Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight!, like Infinite Ryvius, isn’t directly about politics but still has a political edge. Leaving aside the campaigning, the referendum and the clashes with oppressive authority, there are also little touches here and there: the left-facing swastika in the eighth episode is one and the above declaration from Manabi herself is another.
Except that, unlike the reversed swastika, those of us who don’t speak Japanese can’t tell who came up with this allusion, as we don’t know if the phrase that Manabi uses is the Japanese phrase used to describe the real Great Leap Forward.
Regardless of whether or not that reference was intended, the scene as a whole isn’t a bad comment on the Great Leap Forward: like Manabi’s plan to rearrange the furniture, it was an unhelpful misdirection of effort (to put it very mildly). Thankfully, Manabi’s plan isn’t put into action, though it plays a part in making Mikan cry; if we adopt the slogan of another story closely related to Manabi Straight in genre, ‘Cute Is Justice’, as a moral statement (and when in Manabi Straight is anyone cute ever really in the wrong?), then making Mikan cry is obviously some kind of ultimate injustice.
You’ll note that once Mikan starts crying the others, convicted of their guilt, return to work.
Anyway, as I said, I can’t tell if the reference is intentional. It may be that the original writers intended the allusion to the Great Leap Forward, the fansub group’s translator(s) translated the phrase literally and, by gracious chance, it came out right. Perhaps both the writers and the translators knew what they were doing. It may even be that the original writers didn’t intend the allusion, and the fansubbers added it – if this is the case, I’d say they were right to do so, because, as far as I’m concerned, when translating anime ‘Allusive Is Justice’. (In the case of anime this is less an ethical question and more an aesthetic one.)
[At this point a link to Mike’s post about competing translation philosophies is obligatory.]
This is why the Palace Athene makes me rage. I don’t really care who decided on ‘Palace’: maybe the official translator lacked a Classical education, maybe the staff of Zeta Gundam actually intended ‘Palace’ – whatever, ‘Palace Athene’ doesn’t make a great deal of sense, while ‘Pallas Athene’ is a relatively common name for the goddess, or one of her aspects (because of some disputed and messy business involving another mythological figure called Pallas). It doesn’t matter whose fault it is, but the fact that some potential extra flavour was lost really gets my goat.