Saturday, December 21, 2013

Yasutaka Tsutsui

Yasutaka Tsutsui (筒井康隆) may not be a familiar name to western audiences, but what if I said Paprika (パプリカ)? Or The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (時をかけた少女)? That would certainly draw a lot more recognition. Born in 1934, Yasutaka Tsutsui is a multi award winning author, and one of the major voices of Japanese science fiction.

The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction has a very thorough run down on his work. Including the fact that such a prolific and significant author has received relatively little attention by western audiences. (

Relatively few of his works have been translated into English. His most well known work to western audiences, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, originally published in the 1960s was translated by David Karashima in 2011. Andrew Driver translated Paprika in 2009, and a collection of short stories in 2008 titled Salmonella Men on Planet Porno. His most recent work to be translated in 2007 by Evan Emswiler was his 2003 novel Hell.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time has seen numerous movie adaptations, the 1983 version being my favourite, which launched the career of idol Tomoyo Harada (原田知世).

Also, the 2006 Japanese Academy Award winning anime version, directed by Mamoru Hosoda (細田守), showed that Ghibli have some stiff competition for the crown of leaders in Japanese animation.

And Satoshi Kon's (今敏) 2006 masterful adaptation of Paprika, is a seminal piece of Japanese film history.

But Tsutsui's work is not all high concept, award winning adaptations. Here is a 2006 adaptation of The World Sinks Except Japan (日本以外全部沈没). It is a black comedy, and a parody, criticizing the ideas of racism and nationalism. It is directed by Minoru Kawasaki (河崎実) who is known for his absurdist comedies. Check out Executive Koala (コアラ課長) if you've never seen it. Here is The World Sinks Except Japan.

Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction:

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