History Podcasts

#115: Telling Japan's Story in The Last Samurai, Letters From Iwo Jima, and Medal of Honor-Dan King

#115: Telling Japan's Story in The Last Samurai, Letters From Iwo Jima, and Medal of Honor-Dan King

The Japanese military of World War Two has a nasty reputation-kamikaze pilots, baby killers, and brain-washed, honor-obsessed soldiers who threw away their lives for a lost cause. Parts of this reputation is earned but much of the stereotype has come out of World War Two films.

Depicting WWII Japan fairly in film and television while humanizing its people isn't easy, but Dan King is up to the job. King is a WWII Pacific war historian who reads, writes and speaks Japanese.

After returning to the US he worked on several dozen movies and historical documentaries as a technical advisor, historical & language consultant and re-enactment coordinator. He was the assistant military advisor for Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai (he had a cameo as a German officer), a researcher for Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima/Flags Of Our Fathers, and technical consultant for Nicolas Cage's Windtalkers.

His passion for the subject of the war in the Pacific has also led him to seek out over 250 Japanese WWII veterans and personally interview 97 of them, in their own language. He has also been interviewed on several radio programs and has spoken to hundreds of people about Japanese aviation.

Dan King was also employed by EA GAMES as the WWII Japanese technical consultant for the worldwide best selling “Medal of Honor” video game series. His basic task was to provide information to the game creators in order to make the game as accurate as possible. This included providing examples of Japanese WWII uniforms and gear; infantry weapons; tanks, large guns, ships and aircraft; Japanese language supervision during VO recording; and battle tactics and hand signals.

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Dan's Site Historical Consulting

A Tomb Called Iwo Jima

The Last Zero Fighter: Firsthand Accounts from WWII Japanese Naval Pilots

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