Table of Contents
Series 1 Final Issue
Russian Contemporary Thought III
An Ethics of the Déraciné and A Philosophy of the Tourist
Hiroyuki Itsuki + Mitsuyoshi Numano + Hiroki Azuma
On the Language of Love Hiroki Azuma
Criticism in Contemporary Japan IV
[Discussion]150 Years of Japanese Thought: Intellectuals, Literature, and the Emperor
Tadashi Karube + Satoshi Osawa + Akinaka Senzaki + Hiroki Azuma
The Age of Games II
War Games and the Possibility of Gamic Subjectivity: Beyond Serious Games and Propaganda Masanori Tsujita
Pattern and Symmetry: Indie Games from the Perspective of Animation Films
Playing and Metagames: Gamic Vision as Symbolic Form Tetsuya Matsushita
Preface to a Fundamental Theory of Games: From the Perspective of Games as Playing with Cause and Effect Takamitsu Yamamoto
Russian Contemporary Thought III
Theory of the Novel from “Philosophical Wonder”: From the Notes of the 1940s-1970s Mikhail Bakhtin
From the Phenomenology to Theory of Laughter and Novel Hajime Kaizawa
The Question Concerning Technology in China: An Essay in Cosmotechnics Introduction #3 Yuk Hui
Wake Up New #6 Prabda Yoon
On Other Surfaces #7 Yohei Kurose
On Independent States #8 Kenro Hayamizu
The Genealogy of chelfitsch(s): On the New “Crowd” Marron Shibukawa[Fiction]The Lagos Biopolis Tokio Amasawa [Columns] [Novel]The Pigeon Clock of Dischronia│Afternoon VIII│ Melon Uminekozawa
English Translations and Abstracts
Series 1 Final Issue
Before you is Genron 9, the publication of which marks the conclusion of the first series of Genron. This time, there is no overarching theme; instead, this issue contains three sections that serve as supplements to the three themes of the first series, while also including discussions and essays that connect with our plans for the second series.
The second series of Genron will begin with the next issue. We intend for the second series to be published biannually, beginning in spring 2019 with Genron 10.
Genron was launched in late 2015. We published it three times a year, with the initial intention of continuing for three years.
Continued publication is not especially difficult for a journal like ours with a modest circulation that might or might not pass even ten thousand. At the time of our first publication, however, I was uncertain whether we could even achieve such a humble goal. Genron was a micro-business with just a handful of employees and me, a total amateur businessman, at the helm. I was told from the onset that writings on the humanities would not sell. What can a mere critic, having just given up a university position, do in a world where well-established publishing houses are going belly-up in succession and famous bookstores known for stocking quality texts are closing their doors one after another? I’m sure that many readers cast a doubtful look my way, but I was just as skeptical as the strongest doubter.
Nevertheless, Genron was unexpectedly successful. This does not, of course, mean that we have experienced great financial success or given birth to any mainstream buzzwords. Genron is still a company of those in the know, and we’re still very much walking a financial tightrope.
Over the past three years, though, the number of people gathering around the physical Genron space and the Genron journal has increased many times over, as has the participants’ understanding of the significance of criticism. Genron’s message isn’t limited to academic readers; rather, through the cafe and school we operate, our message also circulates within a space of communication inhabited by individuals from diverse occupations and backgrounds. One reason why we’ve been able to achieve some degree of success has been our ability to gain support from a broad range of people. This fact, to me, is proof that we are on the cusp of a rebirth of criticism.
Just now I spoke of a “rebirth of criticism.” Indeed, achieving the rebirth of criticism is Genron’s very mission. In fact, Genron operates what we call a School of Criticism and Theory, and we have, across the span of three volumes of the journal, traced the history of criticism. We do these things because we believe that revitalizing criticism requires, in the first place, training the next generation of critics, a process that entails learning from the accumulated knowledge of the past.
However, the revitalization of criticism does not end with fostering the next generation of critics or educating them about the past. It is bigger than that. Rather, breathing fresh life into criticism is, in practice, the revitalization of the space of criticism. Furthermore, that space must not become a closed one where the production and reception of criticism operate within a predetermined constellation of readers and writers, nor can it require specialist knowledge.
Why is this the case? For starters, criticism is a strange phenomenon. It is neither the language of academia transmitting knowledge nor the language of entertainment transmitting pleasure. In all likelihood, then, we have no need for criticism. Criticism is a precarious thing: if those people who read it and find it necessary were to all disappear, then the fact that it was once read and considered necessary would also be forgotten.
That danger is reminiscent of love. The word philosophy has its roots in a love (philo) of wisdom (Sophia). Therefore, we can say that philosophers have long fashioned philosophy in the language of love.
Criticism, too, resembles a language of love. The language of love is not something we usually need. It is possible to exchange love and live together with someone without uttering such language explicitly. The language of love, too, is precarious: when a relationship between a speaker and a listener ends, then the fact of anything having been spoken at all is also forgotten. For many lovers and family members, though, it is precisely the disappearance of the language of love that proves that a sense of love has deepened and has become something genuine. If love continues even when the language of love is no longer uttered, this can be viewed as a demonstration of true love.
However, it is inevitable that crisis will descend upon any type of relationship. At such moments, the language of love becomes necessary. For the language of love to be exchanged at such times, a space must be retained for precisely that purpose, even if we don’t regularly utter such words. When a relationship falls into chaos, dissolution is imminent if we don’t have such a space already prepared; this is true even if we wish to utter those words anew.
The same can be said of criticism. Criticism isn’t something we usually need. Even if criticism ceased to exist, academia would continue to move forward, art would be produced, and culture would still develop. Indeed, for many consumers, the very absence of criticism proves the success of culture. This situation is parallel to what we have just said about the language of love. However, culture too, like love, will experience various crises. The time will come when we must use language to justify the need for learning and art. If there is no venue in which to exchange words when culture falls into chaos, then culture will simply dissolve.
For this reason, then, we can say that the rebirth of criticism—actually, the rebirth of a space of criticism—is an absolute necessity even for those who have never previously thought about criticism. In other words, it is similar to the idea that one must absolutely maintain a space for the language of love, even for those lovers and family members who don’t usually utter such language.
The rebirth of criticism is by no means the rebirth of some arcane, theoretical language. Nor is it the revitalization of some amateurish intellectual competition. It is securing and maintaining a space where one can clearly explain to another what one loves when culture has fallen into some form of crisis.
Genron strives, to the best of our ability, to secure and maintain such a space within the logic of the market. In other words, we are attempting to secure and maintain a space that should only be deemed necessary when the everyday has fallen into crisis. One quickly forgets the need for a language of love; for that reason, such a space should exist in as close proximity as possible to our everyday lives, in which communication is always exposed to the peril of an existential falling (Verfallen). In this way, Genron resembles a security firm, or perhaps an insurance company. To that extent, my struggles during these past few years as an entrepreneur are not completely removed from my struggles as a critic. I did not stop being a critic and become an entrepreneur; rather, I became an entrepreneur so that I might continue being a critic.
Love does not need words. This is true so long as love endures. The problem is always when love ceases to continue.
Just as the language of love is silly, so too is the language of criticism. However, if we don’t have the courage to look silly sometimes, we cannot make progress in life or in culture. Lately, I’ve begun thinking that understanding the necessity of criticism means understanding the silliness of human existence.
The reason why, up to this point, I’ve written in this somewhat abstract and sentimental manner is that I have decided that this essay will be the final opening remarks included in Genron.
Since beginning Genron eight years ago, I’ve dedicated much time and effort to writing opening remarks for each issue. Combined with Shisouchizu beta, the forerunner to Genron, I’ve written 14 such pieces, in addition to remarks for other publishers’ books and letters to our Genron members, discussing the significance of Genron’s publications. All these essays have been, to some degree, manifestations of the same question: what is criticism? Probably no other critic of my generation has so obstinately continued to write criticism about criticism.
However, this is an extremely suffocating position for a critic. While focusing on writing the opening remarks for each issue of Shisouchizu beta and Genron, I haven’t been able to write on other topics that interest me. Instead, whether as an editor, moderator of roundtable discussions, or commentator on a given essay, my writings have been limited to explaining why it is important for a particular text to be published. In other words, all I have penned recently is texts on criticism, not actual critical texts about those things that truly interest me. Using the analogy described above, all I’ve spoken is the language of love; I’ve been caught in a situation where I can’t put into practice my real interest, the language of the everyday.
I wish to be released from such a situation. To that end, I have decided against writing opening remarks for the second series. I have also decided to refrain from choosing an overarching theme for each volume, because selecting a theme would compel me to make opening remarks to explain the reasoning behind that selection. I no longer wish to write such a text.
Instead, I will commit to writing at least one relatively long piece for each issue that will serve as an expression of my own thoughts. I have no idea how such a text will manifest itself. It could be a supplemental piece to A Philosophy of the Tourist, some preliminary text on a new book I am working on, or another report on investigative tourism / touristic investigations post-Chernobyl. Since I am the editor-in-chief, the content of what I write will resonate with the other pieces by other contributors to the same issue. I will not, however, explicate the relationship between my text and each of the others.
This shift in editorial policy does not merely reflect my personal wishes. The first series of Genron was overflowing with answers to questions. I insisted on including a rationale for why we chose to include certain contributions. In retrospect, I feel that I was writing not out of sheer kindness, but out of instinctive distrust in our readers.
After the three-year cycle of the first series, I can now say confidently that such distrust toward the community that surrounds the Genron space and the Genron journal is not needed. I believe that the community has experienced great growth. Therefore, for the second series I believe that we can include contributions without any written justification from the editors as to why we felt a particular essay or discussion was worth including. We will leave it to our readers to assess the value of each piece. This is how most journals operate. They trust their readership. We will follow their example.
That’s also why, in these opening remarks, I have not included an explanation of the editorial policy underlying this issue. Why did I invite Tadashi Karube and Akinaka Senzaki, both of whom are regarded as conservative critics, to participate in a roundtable discussion as a supplement to our issue on “Criticism in Contemporary Japan”? Why have I chosen to translate drafts of nearly fifty-year-old texts by Bakhtin and not works of contemporary thinkers, even though the latter might seem more directly supplementary to our issue on “Russian Contemporary Thought”? Why have I asked Masanori Tsujita, known for his research on wartime propaganda and not a specialist in video games, to contribute an additional essay for our “The Age of Games” issue? I could easily explain our rationale for any of those decisions, and I imagine that doing so would make the issue’s overall aim much clearer to our readers; however, I also feel that we’ve reached the stage where doing so would be unrefined.
It is often noted that critique and crisis share the same etymology. Indeed, the language of criticism exists for the sake of crises. However, that doesn’t mean that a critic always welcomes a crisis. It would of course be preferable for a crisis not to occur. The reason why thinking about a crisis is necessary is that the day when we have forgotten about a crisis is both valuable and of great importance. It is never the opposite.
It goes without saying that a crisis might also happen amidst everyday life. However, even if we know that to be the case, all we can do is to try to reclaim our everyday life. That is the mission of the language of love. I continued writing opening remarks for each issue up to now because I felt that criticism had fallen into crisis. The first series of Genron was established with the purpose of overcoming the crisis of criticism. That situation, however, is gradually changing. That’s why the second series of Genron—sans opening remarks—will be, in a manner of speaking, published with the intent of reclaiming the everyday of criticism. This issue will serve as a pivot point between the two series.
Seven years ago, in the opening remarks to Genron’s first publication (Shisouchizu beta 1), I said: “Philosophy that moves beyond national boundaries like the Crocs and that eliminates the boundaries between real and fake like the Food Republic. That is my ideal.”1 I’ve quoted this line of mine numerous times; indeed, it is one of my favorites. However, the idea expressed there has not come to fruition. On the contrary, during the last seven years, I’ve been always writing opening remarks and have gradually moved further and further away from that ideal. One reason is that immediately after I had written the above words, Japan experienced both a natural disaster and a nuclear accident. That combination of blows served as the catalyst causing me to perceive strongly the crisis that criticism is facing.
Since March 2011, I have thought continuously about the crisis of criticism. I have continued to seek to prove the existence of criticism. All I’ve written is the language of love—that is, silly explanations of why criticism and critics are indispensable to the world.
At present, however, I feel as if I needn’t profess the language of love. Over the past seven years, we’ve actually done a lot more than just writing opening remarks. Genron has planted a variety of seeds in numerous ventures, such as publishing, art schools, and managing live venues for public talks. We believe that some of them will lead us to Crocs or to Food Republic. We can begin to harvest their fruit in the second series, during which I would like to once again pursue my ideal goal: the actualization of a truly open and free humanistic knowledge. Seven years have now passed since the earthquake, and I believe that I’ve finally been able to reconstruct such conditions.
I will once again return to the ideal of Shisouchizu beta 1. We will return to a language that moves beyond national boundaries and eliminates the boundaries between real and fake.
At this point, I anticipate that the second series of Genron will likely have a very different flavor from the first series. Criticism has been reborn. At the very least, the path to rebirth has been visualized. There is no need to continue writing the language of love for the sake of breathing new life into criticism. Henceforth what matters is not the reason of criticism but its product. That is criticism, or love, put into practice. We hope you’ll stick with us for the new Genron.
1 Shisouchizu beta, vol. 1, 2011, Contectures (Genron), p. 323.
To commemorate the publication of author Hiroyuki Itsuki’s book, The Age of the Déraciné (Déraciné no jidai), the author joined Russian literature scholar Mitsuyoshi Numano and critic Hiroki Azuma for a roundtable discussion at Genron Café. The discussion centered around Russia, the concept of the déraciné, and Azuma’s concept of the “tourist”.
To begin with, Numano points to the pioneering work of Itsuki, who has used Russia as a stage for entertainment beginning with his literary debut. Itsuki speaks of how he resists the idea of “literature” and instead orients himself toward an “one-time-only entertainment that fuses time periods.” His works are built upon his departures and experiences, which we might call “touristic.”
In his debut work, Farewell Moscow Outpost (Saraba Mosukuwa gurentai), Itsuki depicts stilyagi (стиляги) he encountered in real life who promoted Soviet counterculture. In his 1969 novel, The Flag of the Déraciné (Déraciné no hata), Itsuki uses his experience with the Prague Spring to express the distance between the déraciné and revolution.
The three then discuss Itsuki’s fascination with Russian literature. Following Japan’s defeat in World War II, Itsuki heard a beautiful chorus sung by cruel Soviet soldiers who had invaded Korea before repatriation. Azuma references the novel Shinran and notes that the topic of songs is at the root of Itsuki’s works.
At the same time, in Shinran, even the déraciné confront the issue of “roots”, in the form of family. Following up on this point, Itsuki expresses his interest in the concept of the “tourist”, who has no such roots. Tourism demolishes socio-economic filters that function in the mother country and enables a variety of thoughts resulting from being an outsider. Itsuki emphasizes the necessity of affirming an ethics of déraciné especially in the present day, with its abundance of déraciné such as refugees and nuclear disaster evacuees.
In the final part of the roundtable, following a discussion on tourism in medieval Japan, the discussion turns to the Russian word toská (тоска). The word means “melancholy,” but it also refers to “nostalgia.” Summing up the discussion, Azuma displays his understanding of the theme of Itsuki’s works as having a double meaning: “People cannot escape toská, so they must accept it.” The songs that carry this double meaning have pierced Itsuki from the experiences of his youth to the creation of Shinran.
The year 2018 is the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration, which marks the beginning of Japan’s modernization. In this roundtable discussion, two scholars of Japanese intellectual history—Tadashi Karube and Akinaka Senzaki—and critics Satoshi Osawa and Hiroki Azuma look back on 150 years of Japanese thought and explore the question of who shouldered the “general will” in Japan.
Referring to early Meiji thought, Senzaki disputes the stereotypical understanding of the opposition between the pro-modernization stance of Yukichi Fukuzawa and the anti-modernization view of Takamori Saigo. Rather, he asserts that both thinkers shared the ideal of “civilization”. During those years, there were opinions about the state that did not neatly fit into the simple dichotomy of right or left, such as Katsunan Kuga’s critique of the state from a conservative standpoint. In the mid-Meiji period, naturalist literature focusing on the “individual” gained prominence. In that era, the “individual” intermixed with forms of Confucianist thought, as it did in the thought of Kanzo Uchimura.
Tetsuro Watsuji, who emerged in the Taisho era, belonged to the generation of philosophers for whom Confucianism was only one among many means of “self-cultivation” (kyoyo). Azuma points out that Watsuji neglected the issue of death despite his references to Heidegger; to this point, Karube responds that Watsuji needed to go beyond the angst characteristic of naturalism and leave death behind.
According to Osawa, thought became more collective in form as it became linked with media during the Showa era. During the Second World War, this link with media produced masses of people whom Masao Maruyama called “pseudo-intellectuals.” This inability to communicate with the masses remains a challenge for Japanese intellectuals today. Furthermore, the ongoing presence of the emperor was an important factor in postwar Japan. Senzaki refers to Yukio Mishima and Tetsuro Watsuji as illustrations of how intellectuals approached the issue of the emperor. Although Mishima, who opposed the postwar emperor, and Watsuji, who affirmed the emperor’s role, seem to have been polar opposites, they both understood the emperor as something that unifies “culture.”
The panelists also discuss Jun Eto, a critic who lived into the Heisei era, and his thoughts on Takamori Saigo in particular. In doing so, they arrive at a judgment that “defeat” has served as the point of departure for Japanese thought. They contend that Japanese thought began with defeat at the hands of the black ships, began anew after the country’s defeat in the Second World War, and was later severed from this trend through the appearance of Kojin Karatani. The panelists conclude by affirming the importance of escaping this latest trend by examining intellectual history anew from a broad spatio-temporal perspective.
War and games have long been interrelated. Today, this relation has grown even closer through the development of high-tech weapons and digital games. In the US military, robotic weapons are remotely controlled as is done in a game. A variety of serious games are being produced by military forces around the world to encourage patriotism or recruit enlistees.
Are all war games, then, propagandistic? The answer is “no.” Players of war games become the leaders of various countries. In each individual game, the player is a patriot who leads his or her country to victory, but over the course of all games, he/she must become a traitor who moves from country to country (the duality of patriot/traitor). In other words, war games, which are oriented around multiple subjects and narratives, are fundamentally incompatible with the nation-state, which is oriented around a singular subject and narrative. This article explains this argument through the celebrated classic strategy simulation game Civilization.
The experience of war games brings three possibilities: patriotic counter games, cyber mercenaries, and gamic subjectivity. Among these, gamic subjectivity contains the most potential. The mode of cognition in gamic subjectivity immerses the player in a particular community or ideology, but at the same time, it requires him/her to imagine alternative possibilities. This can serve as a cue to pursue a balanced way of living that resists both cynicism and blind faith when navigating our contemporary internet society inundated with political symbols.
There has been a rise in the number of individual animation artists working on indie game projects lately. This is not only due to the economics of games, which are more profitable than anime, but is also related to creators’ artistic interests.
The CG animator David OReilly has identified indie games as a media capable of describing “different” worlds. Because indie games are produced by small teams, their worldviews tend to be unique. Games also possess the interactive element of control, which is lacking in animation films. Thus, it is easier to experience “different” worlds through indie games. Indie games are a medium through which the allures and possibilities of animated shorts can be experienced with a much more powerful reality.
For example, UNDERTALE makes a realistic playing experience possible through what OReilly calls “pattern” and “symmetry.” The command “MERCY,” which appears in the game, is a command that players can deploy when they discover patterns that evoke sympathy in the movement of monsters, which are by definition something “different,” because they seem to show a “symmetrical” relation to the player. Thus, the possibility of experiencing one’s own relation to the world (=Everything) also characterizes indie games.
This article defines the state of our vision, which connects to the world through a computer’s UI and uses data to make decisions, as a new type of “Symbolic Form” for the 21st century. This form replaces the “Symbolic Form” of the earlier age, which was defined by technique of perspective from painting. This article also analyzes particular Japanese contemporary art pieces that reflect gaming images and considers their special qualities as well as the artists’ worldviews. This analysis is conducted from the viewpoint of gamers, who repeat cycles of “playing,” actions and decisions made during play; and “metagames,” macroscopic strategic decisions based on analyses of data and trends.
The Omniscient or: Exdeath (2017) by Kazuki Umezawa, an artist who highlights “playing” in his work, has a traditional composition that calls to mind the work of Michelangelo by bringing to the form of painting the gaze of gamers, who reach new high scores through an elucidation of the internal game mechanisms. Card Sleeve (2018) by Alan emphasizes “metagames” through the insertion of secondhand market prices for Magic: The Gathering cards into a tableau to reflect the price of the work itself. The idea of taking the art scene as a metagamic environment and emphasizing the data of the card’s monetary value reflects the worldview of competitive gamers in the Internet Age. From the above examples, it is clear that the dual-layered viewpoint created from “playing” and “metagames” is the foundation for contemporary art works that use games as their driving motif.
This article explores the question, “What do people experience when playing games?” It could also be considered an exploration of the “conditions of experience” of games.
In this article, Yamamoto examines the experience of game-play primarily from the perspective of making games. Unlike novels, manga, and films, which offer audiences their expressions without withholding anything, games—by their very nature—are guided by a combination of rules and systems that—guided by the choices made by the player—allow only one portion of what is latent to become apparent. To capture the totality of events that this produces, it is necessary to consider not only the phenomena produced through game-play but also the structure of the game that produces these phenomena. In doing so, the perspective of the creator is most helpful.
In creating games, game designers are, in fact, attempting to design the experiences of those who play the games. However, this is not always straightforward. This is because it has always been extremely difficult to capture and account for human experiences. There still is no adequate method for capturing a person’s experiences, concrete conditions of their body and psyche, and especially the conditions of their consciousness.
To grapple with the issues of player experience, Yamamoto proposes that further inquiry should be conducted from the standpoint of understanding games as a form of play wherein cause and effect relations are tested. In other words, we ought to understand the act of playing games as testing the cause and effect relations provided within the game and enjoying the latency of those relations.
Doboku (civil engineering) and Bijutsu (art) are two concepts that were newly formulated during the Meiji era’s advancing modernization. However, in direct contrast to the concept of Bijutsu, which encountered internal conflict and failure in its importation and localization, the concept of Doboku permeated the areas of law and scholarship far more smoothly. This is also evident by the fact that in the same year the Old River Act, a modern civil engineering law, was enacted, an exhibition established by and centered on Tenshin Okakura, who attempted to combine Western-style painting and Japanese-style painting, was criticized.
In Japan, Yuichi Takahashi is regarded as the father of modern Western-style painting; in his Doboku paintings, the elements of Doboku and Bijutsu, which are often thought of as two separate entities, intersect. Takahashi’s Doboku paintings, which depict spring water flowing from the tunnels and the raw scars of excavation projects, do not simply record the civil engineering projects of the time, but also depict the new Meiji concept of Doboku itself.
In this article, Kurose examines the late career of Yuichi Takahashi as well as the early Meiji era in which he lived. Kurose also analyses the circumstances that led to Yuichi painting Doboku paintings. Furthermore, Kurose examines HIROSHIMA, a collection of a bird’s-eye view paintings painted in 1949 by Hatsusaburō Yoshida, as well as the 1954 special effects monster film Godzilla, in order to elucidate a genealogy of Doboku paintings ranging from the Meiji era to postwar Japan, as well as the unique realism that these works embody.
The 2015 referendum on the Osaka Metropolis Plan included many themes related to “independent states,” such as populism, inter-generational struggles, and the opposition between metropoles and peripheries. Osaka has many of the sufficient “conditions” for an independent state, including an ample population and a sound economic foundation. Despite this, in reality, any notions of an independent Osaka have been treated as nothing more than a joke.
However, several novels have included an independent Osaka. For example, Manabu Makime’s Princess Toyotomi is a comedic novel set in a fictional independent state called “Osakakoku,” which had been originally established to protect the descendants of the Toyotomi clan from the Tokugawa bakufu. Four hundred years later, however, Osakakoku is a country without a clear leader yet functions through a sort of “ambiguity.”
Toshihiko Yahagi’s A JA PAN! depicts an independent state called “Dai Nihonkoku,” which was established in west Japan with Osaka as its capital after the country was divided in two following the Second World War. In the novel, the GHQ comes to occupy the Osaka Castle, but withdraws after only three weeks, aghast at the informal atmosphere.
Both these novels depict an Osaka that has persevered as an independent state despite lacking a strong leader. Osaka’s characteristic spurning of strong leaders could also be seen in the slim rejection of the “reforms” highlighted in the Osaka Metropolis Plan.
This story is a revised version of the work that received the “Genron SF Newcomer Prize” at the second Genron Ohmori Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop, which began in 2017. The members of the selection committee were; the literary critic Nozomi Ohmori, the SF writer Masaki Yamada, and Hiroki Azuma, representing Genron. This is the debut work of the prize recipient, Tokio Amasawa.
Nigeria had been brought to the cusp of collapse in the mid-21st century after being mired in the Nine Years’ War. However, the country was saved by a biological device known as the “Neomote,” which had turned Lagos into an archology-a living city.
Despite the country having been rescued from the threat to its existence, disparities had only grown worse. The hearts and minds of the citizens were under the control of the archology’s “Mood Regulator,” childbirth had been managed by the city, and sex had been outlawed.
As an act of rebellion, film director Boogie Nights begins to produce pornographic movies, and because these films resonated with the “Ghetto” underclass, they became a social phenomenon.
The Department of Preservation prepared to conduct a purge in the Ghettos; however, Ash, a government DoP Remover, has illicit connections with Boogie Nights and had sided with the Ghettos. When Ash comes into possession of a legendary XVideo film, he learns that it has a powerful ability to move people’s hearts and upturn public opinion by arousing the people’s moods.
After Ash follows clues to determine the true creator of the video, he finds himself in his old hometown, where he learns that he had made the video. As the son of Tiwa Nneka, the hero who had helped end the Nine Year War, he had the power to automatically generate images that could arouse people’s moods through the widespread recording mediums.
After his return, Ash then uses his powers to hack into Lagos’s systems, overwrite the mood, and silence the archology, after which he connects to the Neomote, who has been confined underground. When he learns that the Neomote’s true identity is none other than his own mother, Tiwa Nneka, he kills her to end the archology. As Lagos is no longer under the protection of the Neomote, Lagos is suddenly assaulted by a sandstorm. Ash then joins a Ghetto march beyond the borders of the crumbling city led by Boogie Nights.
In this article, Shibukawa explores the theater of Oriza Hirata, Toshiki Okada, and Taichi Yamagata, who are representative figures in contemporary Japanese theater. The sociologist Masachi Ōsawa concluded that the link between community and body is relativized in consumer society. In the midst of that consumer society, Aum Shinrikyō, which instigated an indiscriminate terrorist attack in 1995, organized an exclusive community by providing its believers with a bodily image that enabled them to link to its founder directly.
Oriza Hirata’s 1990s’ theory of dramaturgy criticized this exclusivity. Hirata constructed a neutral body freed from all images and removed the various contexts upon which people unconsciously rely. This method made it possible to simulate the diversity of society but was also limited in that it ignored the actors’ bodies.
Toshiki Okada’s theatrical company, chelfitsch revolutionized the theater scene of the 2000s onward by critically developing Hirata’s methods. The strange movements of the chelfitsch actors represent those removed images, which appear in the unconscious reactions of the body. Okada’s dramaturgy succeeded in producing a sense of community through a method that is different from that of Aum Shinrikyō by coaxing audience sympathy with these bodily images.
chelfitsch was split when actor, Taichi Yamagata founded his own company in 2015, Office Mountain. Yamagata’s Taichi Method transmits to the actors’ body an image that goes beyond human senses by taking the movements developed by chelfitsch to the extreme. The works of Office Mountain hint at a new “herd” that represents a mutation in commonsensical notions of community and departs from contexts known to humans.
In 2029, in post-earthquake Japan, people can predict future events with a mysterious quantum computer they use while inhabiting a phantasmal society created by augmented reality. In the city of Tokimeguri, a Special Zone for Reconstruction in the Tohoku area, strange dealings and life-or-death fights occur among the elusive and wealthy Tokihori family, who show an unusually strong interest in time, the police, and an artificial intelligence that creeps in the shadows—each for their own reason. On the night of the summer festival, the protagonist, Torihiko Shiratori, meets Yuyuka, daughter of the Tokihori family, and is dragged into the conflict.
Yuzu, the Tokihori family’s maid, is attacked and detained by Torihiko and bound to a chair in Zundada-Dou, a closed convenience store, while on her way back to the Tokihori residence. Torihiko, the detective and owner of Zundada-Dou, Haori Kiryu, and her assistant, Catalinache Ootsuki, torture Yuzu by forcing her to eat an endless number of zunda mochi (rice cakes with sweet soybean paste).
Due to the torture, Yuzu reveals that while she does not know the location of the Tokihori residence, but she is able to return there by spinning a fidget spinner at a specific place. Torihiko also learns that the hellish augmented reality he created has been made real by the Tokihori family. Torihiko frees Yuzu but secretly follows her, together with Kiryu and Catalinache. It turns out that Yuzu is headed to the radioactive waste treatment facility that stands on the former site of a nuclear reactor where an accident once occurred. There, Yuzu spins a fidget spinner, falls into a hypnotic state, and passes out. Simultaneously, the four layers of doors at the processing facility open, issuing a huge number of maids, along with the head maid, Kirishima. She notices Torihiko’s presence, and he faces off against the horde of armed maids with the gun he received from Kiryu. But just then, he feels something stab into his chest from behind. As Torihiko falls, he sees Yuyuka standing behind him.