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Synopsis

Takayuki Tatsumi is one of Japan’s leading cultural critics, renowned for his work on American literature and culture. With his encyclopedic knowledge and fan’s love of both Japanese and American art and literature, he is perhaps uniquely well situated to offer this study of the dynamic crosscurrents between the avant-gardes and pop cultures of Japan and the United States. In Full Metal Apache, Tatsumi looks at the work of artists from both sides of the Pacific: fiction writers and poets, folklorists and filmmakers, anime artists, playwrights, musicians, manga creators, and performance artists. Tatsumi shows how, over the past twenty years or so, writers and artists have openly and exuberantly appropriated materials drawn from East and West, from sources both high and low, challenging and unraveling the stereotypical images Japan and America have of one another.

Full Metal Apache introduces English-language readers to a vast array of Japanese writers and performers and considers their work in relation to the output of William Gibson, Thomas Pynchon, H. G. Wells, Jack London, J. G. Ballard, and other Westerners. Tatsumi moves from the poetics of metafiction to the complex career of Madame Butterfly stories and from the role of the Anglo-American Lafcadio Hearn in promoting Japanese folklore within Japan during the nineteenth century to the Japanese monster Godzilla as an embodiment of both Japanese and Western ideas about the Other. Along the way, Tatsumi develops original arguments about the self-fashioning of “Japanoids” in the globalist age, the philosophy of “creative masochism” inherent within postwar Japanese culture, and the psychology of “Mikadophilia” indispensable for the construction of a cyborg identity. Tatsumi’s exploration of the interplay between Japanese and American cultural productions is as electric, ebullient, and provocative as the texts and performances he analyzes.

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