• SHARE

A few years ago, Asians were the hot thing in Japanese films, and then, suddenly, they were not. The peak was Shunji Iwai’s “Swallowtail,” a 1996 dystopian fantasy about a near-future Tokyo overrun by hungry young Asians who would commit any crime for a yen, but were more vital than the gray Japanese masses around them. With its stylistic borrowings from Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” and its peculiar mix of xenophilia and xenophobia (its Asians were great people to party with, but not to trust with the CD player), “Swallowtail” became a hit — and more Japanese money and talent went into movies with an Asians-in-Japan theme.

Unfortunately, none of the later Japanese films with Asian heroes surpassed the success of “Swallowtail,” and the Asian boom died down, if not out. Instead, horror films became the next hot thing — and their principals all carried Japanese passports (save for the ones from the Great Beyond).

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW