In this week’s Studio 360, Kurt Anderson explores Japanese popular culture and its take on disaster, from historical Godzilla films to contemporary artists drawing popular Manga characters pitching in to help with tsunami relieft.
There’s a reason why Japanese horror movies come to mind in the middle of this catastrophe. Disasters — natural and man-made — have marked Japan for centuries. And they’ve become powerful (and popular) archetypes in Japanese culture: from the most famous image in Japanese art, Hokusai’s Great Wave, to the post-apocalyptic anime film Akira. Japanese pop culture has been deeply affected by what Susan Sontag called “the imagination of disaster”