If Japanese cinema hasn’t gained widespread acceptance in the West, it’s even less so for Chinese cinema. Far from the overly simplistic propaganda films glorifying Chairman Mao Zedong, Chinese cinema has a long history, with its many ups and downs. As with all societies, China has dramatized the wars its fought, which is an important export of culture and a way to preserve history, as well as shaping the perception of it.
Chinese cinema has a long history, as well as the fandom around movies within China. Much like its Western and Japanese counterparts, the Chinese created magazines around film, stretching back to the 1920s. The book Chinese Movie Magazines: From Charlie Chaplin to Chairman Mao by Paul Fonoroff catalogs this unique and unexplored subculture.
Compared to Nazi Germany, the Japanese Empire during World War II receives little to no coverage in Western media. Even more obscure, are the many puppet regimes that aided the Japanese occupation throughout Asia, spanning from the far north in Manchuria to the south in Burma and the Philippines. Luckily, Osprey Publishing has come to the rescue with their newest edition to the Men At Arms series titled Japan’s Asian Allies 1941 – 45.
Before what we know as manga, there was kamishibai. Literally translated as “paper play” (紙芝居) kamishibai was a popular form of entertainment in Japan that is virtually unknown in the West. Luckily, Eric Nash has compiled one of the most comprehensible English-language books about this unique form of Japanese storytelling in Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater.
The 1980s was a period of rapid change and economic growth for China. In 1979, paramount leader Deng Xiaoping opened special economic zones in southern China, experimenting with market capitalism. Dori Jones Yang, a reporter for BusinessWeek, saw China’s rise in the 1980s and has recorded it for her memoir When The Red Gates Opened.
The Girl Who Played Go is a historical novel by Chinese author Shan Sa, originally published in French, and translated into English. With that many international filters, it is surprising how well it evokes the Chinese mindset, but also, the Japanese side as well.
Osprey Publishing has become synonymous (in my mind at least) for quality research into military history of all time periods, throughout the world. It should come as no surprise that I immediately picked up Osprey’s latest title Japanese Armies 1868 – 1877 by Gabriele Esposito and illustrated by Giuseppe Rave, which covers the Boshin War and Satsuma Rebellion.
October 1937. Surrounded by an enormous Japanese Army, Chinese soldiers hunker down for a siege. Their fortress is the Sihang Warehouse, tall and sturdy, standing on the banks of Soochow Creek. For seven days, they beat off numerous attempts to storm their position. Historian Stephen Robinson recreates and documents these events in Eight Hundred Heroes.