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“Showa Boys SF Guide”

by Mio Yamada

Yayoi Museum
Closes Sept. 27

The moon is a giant hothouse for mammoth vegetables and, as natural resources dwindle, mirrored satellites divert beams of artificial light to melt the South Pole for water. Brightly colored vehicles hover, fly or float through the air; high-speed trains roller-coaster through the Alps and intelligent robots serve mankind.

This is the future . . . brought to us by “Showa Boys SF Guide,” an extensive collection of science-fiction magazine and book illustrations currently on show at the Yayoi Museum.

Though conceived decades ago, these vibrant illustrations of other-worldy creatures, invincible heroes and unfathomable technology are still capable of eliciting the same adolescent sense of wonder that left kids in postwar Japan in complete awe of the future. And as with all sci-fi, mixed in with the shiny, shiny rockets, robots and spandex are darker, disturbing visions of our future: babies gestating in wired pods and a six-armed “mother” robot that nurses a human baby from a metal teat as it simultaneously changes diapers and entertains other children.

During the postwar period, sci fi and its limitless imaginary worlds not only stoked a passion for science and technology, it also manifested the anxieties and hopes of societies still reeling from the shock of the atomic bomb. Some visions placed blind faith in technology, some clearly feared it; others actually anticipated real scientific achievements.

This is a must-see exhibition of all those fantastic visions, not to mention a wonderful celebration of retro-kitsch.

For more information, call (03) 5689-0462; www.yayoi-yumeji-museum.jp

For more images from “Showa Boys SF Guide” see The Japan Times blog Japan Pulse.