A number of interesting and important news stories have popped up over the past few weeks. We’ve put together a list of some of the top articles covering everything from the roots of J-horror to the influence of Jewish storytelling on Osamu Tezuka’s body of work. Get your fill below:
11/4: Analyzing the history of dissent in Japanese society
This article examines and challenges the sweeping generalization that Japanese society is completely docile by unearthing the historical cases in which radicals and revolutionaries attempted to fight against the hegemonic social order.
“A common perception abroad is that Japanese society is docile. This is partly thanks to Western writers who tried to create a single profile of the Japanese in the early to mid-20th century, such as Ruth Benedict in her 1946 book “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.” Today, this dangerous myth of consensus is still propagated by similar outside observers — and welcomed by Japan’s right.
British-born translator William Andrews combats this myth in “Dissenting Japan,” his recent history of the postwar Japanese left. This much-needed book addresses a range of groups engaged in revolutionary politics, radical protests and counter-culture. In doing so, it provides a perspective on Japanese society that is rarely covered in English.”
11/7: Red-light reading matter
Tokyo's 400-year-old brothel quarters now hosts a bookstore dedicated to its long, intriguing, and controversial history.
“Two years from now, Tokyo’s former licensed brothel quarters, the Yoshiwara Yukaku, will observe its 400th anniversary. Since its opening in 1618, it has survived fires, earthquakes, air raids and a change of location, as well as the Anti-Prostitution Law, which took effect from April 1, 1958.
Despite its studied history, Yoshiwara hasn’t had much to offer in terms of sightseeing or commercial attractions, and even less in terms of culture. With the opening of the Kasutori Shobo bookstore on Sept. 3, however, that may change.”
11/8: Erotic drawings kept in Osamu Tezuka’s closet see light of day
Shinchosha's Shinchō literary magazine published previously unrevealed erotic illustrations by manga pioneer Osamu Tezuka in its December issue on Monday. Tezuka's eldest daugher Rumiko Tezuka found 200 illustrations in Tezuka's workplace in 2014, among other undisclosed works.
“His eldest daughter, Rumiko, found them in 2014. Tezuka died in 1989 at the age of 60.
She chose the 29 illustrations based on the theme of ‘eroticism,’ which was an important factor in his works. They will be carried in the December edition of literary magazine Shincho under the title of ‘Erotica of Osamu Tezuka.’
The 29 works include drawings featuring a glamorous mouse wriggling her body and a naked woman transforming herself into a carp and a white horse.
‘Even animals and insects are sexy, and their transformations produce an erotic atmosphere. Those are the characteristics of my father’s works. When people see them, they feel that he was enjoying drawing them,’ Rumiko said.
11/8: Jewish storytelling and Osamu Tezuka’s work intertwine
This is a great read that uses "The Osamu Tezuka Story" to take a deeper look at the many ways the Japanese master told Jewish stories, and influenced the Jewish storytellers of America’s own comics boom. From Max and David Fleischer's Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor cartoons to Yiddish cartoonist Milt Gross and his silent graphic novel "He Done Her Wrong," readers can find surprising links that lead from Tezuka’s works to Jewish culture and history, and vice versa.
“Readers can find surprising links that lead from Tezuka’s works to Jewish culture and history. In his youth, when Tezuka began shaping his personal style of drawing and storytelling, introducing traits that accompany the mainstream manga industry to this very day (characters with large round eyes, cinematic page layouts, and frequent use of silent pages with no text), he drew influence from fellow Japanese artists along foreign sources of inspiration, most notably Disney. Often overlooked, however, is the equally important influence that Disney’s greatest rivals, the brothers Max and David Fleischer, had on Tezuka with their Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor cartoons that reflected (and sometimes even directly referred to) their creators’ background as Jewish immigrants in urban America. Even less well-known (though nicely referred to in Ban’s book) is the important influence that Tezuka drew from Yiddish cartoonist Milt Gross and his silent graphic novel He Done Her Wrong, which also strongly reflected its author’s Jewish heritage.”
11/10: An examination of the J-horror film and anime genre, from distant past to present.
This article delves into J-horror, or Japanese horror films and anime, and explores the genre’s roots in Japanese myths and folklore. The strange worlds encountered in J-horror films reflect the more eerie stories of ancient Japanese lore.
"The scene: It’s night; someone is alone in a dimly lit room. There’s an eerie stillness, a creeping anxiety. Then, behind them, you notice a strange shape: a hunched-over figure, lurking in a corner. It is standing deathly still. The head is obscured by what looks like tendrils of jet-black hair. A chill runs down your spine as you suddenly realize the person isn’t alone. There’s something in the room with them, something that shouldn’t be there, something anomalous, incongruous … menacing.
Scenes like this have come to define Japanese horror or “J-horror.” The genre’s ability to evoke the supernatural has made it into a worldwide cultural phenomenon, popularized by the films of Takashi Miike and Hideo Nakata, and also by anime, manga and video games. However, while a great deal of attention has been given to modern J-horror, relatively little has been said about its precursors, especially the literary influences that so deeply inform its aesthetic."