Metal Wolf Chaos XD's Exaggerated Japanese Take On American Patriotism, as Observed by a Canadian

Metal Wolf Chaos XD's Exaggerated Japanese Take On American Patriotism, as Observed by a Canadian

I may only watch and observe this strange planet. I mayn't interfere with its workings.

Metal Wolf Chaos XD for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC is a half-assed book report given video game form. You remember doing those book reports, right? You'd get up in front of the class with some book you neglected for weeks after eyeballing the cover art and giving the jacket blurb a quick once-over. Then you'd belt out some gobbledygook about the deep symbolism in Ramona Quimby Age 8 without actually summarizing the story.

I'm convinced that's the treatment From Software gave a 4th grade American History 101 textbook before it developed its unspeakably bizarre game about the li'l President-powered mech that saves the United States. Some games based around real-world locations are so accurate, they can feasibly be used as digital blueprints for restoration efforts. Metal Wolf Chaos XD is not one of those games. Not only does the United States President pilot a mech loaded with (among other things) a giant pump action shotgun, but Air Force One emerges from a runway stowed under the National Mall. I'm not even sure if From Software bothered to notice the White House has a front door: Metal Wolf Chaos XD's fictional President, Michael Wilson, exits the structure by punching out its upstairs windows.

Being a Canadian who lives less than two hours away from the United States' border, I can't help stepping in American patriotism any more than I can avoid getting mauled within an inch of my life by a moose at least once a week. That's not to say Canadians aren't patriotic. Our patriotism is just comparatively demure (read: smug). So when I see how American patriotism is handled by Metal Wolf Chaos XD, I say, "Yeah, this is exaggerated—but, you know, not by a whole lot, ha ha ha. Oh God, that moose is at the window again."

Metal Wolf Chaos XD's hyper-patriotism and Team America-style shout-out to the Red, White, and Blue is silly as hell, but it does a good job treading the line between parody and cliché mean-spiritedness. Ironically, its story about a domestic coup organized by the Vice President and his own mech might be the reason why the original 2004 Xbox game never saw a localization. "We initially did aim to release it worldwide, and we couldn't—at the time, things were difficult [after 9/11]," From Software producer Masanori Takeuchi told Destructoid in a recent interview. In one way, the localization of Metal Wolf Chaos XD indicates maybe America is ready to laugh at itself again. In another, more accurate way, things are so wretched under the current administration that we all need to laugh or else we'll start crying. Well, there are worse things to laugh at than President Wilson's over-the-top assistant cheering him on while he wreaks havoc from coast to coast. It's the psychological equivalent of throwing your hands up in the air and declaring "Whatever, man."

Metal Wolf Chaos XD is also an interesting cultural study because it purposefully mirrors a distorted reflection of the United States back at itself. This is by design, Takeuchi says. "It is America as perceived by the Japanese. It's completely fictional, but at the time, it was our idea of this ideology of American culture and comic book heroes, and we pieced that together and it became the president piloting the mech," he says. "We think that when Japanese look at it that way, from the American point of view, it's almost like how they imagine a Japanese ninja, and sort of the same ideologies, the same kind of fantasy, so it goes two ways."

Obviously, this depiction of the United States isn't accurate. That Elvis impersonator should be shouting "Christ Saves!" | Devolver Digital/From Software

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Or in this case, what's good for the tanuki is good for the bald eagle.

I know there aren't any political mechs tearing down the street, but again, I also know Metal Wolf Chaos XD's brand of bold impact bumper sticker patriotism is only a little exaggerated. I guess I also feel a little envious of the States, though I don't foresee a future where Japan bothers to make a game or anime that parodies Canada and Canadian culture. The scattered shout-outs we do receive are weird, e.g. Yuri on Ice's upside-down shout-out to the Canadian Tire retail chain. But when you Google something as obvious like "ice hockey anime," you get an inexplicable parody of Neon Genesis Evangelion's intro starring Boston University's hockey team.

Well, I suppose if the world made sense, we wouldn't have Metal Wolf Chaos XD in the first place.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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