“Consistently, Uehashi’s works display a respect for native traditions and pre-modern beliefs, not as rivals to science and medicine, but as systems that similarly seek to make sense of the world, sometimes inefficiently, sometimes with a greater degree of success for incorporating spiritual (or in some fantasy settings, magical) elements outside the purview of modern understanding.”
“He remains an immensely influential but highly problematic thinker, with some ideas, such as the abolition of private property, that helped inform some of the strategies of the Communist Party, but others, such as a deep interest in Eugenics, that impart a shadow of sinister Social Darwinism to his starry-eyed pronouncements of global unity: a paradise that requires the destruction of all diversity.”
“Among the glimpses Kang offered of his future world, he foresaw liquidized food, flying houses, high-speed trains, dirigibles and self-driving cars, air conditioning and central heating. Kang’s utopia comes with daily medical check-ups, in a world in which doctors are more highly respected than soldiers. At the culmination of the ‘Great Concord,’ Kang hoped for a further uplift, in which a sufficiently enlightened humanity, lifespans already extended into centuries by medical care and diet, might seek immortality and travel through astral projection.”
“As with the anti-heroes of Chuck Palahniuk‘s Fight Club… to which Catfight might be regarded as a feminist response, the aggression of the belligerent leads derives from the crushing weight of the System, which turns each into an unhappy collaborator when times are good, and a resentful rebel when times are not.”
Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I write a little entry on Sandra Oh and Anne Heche and their near-future parable Catfight, currently airing on Netflix.
“Her most representative work in this mode is surely ‘Talisman’ …, in which an outsider in a European city muses on the reason, presumed religious or magical, why so many women have mutilated their earlobes in order to wear earrings.”
Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I write up the author Mamare Touno, whose work is catnip to any reader who enjoys watching attractive redheads enact policies of social reform.
“Maōyū… begins where most stories end with the confrontation of a human hero and a demon overlord at the culmination of a fifteen-year war. The characters, however, recognize that they have more in common than a simplified account of their conflict might allow, and join forces in to remove the inequalities that led their peoples to fight in the first place.”
Here in Glasgow for the first leg of Scotland Loves Anime, which kicked off for me last night by talking myself hoarse at the Hogwarts-like university, detailing some of the gossip and scandal from the Japanese fantasy scene. For those who were there and interested in following up some of the strands discussed, I spoke about some of the machinations at Studio Ghibli, the very different careers of Motoko Arai and Hiroshi Yamamoto, the uses and abuses of the work of Kenji Miyazawa, as well as the Persian diversion of Yoshiki Tanaka, the Martian sidequels of Hitoshi Yoshioka, and Tomihiko Morimi‘s love of Kyoto.
Thank you to Rob Maslen of the School of Critical Studies for inviting me along, and for all those students who laughed along with me at some of the misfortunes of Japanese authors, particularly as regarding discovering that all their characters had been turned into cats. And for those of you in the audience who wanted to look at my doctoral thesis, you can read it here.
Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I write up Kugane Maruyama, creator of the Overlord series, which “…artfully captures the mindset of the generation raised on Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, not merely in its distraction from the everyday, preoccupied with dramatic events in unseen online worlds, but the risks and hazards to an individual’s moral compass presented by the prospect of power and riches in a realm seemingly devoid of consequences.”
Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I write up the remarkable authorial career of Hiroshi Yamamoto, who started out as an elf-girl called Deedlit.
“In any other country’s sf community, an author like Yamamoto might have been the darling of the convention circuit for decades, and a regular sight at awards ceremonies. But in Japan, where his prolixity and varied output is notable but unremarkable, Yamamoto had to wait until Kyōnen wa Ii-nen ni Naru Darō [“Last Year Should be a Good Year”] (2010) to receive a Seiun Award for long-form fiction. Intimately involved in the post-911 zeitgeist, it imagines a world, but more pointedly an America, invaded by androids from the 24th century, determined to stop contemporary conflicts and terrorism as part of an operation in a much wider-ranging Changewar, the precise aims and consequences of which are hidden from inhabitants of the present day.”
Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I contribute entries on the East Asian anthology films inspired by the controversial Ten Years (Hong Kong). Click on the links to find out about a dozen local film-makers’ takes on what the future could be like in Ten Years Japan, Ten Years Taiwan, and Ten Years Thailand.
Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I write major new entries on some of the big hitters of anime and manga, including Rumiko Takahashi, the creator of Lum (pictured), Masamune Shirow, creator of Ghost in the Shell, and Tetsu Kariya, creator of Oishinbo. My Chinese and Japanese entries in the encyclopedia now amount to more than 160,000 words — that’s two book-length collections of articles.