Has the Empire Sunk Yet?--The Pacific in Japanese Science Fiction

Schnellbächer, Thomas
November 2002
Science Fiction Studies;Nov2002, Vol. 29 Issue 3, p382
Academic Journal
Literary Criticism
A significant number of postwar Japanese sf works are set on or under the sea. This topos always raises issues of national identity and territory in the context of technical innovation—also favorite themes of nationalistic Japanese adventure novels around the turn of the twentieth century. But the works that took up the ocean-topos in the three decades following the end of the Pacific War redefined it for use in an age that rejected war and colonialism. The Pacific ocean proved in many cases to be a fruitful means of speculating about the contradictions of postwar Japanese identity. This essay discusses four groups of works that appeared between 1947 and 1973: the lost world fantasies of Kayama Shigeru’s "Orang Pendek" series; two films by director Honda Ishirô, "Godzilla" (1954) and "Atragon" (1963); Abe Kôbô's "Inter Ice Age 4" (1959), the first Japanese sf novel; and Komatsu Sakyô's best-selling novel "Japan Sinks."


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