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).

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