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.
A Japanese rescue team failed to enter earthquake-hit Nepal twice on Monday as an aircraft used by the team was unable to obtain permission to land on an airport in its capital Kathmandu because of congestion. (Jiji Press)
Japan and the United States have agreed on "seamless" defense cooperation from peacetime to contingencies, the two countries said Monday, announcing the first revision to their defense cooperation guidelines in 18 years. (Jiji Press)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday his administration is trying to improve the status of women in his country as it also seeks to protect women's rights on the international stage. (Japan Today)
Japan's 140-member supergroup AKB48 is holding its second annual draft next month, in which sub-teams will choose new members from a draft of 48 young hopefuls. And among the finalists is one of the youngest potential members the group has ever seen. (Japan Today)
If you're tired of receiving vacant smiles and flippant customer service at your local grocery store, you may want to make a trip to Japan, where the customer always comes first and every transaction is concluded with a graceful bow. (rocketnews24.com)
Robots and dinosaurs mingled with cosplayers as Japan's largest video-sharing website Niconico on Saturday opened its two-day meet-up gala which is expected to attract more than 100,000 fans for the offline get together. (Japan Today)
Survivors and bereaved families of victims on Saturday marked the 10th anniversary of a fatal train derailment in western Japan that took the lives of 107 people, hoping such an accident never happens again. (Kyodo)
Fukuoka Prefectural Police on Friday took the acting chairman of the Kudo-kai organized crime group into custody for a shooting death that took place seven years ago, reports the Sankei Shimbun (April 24). (Tokyo Reporter)