J a p a n e s e    C u l t u r e

Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Super Friends East and West

Super Friends East and West by timtak
Super Friends East and West, a photo by timtak on Flickr.

Japanese super friends tend to be wordless, pure body, and yet self: the heroes of the works they star in.

Western supernatural friends tend to be pure mind, with a message, but it is often with their mind-readers that Westerners identify. It would have worked far better for my theory if Westerners had also associated with the supernatural as mind and message, rather than with the human mind-reader but it could just be that the parallel is far from perfect.

The Western superfriend dramas do not feature cultural heroes that many of the Japanese robots are. Japanese children grow up idolising Ultraman but Western children do not generally grow up wanting to be any of these these detectives. The dectives are rather viewed by adults who may be wondering what what sort of mess they have been woven into and why someone is going to die.

I also get the feeling that secrecy of the Western superheroes "alter ego" (not present in most Japanese superhero series) probably has something to do with the secrecy of the message that the detectives are trying to read.

These Western detectives ability to read language from the other world, often from the visual world (Tim Roth in "Lie to me" and Patrick Jane in "The mentalist" read people's faces, Cory from The Sixth Sense sees sadness in a dead man's eyes), parallels the Japanese superheroes ability to write symbols, shown most splendidly in the series "Shinkenja." These Shinkenja power rangers line up in full view of everyone, on a sort of stage, and take out their calligraphic phone (shoudoufon) to write a totemic ideogram on the res-extensia, and it is this ability to write that allows them to henshin, change.

Images from Mazinger-z by joeszilvagyi, Doraemon by Wacko Photographer, Pikachu by ntang, HG 00 Gundam by Chag, Ryuk by Yami Ghor and Ultrama photographed by me but all characters and images copyright their original creators.

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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.