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 toxic food scandal in China is spreading fast, dragging in U.S. coffee chain Starbucks, Burger King Worldwide Inc. and others, as well as products of McDonald's Corp. as far away as Japan. (Japan Times)
Personal information on some 22.6 million Benesse Corp. customers was stored in a smartphone used by a systems engineer arrested last week for allegedly stealing such data from the education service provider, the company has said. (Jiji Press)
A group of residents from a village near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is planning to file for state arbitration so all villagers can be entitled to equal damages regardless of radiation levels of their areas. (NHK)
A series of water-related accidents across Japan during Marine Day on Monday has left six people dead, three missing and one in a critical condition, according to media and Fire and Disaster Management Agency reports. (Japan Today)
A 49-year-old man arrested Saturday on suspicion of confining an 11-year-old girl at his house here has told police he wanted to be with the girl forever, according to a source related to the investigation. (The Japan News)
For the past three months, Tokyo Metropolitan Police have sought a woman believed to be responsible for the drugging and robbing of multiple men in the metropolis over the last two years. (Tokyo Reporter)
Police in Yashio, Saitama Prefecture, said Monday they are investigating the death of a 24-year-old man who came into a 7-Eleven convenience store, bleeding from stab wounds and died shortly after. (Japan Today)
In Japan, a country where structure, conformity and security are bedrocks, it is often hard for individuals to break free and follow a more idealized path. It is especially difficult when that path turns out to be somewhat ... eccentric. (CNN)
A so-called wide-area evacuation of Tokyo residents in the event of major flooding caused by the Arakawa river could reduce the number of people requiring rescue by 90 percent from current estimates, according to a simulation carried out by the Tokyo metropolitan government. (The Japan News)