The other Chinese character featured, Napoleon, is not a villain but rather an informant for JUNKER Jean Jack and later Gillian. Napoleon shows us a much more benign and likable portrait of a Chinese man, but one that is no less racist. Napoleon aids the heroes but he does so from the shadows. He moves through Neo Kobe’s underbelly, working for strip clubs and black markets, where he gathers his information. A character who’s not entirely on the up-and-up, Napoleon frequently shakes Gillian down for bribe money before offering any information of his own volition. Appearance-wise, he has stereotypical Oriental buck-teeth and a hint of a Fu Manchu moustache of his own. He’s frequently played for comic relief, sneezing away in an exaggerated fashion while Gillian comments on his ugly face, poor hygiene and body odor.
While Snatcher’s Chinese characters are not as overtly hateful as those of nationalist manga pundits such as Kobayashi Yoshinori or George Akiyama, it is important to note that they adhere to “Yellow Peril” stereotypes, both in personality and appearance. In Snatcher, the Chinese people are either to be feared or to be laughed at, and they’re certainly always ne’er-do-wells. Chinese culture itself is mocked, too. When Gillian asks Metal to translate Chinese, Metal responds that his strongest knowledge is in egg foo yung and wontons, boiling Chinese culture down to a joke about popular take-away dishes.
Does this mean that Hideo Kojima is racist? Personally, I do not think that he is, but I do believe that the racist narrative of Japan’s previous colonization and subsequent demonizing of the Chinese people had a subconscious effect on him. You’d think he’d be slightly more open-minded due to his influences, and it’s disappointing that he chose to adhere to these easy stereotypes.