“Kibō-no-Kuni (Land of Hope)” – Radiation Disaster Movie

In the next of my posts about movies which I studied for my article “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?“, I am writing about Kibō-no-Kuni (希望の国) (Sion Sono, 2012), known as Land of Hope in English. As with The Chain Reaction this story is primarily a disaster movie about radiation, but while The Chain Reaction was clearly fictional story, the parallels between Kibō-no-Kuni and the 2011 Fukushima Disaster (part of the Great East Japanese Disaster (‘3/11’)) are obvious as a summary on IMDb about the movie reveals:

An earthquake causes a nuclear crisis in a fictive Japanese prefecture. In wake of the disaster, the members of the Ono family who reside just outside the border of the mandatory evacuation zone face uncertainty


There is much that is believable about the story and it brings home some of the stark issues of radiation and the challenges that people face dealing with its fallout. That doesn’t make it an easy movie to watch, although it has a respectable rating of 6.6 (at the time of writing) on IMDb. In terms of the revised list of conventions that I developed as part of my article “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?“, the movie has 14 out of the 17. As I discuss in the article, Kibō-no-Kuni raises issues about how we interpret ‘panic’ – something which tends to be shown more in English-language narratives than Japanese ones. While we don’t see screaming and other scenes associated with panic (as seen in Shizumanu Taiyō as an example of a Japanese narrative with panic), we do see a woman walking around the local community in an Haz-Mat suit after the disaster. Is this panic or being practical?

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