1st Edition

Japanese Film and the Challenge of Video

By Tom Mes Copyright 2023

    This book explores the phenomenon of V-Cinema, founded in Japan in 1989 as a distribution system for direct-to-video movies which film companies began making having failed to recoup their investment in big budget films. It examines how studios and directors worked quickly to capitalize on niche markets or upcoming and current trends, and how as a result this period of history in Japanese cinema was an exceptionally diverse and vibrant film scene. It highlights how, although the V-Cinema industry declined from around 1995, the explosion in quantity and variety of such movies established and cemented many specific genres of Japanese film. Importantly the book argues that film scholars who have long looked down on video as a substandard medium without scholarly interest have been wrong to do so, and that V-Cinema challenges accepted notions of cultural value, providing insight into the formation of cinematic canons and inviting us to rethink what is meant by "Japanese cinema".

    1. Scholars, Canons, and Videotape: Unboxing Japanese Cinema
    2. Parallel Canons: Japanese Cinema in the Eyes of the World, 1951-2000
    3. Through Global Northern Eyes

      Through East Asian Eyes

      Through Japanese Eyes

    4. Video Revolutions: Models of Video Distribution in the U.S.A. and Japan
    5. Home Video Distribution: A Tale of Two Systems

      ‘The Lowest Discursive Status’: Direct-to-Video Production and Distribution in the U.S.A.

    6. V-Cinema: A Domestic Model in Transnational Context
    7. ‘Neither Film Nor Television’: Gestation and Development of V-Cinema

      Internationalization of V-Cinema

    8. Accidental Auteurs: The Director in V-Cinema
    9. J-Horror, Restraint, and Kurosawa Kiyoshi

      The Yakuza Film, Excess, and Miike Takashi

    10. Slaughterhouse V


    Tom Mes is a Lecturer at Keio University, Japan