The past couple of months have been loaded with interesting articles and important news stories on all manner of topics and issues related to Japan and East Asia. In case you missed any, we’ve put together a list of some of the top articles covering everything from postwar Japanese youth to the kawaii aesthetic to the 20 best non-Ghibli anime films. Get your fill below:
2/16: The Bold Japanese Aesthetic of Kawaii Couture
Street style in Tokyo is famous for bold fashion statements. This article takes an incisive look into the concept of ‘kawaii’ in Japanese fashion.
"Kawaii may be translated as the element of ‘cuteness’ or ‘adorability’ in Japanese culture. The origins of this style, seen as pom-pom hairpieces or even full wigs and costumes for the committed fashionista today, dates back as far as the early 11th century. The use and context of kawaii evolved over centuries from being tied to the vulnerable aspects of human bodies and emotions to be more firmly related to the attraction of children and females who were pitiable, sensitive and compliant."
2/21: When Will the “Postwar” End? Japanese Youth in Search of a Future
"When will Japan bring itself to declare the end of the postwar era?" asks Furuichi Noritoshi in this comprehensive and socially penetrating article.
More than 70 years after the end of WWII, Japanese society has become a sort of "bizarre animated postwar cadaver kept alive through artificial means." What does this mean for the youth of Japan, how has postwar society affected them, and how will this impact Japan's future?
“Japanese teenagers and young adults are remarkably content with their lives, in spite—or perhaps because—of the uncertain future they face. Sociologist Furuichi Noritoshi makes the case that the nation has betrayed its young people by artificially extending the “postwar” economy instead of adapting to the realities of a post-postwar world.”
Read more: http://www.nippon.com/en/in-depth/a04002/
2/24: New Work from Japan’s Leading Novelist Haruki Murakami
Just a few weeks ago, Haruki Murakami released his new novel, “Kishidancho Goroshi” (“Killing Commendatore”), in Japan, and we couldn't be more excited. Well, perhaps we could be once the English translation is released, but nonetheless!
“The latest book is of a man living in the mountains whose life starts to change after encountering the “Commendatore,” meaning commander in Italian.”
3/6: 20 Best Anime Films That Aren’t Studio Ghibli
For quite a few people living outside of Japan who aren't diehard anime fans, anime films can come to be synonymous with Studio Ghibli, and not without due cause: Studio Ghibli has consistently put out some of the best animated films since its inception, striking a chord with international audiences and filmgoers who otherwise aren't exposed to the extensive and often masterful aesthetic medium of animated films.
In light of this, Tofugu has put together a list of the top 20 anime movies not made by Studio Ghibli (below), films ranging from the iconic sci-fi film "Akira" to the psychological thrillers and dramas of the late Satoshi Kon and much more.
“What makes this list unique? No Ghiblis. Check out any other ‘best anime’ list online and over half of it will be filled with films by Miyazaki and his crew. We love ol' Mi-chan as much as the next otaku, but he's not invited to this party. This is a chance for the rest of the anime kingdom to shine (but don't worry, we're working on a separate Ghibli list).”
Check out the list here: http://www.tofugu.com/japan/best-anime-movies/
3/13: Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s debut novel, “Harmless Like You", Strikes a Chord
The New York Times recently reviewed Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s debut novel, “Harmless Like You", and it sounds like a great book. Briefly, it’s about a Japanese woman's artistic quest and its repercussions on her son's life form the narrative crux of this novel about the complexities of identity, art, adolescent friendships and familial bonds, love, loneliness, and reconciliation. Deep stuff!
“Buchanan’s prose is lyrical and evocative, if occasionally overdone. Reflecting Yuki’s artistic sensibility, each chapter narrated from her perspective begins with a description of an exotic shade of pigment — carmine, raw umber, quinacridone gold — selected to correspond to its mood. The language in these sections is insistently color-saturated: Odile is ‘spearmint-eyed,’ a pair of tinted sunglasses are ‘Tropicana orange’ and “citrine-glazed,’ Yuki’s bare knees in the cold are as ‘vermilion as the Red Delicious apples that sat in the kitchen uneaten.’ The effect is like looking at the past through a series of Instagram filters, with even mundane scenes bathed in a romantic glow.”