10 August 2016 Seminar: Apocalyptic Imagination in Contemporary Japan

On the 10th of August the JSC welcomed Dr Motoko Tanaka of Miyazaki Sangyo-keiei University for a presentation on apocalyptic themes in Japanese popular culture.


Presentation Title

Apocalyptic Imagination in Contemporary Japan


Apocalyptic themes can commonly be found in modern Japanese cultural works, such as animation, comic books, and “light novels.” These themes are clearly inspired by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the close of the Second World War, a traumatic experience for the Japanese. This talk focuses on apocalyptic themes in Japan since 1995—the fiftieth anniversary of the Japanese defeat in the war. The talk explores how apocalyptic fiction has reflected and dealt with major sociopolitical changes in Japan since 1995. In particular, the article analyzes how contemporary apocalyptic fiction differs from its earlier more conventional counterparts, why some of this fiction lacks themes of personal growth and attaining maturity, and whether the contemporary Japanese apocalyptic imagination has the potential to cope with post-apocalyptic endlessness and still find room for maturity and growth.


About the presenter

Motoko Tanaka is an associate professor at Miyazaki Sangyo-keiei University, Japan. She received her PhD in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Literature at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Among her publications are Apocalypse in Contemporary Japanese Science Fiction (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and “GANTZ Interpreted from Two Critical Perspectives” in International Journal of Comic Art (Vol.17, No.2, Fall/Winter 2015).