JAPAN
   It seems that the continuing attention the Japanese people give to their ancient legends and fantastic stories has made them receptive to modern fantasies and sf, and the rationalization of a chaotic Universe which such stories offer. Appropriately, the history of Japanese sf begins during the 1870s, a period of violently rapid modernization in Japan, withtranslations of the works of Jules VERNE. The native Japanese sf writers of this era, such as Shunro Oshikawa (1877-1914), show his strong influence. One of Oshikawa's most popular books is Kaitei Gunkan("Undersea Warship") (1900), a future- WAR novel about a conflict between Japan and Russia, which effectively predicted the actual war of 1904-5.Between the two World Wars, new writers of straight sf and fantasy began to appear, the most popular and capable among them being Juza Unno (1897-1949), who wrote stories influenced by the newly developing US sf;stories of his such as Chikyu Tonan ("The Stolen Earth") (1936) and Yojigen Hyoryu ("Marooned in the 4-D World") (1946) were, although nothighly regarded as literature, loved by young readers.It was only after WWII, however, that sf became widely popular. A few ambitious publishersattempted series of translated sf stories, though most of these experiments failed due to limited sales. Notable among them were a series of 7 anthologies from Amazing Stories (all 1950) and 20 volumes of the Gengensha SF Series (1956-7); these began the process of establishing ansf audience in Japan. This audience was soon catered for by the first successful venture, the Hayakawa SF Series (1957-74), published by Hayakawa Publishing Co., which issued 318 volumes, mostly of translationsbut also including about 50 Japanese originals; another paperback series, Hayakawa SF Bunko (1970-current), reached its 940th volume in 1991 (alltranslations), including reprints from the earlier series. The same company's Hayakawa JA Series of original works (1973-current) has reached about 340 volumes. Hayakawa has also published hardback sf series. In competition with Hayakawa, the Tokyo Sogensha Co. began its own translation series (1963-current), which has reached some 300 volumes; early on it featured Edgar Rice BURROUGHS's Barsoom books and E.E. "Doc" SMITH's works. Asahi Sonorama's series of Japanese originals(1975-current) numbers over 500, most of them sf. Sanrio Co. published almost 200 titles in Sanrio SF Bunko (1978-84). Other publishers, such as Kadokawa Shoten, Kodansha, Shinchosa, Shueisha and Seishinsa, publish bothtranslated and original sf or fantasy on a smaller scale. The NEW WAVE in the 1960s and CYBERPUNK in the 1980s affected Japanese sf and stimulated several writers to work in these styles.In 1957 the FANZINE Uchujin("Cosmic Dust") was founded, and began publishing original Japanese work; nearly half of the sf writers in Japan today started there. With 190 issues and a circulation of about 1000, Uchujin remains Japan's leading fanzine. In 1960 the first successful professional sf magazine in Japan was launched by Hayakawa: SF Magazine began as a reprint vehicle for FSF, but shortly began to publish original material, which soon predominated. SF Magazine proved a success, celebrating its 400th issue in Oct 1990 witha lavish special issue. The second professional sf magazine, Kiso-Tengai("Fantastic"), began in 1975 and has folded twice, each time being revived by a fresh publisher; by 1990 it had reached almost 100 issues. SF Adventure (1979-current), published by Tokuma Shoten, has reached its145th issue, and Shishioh ("Lion King") (1985-current), published by Asahi Sonorama, has reached its 69th. Three Japanese versions of US magazines, ISAAC ASIMOV'S SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINE, titled SF Hoseki ("SF Jewels") (1979-81), STARLOG (1979-87) and OMNI (1982-9), and two quarterly SEMIPROZINES, SF-ISM (1981-5) and SF No Hon ("SF Books") (1982-6), also attracted readers, but not enough to survive. Though magazine circulation figures are classified in Japan, the best estimate is that the top magazine sells about 50,000 copies.Today, in the early 1990s, about 400 Japanese original and 150 translated sf books are published each year(excluding reprints, game books and juveniles), a figure that varies according to criteria for distinguishing between sf and non-sf. (The term "sf" is in Japanese rather inclusive, embracing much that an occidental sfpurist would reject. The numbers cited therefore include light fantasies, which have recently been popular.) Though the borderline between hardback and paperback publication is difficult to determine in the Japanese system, probably about a quarter of these are hardbacks. Paperbacks generally sell about 20-30,000 copies in the first print run, though there are many exceptions. As in other countries, most Japanese sf readers are of secondary-school/university age.Japanese FANDOM began to reveal itself in 1962 with the first Japanese sf CONVENTION in Tokyo, attended by about 200 fans; the 30th convention, i-con, was held in Kanazawa,Ishikawa-Prefecture, in 1991 with about 1700 attendees; the 1983 convention, Daicon-4, held in Osaka, was the biggest to date, with about 4000. The site selection for conventions is presided over by theFederation of Science Fiction Groups of Japan, founded 1965, which also regulates the voting for the Sei'un AWARDS, the Japanese equivalent of the HUGOS, established in 1970. The categories are: Novel (Japanese andtranslation), Short Story (Japanese and translation), Media Presentation, Comics, Nonfiction, and Artist. The Nippon SF Taisho ("Taisho" means "BigAward"), the Japanese equivalent of the NEBULA, begun in 1980, is given to the single most prominent product of Japanese sf in the preceding year.The first Japanese sf film was GOJIRA (1954; vt Godzilla). It was followed by many other MONSTER MOVIES such as RADON (1956; vt Rodan), MOSURA (1961; vt Mothra), DAIKAIJU GAMERA (1966; vt Gamera) and GOJIRA 1985 (1985; vtGodzilla 1985), and also by straight sf offerings like CHIKYU BOEIGUN (1957; vt The Mysterians), BIJO TO EKITAI NINGEN (1958; vt The H-Man), NIPPON CHINBOTSU (1973; vt The Submersion of Japan; cut vt Tidal Wave), FUKKATSU NO HI (1981; vt Virus) and SENGOKU JIEITAI (1981; vt Time Slip). Most of these were from Toho-Eiga or Kadokawa-Eiga Co. (Eiji Tsuburaya (1901-1970), who worked with Toho-Eiga, was famous for his special effects.) Monster and sf-adventure series flooded TELEVISION, too, but were less successful than animated tv series like Tetsuwan Atom (1963-5; vt Astroboy), the first of them, and Gatchaman (1972-4) and Uchusenkan Yamato ("Space Battlecruiser Yamato") (1974-5). Many of these series havealso been shown abroad. Recently, full-length animated feature films, such as Hayao Miyazaki's Kaze no Tano no Nausika (1984; vt Nausica) and Tonari no Totoro (1988; vt My Neighbour Totoro) and Katsuhiro OTOMO's AKIRA (1987), have been highly regarded by the general public as well as sffans. Most such animations are derived from COMICS (by the same authors), comics being an important form of publication not only for children but also for young adults in Japan.Among Japanese sf authors, the best known abroad is Kobo ABE, author of Dai-Yon Kampyoki (1959; trans as Inter Ice Age 4 1970); he is, however, fundamentally a writer of mainstreamliterature. Other stories by popular MAINSTREAM WRITERS have been highly regarded in sf circles. Two such, by Hisashi Inoue in 1981 and Makoto Shiina in 1990, won the Nippon SF Taisho in their respective years. Thereputation of Haruki MURAKAMI - whose work includes Hitsuji o meguru boken (1982; trans Alfred Birnbaum as A Wild Sheep Chase 1989 US) and Sekai noowar to hard-boiled wonderland (1984; trans Alfred Birnbaum as Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World 1991 US)-is also spreadingwidely.Osamu TEZUKA, the writer/artist for Astroboy, is regarded as a kind of Japanese Walt Disney: he produced the first animated film series for tv in Japan and is a top name in sf and other comics. Other important writer/artists in comics are Fujio Fujiko (1933-), Shotaro Ishinomori (1938-), Reiji Matsumoto (1938-), Go Nagai (1945-) and Katsuhiro Otomo.Shin'ichi HOSHI has written more than 1000 short stories, with many translated into other languages. His "Bokkochan" (1958; trans FSF June 1963) was the first Japanese sf story to be translated into English.Hoshi's work was critical in the popularization of sf in the early days in Japan. Sakyo KOMATSU is a sort of symbol of Japanese sf. Many of his novels are panoramic in scope, dealing in broad strokes with the destiny of the Universe and with Homo sapiens's place in it. He is best known abroad as the author of Nippon Chinbotsu (1973; cut trans 1976 as Japan Sinks), which sold about 4 million copies in Japan alone and, as mentionedabove, was filmed. Yasutaka Tsutsui (1934-) is noted for his sharply satirical comic situation fantasies - sometimes called slapstick sf - such as Vietnam Kanko Kosha ("The Vietnam Sightseeing Co.") (1967), but his recent bestselling stories are considered mainstream rather than sf. Ryo Hammura (1933-) won the Naoki Award - the most prestigious Japaneseliterary prize - in 1974. He is best known for his earlier fantasy books, which created a fictitious history of ancient Japan, but a more recent bestseller, Misaki Ichiro no Teiko ("The Resistance of Ichiro Misaki") (1988), is centrally sf, describing the tragedy of a SUPERMAN. Hammuraalso wrote the novel on which was based the film SENGOKU JIETAI. Ryu Mitsuse (1928-) combines a HARD-SF surface with poetic form in suchperceptive novels as Hyakuoku no Hiru to Sen'oku no Yoru ("Ten Billion Days, a Hundred Billion Nights") (1967), an sf variation on the Buddhisttheme of transience. Taku Mayumura (1934-) is noted for his serious attempts to create a future history (HISTORY IN SF), a representative work being Shiseikan ("Governors of the Worlds") (1974), a book in a series describing the rise and fall of a galactic government.Among the younger authors, Masaki Yamada (1950-) is a born sf writer, one of the second generation of Japanese sf authors. His first story, the novella "Kami-Gari" ("God Hunters") (1974), deals with the fight against theunseen and ruthless government of Almighty God. Baku Yumemakura (1951-) became a bestselling sf writer through violent adventure novels, but his recent Jogen no Tsuki o Taberu Shishi ("The Lion that Ate the Crescent Moon") (1989) is highly poetic and symbolic; he won both the Sei'un Awardand the Nippon Sf Taisho with this novel. Chohei Kambayashi (1953-) could be called a typical VIRTUAL-REALITY writer. His novel Sento-Yosei Yukikaze("Fairy Fighter Yukikaze") (1984) deals with the man-machine interface when a ROBOT fighter plane fights an alien machine race. Yoshiki Tanaka (1952-) writes a variety of historical fantasies. The most popular amongthem is Ginga Eiyu Densetu ("The Legend of Galactic Heroes") (1982), which tells of a space war and is based on the ancient Chinese story "Three Kingdoms".Among women sf writers, perhaps Motoko Arai (1960-) is the mosttypical, with her rather easy-to-read style of fantasy. Quite different is Mariko Ohara (1959-), who writes CYBERPUNK stories. Kaoru Kurimoto (1953-) is prolific in the field of HEROIC FANTASY. Many other women writers of light fantasy have enjoyed popularity in recent years.A study in English is Japanese Science Fiction: A View of a Changing Society (1989) by Robert Matthew. Several of the writers mentioned above are represented intranslation in The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (anth 1989 US) ed John L. Apostolou with Martin H. GREENBERG. The most importantbibliographer of Japanese sf is Fujio Ishihara, whose major bibliographies are (using an English version of their Japanese titles) SF Grand Annotated Catalogue 1946-70 (1982) and SF Grand Annotated Catalogue 1971-1980 (fivevols 1989-1991); these works are in Japanese.
   TSh/PN.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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