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New masculinities in Chinese and Japanese combat films

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Through an analysis of popular combat films and television shows, this article argues that there has been a transformation in the representation of the hero-soldier in both China and Japan. Using theories of masculinity and nationalism, it suggests that recent Chinese films reveal a turn towards hybrid heroism-victimhood, increased focus on the emasculation of Japanese soldiers, and tensions between the market and the state. Meanwhile, Japanese films illustrate continued differences between the ambiguous mainstream and the straightforward nationalism of the right, albeit with an overall trend towards the rehabilitation of the problematic image of the soldier. Such shifts in the imagining of the soldier-hero demonstrate the ways in which Chinese and Japanese discourses on national identity have changed over time.
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Keywords: Chinese cinema; Japanese cinema; combat film; masculinity; nationalism; popular memory; war

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Rikkyo University

Publication date: October 1, 2014

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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