As a child, I largely missed out on the prominent expressions of Japanese soft power around me- rather than memorizing Pokemon or watching Dragonball Z, I spent the bulk of my time reading and absorbed in the invention of progressively more ill-advised rubber-band guns. When I was eleven my (normally pacifistic) mother, apparently in the throes of a temporary bout of insanity, enrolled me with Chikubu-kai Karate-do- a discipline as notable for its hundreds of years of documented lineage as for its casually brutal training regimen and ingrained disdain of ‘fighting fair’. Somewhat abruptly, Japan was squarely in my radar. With this priming, a chance encounter, two years later, with my high school’s extensive underground anime bootlegging network, and in particular a battered copy of the (in)famous 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン (Shin Seiki Evangelion), set off a fascination with anime that continues to this day. Evangelion, in turn, led me into an interest in narratively unconventional cinema, (Andrei Tarkovsky, Satoshi Kon, Shane Carruth, etc.,) one too many late night debates with my brother regarding the notoriously convoluted Serial Experiments Lain drew me towards literary criticism, and a recommendation from that same brother directed me to enroll into last semester’s seminar, Japanophilia. Having enjoyed myself even more than I expected, I decided to continue this interest this semester with Gross National Cool, and, perhaps, spin the topic off into a Monroe Project this coming summer.