Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Short Documentary: "Die for Japan: Wartime Propaganda Kamishibai (paper plays; 国策紙芝居)"

Professor Jeffery Dym from Sacramento State recently announced his interesting visual project on H-Japan:

We live in an increasingly visual culture and I believe it is important for us as scholars to become involved in creating and adding scholarly contributions to it and not just as talking heads in a documentary. Thus, I have embarked on a road I call "visual scholarship."

I would like to announce the publishing of an eighteen minute documentary--Die for Japan: Wartime Propaganda Kamishibai (paper plays; 国策紙芝居)--I recently completed. The film examines Japanese propaganda from a unique angle and the film could be used to spark classroom discussion, particularly if paired with an American wartime propaganda film like Know Your Enemy Japan.

Here is the text included with the YouTube version:

While American World War II propaganda often focused on killing the enemy, Japanese propaganda focused more on dying for the nation. This film exams Japanese World War II propaganda as depicted in kamishibai—Japanese paper plays, a form of street entertainment popular in Japan at the time.

YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFavUjEYc7Y

Vimeo link: http://vimeo.com/35458335

I think this film is a great example of visual anthropology - using visual methods to explore visual aspects of culture. The film is tightly edited and has lots of good examples to illustrate the various uses of kamishibai. Related to the last VAOJ post, there is some mention of the the strong use of the Japanese flag as a powerful symbol in Japan's wartime propaganda. There are even examples of the use of cuteness in Japan - cute characters fighting battles and cute bunnies signing up for military service. While the film might be historical in nature, it certainly illustrates political and cultural values that continue to the current time.

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