Japan rang in 2020 with dreams of Olympic glory. Not so much the athletic kind, though there was that too, but more in terms of branding. It was a chance to reaffirm the country’s position as a player on the global pop culture stage.

Looking at the mainstream successes won by South Korea — pop group BTS, the film "Parasite" — surely there would be room for another player from Asia on the global pop culture stage.

By late February, though, Japan's entertainment-industrial complex found itself disrupted or shut down completely as the novel coronavirus spread across the country. However, what grew into a once-in-a-century event also presented a period of transformation for a country often viewed as being behind the times.