News and Opinion
This is another publication that took a while to come out, but it has been worth the wait: a truly high-level anthology on Japanese television, a still woefully understudied topic in the English literature.
TELEVISION, JAPAN, AND GLOBALIZATION
Edited by Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto, Eva Tsai, and JungBong Choi
Published by the Center for Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan, 2010.
ISBN 978-1-929280-58-2 (cloth); ISBN 978-1-929280-59-9 (paper)
List Price: $70.00 (cloth); $26.00 (paper)
“This book opens a new field of inquiry with untold riches. Long the competitor of cinema--although now a major investor--Japanese television has historically been the bane of Japanese film scholars. No more. TELEVISION, JAPAN, AND GLOBALIZATION collects a powerful set of essays on identity politics, industrial transformations, stardom, media convergence, and diaspora. We have been waiting for a book like this. Now that it is here, the future of Japanese moving image studies has clearly come into view.”
--Abe Mark Nornes, The University of Michigan (Cinema Babel)
Sometimes smaller is better.
Studio Ghibli, the anime production house of Miyazaki Hayao and Takahata Isao, has often gone for the big message, telling stories of worlds dying out, environments at stake, and elemental forces at play. There are attempts to do the same in The Borrower Arrietty (Karigurashi no Arietti 借りぐらしのアリエッティ), but in this case, they thankfully lose out to less momentous, smaller stories closer at hand.
Based on the tales by Mary Norton, the movie is literally about small things: diminutive people who live underneath the houses of humans, surreptitiously borrowing and fashioning things in order to survive. The 14-year-old Arrietty lives with her father, Pod, and mother, Homily, under the floorboards of an old, Western-style house located in a seemingly forgotten, verdant oasis amidst the Tokyo metropolis. She is coming of age and setting out on her first “hunt” for things in the human residence when her existence is acknowledged by Sho, the sickly 12-year-old grand nephew of the house’s elderly matron who is visiting in order to recuperate. This poses a major threat for the little people, who follow a rule that states that if they are discovered by the humans, they must move. That in fact happened to other little ones in the vicinity in the past, which means that Arrietty’s family now lives all alone in the house. Arrietty resists that imperative and increasingly gets closer to Sho, even as the great aunt’s maid (wonderfully voiced by Kiki Kirin) starts working earnestly to root out the little people.