“The Young Companion” and modern China

First published the same year Hugo Gernsback came out with his legendary science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, in 1926, The Young Companion《良友》catered to the tastes of young middle class people, but it was also a force for social change. This fascinating article (in Big5) talks about 《良友》the “natural breast movement” 「天乳運動」 among young women in the 1920s-30s, and this sohu article (GB) discusses the fashion sense displayed in the pages of the magazine. In this pic you can see that the bobbed, flapper hairstyle we associate with the West was popular in China of the 20s also. The Young Companion is often thought of as product of Shanghai’s hybrid culture, but this article talks about its founding by a Guangdong native, Wu Lian-de (伍聯德).

 

 

 

Japanese Strange and Ero Guro

Ero Guro and Macabre Eroticism – by C. Bertherat
Beauty without Poison is Boring (about Toshio Saeki)
Momo is dead (self harm meme based on Keisuke Aiso sculpture)
Tabaimo (aka Ayako Tabata)
Suehiro Maruo, and also here.
The erotic Japanese art movement born out of decadence
– Review of Erotic Grotesque Nonsense: the Mass Culture Japanese Modern Times, 2006.

Japanese kaidan (links)

“The Emergence of Kaidan shu: the Collection of Tales of the Strange and Mysterious During the Edo Period”
– “The Appeal of ‘Kaidan’, Tales of the Strange” (jstor login)
– “What are Kaidan?
– “Hyakomonogatari Kaidankai ~” (Japan Times article about the above author)
– “Why so Sad Sadako?” (Female vengeance ghosts in Japanese lit/film)

Daijiro Morohoshi – Weird Manga Hero

Daijiro Morohoshi諸星大二郎)is definitely a weird precursor of Junji Ito but, unfortunately, very difficult to find in English (and even in Chinese). His most famous work is the Yokai Hunter (妖怪ハンター) series of the 1970s-80s.

A good overview of his stuff can be found here (Big5), along with a selection of “four favorites” (Big 5). Not altogether unrelated, some good horror manga recommendations from Silberstein here. Ito isn’t the only one who owes a debt to Morohoshi, legendary anime dude Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke borrows heavily from the sylvan tribes of Mud Men.

Chinese sf stories from Clarkesworld: 2014-15


Xia Jia “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler,” trans. Ken Liu (Nov 2015).
Liu Cixin “Another Word: Chinese SF and Chinese Reality,” trans. Ken Liu (Nov 2015)
Han Song “Security Check,” trans. Ken Liu (Aug 2015)
Chen Qiufan “Coming of the Light,” trans. Ken Liu (Mar 2015)
Zhang Ran “Ether,” trans. several (Jan 2015)
Xia Jia “Tongtong’s Summer,” trans. Ken Liu (Dec 2014)
Xia Jia “Spring Festival: Happiness, Anger, Love, Sorrow, Joy,” trans. Ken Liu (Sep 2014)
Cheng Jingbo “Grave of the Fireflies,” trans.Ken Liu (Jan 2014)

Chen Qiufan Links / 网路上的陈楸帆 (ongoing)

Just some Chen links that are worth noting:

 

Note: I’ll continue to update this as time permits.

Chen Qiufan: “Science Fiction is the Height of Realism”

Holy cows, in this interview  the author exactly affirms what I claim in my paper…Excerpt:

陈楸帆:科幻是最大的现实主义”
2015-09-10 鈦媒體
陳楸帆屬於前者,他在自我剖析時說:「雖然我創作資歷尚淺,但是通過有意識的回顧,在自覺與不自覺間,我發現在創作里確實貫穿著這樣的一個母題/主題/意象:異化。」他所稱的異化包括了生物上的變形、疾病或變異;心理學上的疏離扭曲、分裂;社會體系/人際結構上的隔離、對立、變遷。比較鮮明的作品包括:《墳》(2004)、《麗江的魚兒們》(2006)、《深瞳》(2006)、《遞歸之人》(2007)、《第七願望》(2007)、《雙擊》(2009)、《鼠年》(2009)、《喪屍》(2009)、《開竅》(2011)等。這些都是通過技術變革作為其誘因或結果出現,屬於比較明顯的「異化」母題。

「事實上這也是我對科幻小說這個文類鍾情的原因,可以從一個極端真實的語境出發,通過可理解的/邏輯自洽的條件外延及思想實驗,將文本中的情節/人物推向一個極端超現實的境地,從而帶來一種驚異感及陌生化效果。」在陳楸帆看來,當代(或近未來)中國這個大背景下,本身就是一片異化的最佳試驗田,即使遭遇發表坎坷,他也執著地堅持思考、體驗、和書寫中國科幻故事的緣由。

Another interview with Chen: “何平访谈陈楸帆 :它是面向未来的一种文学

Asian “sexploitation” Cinema and Vengeance…

Discussing with my No. 1 the merits of various Asian “sexploitation” movies I’ve seen and came to the issue of what qualifies as “sexploitation” in the first place. Let me begin with the overview I had in mind as “sexploitation”: those Pinky violence films like Female Prisoner 701 (1972) in Japan, those Hong Kong movies like Naked Killer (1992) or Sex and Zen (1991), and to some extent the Korean new wave classic Lady Vengeance (2005). Save that they don’t challenge racial as well as gender boundaries, most of these movies would be roughly analogous to Pam Grier movies like Black Mama, White Mama (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974). What seems to be common to most of these films are strong female characters who, like Beatrice in Kill Bill (2003), seeks revenge for the pain and injustice the patriarchy has visited on them. So aren’t these basically celluloid Revenge Tragedies on postmodern themes?

Hikikomori Blues

Finished re-watching the Japanese anime series, Welcome to the N.H.K (歡迎加入NHK!). Eccentric, charming characters, and an interesting storyline, the show follows the (mis)adventures of a young NEET, Sato Tatsuhiro, as he tries to cope with an life of no friends, no job, no girlfriend, and no prospects for the future. Living alone in a tiny 套房 apartment, Satou-san meets a mysterious girl who tricks him into enrolling in a plan to cure him of his hikikomori (隱蔽青年) lifestyle. This is happening while the young man and his friend try to develop a sellable erotic video game, a plot angle that shows, in brilliant clarity, the “political unconscious” of stressed-out, repressed young students.

The show is a lot different from past popular anime like Naruto (火影忍者), Inuyasha (犬夜叉) and Bleach (死神) that I’m semi-familiar with in that it focuses mainly on social awkwardness and the erotic fantasies of these guys . This, coupled with the fact that it has no supernatural elements or superhero themes, makes it a much more “mature” show (whatever that means). Also, for me it was also a lot more poignant in its funny depictions of NEETs and hikikomori as people with problems just like everyone else. This would probably earn it nothing less than an R rating if it were ever released in the USA or some parts of SE Asia, but that’s one of the things I find so interesting about the series–it deals with real (and quite new) social problems in a thoughtful and darkly humorous way that rewards repeated watching. Executive summary: this work further convinces me the Japanese lead the world in tackling “difficult” sexual/erotic topics (adolescent erotic gaming) in original, philosophical ways.

Obviously 5 ★s