Comments

  1. azrivera says:

    Wow, thank you for the extensive explanation on the various visual forms. I wasn’t even aware all these categories existed, especially with such purpose!

    When you described refraction, you mentioned the portrayal of general vulnerability. Then, in the section on return, there is also humiliation. You explain how these postwar emotions were prominent, but have you also looked into how the economic downturn/recession have also affected the aesthetics? I’m not sure if it warrants the term “man-made disaster’, but the resulting disillusionment might be interesting to note.

    And I realize that you’re heavily leaning on man-made disasters’ influence, but would you also consider works done after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake? There were many concerns about nuclear power/fallout/radiation and it resulted in some dissatisfaction with the government. Professor DiNitto has entire anthologies that include manga.

    Honestly, I’d really like to hear more about the revisionist and nationalist influences as I’m curious how they could be portrayed. You mention many works throughout this post and I look forward to your presentation!

  2. This was a fascinating and enlightening look at various visual forms and their respective analyses! Refraction, reflection, return, and rebirth make sense as categories of coping methods for catastrophe in Postwar Japan. I do wonder about the difference in aesthetic coping mechanisms regarding man-made disasters versus natural disasters and their respective effects on the Japanese psyche. It would seems that some visual forms are more suitable than others depending on the nature of the disaster; a natural disaster might warrant the reflection or rebirth category method more than the return category.

  3. Andrew Kim says:

    Kathryn, this was a fantastic breakdown of the aesthetic trends in Japan regarding disasters. I never thought to categorize them in those 4 ways (refraction, reflection, return, and rebirth), but given the examples you showed, they make absolute sense. From an American perspective, I think we often do not even consider refraction or return as purveying themes in Japanese works. In the case of refraction, I think as foreigners it’s easy to look at superflat aesthetic and the “cute” elements of Hello Kitty without considering a historic context or catastrophe narrative.

    In regards to “return” narratives that look at alternate histories, I think those are a very touchy subject both within Japan itself and to a foreign audience. I can easily see an American for instance look at such alternate history narratives and indignantly criticize the Japanese for even thinking about it considering their wartime atrocities. While we label them as “extreme” viewpoints, I of course have to wonder if we in America only see it that way because we were on the winning side.

    Could we, in one way of looking at things, be “othering” Japan by disregarding the messages conveyed in these return narratives? Are we as a culture implying that they must >still< atone for what they've done during the war? It seems odd considering we do not appear to have this same standard for Germany. Alternative history stories about Nazis are popular in all kinds of media, even in places you wouldn't expect like Star Trek. Why single out Japan then?

    And finally, regarding a differentiation between man-made and natural disasters, I immediately thought of March 11, 2011 Fukushima disaster which as Anastasia mentioned above. It's a curious case study since although TECHNICALLY the disaster was a natural one, it seems as though many people in the news cry out against it as if it were caused by man-kind. I've read news articles where natives reflect on the disaster and say that it was their (country's) fault for embracing nuclear energy again even after they were shown the tremendous destructive power in the war. Kathryn, what's your take the distinction? Perhaps the distinction doesn't matter at all?