Libmonster ID: JP-1208
Author(s) of the publication: E. L. KATASONOVA



Doctor of Historical Sciences

Japan Keywords:otakusubcultureanime

As we get acquainted with the works of Japanese pop culture from the 1950s to the 1960s, we are immersed in a comprehensive national historical memory, which revives in the works of artists and animators the tragedy of the war and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which became for the Japanese not only a huge physical, but also a moral and spiritual catastrophe, which is"that's at the genetic level. Its vivid symbol was the image of the legendary Godzilla-a giant lizard that has become a popular character in a huge number of comics, anime and movies, the number of which has now reached 28. For more than half a century of its existence, this fantastic character has bypassed the screens of cinemas around the world, pushing even the famous King Kong into the background in its popularity. It is from the Godzilla film that such a concept as tokusatsu - the art of special effects-is included in Japanese post-war art as a separate genre.

The idea for the image of Godzilla belongs to the producer of the Toho film company - Tomoyuki Tanaka, who came up with this prehistoric mutant monster, a terrible cross between a whale and a gorilla, who woke up from suspended animation after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The first Godzilla movie was released in November 1954, just a few months after Japan experienced another terrible tragedy on January 1 of that year - the American test of a hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, the power of which was equivalent to almost a thousand bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The victims of the tests were fishermen of several Japanese fishing schooners, most of whom died from radiation sickness, and radioactive fallout covered a large part of Japan.

A broad campaign was launched in the country to ban the testing of atomic and hydrogen weapons, which later turned into mass protests against the Japanese-American security treaty. And Japanese pop culture representatives reflected these aspirations in artistic form, instilling in the younger generation feelings of antagonism against the Americans, blaming them for the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and new crimes of peacetime.

This was reflected, in particular, in such a famous television series of animated films as "Ultra Q" (1966), "Ultraman" (1966-1967) and " Ultraseven "(1967-1968), which tells the story of a superhero named Ultraman, who became a kind of "Japanese answer" to the Americans and their national identity. cinematic pride-Superman. However, unlike the Americans, Japanese animators put their character in the most extreme circumstances, forcing him to fight with alien invaders and endowing him with not only good looks.-

Ending. For the beginning, see: Asia and Africa Today, 2010, No. 12.

page 66

They have great skill and strength, but also extraordinary combat abilities. Moreover, in the latest series, even small monsters come to the hero's aid, which he releases from special capsules - prototypes of future Pokemon.

These monsters were created by the sculptor Toru Narita, who once worked in the special effects group on the set of the legendary "Godzilla". As Narita later wrote in his memoir Special Effects and Monsters (1966), he himself "experienced the severe consequences of the American bombing and, as an artist, considered it his duty to depict in his work the tragic moment when the atomic bomb called Baby was dropped on Hiroshima at the very end of the Pacific War." 1

The most vivid theme of war was expressed in 1974 in the first anime saga directed by Toshio Masuda "Spaceship Yamato", a legendary series that has become a cult for all those who are commonly called the generation of the Potoku subculture." This animated film was an incredible success not only in Japan, breaking even the box office records of "Star Wars", but also around the world, and a special version called "Star Blazer"was made for the United States. With this film, in fact, the worldwide popularity of anime began.

According to the main plot of this tape, in 2199, the Earth was attacked by hostile aliens. Massive bombardment and a lethal dose of radiation forced the miraculously surviving earthlings to take refuge in underground cities, but the radiation penetrates there, and their days are numbered. Earth's space fleet is destroyed. At the most critical moment, a message suddenly arrives from the distant planet Iskander with drawings of a FTL engine and a proposal to give Earthlings a means that can purge the earth of radiation. Sunk during World War II, the Japanese superlinkship Yamato is being converted into a spaceship that embarks on an incredible journey to save poor sufferers. Before the death of humanity from radiation is 365 days.

It would seem, a sort of fairy tale in the genre of science fiction! However, in this fairy-tale plot, it is not difficult to see real historical events and tragic memories of the Japanese associated with the Pacific War. So, the Yamato airship is named by analogy with the battleship, the pride of the Japanese Navy, during World War II. The bomb-hit planet Earth is Tokyo, which has been devastatingly bombed by the US Air Force. Scorched earth, contaminated with radiation, where all living things die, is Hiroshima and Nagasaki after atomic explosions. And the poor inhabitants of the dying Planet Earth are the Japanese, who survived the terrible trials of war and the pain of defeat, but again returned to a peaceful and creative life.


Perhaps it is not surprising that Japanese animators turn to the topic of global catastrophes much more often than their foreign colleagues, since their country experienced its own apocalypse in 1945. From generation to generation, the theme of the tragedy of war gradually acquired its secondary significance: artistic images and fantastic tragic plots were already drawn not from personal experience, but from their own experiences. their predecessors and captured in their works, the main ideas of which received a new refraction and modern interpretation, however, all in the same apocalyptic way. However, this time the origins of these painful fantasies should be sought not only in the war, but also in the reality of the generally prosperous 1970s, when the entire Japanese society plunged into a sweet euphoria from the economic success achieved.

Let us recall such a landmark event of the early 1970s as the World Exhibition "Expo-70", which was held for the first time in the Asian region. Its symbol was the motto "Progress and harmony for humanity". And this motto was embodied by the famous Tower of the Sun - a huge 60-meter totem figure of a semi-mythical creature - either an alien from the distant past, or a messenger of a new space age, which symbolized the aspiration of humanity to a happy future.

The author of this image-symbol is the famous Japanese artist, sculptor and art theorist Taro Okamoto (1911-1996). Born in Japan to an artist father and a literary mother, he spent most of his life in Europe. In 1928, he went to Paris, studied and worked abroad for many years, studied philosophy, and was fond of surrealism. After returning to his homeland after the end of the war, he completely immersed himself in studying the monuments of ancient Japanese culture of the Jomon era, as well as the art of the inhabitants of Okinawa. Perhaps, creating his famous Tower of the Sun, he realized at the same time these two artistic hobbies that are so different from each other.

"Art is an explosion," Okamoto declared his credo, which became an artistic credo for many other Japanese artists-his followers working in the style of pop art. The word pop art itself - popular, publicly available art, has another meaning associated with the onomatopoeic component of "pop", which is perceived as a jerky blow, a clap, i.e. something that produces a shocking effect. And Okamoto wasn't far off the mark.

The country was waiting for some unpredictable tragic events. And they followed one after the other. Just during the days of Expo-70, a left-wing radical group attempted to hijack a passenger plane. A wave of leftist extremism has engulfed the entire country. Following this, the world was shocked by the ritual suicide of the outstanding Japanese writer Yukio Mishima.

The following year, bomb attacks were heard in the vicinity of Tokyo. And then, one by one, the country was hit by serious economic challenges: the so-called "dollar shock", the global oil crisis, monetary inflation, and new threats to the country's environmental security have emerged. Japanese people were once again seized with painful doubts about the reality of a bright and happy future, which the whole country had recently been waiting for.

In the atmosphere of these events and emotional upheavals, ohva-

page 67

In 1973, the work "The Death of the Dragon" by science fiction writer Sake Komatsu, known in our country for the film "The Death of Japan", was published. The plot of the novel is based on the fantastic predictions of scientists that in the future Japan is threatened with sinking into the ocean due to tectonic processes in the earth's crust. However, no one listens to these warnings, and unfortunately, this is exactly what happens: an earthquake of unprecedented intensity begins, and Japan goes under water...

Despite its obvious pessimistic and tragic mood, the novel immediately became a bestseller and literally sold more than 4 million copies in an instant. Soon, the disaster feature film "The Death of Japan" was based on its plot, and its name became the personification of the major social collapses that swept the country.

In 1973, movie theaters in Japan were literally bursting with people eager to see the popular American film "The Exorcist". No sooner had the fears and emotions of what they saw subsided, than another cultural shock awaited the country - Ben Goto's new mysterious novel "The Testament of Nostradamus", published in mass circulation. The prediction of this famous French - born soothsayer, who lived in the 15th century, about the end of the world "in the seventh month of 1999", when "the Great King of Fear will descend from heaven", no longer required any scientific evidence for the Japanese who had lost all faith in the future. Many people in Japan, especially students from elementary to high school, accepted this saying as the absolute truth and began to live in constant fear in anticipation of this fateful day.

The world of reality was frightening, fading into the background in the minds of young people.


Military themes in the Otaku subculture are being replaced by science fiction and cyberpunk, which took root in Japan almost simultaneously with the American revolution in science fiction literature. However, unlike in the United States in Japan, it was embodied not in books, but in dozens of volumes of popular manga and a huge number of anime. One of the founders of Japanese cyber-punk is considered to be the artist Shiro Masamune and his manga "Group " Armor", on the basis of which in 1996 he shoots one of the most beautiful and technically advanced anime in the history of Japanese animation - "Ghost in Armor".

Seeing in cyberpunk a forecast of the development of the technogenic society surrounding them, Japanese artists and animators took an active part in constructing models of reality, introducing a huge amount of ethical and philosophical problems to these models.

The formation of their ideological foundations and artistic views coincided with the period when the left forces were leaving the historical arena and the population was completely disillusioned with real politics. For this generation, everything related to war was already a complete fiction and resembled only stories from their favorite manga and anime. These hand-drawn and animated images often focused on battles with alien creatures, where deadly weapons were activated and terrible monsters appeared, but all this had nothing to do with the real problems of life, history and politics. Moreover, the ideology found in this subculture could sometimes appear extreme right-wing, nationalist, or militaristic. Over time, it was overgrown with more and more fantastic events, its absolute separation from the surrounding reality became more and more acute.


In all manga and anime created after the 1970s - during the period of spiritual and political disillusionment of the younger generation in real politics and their ideals based on the ideas of peace, democracy, and independence from the United States-a certain historical amnesia is already clearly traced: a partial deadening of historical memory associated with both the tragic experience of war and the most difficult events. the consequences of the American atomic bombings, as well as objective assessments of Japanese military aggression against Asian states, as well as real threats of a new nuclear war.

In the new circumstances, people chose to escape from reality into a kind of anti-historical capsule - a world free of historical memory and political realities-what is commonly called imaginary reality. It was a kind of escape from reality, an act of self-isolation, a certain kind of escapism.

As the Japanese researcher Noi Sawaraki points out, " The Japanese subculture should be considered in the dynamics of ambivalent motives that balance on the edge of the desire to leave self-isolation in the real world and return again."2. Perhaps these words fully express not only the psychology of modern Japanese otaku, but also the basic essence of modern Japanese pop culture, which is increasingly painted in the colors and shades of postmodernism.

1 Little Boy. The Art of Japan's Exploding Subculture. N.Y., 2005, p. 197.

2 Ibid., p. 204.


Permanent link to this publication:

Similar publications: LJapan LWorld Y G


Sigura KawasakiContacts and other materials (articles, photo, files etc)

Author's official page at Libmonster:

Find other author's materials at: Libmonster (all the World)GoogleYandex

Permanent link for scientific papers (for citations):

E. L. KATASONOVA, OTAKU: PROS AND CONS // Tokyo: Japan (ELIB.JP). Updated: 15.08.2023. URL: (date of access: 19.07.2024).

Found source (search robot):

Publication author(s) - E. L. KATASONOVA:

E. L. KATASONOVA → other publications, search: Libmonster JapanLibmonster WorldGoogleYandex


Reviews of professional authors
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
Related topics
Sigura Kawasaki
Tokyo, Japan
84 views rating
15.08.2023 (339 days ago)
0 subscribers
0 votes
Related Articles
7 hours ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
7 hours ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
8 hours ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
13 hours ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
Yesterday · From Nikamura Nagasaki
2 days ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
2 days ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
2 days ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
3 days ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki
3 days ago · From Nikamura Nagasaki

New publications:

Popular with readers:

News from other countries:

ELIB.JP - Japanese Digital Library

Create your author's collection of articles, books, author's works, biographies, photographic documents, files. Save forever your author's legacy in digital form. Click here to register as an author.
Library Partners


Editorial Contacts
Chat for Authors: JP LIVE: We are in social networks:

About · News · For Advertisers

Digital Library of Japan ® All rights reserved.
2023-2024, ELIB.JP is a part of Libmonster, international library network (open map)
Preserving the Japan heritage


US-Great Britain Sweden Serbia
Russia Belarus Ukraine Kazakhstan Moldova Tajikistan Estonia Russia-2 Belarus-2

Create and store your author's collection at Libmonster: articles, books, studies. Libmonster will spread your heritage all over the world (through a network of affiliates, partner libraries, search engines, social networks). You will be able to share a link to your profile with colleagues, students, readers and other interested parties, in order to acquaint them with your copyright heritage. Once you register, you have more than 100 tools at your disposal to build your own author collection. It's free: it was, it is, and it always will be.

Download app for Android