How did the evolution of Japanese cinema compare to the evolution of movie-making in the US, specifically the studio system of Hollywood? How were heroes/protagonists treated in terms of fallability and idealized characteristics in both movie making (and even tv production) systems?


My husband and I were discussing the show The Boys which talks about power corrupting and where heroes aren't ever really heroes, and then comparing that to people like Captain America, Batman, Catwoman and the like, in terms of moral compasses.

This lead to a a conversation about Zatoichi, because my husband has been going on a Samurai tear and I watch them too. Zatoichi, Lady Snowblood, and even Ghost Dog(US, not Japanese.) Anyway, he was saying that Zatoichi is not necessarily a perfect hero. He acts out of self interest in the first few movies and then less so over the next few movies. (Though my husband allows that the movies were inconsistent because production changed hands so many times.)

Japanese cinema was possibly emulating Hollywood, but not in a perfect parallel. Hollywood often made things wind up okay at the end of movies (or in tv, like Dragnet), or very black and white whereas Japanese cinema had a lot more shades of grey. (My counterpoint to this was Alfred Hitchcock productions and The Twilight Zone.), for example, was not a pristine hero. There were gritty loner heroes in the US like John Wayne (or even earlier actors), borrowed by Japan and perfected. And then those heroes were then borrowed and reflected in westerns. So magnificent seven/seven samurai, a fistful dollars and a few dollars more/yojimbo and sanjuro. There's always a flow back and forth. Art informs art because creation doesn't happen in a vacuum no matter how much Hollywood wants us to believe that. (Cue numerous mentions of George Lucas stealing Kurosawa film premises.)

Japanese cinema put their own spin on movies, post WWII, by consistently have an anti-war message. And this got to be a part of the discussion between my husband and I. He wants to specify (knowing that I'm writing this out) that his opinions are uninformed and from memory so he could likely be wrong.

So the TLDR is basically: what was the zeitgeist during the Golden age off Japanese cinema compared to the Golden age of Hollywood? Were they during the same time? Did they follow a similar evolution in terms of escapism with the good guy beating the bad guy and getting the girl (naturally not talking about Zatoichi since he doesn't get the girl)? Also to what extent does WWII overtly influence the style of both countries' treatment of protagonists, not so much in terms of propoganda, but something leaning in that direction.

My husband made an additional point about Japanese cinema having a huge influence on grindhouse and exploitation movies in the US, and being definitely more risque. This made me think about TV shows like I dream of Jeannie and to a lesser extent, I love Lucy. So an additional question would be if tv shows in japan were treated like their movies, or if maybe they couldn't be as risque as their movies and had to be a socially sanitized version of reality like a lot of American television of the 50s and 60s and later.

Source: reddit post


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