The first few seconds of the trailer for AMC’s historical horror anthology series, The Terror: Infamy gets you right in the action. Pearl Harbor is attacked, and Japanese Americans becomes prisoners of war in their own country. This is a forgotten, shameful part of America’s past. And it’s part of my own family’s history in this country.
The timing of this trailer is poignant, as protests sparked across America over child migrant detention centers. Never has the history of Japanese incarceration during World War 2 been more important. History is repeating itself, as Japanese Internment has been something glossed over, hidden, and forgotten with time.
I’ve been waiting my whole life for this story to be told. It took Allegiance on Broadway to make it happen, loosely based off actor George Takei’s real life. After that, the podcast 9066, narrated by Pat Suzuki and Sab Shimono. Now, The Terror: Infamy trailer has finally dropped.
The trailer feels like two stories split up. There’s the first part, that features the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the relocation of the Japanese on the West Coast, and the Loyalty Questionnaire. The second part features elements of Japanese ghost stories and J-horror. George Takei (who lived in two camps as a child and serves as a consultant for this season) warns of bakemomo, or shapeshifters. A pale Japanese woman goes in and out of frame, men fall from towers, and a spirit ripped right out of The Ring reaches for Chester Nakamura, the main character.
I’ve been nervous about the show. The rep sweats are real in this one. I’ve had debates with people about whether having a Chinese American show runner and a white producer tell a Japanese-American story is cultural appropriation. What about whether having the yurei and ghosts attack the Japanese is right, when it was white Americans who inflicted the trauma of the camps. Or about whether this is the chance to get this story out into the open, and the chance to open the door to so many more.
The trailer left me with some hope. This isn’t put together in a slap-dash manner, and the themes of national loyalty, old country values butting against new world order, and a vengeful pasts haunting a weary present leave me wanting more.
I still have questions: namely about the creation of a fake camp. Of the ten official camps, there was no Colinas de Oro Relocation camps. Why make one up when there were more than enough to chose from? Was it out of respect for the people who did actually live in the real life camps? Or were the real camps inconvenient to the story, which would be ironic considering the history.
But in the end, having watched the trailer over and over, I’m left in excited anticipation. I love a good J-horror (despite being terrified of any other horror genre). And I’m eagerly waiting to see that finally, after decades, the story that runs through my own history will make it into the mainstream.