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December 2003, Week 2


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Mark Nornes <[log in to unmask]>
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 9 Dec 2003 15:45:11 -0500
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Kinema Club III
New York University, February 13-14, 2004
Organized by Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto and Abé Mark Nornes

The success of Kinema Club II in Honolulu left participants screaming 
for more. So here you go!  Kinema Club III will be held at New York 
University, and the format will be more like our first outing. Papers 
will be distributed beforehand in mid-January, and presenters will give 
only the barest of introductions before opening the floor to 

This also means that space at the table is limited to about 20 
participants. We will fill those seats on a first come, first served 
basis starting with this email. If you would like to come to New York 
for Kinema Club III please contact us now.  

If you are unable to come (or get turned away for that matter) fear 
not. We will hold Kinema Club IV in late spring/early summer 2005. This 
will be a large gathering---perhaps larger than this year's event---and 
if you would like to host it please contact us directly.  

Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto ([log in to unmask]) & A. M. Nornes ([log in to unmask])

February 13 (Friday)
--Tom Lamarre, “Worlds without Others: Anime and the World-Making Power 
of the Fetish”
--Satomi Saito, “The Evolution of Anime Language: Anime Consumption”

February 14 (Saturday)
--Daisuke Miyao, "Stardom and Japanese Modernity: Sessue Hayakawa and 
the Pure Film Movement"
--Mark Anderson, "The Star System in Japanese Cinema"

--Michael Raine, "Non-intensive Mise-en-scene: Textual Analysis and 
Japanese Popular Ephemera"
--Catherine Russell, "Naruse at P.C.L. (1935-37): The Moga and her 


Worlds without Others: Anime and the World-Making Power of the Fetish
Thomas Lamarre
This paper is basically a comparison of two kinds of fetish, one that 
opens world-making power, one that forecloses it.  My examples of the 
foreclosure of world-making power come from recent series that try to 
construct histories across different media — primarily Blood: The Last 
Vampire with its animated film, video game, novels and manga; and the 
recent Matrix sequel, with its video game and animated films (a 
strategy borrowed from Blood and other anime series).  I argue that the 
multi-planar aesthetics (or internal montage) characteristic of many 
anime films and series allow for the production of ‘signature layers’ 
within the image.  The spectator attends to, and often notes the 
difference between, character designer, writer, producer, and director. 
 The use of signature layers has allowed anime to explore the 
possibilities for histories across media — and potentially new ways of 
imagining history and media.   Yet it is a strategy of serialization 
that remains so close to the logic of the commodity fetish that is 
almost indistinguishable from it.  These series foreclose the 
world-making power of the fetish in the commodity.        

As an example of animation that opens world-making power differently, I 
call on a recent Japanese animated series, Chobits, based on the 
popular manga penned by the four-women team named CLAMP.  (CLAMP is 
team known for their reworking of different genres, and Chobits is 
their version of (or response to) hentai.)  Although Chobits also 
remains disturbingly close to the logic of the commodity fetish, the 
way in which Chobits reworks the conventions of hentai allows us to see 
what is at stake in hentai — the narrative and visual construction of a 
‘world without others.’  I look at how Chobits works narratively and 
visually to construct its world without others — to remove otherness 
from the structuration of the visual field.  This not only tells us 
about how hentai works.   It also offers another way to think about 
how, in the drive to produce new worlds, the multi-planar aesthetics of 
anime strive to go beyond the logic of commodity fetish.  While 
(perhaps inevitably) Chobits and other hentai may fall short, their 
virtue is to show the problem so clearly.

The Evolution of Anime Language: Anime Consumption
Satomi Saito
Japanese animation, now commonly referred to as anime, is an 
interesting field of study, not just because of its popularity in the 
global market today but because of the way it disturbs existing 
disciplinary boundaries.  Despite its demand from the side of students, 
anime has always been a nuisance for scholars and teachers of literary 
studies, Japanese studies, and film studies.  Anime resists these 
disciplinary approaches firstly because anime’s dominant format, which 
is the serialized TV program, is hopelessly multiple denying the notion 
of authorship and textual coherency.  Moreover, anime cannot fit into a 
single medium, cell-animation, since it developed along with fan 
cultures that traverse several different media such as manga, music, 
garage kits, idol culture, and a game.  What we see in anime culture is 
a media-mix consumption that characterizes the global consumer market 
today.  If we fail to see the role of anime in media-mix global 
markets, we end up reinforcing the same disciplinary problems by 
accommodating anime harmoniously into existing boundaries.

In my paper, I would like to discuss possibilities of a new visual 
theory for anime analysis that makes it possible to treat anime not as 
a coherent category, but as dynamic media-mix phenomena.  When Japanese 
animation started to target young adult audience, which is also the 
birth of “anime,” it went through changes in its visual aesthetics. 
 Characteristics of limited animation, i.e. segmentation of shots and 
reliance on still images, introduced the issue of point-of-view 
comparable to cinema.  This point-of-view links the discourse not 
simply to the story-world as in cinema but also to the characters that 
are extremely fetishized with excessive details, shades, and highlights 
which inevitably makes the images flat and static.  This change in 
visual aesthetics is resulted from the changes in consumer habits in 
the 80s.  The consumption of stories, which facilitated the 
proliferation of manga-based animation (telebi manga) in the 70s, was 
gradually substituted by the consumption of images (anime characters) 
in the 80s.  Instead of plots and stories, rapidly consumable “flat” 
characters became primal commodities that traverse multiple media in 
the 90s.  In such circulation of images, stories these characters 
convey become more and more marginal; or rather they become something 
that can be fabricated depending on the consumers’ demands in its 

By treating anime as a new mode of consumption, my paper will offer an 
alternative to the thematic analysis of anime that presumably reflects 
contemporary Japanese society and to the historical analysis of anime 
that traces its chronological history to pre-war era presupposing 
anime’s identity as cell-animation.

Stardom and Japanese Modernity: Sessue Hayakawa and the Pure Film 
Daisuke Miyao
Sessue Hayakawa (1886-1973) was a very popular silent film star in the
United States from 1915 until 1922. He was the only non-Caucasian movie
star who had the status of a matinee idol. Hayakawa’s unique stardom was
formed and received at the complex intersection of global film culture 
social and cultural discourses, especially on race, class, gender, 
and modernity. Films and film stardom have been produced and consumed in
locally specific contexts and various conditions of reception. Miriam
Hansen claims, "To write the international history of classical American
cinema, therefore, is a matter of tracing not just its mechanisms of
standardization and hegemony but also the diversity of ways in which 
cinema was translated and reconfigured in both local and translocal 
of reception." This paper examines the way Hayakawa’s stardom was
differently appropriated and articulated within the social and national
formation by various and contradictory political, ideological, and 
interests before, during, and after his or her public circulation.

The 1910s was the time when the American film industry achieved global
market dominance, largely during and due to the First World War. The 
and early 20s marked a pivotal period with Hollywood coming into 
as a global center of film production and promotion to a certain degree.
Japanese audiences were often dismayed by the result and protested 
Hayakawa’s representation of Japan in the light of authenticity.

Simultaneously they tried to utilize Hayakawa’s star image for their own
political or nationalist purposes. Since the end of the nineteenth 
the Japanese government domestically adopted a modernization policy.
Particularly after World War I, Japan tried to participate in world 
and economy as a modernized nation. As an attempt to compete with 
and American cultural colonialism and to bolster nationalism using 
Japanese intellectuals and government officials initiated a movement, 
or a
trend, called "jun’eigageki undo," the Pure Film Movement, to 
Hollywood-style filmmaking for the purpose of modernizing cinema in 
In such a trend, Hayakawa’s American stardom was incorporated into 
modernity in a complicated way. As an American import, Hayakawa was 
because his star image had a universal appeal well beyond Japanese 
boundaries. As a Japanese actor, Hayakawa was praised as an ideal
representative of Japanese people and culture for his popularity in the 
but simultaneously he was often criticized for appearing in 
films that were considered as distorting actual Japanese national and
cultural characteristics.

The Star System in Japanese Silent Film
Mark Anderson
     I am interested in a collaborative project that undertakes a
historical survey of the star system in Japanese film, its ties to 
genre, and the
evolution of typecasting as it relates to gender, class, and ethnicity.
The paper I will be presenting examines the shimpa to silent film
transition in connection with Konjiki Yasha and Hototogisu. There are
seventeen silent versions of Konjiki Yasha. My preliminary research
indicates that rival studios placing their stars in this vehicle have
something to do with this incredible proliferation of remakes.
The notices on silent versions of Konjiki Yasha I've found so far
generally relate Entertainment Tonight type of information: where the 
is being shot, which stars are involved, and how anxiously the film 
is being anticipated. Much of the story seems to come from the press 
around the celebrity actors and actesses.
My paper will develop this line of questioning toward answering how
casting was conducted in early silent family drama and from what point
casting was relied upon in packaging and marketing film to the public.
Lastly, I will try to examine what the particular codes of typecasting
assume concerning gender, class, and ethnicity in film roles and 
as sold to the Japanese public in the early 20th century.

Non-intensive Mise-en-scene: Textual Analysis and Japanese Popular 
Michael Raine
In the middle of Taiyo no kisetsu, the first of the "taiyozoku" films 
of 1956, a scene opens with a high angle extreme long shot of a group 
of young men about to launch a boat in the harbor at Hayama. At the 
bottom of the screen we see that they are chased by a group of young 
women in swimsuits. After importuning them for a ride on the boat the 
leader of the girls asks where the boys are from, which brings a 
geographically implausible reply that sounds like "Shiga-ken, sa". But 
the line also sounds like "see you again, sa" a play on the girls' 
strikingly foreign bodily presentation -- a low angle shot of swimsuits 
and sunglasses -- that is reinforced when their leader replies to her 
own question, saying that they're from the Yoshida English school. When 
the boys' spokesman asks for the girls' names their leader replies, 
"Mary, Sally, Michi, Judy … Elsa". That response leads one of the boys 
to ask after their nationality to which Elsa replies, equally 
facetiously, "Issei, of course. Everyone says so". That foreign 
affiliation seems the point of a scene that ends without resolution (it 
is not clear whether the girls get their ride, nor do they appear in 
the rest of the film), a point confirmed by one of the boys who 
highlights this feminine detournement of nationality by dubbing each of 
the boys with an archaic male name suited only for jidai-geki.

Since "gender" is the single category most often applied to ideology 
critique in the cinema, this scene should pose few problems. In these 
arguments women are made to bear either the burden of nationality (the 
woman as the threatened "Japanese thing" that must be preserved) or the 
mark of a suspiciously anti-national modernity (the moga, the pan-pan, 
or the apure ge-ru). The task of the critic is to choose between these 
fetishizing and sadistic representations, and to prosecute the film 
accordingly. Perhaps in the end that's the best thing to do with Taiyo 
no kisetsu, a film for which it would be difficult to mount an 
aesthetic defense. Instead, I would like to consider the importance of 
non-intensive "mise-en-scene" to this portrayal of linguistic and 
bodily "miscegenation", as it relates to 1950s Japanese "audio-visual 
culture". That is, rather than find in the film hidden resources of 
formal play or ideological tension, I will claim that the film's 
relation to the social phenomena that produced it was one of citation, 
and that a more productive understanding of how we should think of the 
film as a film comes from an study of its connection to wider 
extra-cinematic discourses.

In the course of that project I will discuss the aural and visual 
composition of the scene, and the place of such mise-en-scene analysis 
in the recent theorization of "visual culture" in the recent writing of 
Ella Shohat, Robert Stam, and Nicholas Mirzeoff. I will conclude that 
attempts to find abstract and non-exclusionary formulations of visual 
culture fall back on less sophisticated "logic of the form" assumptions 
to give them structure. Nationality (and Americanization) will still be 
the foreground topics of the piece but I will also be concerned with 
changes in Japanese cinema as an institution, and to changes in 
Japanese "body culture." Perhaps in the end, this scene from Taiyo no 
kisetsu is most interesting for its striking typicality: audio-visual 
culture is best understood as a web of nodes with no center, and no 
automatic political consequences, rather than as a field punctuated by 
self-deconstructing texts.

Naruse at P.C.L. (1935-37): The Moga and her Sisters
Catherine Russell
In 1935 Naruse Mikio was invited to join the new studio P.C.L. as a key 
new director of their “modern” cinema. The move also corresponds to his 
shift to sound film production. The analysis of Naruse’s films during 
the two years before P.C.L. was integrated into the Toho enterprise 
suggest how his representation of women and urban space coincided with 
the larger shifts in Japanese culture and mass media during this 
period. Cultural historians Miriam Silverberg and Harry Harootunian 
have discussed the interwar period in terms of the construction of 
Japanese modernity as a discourse of everyday life. Naruse’s cinema 
demonstrates how this discourse was articulated in filmic form, and how 
the dynamics of “modan culture” gave way in the latter part of the 
decade to a very different national culture that nevertheless remained 
grounded in the everyday.

While Naruse’s cinema studiously avoided any direct acknowledgement of 
the ascendancy of the military in Japanese life, two of his films of 
this period include pairings of women associated with modernity and 
tradition. Otome-gokoro sannin kyoudai (Three Sisters With Maiden 
Hearts, 1935) and Uwasa no musume (The Girl on Everyones Lips, 1935) 
are both about sisters living in downtown Tokyo. While these two films 
include characters close to the infamous moga figure of interwar Japan, 
in Naruse’s cinema female characters are given a greater complexity 
than is usually associated with the moga stereotype. Tsuma yo bara yo 
no ni (Wife! Be Like a Rose!), the first Japanese feature to be 
distributed in the U.S., includes his most engaging female character of 
the period, played by Chiba Sachiko. Although there is no evidence to 
support Burch’s claim that Naruse “refused certain norms of Western 
cinema,” Tsuma yo bara is indeed among his most well-executed films. I 
will argue that, despite Burch’s analysis, Naruse was not engaged in 
any kind of “transgressive” practice; and while his films of the 30s 
are certainly stylistically and formally idiosyncratic, his experiments 
were motivated more by a need to find an appropriate means of 
expression for modern Japanese life, than to challenge established 
patterns of representation.

The paper will also include brief discussions of some of the other 
titles Naruse was responsible for during this period: Sakasu gonin-gumi 
(Five Men in the Circus, 1935), Kumoemon Tochuken (1936), Nynoni aishu 
(Feminine Melancholy, 1937) and Nadare (Avalanche, 1937). These films 
suggest how Naruse contributed to a popular culture in which gender 
norms were under continual revision and contestation. The volume of 
films is in itself remarkable (he made 10 films during these three 
years), and although the quality is uneven, there is a consistent 
articulation of a “vernacular modernism” appropriate to the shifting 
dynamics of the public sphere. Precisely because of its association 
with new industrial methods of mass culture, Naruse’s cinema provides a 
privileged insight into the shifts in the symbolic cultural economy of 
the period. My reading of these films is thus particularly attuned to 
the details of fashion, architecture, music and narrative as well as—or 
as elements of—cinematic style and effects of gender.

Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama: