Pop culture ruled the roost in popular stories, but also showed its staying power: The most read online story from the JT culture section this year turned out to be a review of a manga drawn by Osamu Tezuka and first published in 1972. Meanwhile, Hayao Miyazaki’s final feature at Studio Ghibli generated buzzes both positive and negative, a father charmed photo-lovers with whimsical snaps of his two daughters, and two different sides of popular Japanese music were revealed.

10. Taking anime too seriously

Flying: Taiyo Kogyo Co. employees demonstrate the company

Japan to an astonishing degree is defined by its cartoons. “If you haven’t lived in Japan, it may be hard to appreciate how ubiquitous the images of characters are,” writes Condry. The Foreign Ministry’s appointment of the robot cat Doraemon as a “cultural ambassador” in 2008 is one instance.

9. Hard rock, J-pop rule Summer Sonic

A fireworks display signaled a successful end to this year

Mr. Children stuck mostly with anthemic, mid-tempo rock, tunes that become boring fast to someone not interested in singing along. The crowd did sing along, though, resulting in Summer Sonic’s coolest moment when the sound cut off during one late song. The crowd simply belted out the rest of the tune by themselves.

8. ‘Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises)’

Propelled by greatness: Director Hayao Miyazaki

Yes, “The Wind Rises” is an old-fashioned tearjerker, but it is also a visually sumptuous celebration of an unspoiled prewar Japan. At the same time, Miyazaki inserts reminders of the era’s social and economic turmoil and hints of later environmental calamities…

7. Perfume dances to No. 1 with hard-edged new album ‘Level3’

Magic of style: Perfume members (left to right) Ayaka

For a group with an image of expertly crafted artifice, in person there is surprisingly little pretense with Perfume. The members will talk openly about pretty much anything regarding their career so long as you can get it past their managers

6. Toyokazu Nagano: Dad’s pictures of the kids that others do want to see

“Instead of pictures where I captured a wondrous moment or lovely daily-life scene, shots with creative elements that make you burst out laughing in spite of their triviality, became my, and our children’s, (family photo) standard.”

5. Snyder ponders Superman’s ultimate dilemma

Last son of Krypton:

“A very large part of Superman has stayed on Krypton, but he can’t leave his adopted country because if he does the whole world could be destroyed. If he steps in to save everyone, he’ll never be accepted as a normal guy. It’s not an easy choice.”

4. Double the trouble, twice the joy for Japan’s hāfu

“One of the reasons we made this film is that the growing number of hāfu here are not celebrities or models. We wanted to put a hole in the stereotype of hāfu — to show that not everyone is Caucasian, well-to-do and beautiful.

3. Backlash against Miyazaki is generational

Wise old men:

The reaction to Ghibli’s anti-war, anti-revisionist essays was ferocious, especially among Japan’s so-called netto uyoku, or right-wing Internet users. Japan’s most famous, popular and revered visual artist was called “dim-witted,” “a traitor” and “anti-Japanese.”

2. AKB48 member’s ‘penance’ shows flaws in idol culture

Tears for fears: The reaction to the shocking video by AKB48 team member Minami Minegishi has been swift and varied.

After being caught leaving the home of Generations boy-band member Alan Shirahama by weekly gossip rag Shukan Bunshun, AKB48 Team B member Minami Minegishi was instantly demoted to the idol group’s “trainee” team.

1. Burying the truth to survive in postwar, modern Japan

We follow Jiro from the tale’s beginning in 1949 into the 1970s, and along the way Tezuka introduces aspects of postwar Japanese history that shed a less than favorable light on the occupiers, and also on the Japanese government that supplanted them.

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