So following on from my piece of last night, io9 reflects on the fascination with Japan and the future. I note that while it asks the question “when did Japan stop being the future”, the answer seems to be that it hasn’t, well not quite completely.
Essentially one can argue that the sci fiction element comes in part from the difference, the otherness of Japan in so many ways to European-based culture. And for this reason, while Japan has been replaced by China in a number of places as this site of the imaginary, it hasn’t completely, and likely never will, completely go away.
The interesting thing to note, is that not only is Japan a site of future fantasy, but also a place for fantasies from the past. The second series of Heroes takes us into Japan’s past as a site for fantasy, while other books such as Lian Hearn’s Across the Nightingale Floor and its following books, also looks to the past Japan for inspiration for its fantasy setting. Ancient Japan also features as the inspiration for Raymond E Feist’s Tsurani.
The the attraction is not just the neon, it is the alienness of Japan, ensured and enshrined by its foreigness, its distance and the closed borders it had for so long.