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Penney, Matthew: "‘War Fantasy’ and Reality—‘War as Entertainment’ and Counter-narratives in Japanese Popular Culture." In: Japanese Studies 27.1 (2007), S. 35–52.
|Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Penney2007
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Keywords: Historische Themen, Japan, Krieg, Manga, Science Fiction
Collection: Japanese Studies
In Japan, there exist popular works in a number of media that use fictional narratives of the nation’s wartime history as the foundation for science fiction or ‘what-if’ entertainment. These titles are commonly described as ‘war fantasy’ and have been condemned as revisionist or even immoral by critics both inside and outside Japan. These criticisms, however, overlook important counter-narratives present in ‘war fantasy’ titles. Some works look critically at Japan’s wars of the 1930s and 1940s as a campaign of aggression and even contain representations of Japanese war crimes and important discussions of past atrocities. This article will examine key examples of Japanese ‘war fantasy’ to assess how critical views of Japan’s wartime past are articulated in popular works. Popular narratives of war often run counter to both government perspectives and the expectations of ‘military fans’ who consume images of war as a form of entertainment. While many commentators have highlighted a recent shift to the right in Japanese discourse, the trends discussed in this essay suggest that genre works often branded as rightist can manifest important anti-war, anti-militarist themes, demonstrating the pluralistic character of Japanese war representation.
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