Japan for the Uninvited

Japanese culture from a bemused foreign perspective

Otaku

The term "otaku", literally meaning "your house", is used to describe Japan's legion of obsessive young men. Comparable to "geek" in English, the word carries mostly negative connotations of social ineptitude, unkemptness and lack of popularity. The otaku image was dealt a serious blow in 1989, when 26-year-old Tsutomu Miyazaki raped, ...

Cosplay

Cosplay allows grown men and women to explore different identities by donning elaborate costumes. Costumes are often based on popular anime characters, or visual-kei musicians. Usually, this has no sexual focus, but the tight outfits and element of fantasy have made cosplay a significant part of modern Japanese sexuality. The idea of ...

Yaoi (Boy-love manga)

Yaoi, aka shonen-ai or BL (Boy Love) manga, are cartoon magazines featuring homosexual relationships. The main characters are usually bishonen ("beautiful boys") - slender, effeminate young men. They often use famous characters from popular anime, manga and computer games, making yaoi similar to "slash fiction" (erotica featuring fictional male characters, i.e. ...

Bishojo games (Dating games)

Although "bishojo games" means "beautiful girl games", these games are not for girls. They revolve around interaction with a number of attractive animated girls, usually with a romantic or sexual focus. This is most popular genre of PC games in Japan, but they are almost unknown in the West, because very ...

Hayao Miyazaki

After his award-winning breakthrough, 'Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa' ('Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind'), he formed Studio Ghibli with producer Isao Takahata. The studio has been a massive success, notably producing international hits like 'Mononoke Hime' ('Princess Mononoke') and 'Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi' ('Spirited Away'). His work is remarkable ...

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Mamuro Oshii's futuristic 'Kokaku Kidotai' ('Ghost in the Shell', 1995) has helped anime and manga to cross into the US mainstream. Kusanagi, a robot with a human brain, leads a covert operations team in a hi-tech chase with 'The Puppet Master', a master cyber criminal who is hacking into people's minds. Breaking ...

Akira (1988)

1988's 'Akira' introduced Japanese anime to the Western world. The film was based on the manga of the same name, one of the most influential ever drawn. In a nightmarish future Tokyo, blown apart by a huge WWIII nuclear blast, an aimless motorcycle gang stumble across "Akira" - a terrifying government ...

Doraemon

Doraemon starred in countless manga, TV shows, computer games and movies since his birth in 1970. His mission is to make a success of Nobita, a lazy, bullied boy living in ...

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