While Japan has had a long history of disaster movies, there was a period during the late twentieth century, at a time when the genre had regained popularity in Hollywood, that few were being made. However, from the start of the twenty-first century there has been a new wave of disaster movies. Building upon my previous study (‘Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?‘) that compares the contents of Japanese and English-language disaster narratives, this article provides in-depth analysis of fourteen Japanese disaster narratives and considers the degree to which they include ‘continuity’ and ‘change’. In terms of ‘continuity’ and ‘change’, the paper is concerned first with the way in which conventions found in disaster narratives are used and second with issues such as the portrayal of the protagonists, women, and the way in which some of the narratives handle actual historical events.
The article was originally published in French in Ebisu Études japonaises as « Les récits de catastrophe japonais du début du XXIe siècle : continuité et changement », Ebisu, 59 | 2022, p. 95-123. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/ebisu/6809 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/ebisu.6809
This is a list of narratives studied (with links to posts about them) for the article:
- 252 Seizonsha Ari (252: There Are Survivors)
- Doragon Heddo (Dragon Head)
- Itai: Asu-e no Tōkakan (Reunion/Corpses: 10 Days to Tomorrow)
- Kansen Rettō (Pandemic/Infection Archipelago)
- Kibō-no-Kuni (Land of Hope)
- Kuraimāzu Hai (Climber’s High) (2005)
- Kuraimāzu Hai (Climber’s High) (2008)
- Mari to Koinu no Monogatari (A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies)
- Nihon Chinbotsu (Japan Sinks) (2006)
- One-no-Kanata-ni (Inseparable Souls: Fathers, Sons, and The Crash of JAL123/Beyond the Ridge)
- Rokku: Wanko no Shima (Rock – Dog’s Island)
- Shizumanu Taiyō (The Unbroken/The Sun Which Doesn’t Set) (2009)
- Shizumanu Taiyō (The Unbroken/The Sun Which Doesn’t Set) (2016)
- The Last Message: Umizaru (Sea Monkeys)
The article contains 10 clips from the narratives studied and one additional clip from another narrative that had been studied as part of ‘Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?‘
I would like to thank those who have aided with funding the research; Japan Foundation Endowment Committee, Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Cardiff University.
As well as the article ‘Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?‘, the research for the article was developed thanks to an online lecture ‘Japanese Disaster Narratives: Conservatism and Revisionism‘.
See also my book Dealing With Disaster in Japan: Responses to the Flight JL123 Crash