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For nearly 60 years until his death in 2020, Obayashi Nobuhiko continued to challenge and expand the many fields of moving image production he engaged in, from experimental films to commercials, from idol movies to anti-war digital cinema. While justly celebrated in Japan, Obayashi remained largely unknown abroad until Hausu, his 1977 commercial feature debut, was finally released on DVD in English-language markets in 2010 to cult success. Even then, no serious and critical engagement with his work has been published in book form either in Japan or abroad. 

Obayashi is worthy of such deep study not only because his own work, with its interrogations of cinema and modern Japanese history, of youth and gender, of genre and the possibilities of the moving image, is profoundly rich. It is also because, with a career of involvement in experimental film, TV commercials and movies, major studio productions, genre cinema, independent film, and digital cinema, Obayashi is an extremely fruitful avenue for exploring different but interrelated aspects of postwar Japan’s history and media ecology. Just as Obayashi used media to explore modern Japanese history, so we can use Obayashi to explore modern Japanese media.

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