Special Issue "Japanese Transnational Cinema"

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "New Media".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Marcos Centeno
Website
Guest Editor
Japanese Programme Director, Department of Cultures and Languages, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, London WC1E 7HX, UK
Interests: Japanese cinema; transculturality; film representation of minorities; avant-garde; non-fiction film; film theory and film history
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Nori Morita
Website
Guest Editor
Professor in Literature and Film Studies, Vice-President for International Affairs, School of International Liberal Studies, Graduate School of International Culture and Communication, Waseda University, Tokyo 169-8050, Japan
Interests: theory and analysis of film realism; neorealismo and post-neorealimo; studies of Japanese auteurs

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Since the postwar discovery of Japanese cinema in the West, there has been a tendency to draw on essentialist visions of this filmography, understating its uniqueness as a consequence of its isolation from the rest of the World and the correlation to its aesthetic and philosophical tradition. In other words, Japanese cinema has been often regarded as an unequivocal result of Japanese culture. However, cinema has been international since its inception, and in recent years, the paradigm of "National Cinema" has been increasingly called into question.

This Special Issue on "Japanese Transnational Cinema" proposes a new methodology, attempting to challenge this old paradigm by highlighting the limitations of studying Japanese film as a cinematic phenomenon confined to its national borders.  Is Japanese cinema a national cinema? To what extent is Japanese cinema Japanese? On the one hand, filmmakers have always been exposed to the international flow of images, stories, iconographies, and film theories. Even the masters epitomising this national filmography, such as Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, and even Yasujirō Ozu—according to Donald Richie, "the most Japanese of the Japanese filmmakers"—were deeply inspired by American films. Are external influences and Japanese film uniqueness incompatible? To what extent should Japanese specificity also be assessed as a singular adaptation of foreign theoretical frameworks and codes of representation?

On the other hand, Japanese cinema has also involved other cultures in terms of representation. What were the successes and failures in its portrayal of the cultural diversity of Japanese society? What are the contradictions in the Japanese representation of "other" cultures? In addition, the Japanese film industry cannot be completely understood without taking into account its huge transnational character from a production-distribution-and-consumption point of view. In that sense, to what extent films can still be regarded as products of a domestic market when they belong to a transnational or even global culture?

Manuscripts are invited to present innovative analytical approaches and theoretical frameworks aimed at discussing the cultural complexities of Japanese film production, and bring to the fore examples illustrating how Japanese cinema should be assessed in its transnational dimension (understanding "transnational" in a wide sense, which may include studies of its aesthetic and philosophical nature, as well on transnational productions and representations challenging the notion of Japaneseness). 

We invite 4000–6000 word (excluding bibliography) scholarly articles on this theme by 20 August 2018. Potential topic areas could include:

  • Transculturality in Japanese films.
  • The notion of "national cinema" in the Japanese case.
  • Representation of cultural diversity in Japanese society.
  • Japanese films representing realities beyond Japan.
  • Transnational productions and collaborations.
  • International distribution and consumption of Japanese films.
  • Japanese cinema as a "global cinema".
  • Transnational influences from the rest of the World on Japan and vice versa.
  • The adaptation of foreign cinematic cannons, and patterns of representation in Japan.
  • The adaptation of theoretical frameworks and tools in Japan.

Dr. Marcos Centeno
Dr. Nori Morita
Guest Editors

Acknowledgements: we are deeply grateful to DAIWA Anglo-Japanese and Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation for their support to the project entitled "Japanese Transnational Cinema" which involves several universities in the UK and Japan and includes activities such as the publication of this Special Issue.

texttext

Keywords

  • transculturality
  • (trans)national cinema
  • cultural blending
  • film representation of cultural diversity

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Japan and the “Transnational Cinema”
Arts 2020, 9(2), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9020050 - 17 Apr 2020
Abstract
Since the Western “discovery” of Japanese cinema in the 1950s, there has been a tendency among both Film Studies and Japanese Studies scholars to draw on essentialist visions of Japanese Cinema, understating its uniqueness as a consequence of its isolation from the rest [...] Read more.
Since the Western “discovery” of Japanese cinema in the 1950s, there has been a tendency among both Film Studies and Japanese Studies scholars to draw on essentialist visions of Japanese Cinema, understating its uniqueness as a consequence of its isolation from the rest of the world [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Japanese Transnational Cinema)

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Gendering the Japanese Empire: Ri Kōran as ‘Transnational’ Star?
Arts 2019, 8(4), 153; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8040153 - 21 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This paper aims to assess how Ri Kōran came to represent the gender dichotomies of the Japanese Empire. Looking at two propaganda films, Suzhou Nights (1941) and Sayon’s Bell (1943), I will work out how the roles she played are indicative of the [...] Read more.
This paper aims to assess how Ri Kōran came to represent the gender dichotomies of the Japanese Empire. Looking at two propaganda films, Suzhou Nights (1941) and Sayon’s Bell (1943), I will work out how the roles she played are indicative of the gender roles in the Japanese Empire, taking into account her transnational star persona. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Japanese Transnational Cinema)
Open AccessArticle
The Aesthetics of Flow and Cut in the Way of Film: Towards Transnational Transfers of East Asian Concepts to Western Film Theory
Arts 2019, 8(3), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8030119 - 16 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The general concepts in theorising the aesthetics of film are still rooted in occidental traditions. Thus, thinking about film is dominated by Western terms and aesthetic paradigms—such as “pieces of work”, the representation of reality or regarding the arts as an act of [...] Read more.
The general concepts in theorising the aesthetics of film are still rooted in occidental traditions. Thus, thinking about film is dominated by Western terms and aesthetic paradigms—such as “pieces of work”, the representation of reality or regarding the arts as an act of communication. From such an angle, it is difficult to describe different characteristics of the cinematic image, for example, its ephemeral character. In contrast to occidental thinking, the cultural traditions of East Asia are based on the concept of the way ( or dao), which allow for the description of aesthetics of transitions and transformations. Inspired by the concept of kire-tsuzuki, as developed by the Japanese–German philosopher Ryōsuke Ōhashi, I shall, in this paper, describe some alternative ways of understanding appearance and occurrence in relation to the cinematic picture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Japanese Transnational Cinema)
Open AccessArticle
Metamorphosis as Origin—Koji Yamamura’s Short Animation Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor
Arts 2019, 8(2), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8020054 - 22 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In the beginning was metamorphosis. This paradoxical thought, which the ancient Roman poet Ovidius and modern author Franz Kafka represented in their literary works, is visualized in Koji Yamamura’s short animation Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor. Diverse metamorphoses that do and do not [...] Read more.
In the beginning was metamorphosis. This paradoxical thought, which the ancient Roman poet Ovidius and modern author Franz Kafka represented in their literary works, is visualized in Koji Yamamura’s short animation Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor. Diverse metamorphoses that do and do not appear in the Kafka original are so elaborately and dynamically depicted in this animation that no live-action film could possibly represent them. In addition, the film itself can be seen as a metamorphosis, as it is an animation converted from a short story. Such a dominance of metamorphosis is also true for the transculturality and transnationalism of Yamamura’s animation. In a sense, the film results from a cultural integration of foreign language and image. However, this integration is also part of the swirl of metamorphosis. The traditional performance art Kyogen, which the director uses to voice the main characters in the animation, could not integrate foreign culture without its own diversification. Yamamura’s animation demonstrates that transculturality is another name for fundamental metamorphosis in which diversification and integration occur simultaneously. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Japanese Transnational Cinema)
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Open AccessArticle
Naomi Kawase’s “Cinema of Place”
Arts 2019, 8(2), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8020043 - 28 Mar 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
This article evaluates contemporary filmmaker Naomi Kawase’s (b. 1969–) status within Japan’s film industry as well as her place among women directors. Using Kawase’s three award winning features Suzaku (Moe no suzaku, 1997), Shara (Sharasōju, 2003), and Mogari (Mogari no mori, 2007) as [...] Read more.
This article evaluates contemporary filmmaker Naomi Kawase’s (b. 1969–) status within Japan’s film industry as well as her place among women directors. Using Kawase’s three award winning features Suzaku (Moe no suzaku, 1997), Shara (Sharasōju, 2003), and Mogari (Mogari no mori, 2007) as the basis of my analysis, I examine the way in which these films illuminate the construction of Kawase’s female authorship in relation to a specific location. While Kawase has made a number of critically and commercially successful films since 2007, I limit my discussion to her early narrative works set in Nara, Japan in order to illuminate the significance of the international film festival apparatus in establishing and upholding the discourse of auteurism in relation to regional identity. Through my analysis I argue that Kawase successfully negotiates this discourse through a strategy of self-promotion that emphasizes a “cinema of place” within the broader context of international film festivals such as Cannes. Kawase’s “cinema of place” ultimately allows her to rearticulate the meaning of female authorship within an art cinema context by representing a new national cinema that challenges the structures and boundaries of Japan’s studio system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Japanese Transnational Cinema)
Open AccessArticle
Japan’s New Left and New Wave. An Ideology’s Perspective as an Alternative to That of National Cinema
Arts 2019, 8(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8010001 - 20 Dec 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Starting from the perspective that national cinema is not a neutral concept, but rather a film expression with ideological implications, in this article I will argue that what should be analysed in films is not what connects them to certain nations, but with [...] Read more.
Starting from the perspective that national cinema is not a neutral concept, but rather a film expression with ideological implications, in this article I will argue that what should be analysed in films is not what connects them to certain nations, but with certain ideologies. Rather than claiming the national nature of a film, it is more accurate to identify for instance elements of a national ideology underlying the film. It can be more enriching to analyse different film trends that are based on their connections with different ideologies, thus stressing their political nature, rather than highlighting cultural or geographical features in order to determine the supposedly natural outline of national cinemas. From this point of view, I consider the Japanese New Wave cinema of the 1960s and early 1970s to be a reflection of Japan’s coetaneous New Left ideology. In order to illustrate this political reading of the Japanese New Wave, I focus on the analysis of a paradigmatic film: Eros + Massacre (Erosu purasu Gyakusatsu 1969), directed by Yoshida Kijū. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Japanese Transnational Cinema)
Open AccessArticle
Japan in Spain. Japanese Culture through Spanish Eyes in the Film Gisaku
Arts 2018, 7(4), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7040093 - 28 Nov 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Gisaku (2005), by Baltasar Pedrosa, is a unique Spanish movie that was produced to sell the Spanish country brand to visitors attending the Spanish Pavilion at Expo Aichi 2005. It is a cartoon feature production that builds a fantastic plot combining the Expo’s [...] Read more.
Gisaku (2005), by Baltasar Pedrosa, is a unique Spanish movie that was produced to sell the Spanish country brand to visitors attending the Spanish Pavilion at Expo Aichi 2005. It is a cartoon feature production that builds a fantastic plot combining the Expo’s theme, the Spanish institutional objective of showing a good image of the country, and the aim of pleasing the target. This paper focuses on the last issue, more specifically on the narrative and production strategies of transcultural exchange developed to attract the Japanese audience. We analyze the movie from a discursive perspective. It is our hypothesis that Gisaku tries to empathize with its target by constructing a certain representation of the Japanese national culture the features of which come from an imagery of Japan negotiated in both traditional and renewed ways from Spain. It is a hybrid anime that deals with transnational representations of the Japanese national identity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Japanese Transnational Cinema)
Open AccessArticle
Introduction. The Misleading Discovery of Japanese National Cinema
Arts 2018, 7(4), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7040087 - 26 Nov 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
The Western ‘discovery’ of Japanese cinema in the 1950s prompted scholars to articulate essentialist visions understanding its singularities as a result of its isolation from the rest of the world and its close links to local aesthetic and philosophical traditions. Recent approaches however, [...] Read more.
The Western ‘discovery’ of Japanese cinema in the 1950s prompted scholars to articulate essentialist visions understanding its singularities as a result of its isolation from the rest of the world and its close links to local aesthetic and philosophical traditions. Recent approaches however, have evidenced the limitations of this paradigm of ‘national cinema’. Higson (1989) opened a critical discussion on the existing consumption, text and production-based approaches to this concept. This article draws on Higson´s contribution and calls into question traditional theorising of Japanese film as a national cinema. Contradictions are illustrated by assessing the other side of the ‘discovery’ of Japanese cinema: certain gendaigeki works that succeeded at the domestic box office while jidaigeki burst into European film festivals. The Taiyōzoku and subsequent Mukokuseki Action films created a new postwar iconography by adapting codes of representation from Hollywood youth and western films. This article does not attempt to deny the uniqueness of this film culture, but rather seeks to highlight the need to reformulate the paradigm of national cinema in the Japanese case, and illustrate the sense in which it was created from outside, failing to recognise its reach transnational intertextuality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Japanese Transnational Cinema)
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Open AccessArticle
Intertextuality and Mise en Abyme in Nobuhiro Suwa’s H Story and A Perfect Couple. Between European Modernity and Japan
Arts 2018, 7(4), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7040057 - 01 Oct 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Nobuhiro Suwa, often called “the most French of Japanese directors”, has a complex relationship with European cinematic modernity. His two feature films H Story (2001) and A Perfect Couple (2005) can provide useful case studies, as they were created in dialogue with two [...] Read more.
Nobuhiro Suwa, often called “the most French of Japanese directors”, has a complex relationship with European cinematic modernity. His two feature films H Story (2001) and A Perfect Couple (2005) can provide useful case studies, as they were created in dialogue with two key references of that modernity: Hiroshima mon amour (1959, Alain Resnais) and Journey to Italy (Viaggio in Italia, 1954, Roberto Rossellini), respectively. Both films tend to confront and gloss their previous pairs, but they are also continuations of their concerns and their aesthetical discoveries. The presence of intertextuality elements connecting those films, as well as the use of myse en abyme structures are deeply analyzed in this article to attain a greater understanding on how this process of transcultural dialogue works. Besides, both films exemplify different ways of developing the references on which they are built, namely deconstruction for H Story and reconstruction for A Perfect Couple. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Japanese Transnational Cinema)
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Open AccessArticle
From ‘Scottish’ Play to Japanese Film: Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood
Arts 2018, 7(3), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts7030050 - 10 Sep 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Shakespeare’s plays have become the subject of filmic remakes, as well as the source for others’ plot lines. This transfer of Shakespeare’s plays to film presents a challenge to filmmakers’ auterial ingenuity: Is a film director more challenged when producing a Shakespearean play [...] Read more.
Shakespeare’s plays have become the subject of filmic remakes, as well as the source for others’ plot lines. This transfer of Shakespeare’s plays to film presents a challenge to filmmakers’ auterial ingenuity: Is a film director more challenged when producing a Shakespearean play than the stage director? Does having auterial ingenuity imply that the film-maker is somehow freer than the director of a play to change a Shakespearean text? Does this allow for the language of the plays to be changed—not just translated from English to Japanese, for example, but to be updated, edited, abridged, ignored for a large part? For some scholars, this last is more expropriation than pure Shakespeare on screen and under this category we might find Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (Kumonosu-jō 1957), the subject of this essay. Here, I explore how this difficult tale was translated into a Japanese context, a society mistakenly assumed to be free of Christian notions of guilt, through the transcultural move of referring to Noh theatre, aligning the story with these Buddhist morality plays. In this manner Kurosawa found a point of commonality between Japan and the West when it came to stories of violence, guilt, and the problem of redemption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Japanese Transnational Cinema)
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