The End of Japanese Cinema

Industrial Genres, National Times, and Media Ecologies

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 11 illustrations Published: October 2017

Asian Studies > East Asia, Cultural Studies, Media Studies > Film

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.

A Study of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University


"A rich historical analysis. Recommended." — S. Pepper, Choice

"Provocative." — Etsuo Kono, Japan News

“Deeply thought-provoking. . . . Alexander Zahlten’s study represents a major scholarly contribution to the fields of Japanese film and media studies and allied disciplines. The End of Japanese Cinema is a remarkable achievement in the scholarship of film and media, both from and in Japan.”
  — Rea Amit, Film Quarterly

The End of Japanese Cinema is an innovative account of some significant currents within modern Japanese film which have tended to be marginalised.” — Alexander Jacoby, Sight & Sound

"Zahlten’s nuanced readings of these industrial genres introduce concepts and terms that will be used productively for years to come. This book is an important contribution and should be read widely by scholars of Japan studies and film and media studies, particularly those interested in contemporary Japan." — Charles Exley, Journal of Japanese Studies

"This book doubtless makes a significant contribution to the study of Japanese cinema, even to Japanese media as a whole, particularly the chapters on V-cinema, but also its new analytical approaches and perspectives on pink films and Kadokawa films." — Martin Picard, Asiascape

"Thanks to the studio system and the canonical work of auteurs, there was a time when everyone knew the greatness of Japanese film—when everyone knew exactly what Japanese cinema was. This gave way to a sense of decline, if not an end, after the demise of the new wave. In his provocative new book, Alexander Zahlten directs us to the curious, protean margins of the industry to redefine our understanding of 'Japanese cinema.'" — Markus Nornes, coauthor of A Research Guide to Japanese Film Studies

"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, author of Experimental Arts in Postwar Japan: Moments of Encounter, Engagement, and Imagined Return


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Alexander Zahlten is Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University and coeditor of Media Theory in Japan, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction  1
1. Establishing Pink Film  25
2. Pink Times and Pink Spaces  63
3. Kadokawa Film  96
4. The Radicalization of Kadokawa Film  122
5. V-Cinema  152
6. Subgenres: Violence, Finances, Sex, and True Accounts  176
Conclusion: Present Histories  204
Notes  225
Bibliography  273
Index  285
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6944-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6929-5
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