourselves in the real world, at least the fictional game world offers mankind, the creators of nuclear weapons, the unparalleled “experience” of making the conscious choice to create a nuclear free world. Through this experience, players will come to understand what it really means to take a stand against war and nuclear weapons. Players feel the need to acquire nuclear weapons, but then players across the globe choose to disarm themselves. This experience and its process is the chief aim of Metal Gear.”