In The End of Japanese Cinema Alexander Zahlten moves film theory beyond the confines of film itself, attending to the emergence of new kinds of aesthetics, politics, temporalities, and understandings of film and media. He traces the evolution of a new media ecology through deep historical analyses of the Japanese film industry from the 1960s to the 2000s. Zahlten focuses on three popular industrial genres: Pink Film (independently distributed softcore pornographic films), Kadokawa (big-budget productions as part of a transmedia strategy), and V-Cinema (direct-to-video films). He examines the conditions of these films' production to demonstrate how the media industry itself becomes part of the politics of the media text and to highlight the complex negotiation between media and politics, culture, and identity in Japan. Zahlten points to a different history of film, one in which a once-powerful film industry transformed into becoming only one component within a complex media-mix ecology. In so doing, Zahlten opens new paths for uncovering similar broad processes in other large media societies.
A Study of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University
Media Theory in Japan
Marc Steinberg and Alexander Zahlten, editors Duke University Press, 2017 Library of Congress P92.J3M44 2017
Providing an overview of Japanese media theory from the 1910s to the present, this volume introduces English-language readers to Japan's rich body of theoretical and conceptual work on media for the first time. The essays address a wide range of topics, including the work of foundational Japanese thinkers; Japanese theories of mediation and the philosophy of media; the connections between early Japanese television and consumer culture; and architecture's intersection with communications theory. Tracing the theoretical frameworks and paradigms that stem from Japan's media ecology, the contributors decenter Eurocentric media theory and demonstrate the value of the Japanese context to reassessing the parameters and definition of media theory itself. Taken together, these interdisciplinary essays expand media theory to encompass philosophy, feminist critique, literary theory, marketing discourse, and art; provide a counterbalance to the persisting universalist impulse of media studies; and emphasize the need to consider media theory situationally.
Contributors. Yuriko Furuhata, Aaron Gerow, Mark Hansen, Marilyn Ivy, Takeshi Kadobayashi, Keisuke Kitano, Akihiro Kitada, Thomas Looser, Anne McKnight, Ryoko Misono, Akira Mizuta Lippit, Miryam Sas, Fabian Schäfer, Marc Steinberg, Tomiko Yoda, Alexander Zahlten