Imperial Japanese Navy battleships in the Pacific.

WWII in the Pacific – Waking the Beast

The first episode of WWII in the Pacific premiered this Wednesday (the next new episode will be on the following Wednesday) and boy do I have some bones to pick with them.

Well, not big bones. But some tiny bones. Some tiny bones that got on my nerves.

So the documentary series WWII in the Pacific is pretty old-fashioned in the sense of how it portrays Japan and the United States in WWII. Honestly, it feels quite nationalistic and focuses strongly on how “Americans will beat the Japs!!!”. The series seems like something I’d expect out of a 1970’s documentary with its one sided exploration of conflict.


Now to the little bones I have to pick at…


WWII in the Pacific makes very poor use of maps, to the point that they’re mildly deceptive.

A map is shown of the Korean peninsula and what was Manchuria, as if Japan had suddenly seized these areas after 1937. The truth is Japan had annexed Korea 20 years earlier in 1910 and the invasion of Manchuria began in 1931.

The documentary alludes to these attacks as being motivated by the great depression, which in some people’s minds led to the rise of fascism in Europe, but this is poor reasoning.

Under the Meiji Restoration, which started in 1868, Japan had become increasingly militaristic. With this modernization of industry and the Imperial military, Japan began fighting with its neighbors (see Russo – Japanese War, Invasion of Taiwan, Second Invasion of Taiwan)

Anyways, the point is Japan was on the move long before the great depression and it’s arrogant to think Japan became increasingly nationalistic because of Europeans and troubles in the United States.

Another issue with maps, the documentary referred to French Indochina by its modern countries (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam). Problems with that.
One, French Indochina did not cover the exact boundaries of those modern countries.
Two, it makes it sound like Japan was attacking independent South East Asian countries instead of French colonial possessions.
Three, if you aren’t even telling people the proper name of the area… how on earth can you be a documentary.

WWII in the Pacific also breezes over the Imperial Japanese Military’s strategies in the Pacific and frames everything as a one-off attack on American forces (see the Invasion of the Philippines).


While this show isn’t the best, it also isn’t the worst.

But if you were saying to yourself “eh, might as well let my kid watch it. It is educational.”
I gotta tell you to skip this documentary series.
Try something that delves deeper into conflict from multiple point of view. WWII in Color actually does an okay job at this and you’ll find it on the same channel.

Other episodes in this series:

WWII in the Pacific – Island Warfare

World War II in the Pacific: No Surrender


Funny Update! (06/08/2015)

It turns out WWII in the Pacific uses a lot of the war footage from WWII in Color!

I guess the narration changed, but the footage didn’t!

Hahaha oh American Heroes Channel…


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