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Your daily dose of mukokuseki

Mukokuseki (?????) is a word meaning “without country of origin.” Since Koichi Iwabuchi started using it to refer to the statelessness of anime, the term has come into more common use among Western critics. Generally it refers to the way Japanese cultural products can be seen to erase national history and identity in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with a global audience.*

Or it could just mean “what happens when two shamisen-playing brothers from Hokkaido re-interpret an Italian composer who was himself re-interpreting American ones.”

*If you haven’t guessed, I take this up in my thesis. I’m not sure I entirely agree with Iwabuchi, but I also think that most of the planet is reaching for mukokuseki.

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  1. Interesting… It seems like only a Japanese person could overlook how much of Japanese history and culture is woven into so much of what gets produced.

  2. Aaron Davies

     /  September 27, 2009

    Interesting. Of course, I know nothing about Morricone’s music, so the only thing it reminds me of is The Eagles’ “Journey of the Sorcerer” (aka the theme from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

  3. Alexandra

     /  August 17, 2010

    I’d love to see your thesis, if you’re comfortable sharing it with me. (I’ve seen you on the AMRC list, too… don’t know if you recognize my name from there.)

    I’ve been skimming Iwabuchi myself, and find myself thinking of the huge popularity of shows like Ouran High School Host Club, or Fullmetal Panic, or Suzumiya Haruhi, all of which feature the Japanese high school lifestyle. Far from mukokuseki…

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