War, Nationalism, and Forgetting the Postwar in Yamato

After moving my office and then moving myself to Japan for the summer, I can finally update the blog for the first time in a couple of weeks.

My announcement today is that Japan Focus has published another article of mine (previous ones were on recent fantasy war films and Clint Eastwood's Iwo Jima films). This is a much shorter version of a long piece that I wrote for the forthcoming Distorted Lens anthology, which is based on a conference at Stanford in December 2008 and which is being edited by Chiho Sawada and Michael Berry. 

The longer version looks at a number of recent films made about kamikaze missions during WWII and compares them to earlier examples from the 1950s to the 1970s. Most discussions of Japanese war films have considered them in terms of how they warp, gloss over, or forget the problems or traumas of the war, but I analyze them in terms of how they work to forget the problematic history of postwar Japan. My main text is Sato Jun'ya's Yamato (Otokotachi no Yamato, 2005). I particular argue that the film's use of what I call vicarious trauma in depicting the demise of the young recruits on the Battleship Yamato functions to erase postwar trauma, an operation that I consider to be the other side of the same coin to the nostalgic depictions of 1950s and 1960s Japan in films such as Yamazaki Takashi's Always--Sunset on Third Street (Always--Sanchome no yuhi).

Here is the reference:

Aaron Gerow, "War and Nationalism in Yamato: Trauma and Forgetting the Postwar," The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, Volume 9, Issue 24, No. 1, June 13, 2011.

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