Eagle: The Making of an Asian-American President Volume 3
by Kaiji Kawaguchi
Publisher: Viz Comics
Age Rating: Teen+ (16+)
Volume 3 picks up where Volume 2 left off, at the New York debate, with every waiting with baited breath for Yamaoka’s answer to Noah’s accusation of waffling on an environmental issue. It is here that we see how much of a work of fiction this title can be. Yamaoka gives a straightforward and honest answer. He is human and made a mistake. There is no way any politician that was looking to get votes would ever give an answer like this. But, with Yamaoka being our protagonist, he not only gets away with it, but turns the tables on Noah, and wins not just the debate, but the primary. Now the next big hurdle he must overcome is Texas. In order to win in Texas, he must win over Don Taylor, a democrat in charge of a large food corporation who holds sway over most of the farmers and ranchers not just in Texas, but in most of the South. But it won’t be easy, as Taylor doesn’t believe either Yamaoka or Noah has a chance of winning against the prospective Republican candidate, and won’t support either. Yamaoka’s got to change his mind.
Yamaoka’s approach to getting to Taylor is similar to the Town Hall Meetings that have become popular in the last few years. He goes to a bar and grill popular with the Texan ranchers and speaks directly with the people. He takes all questions, and answers them straightforwardly, not caring if they are popular with the people’s views. Again, a bit of fantasy with the politics here, since no politician running today would ever go against the views of the people he/she’s trying to get support from. But Yamaoka has got the moxie to pull it off, and get Texans to agree that gun control is needed. Of course, the tactic he uses is the same one that has been used time and again since 9/11; patriotism. He doesn’t appeal to the Texans as Americans though, he appeals to their strong belief in the frontier spirit, and what criminals with guns are doing to tarnish it. A few changes to his speech and he could have just as easily been appealing for the passage of the Patriot Act. But I think it’s his passion more than his words that sway the ranchers, and that’s something that Obama has going for him as well. It’s isn’t just the message, it’s the messanger that makes the difference. There wasn’t much of a difference on issues between Obama and Clinton. It was Obama’s eloquent speeches that gave him the attention and the “Obama mania” that rode him through a lot of primaries.
The personal drama in this volume centers on Takashi and Rachel. They’ve been beating around the bush about their feelings for each other for two volumes. In this volume, they take the plunge, and end up sleeping together. This also shows how conservative Viz has become over the last eight years. This series was rated for Teens with it first came out. But with the nudity we seen in the scenes between Takashi and Rachel, this would be upped to at least an Older Teen, if not Mature with the implications that come with the second half of the volume.
Noah is now getting desperate. Yamaoka has taken the lead by winning Texas and the South in Super Tuesday, and is now on his way to work on winning California. So Noah’s campaign finds a way to anonymously release a story that Yamaoka has an illegitimate child. And it’s not Takashi as you might think. No, it’s Rachel. Yamaoka is accused of adopting her to cover for his actually being the father, and the accuser is Rachel’s mother. Of course the thought of incest makes Takashi sick (literally), but only he and Patricia know what’s going on. The accusation not only causes problems for the campaign, but between Patricia and Yamaoka as well. Once again, we don’t know for sure if it’s true or not, and we’re left on the cliffhanger of Takashi going to Miami to find out the truth, more for himself and Rachel than Yamaoka’s campaign.
Dirty tricks like this are nothing new to politics of course. And seeing it within the party is just as likely as between parties. In this years campaigns, stories flew left and right as Obama and Clinton tried to find the right one that would tip supporters one way or the other. Obama’s religious beliefs were constantly questioned, by his choice of pastor, and even if he was a christian. Not that those beliefs should have any bearing on the campaign, since the constitution explicitly states there will be no religious test for office. But it is very obviously an unstated rule. And then there was Clinton’s constant harping on Obama’s lack of experience, that thanks to her the Republicans have latched onto. When the stakes are this high, people will resort to anything to get their way. We’re seeing it in the manga, and we’ve seen it in this campaign.
Another interesting similarity that has come up in this volume to the current presidential election is the republican candidate. In Eagle, the Republican candidate seems to be a forgone conclusion, as a newspaper story reports Richard Grant is planned to be nominated at the Republican convention. He’s a Vietnam Vet, among other things, and while not as old as McCain, he has quite a few years on both Noah and Yamaoka. He’s practically a national hero, just as republicans have been pushing McCain as. While Taylor thinks Grant is a shoe-in for the presidency, McCain hasn’t had it as easy, but there was no question about him winning the nomination of his party, just as there isn’t for Grant.
Three volumes in, and race has yet to become an issue. Everything that has been thrown at Yamaoka so far as been purely politics and the issues, though this last salvo is going after his personal life. But, it seems that has become fair game as well in the last years, not that such things have anything to do with a person’s ability to make decisions or lead. Privacy for a public figure is dead, and their working on killing the average American’s as well. We’ll have to wait and see how Yamaoka weathers this latest blow, and if it becomes ammunition for the republicans (as it has in the current election), or if race will become the only chink in Yamaoka’s seemingly teflon armor.