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 death toll from the deadly landslides in the city of Hiroshima rose to 42 on Saturday, with 43 still missing, as rescuers continued to remove mud and pick through rubble in search of any survivors three days after torrential rain triggered the mountainside disaster. (BBC)
The number of people in Tokyo who were transported to hospital by ambulance in comas or other conditions after inhaling "dangerous drugs" came to 1,129 over the past 5½ years, including two fatalities, it was learned on Friday. (The Japan News)
The National Police Agency reported Thursday that police gave correctional guidance nationwide to a total of 220 minors younger than 18 who tried to provide sex for money or sell their used underwear online from January to June this year. (The Japan News)
A man suspected of groping a woman on the JR Yamanote line escaped by jumping onto the tracks at JR Ebisu station in Tokyo on Thursday night. His actions delayed trains along the Yamanote line for about 30 minutes, TBS reported Friday. (Japan Today)
The Imperial Household Agency has announced that Princess Noriko, 26, a daughter of Emperor Akihito's late cousin Prince Takamado, will marry Kunimaro Senge, 40, a son of the chief priest of the Izumo Taisha (Grand Shrine) in Shimane Prefecture, on Oct 5.
The Tokyo District Court on Thursday sentenced a man to 4 1/2 years in prison for sending threatening letters to convenience store chains and other establishments linked to Tadatoshi Fujimaki's "Kuroko's Basketball" manga series. (Japan Today)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police suspect organized crime members participated in a shooting incident that took place on Thursday inside a coffee shop in the Nishikoiwa district of Edogawa Ward, reports public broadcaster NHK. (Tokyo Reporter)
Police in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, said Thursday they have arrested an unemployed 28-year-old man on a charge of attempted murder after he stabbed his 23-year-old female friend in the back with a large kitchen knife. (Japan Today)
Justin Timberlake recently called Madonna a "mother chucking ninja". Some people in the US were upset, saying the word had racist connotations. In Japan, some folks were baffled by this controversy. (Kotaku)
Thousands of rescuers combed through the wreckage of homes engulfed by landslides in western Japan on Thursday in the slim hope of finding survivors, a day after a wall of mud claimed at least 39 lives. (AFP)
The body of a 7-year-old boy who went missing on Monday was found Wednesday on train tracks in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture. Police said the boy appeared to have been run over by a train. (Japan Today)