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Tokyo Boo-Yah Tribes

September 14, 2006

Back when I was participating regularly in a certain group for film freaks and critics, I was pretty hard on the film Lost in Translation, citing in part how the film, chosing Tokyo as a character essentially, cocked things up with a one-dimensional portrayal of the city. All other critiques I had were lost after that, as some reacted strangely to introducing a social critique into film crit (similar to, though hardly on the level of, Armond White’s weak political readings of film). The retort was usually “oh, my Japanese friend saw it and liked it,” that kind of thing.

Here’s a video of manga-ka Santa Inoue discussing his reknown manga (and soon to be anime) Tokyo Tribes, a gritty, Hip Hop culture flavored book about turf wars in Shinjuku. He levels some similar criticisms of Hollywood representations of Tokyo and Japanese people as I did. It’s interesting that main influences on his book were “hood” movies like Menace II Society. His Tokyo is as hyperrealistic as the Hughes Brothers’ Compton, so Tokyo Tribes isn’t necessarily more “true,” it is more dimensional, breathing and heaving with life.

The reaction of Western otaku to Tokyo Tribes will be interesting. Will this be “too Americanized” for them? Will it blow their perceptions of Japan as the land of magic and lollipops out of the water? Some manga fans, however, have been anxiously awaiting an anime created from the book, so perhaps the overall reaction will differ from my expectations. Also, will non fans have their “they’re stealing our hip hop” blog posts ready?

OK culture warriors and alt weekly journalists, get those “hip hop in Japan” think piece notes ready! 😉 

An aside:
Posts here in the “anime” category are pretty slim. Since I can’t possibly keep up with all the series that drop onto shelves every week, and have never really followed the youth oriented series in the first place, my viewing of Japanese animation is limited to the feature length films in large part. I know that I’m probably missing some interesting stuff (like the we-don’t-need-no-stinking-subtext “Strawberry Panic”), but well . . . ah just too much uninteresting stuff out there to have to wade through it all.

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