2005-murakami.pdf: “Earth In My Window”, Takashi Murakami
1997-tsuzuki-tokyoacertainstyle.pdf: “Tokyo: A Certain Style”, (1997; ):
Writer-photographer Kyoichi Tsuzuki visited a hundred apartments, condos, and houses, documenting what he saw in more than 400 color photos that show the real Tokyo style—a far cry from the serene gardens, shoji screens, and Zen minimalism usually associated with Japanese dwellings.
In this Tokyo, necessities such as beds, bathrooms, and kitchens vie for space with electronic gadgets, musical instruments, clothes, books, records, and kitschy collectibles. Candid photos vividly capture the dizzying “cockpit effect”of living in a snug space crammed floor to ceiling with stuff. And it’s not just bohemian types and students who must fit their lives and work into tight quarters, but professionals and families with children, too. In descriptive captions, the inhabitants discuss the ingenious ways they’ve adapted their home environments to suit their diverse lifestyles.
2001-murakami.pdf: “Impotence Culture—Anime”, Takashi Murakami
2010-koh.pdf: “Murakami's 'little boy' syndrome: victim or aggressor in contemporary Japanese and American arts?”, (2010; ):
This paper examines the ambiguous nature of Murakami’s criticism toward the postwar Japanese condition—as the artist most effectively captured in his phrase ‘A Little Boy’, which was also the title of his curated exhibition at the Japan Society of New York in 2005.
As Murakami wrote in his introduction to the catalogue, demilitarized Japan after the Second World War underwent a collective sense of helplessness, and the metaphor of a little boy is intended to describe Japan’s supposedly unavoidable reliance on its big brother, America. The name ‘Little Boy’, in fact, originates from the code name used by the American military for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
The proliferation of ‘cuteness’ in Japanese contemporary art, which draws upon youth culture, especially otaku culture, evinces a common urge among the postwar generation in Japan to escape from their horrible memories and sense of powerlessness.
Murakami’s rhetorical analysis of Japan’s self-image seems, however, contradictory, given his extremely aggressive business tactics, which can find no counterpart in the Western art world—not even in the efforts of Murakami’s predecessor, Andy Warhol. Like My Lonesome Cowboy (1998), whose hyper sexuality defies its pubescent and immature appearance, his art, theory, and art marketing indicate the paradoxical nature of his theory of impotence.
By focusing on his manifesto and writings published on the occasion of his 2005 exhibition and his style of managing Kaikai Kiki Ltd., this paper delves into the dual nature of Murakami’s interpretation of postwar Japanese art and culture, particularly in relation to those of America.
[Keywords: Takashi Murakami, Japanese contemporary arts, otaku, art and subculture, atomic bomb (Little Boy), nationalism, globalization of art market, Asian masculinity]
2020-manji.pdf: “Anime's atomic legacy: Takashi Murakami, Miyazaki, Anno, and the negotiation of Japanese war memory”, (2020-07; ):
This thesis explores the cultural commentary by Japanese Neo-Pop artist Takashi Murakami in relation to Japan’s war memory and its legacy in popular culture, addressing in particular the essays accompanying his 2005 exhibition Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture. Murakami constructs a genealogy of postwar otaku subculture— anime, manga, tokusatsu, and video games—which he sees as reflecting anxieties repressed within mainstream culture: namely, memory of defeat, occupation, and ongoing military protection by the United States, epitomized by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These concerns become intertwined with the social malaise of Japan’s “Lost Decades”, in which postwar narratives of endless economic growth through scientific innovation give way to nihilism and social withdrawal. While anime of the “Economic Miracle” period show empowered heroes overcoming apocalyptic trauma through technology and righteous ideals, those of the 1990s frustrate such heroism: as scientific optimism deteriorates, protagonists are forced to question their beliefs, affiliations, and self-definition.
While Murakami offers a wealth of socio-historical insights, clear limitations emerge, particularly the immediate post-Occupation release of films and artworks depicting the war and the atomic bomb, which challenges the notion that these topics were repressed exclusively into subculture. Furthermore, critics have argued the emphasis on Japan’s defeat and the hardships faced by civilians downplays the broader history of the Japanese Empire and its wartime activities abroad, a tendency Carol Gluck terms “victim’s history”. This thesis proposes a revision of Murakami’s theory which argues that memory of Japan as perpetrator emerges subliminally in subcultural narratives alongside memory of victimhood. Drawing on Hashimoto’s, LaCapra’s, and Elsaesser’s insights on the transmission of perpetrator memory, I argue that many of anime’s most iconic Sci-Fi and fantasy narratives are rooted in ambivalence towards national history, with heroes forced to identify simultaneously with hero, victim, and perpetrator roles. I focus on directors Hayao Miyazaki and Hideaki Anno, identifying the recurring motif of the “perpetrator fathers” whose legacy young heroes must overcome, while at the same time experiencing a traumatic identification with their father figures. These narratives complicate questions of national identity, reflecting a simultaneous desire to escape from, and redeem, historical memory.
Anime’s Atomic Legacy: Takashi Murakami, Miyazaki, Anno, and the Negotiation of Japanese War Memory
Chapter 1: Superflat, Subculture, and National Trauma
Takashi Murakami and superflat
- A genealogy of superflat subculture
- Framing JNP: Japan’s Postmodern Condition
- The Database & Animalization
- Superflat and National Cinema
- Trauma Theory
- Atomic Trauma in Mainstream Japanese Cinema
- The Subcultural Split from Mainstream Cinema
Chapter 2: National Identity and Perpetrator Trauma in Anime Subculture
- National Identity & Perpetrator Trauma
- Miyazaki and Anno: Negotiating Historical Memory
Chapter 3: Hayao Miyazaki
- Murakami on Miyazaki
- Troubling Parental Figures: the Perpetrator Fathers and Earth Mothers
The Economic Miracle: 1978–1989
- Miyazaki’s Early Apocalyptic Narratives
- Future Boy Conan: Trauma, Nature, and Industry
- The Return of the Repressed: Conan’s Trauma Narratives and the Perpetrator Fathers
- Becoming the Perpetrator: Monsley and Intergenerational Trauma
- The Grand Narrative Preserved
The Lost Decade: Miyazaki’s Nihilism and the Decline of Grand Narratives
Chapter 4: Hideaki Anno
- Anno’s goals as artist
- Interior Perspective and Hyperlimited Animation
The Economic Miracle: Gunbuster as Nationalist Fantasy
Anno’s Turning Point: Fascism and Technological Ambivalence in Nadia
- Nemo and Gargoyle: Reconciliation with the Perpetrator Fathers
The Lost Decade: Evangelion, Withdrawal, and the Decline of Grand Narratives
- The Decline of Scientific Optimism
- Reference Texts
- Films & Artistic Works