Enemy Alien

A Family Drama By Mas Moriya

Logline

When a family is torn from their home and thrust into the harsh confines of a WWII desert prison camp, they confront the realities of war and discrimination as they fight to reclaim their freedom and dignity.

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Endorsed by the JA Community

Episode Structure

Ep. 1: All You Can Carry

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the patriarch of a Japanese American family is arrested by the FBI on charges of treason, causing the family to be separated.

Amid rising tensions, Los Angeles becomes increasingly hostile for the Japanese community. The family's grocery store falls victim to vandalism as daily discrimination escalates into overt violence.

The family, along with the broader Japanese community, is compelled to leave their homes, liquidate their assets, and is then relocated to an unknown location. All the while, they are anxiously searching for their detained father.

EP. 2: Relocation

Now residing in converted horse stalls, the family is forced to adjust to their constrained living conditions under the constant surveillance of guards.

Whispers about a possible informant within the community sow distrust and fear, leading people to become suspicious of one another. Taking advantage of this unrest, guards pilfer food and valuables from the Japanese detainees.

In response to the escalating tensions, a riot erupts targeting both the guards and the alleged informant. To quell the upheaval, the military deploys tanks to restore order.

EP. 3: Manzanar

Transferred to a half-built desert concentration camp, the family faces the grim reality that conditions will only deteriorate. The father rejoins the family, emotionally and physically broken.

When a community leader who has been collaborating with the camp director is assaulted, our vocal son is wrongfully accused and imprisoned. A protest demanding his release escalates when guards open fire on the demonstrators.

EP. 4: Loyalty

As living conditions in the camp deteriorate, a government-issued loyalty questionnaire exacerbates tensions within both the family and the broader community. The brothers are at odds: one argues for volunteering for the military to demonstrate loyalty, while the other insists on refusing until their family is released.

Amidst a severe snowstorm, the family's youngest daughter disappears, sparking an urgent search.

EP. 5: The Draft

A military draft splits our two brothers. The eldest heads to boot camp with other Nisei volunteers.

(Nisei: American-born Japanese)

Our freedom fighter is relocated to an extremely barren and isolated camp for draft resisters.

The rest of the family grapples with a blistering summer, grueling field work, and the father's growing reliance on alcohol for relief.

EP. 6: TULE LAKE

At the disloyalty camp, our rebel becomes part of an activist group, engaging in continuous protests and labor strikes. These actions escalate into confrontations with the military.

Bootcamp proves to be more comfortable than Manzanar. Our eldest forms connections with other draftees and meets their new White commanding officer.

EP. 7: A Divided Unit

In boot camp, our eldest brother finds that Nisei recruits from Hawai'i clash culturally with mainlanders, affecting their team training.

At Tule Lake, our rebel brother joins a negotiating committee focused on mediating between the community and the military, but faces opposition from a group advocating for repatriation to Japan.

Back at Manzanar, the father's drinking leads to aggressive behavior. During a severe dust storm, the mother moves the youngest daughter to a relative's barrack for safety.

EP. 8: Nisei

In Europe, the eldest brother and his Nisei Battalion accomplish two significant feats: they rescue a besieged Texan unit and liberate a French city.

At Tule Lake, the younger, rebellious brother leads a snowy stand-off with the guards. Eventually, the stockade is shut down, and he is released back into the camp, where he joins a group advocating for repatriation as a form of protest.

Back at Manzanar, the family grapples with anxiety for their sons—one on the battlefield and the other recently released from prison—while also coping with the camp's harsh conditions and their isolation from the community.

EP. 9: The War ends

In Europe, the eldest brother with the Nisei Battalion liberates a Jewish death camp, drawing unsettling parallels to their own family's barracks back in America. He and his unit return stateside as celebrated war heroes and reunite with their families still in the camps.

At Tule Lake, an organized protest leads to the younger brother, our activist, being confined in a concrete prison, where he awaits trial.

The families in the camps are informed of their upcoming release, sparking rumors and fears that returning to the West Coast could be perilous.

EP. 10: Resettlement

Upon returning to the West Coast, the family discovers their former home in ruins, with overgrown crops and everything either stolen or damaged.

The veteran son returns as a decorated hero but faces discrimination from the White community. The freedom fighter brother is ostracized for his actions. Mother is abandoned by her friends for having 'delinquent' children, and father's alcoholism deteriorates further. The youngest daughter is bullied upon her return to school.

Bearing emotional scars, the community descends into self-hatred, internal disputes, and depression. Opting for silence over sharing their wartime experiences, the family finds some comfort in being home, free from the barbed wire that once confined them.

Season 2: Redress and Reparations

Years later, the family unit has deteriorated further. Both parents have passed away, and the children, now adults with their own families, discover the truth about the camps, despite their parents' efforts to keep it hidden.

Emerging researchers unearth documents that reveal the unconstitutionality of the family's internment.

Even with a community still divided, activists successfully mobilize to sue the government for their wrongful imprisonment. This leads to a formal apology from then President Regan and financial reparations for the survivors.

A True WWII Story

A Hidden Chapter of American History.

A young Japanese-American faces the harsh realities of life in an concentration camp near Los Angeles. Amidst dust storms and scarcity, Harry's observant nature reveals suspicions of supply theft by the administration. His world is further shaken when he's wrongly accused of violence, leading to escalating tensions within the camp.

As the camp's atmosphere thickens with distrust, of the military, Harry signs a loyalty questionnaire with "no-no" – landing him in a camp for the so-called disloyal. Meanwhile, his brother Ken joins the army, contrasting their paths. Harry's protest and reckless actions in prison starkly mirrors Ken's military battles in Europe.

Post-war, Harry and Ken return to a community divided and a family shattered by the lingering effects of their forced relocation. Their paths diverge in bitterness, symbolizing the fractured identities within the Japanese American community.

Decades later, their children's fight for redress and the Civil Liberties, winning their case for Redress and Reparations.

This story arc powerfully illustrates themes of loyalty, family, and morality over adversity.

A True WWII Story

A Hidden Chapter of American History.

A young Japanese-American faces the harsh realities of life in an internment camp near Los Angeles. Amidst dust storms and scarcity, Harry's observant nature reveals suspicions of supply theft by the administration. His world is further shaken when he's wrongly accused of violence, leading to escalating tensions within the camp.

As the camp's atmosphere thickens with distrust, of the military, Harry signs a loyalty questionnaire with "no-no" – landing him in a camp for the so-called disloyal. Meanwhile, his brother Ken joins the army, contrasting their paths. Harry's hunger strike in prison starkly mirrors Ken's fight in Europe.

Post-war, Harry and Ken return to a community divided and a family shattered by the lingering effects of internment. Their paths diverge in bitterness, symbolizing the fractured identities within the Japanese American community.

Decades later, their children's fight for redress and the Civil Liberties, winning their case for Redress and Reparations.

This story arc powerfully illustrates themes of loyalty, family, and morality over adversity.

Interested? Email me.

An Untold Classic

The Japanese American internment story is an exemplary case study in storytelling because it mirrors the classic hero's journey, a staple of Hollywood narratives. It depicts an individual's transformation from ordinary circumstances to facing extraordinary challenges under unjust internment during WWII.

This journey involves not just physical struggles but also profound internal conflicts, moral dilemmas and family drama. Despite not being widely portrayed in mainstream media yet, this story possesses all the elements of a compelling narrative – the initial call to adventure, confronting trials, finding inner strength, and ultimately, achieving a transformed state.

This story arc powerfully illustrates themes of loyalty, family, and morality over adversity.

More About the Project

"Enemy Alien" is a deeply researched and passionately crafted TV series that explores the experiences of a Japanese American family during WWII. Its creation is a testament to the power of storytelling in preserving and honoring history, particularly the lesser-known narratives of Japanese American internment camps.

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Background Information

The journey began with extensive research into existing films, books, documentaries, and archival materials. The Densho Archives, Go For Broke National Education Center, and the Japanese American National Museum were instrumental resources. Personal visits to Manzanar and conversations with family members, including the creator's grandmother, added depth and authenticity to the project.

Historical Context and Accuracy

"Enemy Alien" blends true events and personal anecdotes to craft a narrative that's historically accurate yet acknowledges individual differences in experiences. This approach ensures a portrayal that's as close to reality as possible, despite the story's fictionalized family.

Character Development

Centered around a single family, the series delves into the complexities of Japanese American identity, contrasting the perspectives of American-born children and their immigrant parents. The narrative vividly depicts their struggles, internal conflicts, and resilience in the face of adversity.

Narrative Structure

Spanning from the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the Redress Movement in 1988, the series uses flashbacks to enrich character backgrounds. Employing a dark, gritty drama style, it aims to convey the sense of danger and tough decisions faced by the characters in internment camps.

Thematic Exploration

Themes such as family dynamics, loyalty, government dissent, and wartime trauma are interwoven into the narrative, resonating with contemporary issues. The series seeks to clarify misconceptions about Japanese-Americans and highlight the intergenerational impact of wartime experiences.

Audience Engagement and Distribution

Engagement strategies include traditional Hollywood marketing complemented by outreach within the JapaneseAmerican community and educational institutions. Plans for multi-platform distribution emphasize the story's global relevance, with a focus on language accessibility and collaboration with cultural institutions.

Challenges and Learning Experiences

Developing "Enemy Alien" was a lesson in patience, teamwork, and overcoming doubts. The project was both a personal and communal educational journey, enhancing the creator's understanding of historical context and the nuances of the Japanese American experience.

Future Aspirations

Planned as a two-season series with potential anthology expansions, "Enemy Alien" aims to leave a lasting educational and emotional impact to the betterment of society.

Impact

"Enemy Alien" stands as a unique and necessary narrative, filling a significant gap in the portrayal of Japanese American history. Its creation reflects a commitment to authenticity, emotional depth, and the power of storytelling to educate and inspire. Through this series, audiences are invited to explore a pivotal chapter in American history and its lasting effects on generations.

Interested? Email me.

The Research Behind the Story

The creation of this series involved an extensive research journey, meticulously curating a diverse range of sources. This included archival notes, audio and video materials, government documents, and a significant body of work by Japanese American authors. In total, the research encompassed over 60 books and 40 narrative films.

Drawing inspiration from over 60 episodes of Japanese television based on similar narratives, I applied a focus on historical accuracy, cross-referencing and validating each source to ensure authenticity. The hero's journey archetype became the narrative backbone, adding emotional depth to the series.

Overcoming the challenges faced by previous similar projects, I aimed to make a meaningful impact by educating the audience about Japanese American history and championing authentic representation in the world of entertainment.

Redress Radio Podcast

"Redress Radio" presents an extensive archival podcast of emotional testimonies given during the 1981 hearings by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians.

This podcast series deeply explores the personal narratives and profound stories of those affected by Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of Japanese Americans and Aleutian and Pribilof Islanders during WWII, culminating in the influential Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

Prime for Hollywood

The marketability of a TV series based on the Japanese American experience during WWII aligns perfectly with the growing demand for Asian American representation in American media. It taps into current interests in government accountability, wartime trauma, and untold WWII stories.

This narrative, rich in historical and emotional depth, offers a unique perspective that has been largely overlooked in mainstream storytelling. Its relevance is heightened by contemporary dialogues around civil liberties and racial justice, making it a timely and compelling project for a diverse audience.

Interested? Email me.

Influences and References

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