(Duke University Press, 2017)
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In The End of Japanese Cinema Alexander Zahlten moves film theory beyond the confines of film itself, attending to the emergence of new kinds of aesthetics, politics, temporalities, and understandings of film and media. He traces the evolution of a new media ecology through deep historical analyses of the Japanese film industry from the 1960s to the 2000s. Zahlten focuses on three popular industrial genres: pink film (independently distributed softcore pornographic films), Kadokawa (big-budget productions as part of a transmedia strategy), and V-Cinema (direct-to-video films). He examines the conditions of these films’ production to demonstrate how the media industry itself becomes part of the politics of the media text and to highlight the complex negotiation between media and politics, culture, and identity in Japan. Zahlten points to a different history of film, one in which a once-powerful film industry transformed into becoming only one component within a complex media-mix ecology. In so doing, Zahlten opens new paths for uncovering similar broad processes in other large media societies.
Alexander Zahlten is Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University.
“Alexander Zahlten emphasizes a constellation of cinematic attributes that have rarely been considered so seriously in Japanese film and media studies: industry and industrial structures, distribution infrastructures, and viewing spaces. Demonstrating a special command of industry history, Zahlten facilitates fruitful dialogue between text and context that will change how people talk about Japanese cinema. A great read.”
— Miryam Sas, University of California, Berkeley