Full Metal Apache

Transactions Between Cyberpunk Japan and Avant-Pop America

Full Metal Apache

Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: 15 photos, 11 figures Published: June 2006

Author: Takayuki Tatsumi

Contributor: Larry McCaffery

Asian Studies > East Asia, Cultural Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory

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.


“The enunciative gesture of projecting Japan into the future merits critical attention and scholarly consideration in relation to the project of critical Orientalism put forth in Full Metal Apache. This enunciative futurity is not merely temporal or racial overcompensation or frank disavowal of the temporal unevenness of the Japanese present. Rather, it highlights a situation in which formations of modernity, especially the strategies of racial and temporal othering implicit in Orientalist typing, have become so irrevocably a part of our contemporary condition that 'I' cannot be withdrawn from it, temporally or spatially. ‘I’ is a twist of the type.” — Thomas LaMarre, Journal of Japanese Studies

“This book deserves attention. . . . Full Metal Apache is recommended for science fiction readers who’re willing to look at our genre from a different angle.” — Joe Sanders, New York Review of Science Fiction

“[Tatsumi] succeeds in describing the speed and multilayered complexity of trans-Pacific cultural exchanges that happen in science fiction, with a near-synchronicity of story content and theme across varied works.” — Amelia Beamer, Locus

“Scholars of speculative fiction, cultural studies and the postmodern should find Full Metal Apache a rich source of information on the contemporary trans-Pacific literary scene. Tatsumi introduces a wide array of lesser-known Japanese artists and provides context for discussing them in a comparative manner. Also, in the wake of numerous studies of orientalism, it is refreshing to have a volume that balances a consideration of West-gazing-East with an equally intense scrutiny of East-gazing-West.” — Charlotte Eubanks, Comparative Literature Studies

“Something like a cultural Godzilla himself, Tatsumi upends deeply embedded stereotypes of orientalism and occidentalism, smashing conventional notions of Western originality and Japanese imitation. . . . [R]efreshingly irreverent, even fun. . . . Full Metal Apache never fails to frame Japan and its ‘infectious negotiations’ with the West in unexpected and startling ways.” — Brad Quinn, Daily Yomiuri

“Tatsumi is a never-less-than-intelligent reader, and a writer who conveys his enthusiasms and the ideas they spark in him with nervy brilliance.” — Roz Kaveney, TLS

“Tatsumi’s book is a brilliant contribution to the field of pop culture, containing chapters on not only all the usual suspects (Shinya Tsukamoto, J. G. Ballard, William Gibson) but also on the potential of literary theory in a global context, on the relationship between history and aesthetics and on the link between geography and artistic production.” — Polina Mackay, Journal of American Studies

“Tatsumi’s book is useful not only as a guide to works we might otherwise have overlooked but also to works we thought we knew well. . . . Those interested in new art and writing, and new ideas about older art and writing, will enjoy Tatsumi's book. . . .” — David Cozy, Japan Times

“The arguments Tatsumi makes are potent and sharp, and his conclusions come across less as capstones to one critic’s opinions, but more like a geologist’s take on natural processes, something elemental yet hidden, requiring the most careful observation and tweezing of evidence to prove something so undeniably true. These essays are moonlights to look towards as we plumb the turbulent depths of cultural exhange.” — Ryan Smith, American Book Review

“The book’s strength lies in its dynamic analysis of cultural transactions between Japan and the US, especially the paradigm shifts in the 1980s that triggered Japonism in American culture. The book’s reference to texts, films, TV programmes and cultural phenomena is genuinely impressive. . . . This book is a novelty in its eclectic approach across disciplinary borders.” — Kumiko Sato, Pacific Affairs

“There is no doubting Tatsumi’s intimacy with his subject matter as he juggles the orient, the occident, creative masochism, avant-pop, cyberpunk, and Mikadophilia. His ability to keep all these ideas and texts in motion and interacting with one another is impressive and helps illuminate a Japanese cultural marketplace that deserves greater exposure to Western scholars.” — Graham Murphy, Science Fiction Studies

“This is a work that one should return to repeatedly. The tangents created within the connections of Japan and America, culture and politics, theory and society, and high and low, make it necessary.” — Gerald Sim, Screening the Past

“Throughout Full Metal Apache, the framework built by two convincing ideas, creative masochism and new exoticism, is solid enough to satisfy theory-oriented readers. Yet Tatsumi’s greatest virtue lies in the flexible readings of individual works within the framework. In a refreshing perspective he not only reevaluates famous writers but also introduces little-known contemporary artists, extracting their merits as much as possible.” — Takemoto Noriaki, Studies in English Literature 1500-1900

“Turning to literary and cultural criticism from Japan, it is enjoyable to read Takayuki Tatsumi's thoughtful, quirky, often breezy work, gleaming under the reading lamp, whirring and clanking with a motorized hum. Samurai sword and sexy robot. Metallic, man, metallic.” — Michael R. Moser, Leonardo Reviews

“What is interesting and significant about this volume is its ‘Japanese’ perspective. Tatsumi is equally at home with both the high-art and pop canons of Japan and the United States. . . . [A] thought-provoking and significant contribution to internationalising cultural studies.” — Mark McLelland, Media International Australia

"[A]s an overview this book makes absorbing reading, and is for much of the time obsessively fascinating. Critical theory's jargon is thankfully absent, and the book can be recommended to all except those seeking the very strongest stimulants in the way of cross-cultural intellectual analysis. The innermost organs of pink Godzillas and postfeminist cyborgs may remain, in the last analysis, unprobed. But even so, Full Metal Apache is a rich and nourishing soup with almost everything in there, nuts and bolts included. There's almost no one whose cultural diet can't in some way be broadened, you can't help thinking." — Bradley Winterton, Taipei Times

Full Metal Apache [is a] brilliant, paradigm-smashing study by Japan’s hippest literary critic and cultural commentator.” — Larry McCaffery, from the foreword

Full Metal Apache is a genuinely exciting and powerful text, incredibly rich in both material and ideas. Takayuki Tatsumi’s overall theme is the complex and dense dynamic between Japan and America (and often the West in general), and he investigates this dynamic in ways and with material far fresher and more critically invigorating than a standard analysis of ‘influences’ would be.” — Susan J. Napier, author of Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation

Full Metal Apache is a marvelous literary mediation of postoriental aesthetics and the transactions of cybercultures. Takayuki Tatsumi cites synchronicity over mimesis, a mighty tease of cultures, and his inspired critique of the chimeric emperor, gaijin fabulations, scrap thieves, ghost stories, and metafiction is extraordinary and masterly.” — Gerald Vizenor, University of California, Berkeley

“I have always thought that Takayuki Tatsumi had (and still has) the most interesting lines into whatever it is that I’ve been doing with fiction, culture, and technology. He showed up before 99 percent of American academics had ever heard of me and seemed immediately to know what I was talking about—often before I did myself.” — William Gibson, author of Pattern Recognition


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Takayuki Tatsumi is Professor of English at Keio University in Tokyo. He is the author of many books in Japanese, including Lincoln’s Bullet; A Reading of 2001: A Space Odyssey; Slipstream Japan; New Americanist Poetics; A Manifesto for Japanoids; Metafiction as Ideology; and Cyberpunk America.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword by Larry McCaffery xi

Acknowledgements xxiii

Introduction: Anatomies of Dependence 1

Part One: Theory

1. Mikadophilia, or The Fate of Cyborgian Identity in Postmillenarian Milieu 9

2. Comparative Metafiction: Somewhere between Ideology and Rhetoric 38

Part Two: History

3. Virus as Metaphor: A Postorientalist Reading of the Future War Novels of the 1890s 63

4. Deep North Gothic: A Postoccidentalist Reading of Hearn, Yangita, and Akutagawa 71

5. Which Way to Coincidence: A Queer Reading of J. Ballard’s Crash 86

6. A Manifesto for Gynoids: A Cyborg Feminist Reading of Richard Calder 93

Part Three: Aesthetics

7. Semiotic Ghost Stories: The Japanese Reflection of Mirrorshades 105

8. Junk Art City, or How Gibson Meets Thomasson in Virtual Light 112

9. Pax Exotica: A New Exoticist Perspective on Audrey, Anna-chan, and Idoru 123

Part Four: Performance

10. Magic Realist Tokyo: Poe’s “The Man That Was Used Up” as a Subtext for Bartók-Terayama’s Magical Musical The Miraculous Mandarin 137

Part Five: Representation

11. Full Metal Apache: Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo Diptych, or The Impact of American Narrative son the Japanese Representation of Cyborgian Identity 151
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Takayuki Tatsumi is the recipient of the 2010 International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts Distinguished Scholarship Award

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3774-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3762-1
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