On August 12th the second season of AMC’s The Terror will premier. This season’s installment titled The Terror: Infamy will follow in the footsteps of the first season where a historical event is a backdrop for a horror story. While the flagship (no pun intended) season and series are based on the novel by Dan Simmons, the second season is original. Seeing the trailers, pictures, and tweets, I have come to the conclusion that The Terror: Infamy will be the greatest show on TV this summer.
The story takes place during one of the most controversial moments during the Second World War, the imprisonment of Americans of Japanese descent. After the events of Pearl Harbor aka “the Day of Infamy”, Americans of Japanese descent were put into Internment Camps as the US government believed that individuals of Japanese ancestry would sympathize with the Imperial Japanese Government and attack America from within. It was later determined that this course of action was a knee-jerk response to the attack on Pearl Harbor (a military installation attacked by a military force) that was fueled by racial intolerance. This event in America’s history eventually cost the lives of 1,862 Japanese American citizens.
Why this is a big deal is that this topic is not taught in schools (at least at mine growing up). I first learned about these camps when I was little and watching a program on the new (at the time) Sci-Fi Channel in the ’90s where there was supposed footage of a ghost at the site of where there was one of these Japanese Internment camps in the middle of a desert.
Over the years there have been movies made about these camps but unfortunately, these were straight to VHS/DVD films or made for TV movies that did not draw a big enough audience. In recent years there’s been more of a push to tell the stories of this event in history to younger generations and the leading pioneer of this recent push is the next reason for why I think The Terror: Infamy will be great.
Love him or hate him, you must admit George Takei is a national treasure, not only for being an iconic actor, and his contagious sense of humor, but also being an activist on many fronts, mainly for Gay and Immigration rights. Takei makes it no secret that he literally grew up in one of these Japanese Internment camps and often shares what he remembers what life was like there.
It’s no surprise that he was brought on board acting as a consultant, a great decision on the part of the production that will indeed add to the authenticity to the season. Also, Takei will be a regular this season playing Yamato-san, a community leader at the camp in the upcoming story. This leads to my next point.
One of the biggest positive notes for the upcoming season is the fact that the Japanese American characters are being played by actors who are either Japanese or of Japanese descent. This may not seem like much to most of you reading, but it’s a big deal to others. It’s a known fact that Hollywood is not necessarily a bright bulb when it comes to race and casting and has especially caused a lot of controversy over the years when it comes to casting Asian actors in culturally appropriate roles.
Thankfully The Terror: Infamy cast has taken a leap of faith and has given many actors a chance to shine. The main cast includes Derek Mio (Greek, Day of Independence), Naoko Mori (Doctor Who, Absolutely Fabulous, Torchwood), Shingo Usami (Unbroken, The Wolverine), Miki Ishikawa (Yours , Mine and Ours, Hit) and Kiki Sukezane (Westworld, Lost in Space)
Looking forward to seeing them in action! Now the final reason why I think this season will be great.
The use of Japanese Folklore
It’s no secret I’m a Japanophile, and what got me into becoming one was when I got interested in Japanese ghost stories and folklore, especially with the topic about Yōkai, Japanese supernatural creatures. You can only imagine my joy when I found out that like the first season of The Terror where Tunnbaq, the bear creature, was inspired and based on Inuit folklore, The Terror: Infamy’s paranormal antagonist is a Yōkai known as a Bakemono.
A Bakemono as implied in the trailers is a shape-shifting spirit as the meaning of the name is “a thing that changes”. A Bakemono is a spirit or creature that can temporally change its appearance before going back to its true form. Depending on the Bakemono you encounter, it could be a Yōkai animal like a fox, cat, raccoon dog, badger, or a plant spirit. A Bakemono can even be a spirit of someone who has already died.
That fact that the writers would go in this direction is great! It’s about time that we borrow from other cultures to scare audiences. True we’ve seen shape-shifting monsters and ghosts before in films and shows but it’s nice to see another version of it that you or I may not have seen before. I know it’s my personal opinion but I mean Japanese ghost stories and folklore makes American ones look like Disney movies! With the direction we’re seeing The Terror going in, I’m hopeful that it will continue to use both Historical fiction and borrow from the mythology of other cultures to tell a story that will help the series and not just this season, the best show on TV this and future summers. Then again, that’s just my opinion.