Hibakusha Films

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Reason One
Topic:
Does hibakusha cinema give insight into the sociocultural changes in Japan brought about by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings?
Thesis:
Hibakusha films give insight into the sociocultural changes brought about by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings because they depict the Japanese public’s fears of the dangers of nuclear technology, expose the social discrimination experienced by hibakusha in Japan, and portray Japan’s resilience and tenacity in reconstruction after the war.

There can be little surprise that the aftermath of World War II would give rise to vengeful ghosts from the past, or give birth to science fiction monsters and horror scenarios. The facts and figures are grim: 1.8 million dead and 680,000 missing
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Gojira, or Godzilla as the film was called in the West, was first released by Toho Studios in 1954, and is one of the best known examples of the Japanese society’s fear and warnings against the destructive side of nuclear technology. In the original film, Godzilla is depicted as an absolute terror. In the opening scene, he attacks in the dead of the night, destroying a series of fishing boats and leaving only one survivor to tell the tale; for the first 22 minutes of the film, only whispers and rumors mention Godzilla and his terrifying carnage. In the next three depictions of Godzilla’s attacks, the film shows destroyed houses in the night, villagers escaping, and ravaged trees and shores, but all one sees of Godzilla is a part of his foot in one scene (Ikeda 2011). His obscurity becomes a symbol for the Japanese people’s fear of that which cannot be seen — invisible radiation, sickness, and death. In each of these attacks, Godzilla’s arrival coincides with a typhoon disaster, creating a metaphor of Godzilla as an sudden natural disaster beyond human control, much like how the atomic bomb was unpredictable and impossible to control for the Japanese. Later, the film directly ties the creation of the monster to atomic…show more content…
Akira, released by Katsuhiro Otomo in 1988 depicted a science fiction “Neo-Tokyo” where machines and technology have taken over typical human activities (replacing humans in jobs, chores, raising children etc.). The plot revolves around a group of teenagers, who are growing up in the aftermath of World War III, and are trying to find a way to destroy these machines and restore life to the way it was before the war (Fuller 2012). Akira offers an explicit look into Japan’s fear of technology overpowering humans and eventually destroying them, just as the development of nuclear technology did to Japan in World War II. As the teenagers struggle to find a way to stop the machines, or the continuous development of technology, more and more humans are replaced by machines, and eventually, by the end of the film, the teenagers fail and the Japanese government resorts to dropping an atomic bomb on Neo-Tokyo itself (Fuller 2012). Akira shows the Japanese fear that the machines mankind created will eventually cause the death of mankind itself, just as how the atomic bomb, created by humans, managed to so suddenly and easily massacre other humans. In an anime series released in 1987, Bubblegum Crisis by Toshimichi Suzuki, a science fiction future is created where the world is like a “bubblegum,” chaotic and prone to erupt at any time,
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