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Nippon ModernJapanese Cinema of the 1920s and 1930s$
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Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824831820

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824831820.001.0001

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Embodying the Modern

Embodying the Modern

(p.62) Chapter 3 Embodying the Modern
Nippon Modern

Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines the filmic image of the idealized, athletic Japanese body, which presents a tangible confirmation of Japan as a modern nation—that is, the body quite literally represents a national identity. It considers how the body compensated for Japanese anxiety toward modernization by taking up the case of Suzuki Denmei and his film Why Do the Youth Cry? (Wakamono yo naze naku ka, 1930). An analysis of Why Do the Youth Cry? reveals the body as a response to the anxieties and disturbances of Japanese modernity during the interwar period. More specifically, the body in the film presents an image of an ideal integrated self, both Japanese and Western, traditional and modern, bourgeois and working class, even masculine and feminine—an image that served to buffer people’s fears over the loss of self that accompanied the rapid changes of Japan’s modernization. The chapter suggests that Why Do the Youth Cry? intertextualizes the politics of progressive socialism in narrative and the conservative control of labor and capital in the studio system.

Keywords:   body, national identity, modernization, Suzuki Denmei, Why Do the Youth Cry, self, Japanese modernity, progressive socialism, labor, capital

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