You are here: Home / AJLS / Schedule / Panel 15 | 2:00-4:00 | ROOM C

Panel 15 | 2:00-4:00 | ROOM C

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Panel 15 | 2:00-4:00 | ROOM C

15 - Japan and Latin America: Images in Perspective

“Brief History of the Kōtakusei - Japanese Immigrants in the State of Amazonas, Brazil,” Michele Eduarda Brasil de Sá, University of Brasília

  • Japanese immigration to Brazil (home to the largest Japanese population outside Japan) started in the year 1908. Most of the immigrants, who came to Brazil as dekasegi, distributed in family groups, planned on working hard in order to save as much money as possible and return to Japan. The pioneers first settled in coffee planting farms, mainly in the state of São Paulo, in Brazilian Southeast. However, not all Japanese immigrants to Brazil had the same purposes and characteristics. In 1930, the first group of graduates from the Superior School of Agriculture (高等拓殖学校 - Kōtō Takushoku Gakkō) in Tokyo, Japan, called kōtakusei, who were young single men of urban middle class, arrived at Vila Amazônia, in the city of Parintins, Amazonas, north of Brazil. These men had studied during approximately one year in the aforementioned school – Portuguese language, Brazilian geography, society, history and other concerning subjects – before coming to Brazil, under the oath of not returning to Japan. The reasons and circumstances of this oath are not clear yet. Their purpose differed considerably from that of Japanese immigrants in other parts of the country, and their contribution to the Brazilian economy, especially through jute acclimatization, was considerable. In this paper, I will present a brief history of the kōtakusei, whose activities in Vila Amazônia were not only planting but also researching and studying. In the wake of World War II, Brazil and Japan interrupted diplomatic relations and the kōtakusei had to suspend their activities. This paper will focus on understanding the role of kōtakusei through pictures, personal documents, monthly bulletins and other sources.

“Viewing the South from the East: The Uses of Brazil in Sayo Yamamoto’s Michiko e Hatchin (2008)” Irenae Aigebedion, Penn State University

  • Sayo Yamamoto’s 2008 directorial debut, Michiko e Hatchin, is a remarkable anime not only for the quality of its animation, the diversity of its characters, and its overall plot, but also for its clear and skillful integration of numerous elements of Brazilian culture into the narrative. The story follows the travels of Michiko Malandro, a wanted felon, and Hana “Hatchin” Morenos, a young girl running from her abusive foster family, as the two search for Hana’s father, Hiroshi. Although the narrative is set in the fictional country of Diamandra, which draws on aspects of numerous Latin American countries, it is obvious that Brazil plays the largest role in the shaping the characters’ world, as Portuguese proliferates in the titles, samba and bossa nova dominate the soundtrack, and the food and architecture of Brazil are mirrored in the animation. 

    More importantly, Michiko e Hatchin can be seen as a move towards publicly addressing the historic relationship between Japan and Brazil, which is currently understudied. How have the cultures mutually influenced and transformed one another through their interaction? How have new social groups been created and how do they continue to define their identity despite (or because of) the fact that they have emerged from a confluence of two distinct cultures, leaving them neither fully one nor the other? Although the series itself does not explore these lines of inquiry, the uncommon, deliberate use of Brazil in the series forces us to engage with these questions.

"Manga Visuals in Latin America: Gender Diversity beyond the Panel,” Camila Gutierrez, Penn State University

  • The present article explores the ways in which Japanese manga aesthetics have influenced visual and genre aspects of Latin American authored comics. From Chile to Mexico, and after the anime boom of the 1990s, these artists have begun to produce their own manga with localized themes and imageries. Their narrative styles read as hybrid forms between the direct and compressed Western sequential art, and the intricate and decompressed manga. Interestingly enough, the influence of Japanese manga on these Latin American comics artists has led them to work with LGBT themes more often than any other graphic narrative style. Latin American manga displays aplenty of pages that use the visual emotional language of shojo, the action portrayal of shonen, and a mix of localized landscaping and paneling that could as well fit in the Western comic magazine. With the appropriation of a richer visual inventory that allows them to work with emotion in depth, and without the page count constraint nor the censorship of physical publication, Latin American web manga artists have thus gravitated towards those stories that their local conservative publishers have left untold. Shonen ai, (boys love) has become one of the most popular genres of manga produced and consumed in the region. Readership that used to circulate these materials mostly within the fujoshi niche of the Latin American otaku culture (a term that denominates female heterosexual consumers of gay literature) has now begun to include a more diverse range of LGBT consumers. Manga has become a tool for these artists to visualize and circulate images and stories that challenge hegemonic representations of sexuality. For some artists, the use of manga visuals can be seen as a contestation of heteronormative visual narrative, facilitated by manga’s condition as “foreign”, “imported”, “new”, or “disruptive”. For other artists, contexts and degrees of manga influence will differ.