Journal Name: Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies: September, 2002, Vol.14, No.2
Print ISSN: 0955-5803, Online ISSN:1469-932X
Between cinema and anime (pp183 - 189)
Before anime: animation and the Pure Film Movement in pre-war Japan (pp191 - 209)
This article looks at animation in conjunction with jun'eigageki undo, the Pure Film Movement, that challenged the popularity of mainstream commercial shinpa film and period drama film to advocate the birth of 'Japanese cinema' in Taisho Japan. This means a return to an historical moment when the cinema was being discursively constructed as an object of knowledge in Japan. At that time, animation was not defined as distinct from cinema in terms of social regulations or production concerns. As a result, animation was largely treated in the same way as cinema, and was shaped together with it under similar conditions. Animation, together with cinema, came under the scrutiny of public educators, censors and national ideologues - at the same time that film reformers were arguing for effective uses of camera and narrative in cinema. The point of intersection for these diverse concerns was the construction of a national cinema for international dissemination. Cinema in Japan emerged as national cinema, formed by specific discourses on 'Japan' and on 'cinema'. Animation in Japan was inseparable from this 'Japanese cinema'. Thus, by exploring animation in conjunction with the construction of cinema in Taisho Japan, this article examines what it means to talk about something like anime or 'Japanimation' in the present.
Tokyo, the movie (pp211 - 224)
This article traces the representation of Tokyo in Japanese cinema from the 1930s to the 1990s. It argues that there is no recognizable image of Tokyo, but the centrality of the city to the Japanese cinema has transformed the metropolis into a system of representation.The apocalypticism of Tokyo is traced back to the pre-cinematic, pre-modern combustible city of Edo, through its twice-over destruction in the twentieth century, and linked to the dominant genre of science-fiction anime film of the present. I argue that the ritualized destruction of Tokyo has become the ground for the discursive city that has no referent. Between these two outer historical limits of the pre-modern and the technologically out-of-control city we find the classicism of the studio period of Japanese cinema, followed by the 'New Wave' depiction of urban space. If the former transformed the city into a network of discrete villages separated by liminal transportation links, suburban wastelands and dangerous nightlife, the latter addressed the loss of identity and disorientation produced within urban space. While Japanese filmmakers have always been drawn to Tokyo as a production site and as a narrative site, they have also transformed it into a virtual city that is constantly reproducing itself as a discursive system.
Towards the feminine sublime, or the story of 'a twinkling monad, shape-shifting across dimension': intermediality, fantasy and special effects in cyberpunk film and animation (pp225 - 268)
Intermediality and special effects (FX) enjoyed a privileged status in the science fiction 'cinema of attractions' in the 1990s. Intermediality designates the interactions, mutual refashioning or remediation, and the conceptual fusions occurring between various media in a given cultural production or between several media elements, forms and techniques in a single medium. This article examines the transfers, transformations and fusions between analogue (photographic-based) cinema, photography, 2-D animation, computer animation and digital cinema in two cyberpunk films: Oshii Mamoru's Ghost in the Shell (Kokaku kidotai, 1995) and Larry and Andy Wachowski's The Matrix (1999). My analysis also explores the gender fantasies and peculiar transitional imagination generated by special effects in the two films. A careful examination of intermedial processes in Ghost in the Shell reveals that its reinvention of cyberpunk, and of analogue and new media produces a new paradigm for the history of cinema that reinstates animation as the pivotal structural dynamics, unconscious and conceptual architecture of cinema. The Matrix rewrites the history of cinema as the story of FX technologies, and of the fantasies constitutive of, or made possible by, special effects techniques. What might be called the fantasy of the feminine sublime in Ghost in the Shell allows the film to redefine female creativity as the central libidinal, technological and aesthetic drive in twentieth-century visual culture. The fantasy of the tesseract (a four-dimensional geometric figure that came to be regarded as the structural operating principle of cinema, animation and the digital morph) is enlisted in Oshii's anime to express animation's longing for the fourth dimension. In The Matrix the subversive potential of this fantastic figure serves mainly to articulate the crisis of analogue cinema in a period of transition to computer culture.
From kino-eye to anime-eye/ai: the filmed and the animated in Imamura Taihei's media theory (pp269 - 296)
As a contribution to the new critical work on animation and new media, this article re-animates the forgotten Japanese philosopher of media Imamura Taihei. Imamura'swork of the late 1930s and 1940s is not only the first attempt in Japanese to conceptualize the difference between film and animation, but his two major works Theory of Animation (1948) and Theory of Documentary Film (1940) represent the earliest philosophical attempt to think through the difference between film and animation in any language. Tracking Imamura's deployment of the notion of the filmed and the animated through these two books, I attempt to demonstrate the utility of these concepts for contemporary understandings of digital phenomena of all kinds. Imamura's analysis advances current understanding of visual media in that he shows the ways in which filmed and animated images are immanent to shifts in capitalism. In so doing, he provides a framework that, with just a small upgrade, can be redeployed to configure the visual logics of the so-called new economy and e-commerce. Finally, although Imamura reads animation as in some sense epiphenomenal to Fordism and Taylorism, he also provides critical maps and escape routes from these capitalist techniques by arguing that animation points to utopian possibilities beyond and between regimes that demand the extraction of surplus from disciplined, laboring bodies.
From Edogawa to Miyazaki: cinematic and anime-ic architectures of early and late twentieth-century Japan (pp297 - 327)
The influence of Miyazaki Hayao,whose animated films consistently break Japanese film box-office records, and those of Japanese anime in general, is locatable within an increasingly global interest in new media - an interest that is accompanied by a sense that new media are inaugurating new modes of sociality. This is not altogether new: earlier in the twentieth century, for example, Edogawa Rampo depicted the onset of modern conditions in Japan in terms of filmic modes of orientation. This article assumes that both the early and late twentieth century are transformative eras - and, focusing first on an earlier twentieth-century story by Edogawa, and then the late twentieth-century work of Miyazaki (and other anime creators), it views the two eras as a relation between filmic and 'anime-ic' conditions. These conditions do have technical grounds; the article examines claims regarding privileged technologies (the analog versus the digital) and orientations supposedly constructed within these technologies (especially of perspectival depth versus surface 'flatness'). But I also argue that these conditions are systemic (including economic relations) and epistemic, and therefore part of more general shifts in the horizons of everyday life. Juxtaposing the two eras in this way provides a history of sorts, while it also allows for consideration of arguments that new media are somehow emancipatory.
From animation to anime: drawing movements and moving drawings (pp329 - 367)
This essay deals with two kinds of movement common in cel animation: 'drawing movements' and 'moving drawings'. Drawing movements is common in traditional cel animation that strives for full animation. The latter ndash; moving drawings - becomes pronounced in techniques of limited animation, common in anime. The goal is not, however, to identify and consolidate differences between animation and anime. On the contrary, this paper explores how drawing movements entails a decoding of live-action cinema,which is intensified in the techniques of moving drawings that are prevalent in anime. Thus, anime is seen as a part of movement away from one kind of cinematic experience, towards something like new media and information. The goal of the essay is to think across media, to explore the ways in which different movements have an impact on narrative, genre and spectatorship. Miyazaki Hayao's Tenkuno shiro Raputa (Castle in the sky) (Studio Ghibli, 1986) provides a site for analysis of the ways in which anime technique generates and exploits potentials such as flatness, jitter and weightlessness. Miyazaki's emphasis on floating and gliding presents one way to deal with 'anime-ic' potentials - one that has definite consequences for the imagination of gender, history and nature, as well as the anime-ic experience of information.
Japan Forum (2002)
Copyright ©2002 BAJS
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