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Recultured is a podcast series by Deep Dive from The Japan Times. It tells the story of how COVID-19 affected Japan in 2020 through the lens of the country’s pop culture.

COVID-19 derailed Japanese pop culture this year, but also transformed it. In four episodes, we look at some of the cultural highlights of the year, including “Terrace House,” Animal Crossing, NiziU and “Demon Slayer.”

Episode 1: Collapse

In Japan, 2020 started with all things pointed toward one thing: the Olympics. From “Terrace House” to music and entertainment, everything was gearing up for a grand international spectacle, but with the arrival of COVID-19, that all ground to a halt. We hear from some of the stars of “Terrace House,” about the show’s dramatic ending, as well as how other pop culture industries were laid low by the pandemic. | Full show notes

Episode 2: Isolate

In spring, with most of the world stuck indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people sought escape — and a sense of normalcy — in the video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons. At the same time, Japan experienced the start of a bigger shift toward embracing digital and streaming entertainment. | Full show notes

Episode 3: Adapt

After the government lifted the state of emergency in summer, Japanese pop culture had to change its approach, and reconsider how to operate in the “new normal.” Pop group NiziU’s “Make You Happy” became the song of this very strange summer, and people were forced to work out what was and wasn’t OK as the government shifted its language from “stay, stay, stay” to “go, go, go.” | Full show notes

Episode 4: Rebuild

Released in October, “Demon Slayer: The Movie” smashed box office records, and looks to become the highest grossing film in Japanese history. We look to the release of “Demon Slayer” and Kyoto Animation’s “Violet Evergarden” for hope, as we wait out the long winter for a vaccine and brighter days in 2021. | Full show notes

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