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Mechademia 7Lines of Sight$
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Frenchy Lunning

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816680498

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816680498.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MINNESOTA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.minnesota.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MNSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

Kamishibai and the Art of the Interval

Kamishibai and the Art of the Interval

(p.78) Kamishibai and the Art of the Interval
Mechademia 7

Sharalyn Orbaugh

University of Minnesota Press

Kamishibai is a performance art that was popular in Japan from the late 1920s to the 1960s. Most simply, a kamishibai play is a set of pictures used by a performer to tell a story to an audience, usually of children aged four to twelve. During Japan’s Fifteen Year War (1931–1945), kamishibai was a crucial medium for the dissemination of propaganda to a variety of audiences, adults as well as children. This chapter asks: How did the characteristics of kamishibai function in the context of prowar, imperialist propaganda to make that propaganda effective? And do the Cartesian or anti-Cartesian elements of kamishibai plays have any influence on the propaganda effect? It argues that it is impossible to gauge the actual effectiveness of kamishibai as propaganda in the Fifteen Year War. The plays certainly provided entertainment and beautiful, intensely colorful visuals, which gave some sort of mental relief from the oppressive atmosphere of “total war.” But beyond that, it was the anti-Cartesian, heterogeneous, and commingled aspects of kamishibai that made wartime plays emotionally powerful, and therefore effective at motivating their audiences to continue the fight.

Keywords:   Japanese performance art, kamishibai, plays, imperialist propaganda, wartime propaganda, Cartesianism, Cartesian perspectivalism

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