I can’t say what I would have to say about the orientalism in Daredevil Season Two any better than Arthur Chu, so I will leave you to read that and bristle at will.
My thought process upon reading about Daredevil killing Nobu and not counting it as killing a person went as follows:
- Wow. I watched that whole show and saw what happened and accepted that Daredevil killing Nobu wasn’t killing a person.
- Wow. I have spent the last 18 years professionally raising my fist on behalf of Asian America and I didn’t catch the fact that Daredevil as good as said that Nobu wasn’t really a person.
- Wow. That internalized racism will getcha coming and going.
- Well, okay, maybe Daredevil didn’t actually think he’d killed Nobu. I mean, yes, he saw that Nobu was covered with gasoline and he hit the light with his stick (heh) which caused sparks to fall and ignite it. And it was really ambiguous to me whether or not that was intentional. And yes, he did watch Nobu writhe around, in flames, and fall still. But on the other hand, he was distracted immediately afterwards by having to fight for his life against Wilson Fisk, losing, and then having to escape. So maybe he thought Fisk, as Nobu’s ally-in-evil would give Nobu aid.
- But wait, doesn’t Fisk, upon coming into the room to confront Daredevil, thank him for taking Nobu out? And doesn’t Daredevil accept this, rather than looking over at the maybe-unconscious Nobu and saying, “Yeah, you should lowkey do something about that?”
- But maybe this was all just an oversight by the writers, who knew that Nobu was going to come back (yes, we all knew that Nobu was gonna come back) in a subsequent season so they didn’t bother to establish clearly that he wasn’t dead. Yeah, that’s probably it.
In the absence of clarity on this question, I just left it ambiguous. Probably Daredevil — the show, its producers, and writers — is careless with the carelessness of white privilege, rather than radically, if unconsciously, racist.
But now that the second season is out, and Daredevil, upon re-encountering the inevitably burn-scarred Nobu, expresses surprise that he is still alive because he thought he had died. Yes, haloed Matt Murdock thought the head ninja died of his Daredevil-caused injuries. That kinda sorta exactly means Daredevil killed him. Like, would-be-tried-for-second-degree-murder killed him because there are no Stand Your Ground laws in NY, and there was that big window just behind him, and he didn’t leave mainly because… he didn’t wanna back down…? And yet, even after that, Murdock went through a whole thing again in season two about popping his murder cherry and should he or shouldn’t he and blah blah blah.
And then he decides not to and — after throwing Nobu off a tenement roof in a move that would kill a non-oriental-badguy even though Daredevs doesn’t even know yet that Nobu can come back from the dead although he suspects it and Nobu does in fact die which we know because we get to see him weirdly coming back to life in his mysticaloriental way which means that Daredevs actually for real killed him twice — he congratulates himself for keeping his murderginity purity ring on.
It’s official: the Matt Murdock character and, by extension, everyone who has any say at all in what goes into Daredevil scripts, thinks killing a slope ain’t really killing.
I said it. Now, don’t even get me started about the white virgin/whore of color complex Daredevil‘s got goin’ on.
PS: I just finished writing this and went looking for press photos to make it pretty with. There are no official press photos of the Nobu character and only one of the actor’s headshot. QED.