In 1943, Momotaro no Umiwashi (Momotaro's Sea Eagles), an animated propaganda film directed by Mitsuyo Seo, was released. With the support of the Navy Ministry, this film featured the attack on Pearl Harbor. Seo also directed an animated feature film called Momotarō: Umi no Shinpei (Momotaro: Sacred Sailors), which was released in 1945. Recently, Momotarō Umi no Shinpei has drawn attention as the “roots” of anime (Japanese animation). On the other hand, Momotarō no Umiwashi is relatively ignored by previous research. However, Momotarō: Umi no Shinpei was made as the sequel to Momotarō no Umiwashi. In order to study the roots of anime, it is important to closely examine Momotarō no Umiwashi. Once, Japanese animation was called manga eiga (manga film). I argue that Seo’s Momotaro series was an attempt to expand the concept of manga film. Momotarō no Umiwashi adopted elements of bunka eiga (culture film), that is, documentary film. The movie referred to news photographs and used cinematic techniques. In Momotarō: Umi no Shinpei, Seo introduced tragedy and violent images to manga film. By adopting such content and techniques that until then were rarely used in manga film, Seo tried to expand the concept of manga film.
This paper analyzes the relationship among the representations of indigenous people and women in the graphic magazine Manchuria Graph, published from the 1930s to 40s, and the political background of Manchukuo as a colony. I argued that Manchuria Graph that had been criticized as inappropriate artistry for the wartime pursuits was, in fact, mutually dependent on Japanese colonialism. Manchuria Graph is appropriate for the research on photographers of Art Photography and New Photography schools of the 1930s mainland Japan who were mobilized for propaganda during the wartime. Researchers have discussed the artistic and political aspects of Manchuria Graph separately. In contrast, I examine the tension between the artistry of Manchuria Graph and the colonial ideology of Manchukuo. A previous study has shown that Manchuria Graph was intentionally produced as the modernist work of Art Photography in opposition to the dominant Reportage Photography of mainland Japan. However, its images were filled with the artistry of resistance supported by the transnational network of imperial Japan and in return worked to keep and reinforce that network.
This essay focuses on the stunts in which Jackie Chan falls down. Previous studies have argued that the fact that he does almost all his own stunts emphasizes the corporeal authenticity of his body. However, the unusual editing which repeats the falling shots in Project A (1983) and Police Story (1985) conveys not only corporeality but also what I call an incorporeal body. His dangerous stunts certainly injure his body, and his pain affects bodies of spectators, but at the same time, the repetitive editing playfully cancels them out. In addition, the repetition even obstructs narrative progression. Therefore, the repetition in Chan’s films has a similar function to gags of slapstick comedy, and his body comes close to the figurative performance of the early animation. This essay theoretically interprets the representation of Chan’s falling, comparing it with classical comedy movies, such as Harold Lloyd’s and Buster Keaton’s, and animation shorts and features which Disney had produced during the 1920s-40s. It thereby demonstrates that Chan’s action is an attempt to overcome his corporeality by transforming his body and spaces around him into incorporeal figuration.
After the Toho strikes, the filmmaking and screening sponsored by labor unions had been conducted as “movement.” In the early 1980s, a citizens’ group started a media campaign to make and screen three anti-nuclear weapons films, using the unreleased film archives in the US, and it was called “the Ten Feet Movement.” The films promoted as “movement” occupy a central place in the history of non-theatrical films in Japan, and this paper examines the question of what “movement” means for cinema by drawing attention not only to the film text but also to various discursive practices such as collective actions and cross media development, referring to the discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. It leads to the conclusion that the Ten Feet Movement was an attempt to construct the discourse of “citizens” and to set up real spaces for “citizens” to exist. In this movement, Japanese militarism before the Second World War, Shinto nationalism, conservatives, and patriarchy were “articulated,” all of which were represented negatively through the cruel moving images of the surviving victims (Hibakusha) and charred bodies, and then “citizens” were constructed by “the chain of equivalence” between different social groups, most notably Hibakusha, Christians, house wives (women), workers, college students, and Koreans residing in Japan. It is assumed that this mechanism functioned in the movement cinema led by labor unions, where the discourse of “workers” or “the people” was constructed beyond the differences of occupations, wages and ages, and where a variety of their activities related to the screening created real places for “workers” or “the people” to interact with each other.
Since the Japanese defeat until the beginning of the 1960s, there appeared many films called “fūzoku eiga (film of manners).” Its trait has been seen in recording its contemporary lifestyles and landscapes with a hope to grasp people’s thoughts and values. As the first step toward the comprehensive study of the possibility of postwar “fūzoku eiga,” this article focuses on Minoru Shibuya, who was called an expert of “fūzoku eiga” at that time. By comparing his postwar film, Jiyū Gakkō (School of Liberty, 1951), with its original novel and the other adaptation by Kōzaburō Yoshimura (1951), it explores the significance of Shibuya’s film as “fūzoku eiga” in the history of Japanese cinema and society. Previous research about Shibuya’s works identifies two characteristics of his particular style: the continuation of trauma about WWII and the emphasis on both spatial and psychological flatness without deep emotions. To explore the relationship between these two characteristics, I analyze the male protagonist’s lying on a flat plane as a crucial motif of the film. This behavior has a dual meaning, hopelessness and equality, and it implies the protagonist’s psychological lack of any motivation. I historicize this psychology as “kyodatsu (despondency),” which prevailed throughout Japanese society immediately after the war, and indicates that the film constructs records of its contemporary society from this depressed state of mind. Shibuya’s film as “fūzoku eiga” has a radical potential to analyze the ambiguous public mind of postwar society.
This paper positions Teshigahara Hiroshi’s Hokusai (Seinen production, 1953) as an early work of “shutai (subject)” cinematic movement. From the early 1950's, Teshigahara was involved in several art movements, and interacted with members of the Kindai-bungaku which became the center of the Shutaisei-ronsou (divate about subjectivity) in the late 1940s. Against this background, Teshigahara took over the project of making a film on Katsushika Hokusai on which Takiguchi Shuzō had been working, and created his own Hokusai film, which became his directorial debut. By focusing on Teshigahara’s early engagement with the “shutai” discourse as the context, with compare the scenario of Hokusai left by Takiguchi with the aforementioned reworking by Teshigahara. I will also observe the influence of the works of Luciano Emmer and Alain Resnais, which “narrative” paintings. In conclusion, I point out that some problems regarding the problematisation of Hokusai in the context of “shutai”. Because Hokusai predates Japanese New Wave’s activity, which also concerned “shutai”, this work is positioned as burgeoning in the cinematic movement over the “shutai”.
In this paper, I present empirical discussion of the business conditions and different trends of the six major companies in the Toy Film industry from the 1920s to around 1940, based on an historical analysis of toy projectors and films. Toy Film refers to 35 mm movie film and the projector for children mainly made before the World War II. Toy Film companies formed a derived area of the film industry by secondary use of theatrically released film. Toy Film brands include Lion, Haguruma, Kujyaku, King of Tokyo, Asahi-Katsudo and Daimai-Kinograph of Osaka. Although previous research has mentioned these brand names, their actual conditions remain unknown. Also, the specificities of each company business practice have not been discussed. In this paper, in order to shed light on the unknown diversity of the Japanese movie industry, I analyze the distribution and the sales strategies of each company in Tokyo and Osaka in a comparative manner drawing on the methodology of media archeology. Media Archeology archives short-lived media deviating from phylogentic methods as "space of dispersion". The Japanese Toy Film culture operated on dismantling and appropriating of the theatrical film, thereby allowing not movie professionals but toy companies and children as consumers to deconstruct the movie, producing countless variations and showing an unprecedented expansion. In the traditional film history, these are “fragments” and lost “miscellaneous things”, but from a perspective that encompasses image culture as a whole, it can be said that the variations of the Japanese Toy Film practice and its industry are of vital importance.
This paper examines Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige, an adaptation of Christopher Priest’s eponymous novel. The Prestige is the story of two magicians – Alfred Borden and Robert Angier. They confront each other to be a better magician. Borden is an ingenious magician. He creates a trick called “The Transported Man”. On the other hand, Anger is a natural “Showman” who dramatically adapts Borden’s “The Transported Man” into a successful stage production. In analyzing this film, this paper focuses on the opening and closing sequences in which silk hats are scattered on the ground. In The Fictional Christopher Nolan, Todd McGowan states that “the excess hats are the waste product that creation necessarily produces”. His incisive remark sheds light on some aspects of Nolan’s filmmaking practice. However, whether the silk hats are merely the waste product is a matter of argument. There is a possibility that the silk hats will have various meanings in this film. This paper explores the roles and meanings of the silk hats in The Prestige by considering its history and representation.