Born in Virginia during the infamously Orwellian year of 1984, my formative years were spent during the Cold War/Reagan/Thatcher/Bubble Era being exposed to the anime mish-mash of “Voltron” and the exploits of four adolescent, anthropomorphic shelled reptiles skilled in the Japanese arts of ninjitsu and American art of pizza consumption.
The cable boom of American television brought documentary channels into my home and with them histories of noble warriors in brightly brocaded armor, taking one another’s heads, dying for their loyalties (sometimes at their own hand), and taking the time amidst it all to fix a cup of tea and write some seriously emo poetry. These images and tales were so much more arresting to me on a Saturday morning after the animation petered out than watching Zach Morris and rest of the Bayside Gang hang around The Max and bear witness to the peaking of Mario Lopez’s career.
In my youth I graduated from blowing dust out of Nintendo cartridges to Super NES and N64, from coaxial to VGA, along side rest of the home entertainment industry. Through the local video store I saw Bruce Willis allegorize World War II by tossing an evil German off of the top of an ultramodern Japanese monolith and defend a nation’s flagging cowboy pride in the process. I sat with rapt attention as a teenager, watching the immortal and interminably scruffy Mifune swagger across Kurosawa’s quicksilver frame for the first time the same year the man himself died quietly in a metropolitan hospital half a world away.
This confluence of events, circumstances, exposure, and media technology gave me a fondness and affinity for Japan, its history, and its culture that has grown and deepened over the years, keeping pace with the advent of the internet and the proliferation of highspeed broadband. I have watched the popular cultures of two nations that are inextricably tied together through the bonds of war and commerce bleed further into one another with an increasing fascination on the unique results of this cultural crosspollination.
“The Boondocks”: Huey Freeman vs. the zatoichi
The Japanese influence of the animation style is taken to it’s natural conclusion with backing music from American hip-hop group and martial arts film enthusiasts, the Wu-Tang Clan.
“I Gotcha” by Lupe Fiasco
A talented American Muslim performer whose love for Japanese pop culture is evident in the opening scene. Oh, and the giant robot that comes in towards the end to loom over the proceedings.