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The Asian ApertureTop 5 Japanese Pop Culture Books
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, August 5, 2013    Share





Sometimes in your exploration of all the strange and weird things coming from Japan, it can be refreshing to look beyond anime and manga and see other aspects of pop culture. Through the years I have come across many good books. These are my top five in no order of importance.

1.)Nippon Pop by Steve McClure – Back in the late 90’s when I was still a USF student. I had just got accepted for a study aboard program to further my Japanese language studies at the wonderful Kansai Gaiai University, a college for foreign languages, in Hirakata City near Osaka. I have always been a music fan and this book broke down the different musical genres that are popular. From standard Jpop with sickening cuteness to loud and bash noise bands, this book covers a lot of different musicians and you are sure to find something to like. Now the book is dated and a revised edition is much needed. I took this to Japan on my first trip to make sense of what was available at Japanese music stores.

2.)Tokyo Scope: The Japanese Cult Film Companion by Patrick Macias – Mention a Japanese movie and snobby critics will cry out Akira Kurosawa or Yasujiro Ozu. However there are wonderful movies that weren’t made by those two giants that created fun and interesting cinema instead of thought provoking reflections. Macias, with expert insight, covers Kaiju movies, Sci Fi flicks, Yakuza movies, horror films, ninja movies, Chanbara samurai movies, and just about anything a film lover could want. You will learn about obscure movies that will make you login to Netflix and see if you can find them or catch the trailers on Youtube. These are the movies that are off the beaten path and entertaining on a level that the Academy Award winners cannot match. Out of print and can be expensive so check online used bookstores and see if you can get a copy in the $20 dollar range.

3.)Yokai Attack! – We all know how to survive a zombie attack but a Yokai attack would be much harder. No need to fear as the husband and wife team of Matt Alt and Hiroko Yoda fill you in on all the crazy monsters that the land of Nippon has waiting for unsuspecting travelers. Gorgeously illustrated by Tatsuya Morino, Yokai Attack! contains a list of creatures with a picture to help identify and a list of attributes and most importantly weaknesses. There are also tips on how to survive an encounter should you meet something out there on your next trip to Japan.

4.)Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters: Defending the Earth with Ultraman and Godzilla by August Ragone – Allow the reigning Kaiju expert and Famous Monsters columnist to show the weird and wonderful world of Tsuburaya. He is the man who made the rubber suit for the first Godzilla movie and he also created my childhood hero, Ultraman. This book is a labor of love by a longtime Gozilla fan and deserves to be read and read again by fans everywhere.

5.)Arcade Mania: The Turbo-charged World of Japan’s Game Centers by Brian Ashcraft – One of the many disappointing facts of life about living in the US is the decline of arcades. If you happen to find one at your local pizza parlor, chances are the games are old and not very fun. I have fond memories of visiting the arcade at the long gone Tampa Bay Center. I am glad that arcades are alive and well in Japan. Plus they have current games. Allow Ashcraft, the editor of Kotaku, to give you an interesting breakdown of the vast variety of games that Japan has to offer. You will also learn the history of rhythm games such as Dance Dance Revolution. You also get inteviews and a chance to relive the glory days of arcades. Maybe the arcades will experience a revival in the US, I hope so.

That does it for this time. Stay tuned for more great books



"The Asian Aperture" is ©2013 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2013 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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