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Suicide and the Gothic in modern Japanese literature and culture

This chapter discusses the changing representation of suicide in selected Japanese literary and visual texts, focusing on four twentieth- and twenty-first-century novels (Kokoro by Natsume Soseki [1914], The Silent Cry by Kenzaburo Oe [1967], Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami [1987], and Gray Men by Tomotake Ishikawa [2012]), selected films and manga. The chapter argues that the discussed texts have departed from the historic/nationalistic notion of suicide as noble death in favour of a more Gothic positioning of the theme. This Gothic dimension is realised predominantly through the construction of the characters and the bleak landscapes they inhabit. Alienated from society; often living in self-imposed exile; prone to depression, or other forms of mental illness; trapped in toxic, dysfunctional relationships and elaborate masochistic rituals, these melancholy individuals accept suicide with fatalistic abandon as an inevitable conclusion to their insignificant lives, or embrace it as the ultimate act of non-conformism and defiance against authority. The chapter also examines apocalyptic visions of ‘nightmare Japan’ in films like Sion Sono’s controversial Suicide Circle (2001) and the manga it inspired (Furuya  Ukamaru, 2002), where suicide becomes symbolic of the ways that adults have failed the younger generations.

in Suicide and the Gothic
Representing organ trafficking in Asian cinemas

This chapter analyses the representation of organ harvesting and trade/trafficking in eight post-2000 Asian films. It discusses the films' consistent portrayal of transplantation as dependent on criminal networks and activities, and their critique of neoliberal medicine as responsible for deepening the economic divisions within Asian societies. Driven by market economy rather than ethics, neoliberal medicine sanctions sacrificing the disadvantaged for profit in the name of medical progress. The chapter offers a reading of the potentially gothic figures of vengeance appearing in the films in terms of a narrative strategy of resistance. Gothic figures of vengeance feature in many organ trade narratives. As the systematic acts of bio-violence are justified by the neoliberal State, which thrives on bio-power, the weak resort to weaving organ theft narratives as their strategy of resistance.

in Neoliberal Gothic
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Globalising the supernatural in contemporary Thai horror film

Horror is one of the major forms in which the gothic was manifested in the twentieth century and can be found in virtually every cinema of the world. This chapter discusses the effects of globalisation on the changing cinematic representation of the central local figure of fear, the spirit of the violently dead, or phii tai hong. It examines the potential of contemporary Thai horror film to redefine its supernatural characters as 'global ghosts'. The primary example is Sophon Sukdapisit's debut feature Coming Soon released in Thailand in 2008. With its Chinese-box narrative structure, Coming Soon relies heavily on the repetition and reproduction of genre elements, such as settings, characters or iconography. It succeeds in creating a simultaneously local and global figure of horror. It is at the same time an example of a local Thai horror production and a case in point to support the call for globalgothic horror.

in Globalgothic