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.
Police arrested a 40-year-old man Monday for allegedly setting fire to his own home in Kitsuki, Oita Prefecture, where four bodies, believed to be his children, were found amid the burned wreckage. (Japan Times)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Monday announced the arrest of the boss of an organized crime group for the alleged confinement and assault of a construction worker, reports the Sankei Shimbun (July 6). (Tokyo Reporter)
Meet Ladybaby, the Japanese musical group that will make you look twice. Featuring Ladybeard, the east's most hirsute crossdressing entertainer, this band's debut song blends infectious Japanese pop with bizarre, energetic heavy metal vocals. (forbes.com)
A 26-year-old man was arrested Sunday for allegedly confining in his car an 11-year-old schoolgirl who went missing the day before in Nara Prefecture while shopping with her family, police said. (Kyodo)
A drug control division of the health ministry on Saturday announced the arrest of a former executive of public broadcaster NHK for the importation of so-called "dangerous drugs," reports the Sankei Shimbun (July 4). (Tokyo Reporter)
rown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, who are visiting Tonga, attended the coronation of King Tupou VI of Tonga held at a church in its capital, Nukualofa, on Saturday. This is the first time in two years that Crown Princess Masako has engaged in official duties overseas. (The Japan News)
Nearly 40 percent of single people in their 20s and 30s do not want a romantic partner, according to a survey by the Cabinet Office released in June. The survey was included in a government white paper on Japan's notoriously low birthrate that also found 46.2 percent of singles claiming that relationships were "bothersome." (Japan Times)