After two years in the making, congratulations to Shannon Gee and her team at the Seattle Channel for producing this animation of the Jim Akutsu story from We Hereby Refuse.
The 14-minute video makes its cable-tv debut tonight at 7:00 pm as part of their award-winning “Community Stories” series. The animation very cleverly adds motion to the drawings of Ross Ishikawa in capturing just the first part of the Akutsu story from the arrest of his father up to the family’s arrival at the Puyallup Assembly Center, with a full rundown of the JACL collaboration that Jim detested.
From the Seattle Channel: “Adapted from the award-winning graphic novel “We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration,” this motion-comic style animated film takes an excerpt from the story of the Akutsu Family. Brothers Jim and Gene and parents Kiyonosuke and Nao lived in Seattle and ran a shoe repair shop in the city’s Seattle’s Chinatown-International District neighborhood. After Pearl Harbor marked the United States entry into World War II, the Akutsus found themselves and their community swept up into the fervor of anti-Japanese sentiment that led to Executive Order 9066 which imprisoned the West Coast Japanese community in American concentration camps. Faced with violations of their rights as America citizens, Jim and Gene embarked on a journey of political resistance. “The Akutsu Family Resists” illustrates the conditions the family faced, the political deals that paved the way to incarceration, and the beginnings of Jim and Gene’s fight to resist.”
The film will make its festival debut at the Nichi Bei Foundation‘s Films of Remembrance series at the AMC Kabuki 8 Theater in San Francisco on Feb. 24, 2024, and at the San Jose Buddhist Church on Feb. 25. Hope to see you there.
UPDATE: Hear my 22-minute interview with KIRO Newsradio broadcast legend Dave Ross on We Hereby Refuse and the new Seattle Channel animation. As we discuss, it felt good to be back in the studio after a 30-year hiatus.