Re-Heating’ Hope through Recognition in Japanese Late Capitalism: A Sociological Analysis of Ryo Asai’s “The Kirishima Thing”


How is invisible power exerted through recognition? By adopting Ulrich Beck’s social theory of reflexive modernisation, this paper analyses Ryo Asai’s movie, The Kirishima Thing (Kirishima-Bukatsu-Yamerutteyo). Although the movie describes daily life in a high school, the absence of the main character, Kirishima, throughout the entire film leaves it open to various interpretations. This paper interprets that the movie depicts the exertion of power through mutual recognition to forcefully generate a sense of hope in Japanese late capitalism. This presentation addresses the following three points. First, Kirishima’s absence means that the students lack a source of reassurance which adds to the dim prospects of their future. In this movie, recognition is achieved through engaging with Bukatsu: extracurricular club activities. Second, the Japanese expression ‘[...]katsu (i.e. [...]activities)’ is an ideology of ‘re-heating’ which forces people to be enthusiastic about certain kinds of activities and attempts to recover a sense of hope. As there is an increasing number of similar expressions in Japanese (e.g. Konkatsu [searching for a marriage partner] and Shukatsu [job-hunting]), power is exerted in a form of participation that aims to create a certain relationship with others. Third, Beck’s social theory gives new insights into the analysis of literary works and movies to further understand Japanese society. This paper is a pioneering attempt to examine literary works and movies by applying Beck’s theory. The presentation also constitutes the first analysis of Ryo Asai’s work that deals with the theme of generating hope through recognition.

Author Information
Kazuhito Onozuka, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACAS2015
Stream: Japanese Studies

This paper is part of the ACAS2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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