Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Feature Article

Oh Brave New World That Has Such Lessons In It: Using the Series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex as a Critical Text

The 2002 and 2004 anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex portrays a world where the vast majority of human beings have been transformed into things more like machines.1 Yet perhaps the most remarkable thing about this brave new world is how much it seems like our own. Although their bodies are enhanced and their brains networked, they still engage in human activities. They still read newspapers, books, and magazines, even though the written word has largely been replaced by digital...

Columns, Essay

Grave of the Fireflies and Japan’s Memories of World War II

“September 21, 1945 . . . That was the night I died,” says the spirit of Seita, a fourteenyear-old boy, at the beginning of the 1988 animated film, Grave of the Fireflies.1 The movie opens in a train station in Kobe, Japan. Orphaned and alone, he lost his family and home during the firebomb raids, and he finally succumbed to weakness and delirium caused by slow starvation. The boy dies clutching his only possession, a small candy tin that had become his four-year-old sister’s funeral urn. ...

Columns, Resources

Paranoia Agent: The Anime Series by Satoshi Kon

JAPAN’S LOST DECADE, ABOUT 1992 TO 2003, encompassed the systemic economic, political, and social crisis left by the collapse of the bubble economy. During that time Japan seemed to lose direction, and the Japanese, afflicted by youth violence, alienation, and the aftereffects of a spending spree that brought ruinous debt and spiritual emptiness, were left to wonder what their hard work since the end of World War Two had accomplished. Anyone who wants to understand the existential angst that g...

Columns, Resources

Teaching Modern Japanese History with Animation: Satoshi Kon’s Millenium Actress

I n this essay, I will give suggesions on how anime can be used profitably in the classroom, with specific reference to Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress (Sennen joy†, 2001).1 This animated feature, which distinguished itself by sharing the Grand Prize at the 5th Japan Media Arts Festival held by Japan’s Agency of Cultural Affairs, is so replete with cultural and historical references that it lends itself well to any discussion of modern Japanese culture and history.2...

Feature Article

Girl (and Boy) Troubles in Animeland: Exploring Representations of Gender in Japanese Animation Films

The interest in things Japanese among the American public reached an all-time peak in the late 1990s. One form of Japanese popular culture that has penetrated American consciousness, especially among the younger population, is Japanese animation, or anime. Fan groups, Web sites, and college clubs devoted to anime appreciation are found in almost every major American city. Japanese animation is increasingly one of the most frequently rented genres in video stores. In recent years, several monogr...

Book Review, Resources

The Anime Companion: What’s Japanese in Japanese Animation

By Gilles Poitras BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA: STONE BRIDGE PRESS, 1999 163 PAGES The Anime Companion is an irresistible browsing book, whether you’re interested in anime or not, whether you’re interested in Japanese culture or not. A librarian at San Francisco’s Golden Gate College, Poitras has a special concern about how to reach young people intellectually. He is also a self-proclaimed otaku, or fan of Japanese animation. In the Anime Companion, Poitras combines these two enthusiasms by p...

Feature Article

The Animated Shrine: Using Japanese Animation to Teach Japanese Religion

by Antonia Levi Regardless of whether or not they are actively religious, most young Americans have been strongly influenced by the dominant Judeo-Christian tradition. For them, religion is monotheistic, exclusive, doctrinal, and serious. That makes it difficult for them to understand the Japanese, who are pantheistic, inclusive, syncretic, and often downright playful about beliefs and myths that seem to lie somewhere between allegories and fairy tales. It is not just that the gods are unfami...

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