What even is Japanese Cyberpunk?
Japanese Cyberpunk imagines technologically advanced yet dystopic cities, bathed in neon lights and holographical imagery, but reeking of exhaust fumes, corruption, and anti-government sentiments. The cyber-industrial landscape teems with overpopulation and criminal activity, and the ever-present threat of bodily mutilation, a grotesque metamorphosis between flesh and metal, looms in the periphery, promising post-human nightmares.
Cyberpunk falls under the umbrella of science fiction. Cyberpunk is often described as “high tech, low life,” and rightly so. We enter these techno-futuristic, dystopic cities where technological and scientific advancements occur alongside oppression, corruption, and societal collapse. But why do we separate between cyberpunk and Japanese cyberpunk? The answer is simple: Japanese cyberpunk is produced in Japan. Yup, that’s it.
Author and curator Jasper Sharp, who specializes in Japanese cinema, questions whether the distinction is necessary and writes: “While English-language pundits have been quick to carve out a specific sub-genre of made-in-Japan cyberpunk, the Japanese themselves seem to count many of the works within it as belonging simply within the wider field of sci-fi. Tellingly, there is no Japanese-language page linked to the Wikipedia entry for ‘Japanese cyberpunk’, nor any acknowledgement of the country’s own contribution in the Japanese-language entry for ‘cyberpunk’ itself.”
Some food for thought.