Hollywood has a somewhat chequered history when it comes to depictions of Japan and Japanese culture. From the thoroughly reprehensible Bond excursion You Only Live Twice, to the twin monstrosities that were 1989's Black Rain and 1993's Rising Sun (Sean Connery really should have known better by this point), film-makers have rarely strayed far beyond cliche and stereotype when depicting life on the archipelago.
James Mangold's comic-book adaptation The Wolverine, for which a new expository featurette hit the web earlier this week, may face serious criticism should it slip into stereotyping. In the Marvel universe, Japan really is a country populated almost entirely by ninjas, samurai, Yakuza and geisha girls. The Wolverine is based on a 1982 limited series run by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, and sees X-Men character Logan battling crime boss Shingen Yashida (Hiroyuki Sanada) and the Silver Samurai (Will Yun Lee), a fearsome warrior with an electrified suit of armour.
Unlike its predecessor, 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the story is set after the events of 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand, with Wolverine alone and vulnerable following the superhero ensemble's disintegration. Earlier trailers have shown him losing his self-healing power as part of what appears to be a devious conspiracy.
The new featurette helpfully explains how the adamantium-clawed superhero ends up in Japan in the first place. Riffing on Logan's advanced age and apparent inability to ever get any older, it is revealed that the mutant saved the life of Yashida during the second world war. Lost and alone after the breakup of the X-Men in Brett Ratner's execrable The Last Stand, Wolverine takes up an invitation to travel to Japan. There he is offered a change to achieve mortality, though it appears the "gift" comes with a price: vulnerability. That's not to say Wolverine is totally incapable of defending himself: winning fights tends to be a lot easier when your bones are reinforced with the hardest (fictional) substance known to man and you have retractable blades protruding from your knuckles.
The probability for the Kanto region to be hit by a powerful earthquake - lower 6 or higher on the Japanese intensity scale of 7 - within 30 years has risen, the government panel's latest quake probability map showed Friday. (The Japan News)
A researcher embroiled in a fabrication scandal that has rocked Japan's scientific establishment said Friday she would resign after failing to reproduce results of what was once billed as a ground-breaking study on stem cells. (Japan Today)
The Niigata prefectural government started clearing a section of National Highway Route 405 in Tsunan in the prefecture on Friday, after a landslide mixed with snow blocked off about 50 meters of the road the night before. (The Japan News)
The Chiba Public Safety Commission has banned a 29-year-old man from Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, from riding a bicycle for 90 days, after he was found guilty of cycling under the influence of "kiken" quasi-legal drugs. (Japan Times)
Heavy snow caused a power outage along parts of the Joetsu Shinkansen Line for about six hours on Sunday morning, leaving some 300 passengers trapped in a bullet train for 2½ hours near the mountainous southern border of Niigata Prefecture. (Japan Times)