J-MEDIA RESEARCH WORKSHOP on 20 April / BRAINSTORM
O-tsukaresama deshita !! These dynamic researchers from Japan, the UK, Italy, France, Poland, Germany and Malaysia contributed with their papers to the second “Japanese Media Studies” research workshop at the Sainsbury Institute. Needless to catch up with their brilliant minds, but I’ll try to resume some basic points.
Since Dr. Tenma created nuclear power-propelled Astro-Boy in 1953 in Manga-Master-Mind Tezuka Osamu’s early oeuvre, nuclear technology is in the focus. While Tezuka himself pleaded openly against it, the majority and the politicians in Japan thought otherwise. Later the big energy companies, too, have created many cute characters (often symbols of chemical elements) in order to promote their industry.
When the Tsunami struck Tohoku a year ago, the helicopters with the TV cameras went up in the air. With hundreds of installed cameras and webcams, the disaster was ‚live’ on the screens. The media do not hesitate to intrude into the disaster zone, the no-entry area, and ultimately the private life. The (visual) media try and cover (only/mainly) the VERY MOMENT of the crime/event/disaster. But in fact, it is by far more revealing – and professional – to look at the lives of the victims in the aftermath of the disaster, as zainichi-writer Yū Miri did.
Thorough research, documentation, and criticism is not the strength of the mainstream media. Which is why, despite Fukushima, the perspectives on 1945 and the atomic blast in Japan have also changed. TV dramas taking place in Hiroshima, just as films on kamikaze pilots, rather tend to „soften“ the issue and bend it into a nostalgic (romantic?) look back (http://www.dijtokyo.org/publications/contemporary_japan24_1)
What I especially enjoyed in the workshop was: Great visual material on the history of Astro Boy and other „nuclear“ characters (S and T), the analysis of the TV coverage of the disaster (G, C and E+V), the religious iconography in manga (J), the „nostalgification“ of Hiroshima on the TV screen (G), and the way print media and literature deal with it (M and K). Thank you all for your excellent contributions!
With the coming summer heat, nuclear reactors in Japan will go online again. Can the new media preserve a more “authentic” memory of the Fukushima disaster? Does the Internet, do youtube and twitter trigger the inevitable discussion on nuclear power – or are they just radical copyright infringements and intrusions into the private life of people? To me, Japan seems more “ambivalent” than ever… Can someone warp me back to 1953 or call Mighty Atom, please?