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Hollywood Medieval Japan

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What do you mean, it's unrealistic? She has a katana, doesn't she?
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In real history, Japan had many periods with their own distinct politics, mindsets, and manner of dress. But in Hollywood, Japanese history is pretty much one long indistinct period filled with pagodas and geishas in strangely easy-to-remove kimonos, where Samurai and Ninja roamed the land chopping each other up with katana and shuriken at the slightest provocation. This is the land David Plath called Jawpen — "this place of which so many Westerners have jawed and penned", a country "made up of traditional Japanese parts ... invented and assembled here in the West for domestic consumption."

The anime portrayal is somewhat more accurate, but naturally, Japan has its own stereotypes about its past. For a look at native Japanese anime and live action film depictions of this era, see Jidaigeki.

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See also: Anachronism Stew, Hollywood History, Western Samurai. The fantasy equivalent is Wutai.


Popular tropes from this time period are:


(Western) works that are set in this time period include:

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     Comic Books  

  • Usagi Yojimbo does this better than most — Stan Sakai was born in Japan (though he moved to Hawaii at an early age), grew up watching chanbara movies and his comments in the back of the comic book collections show that he has indeed done research, and it shows.

     Film  

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time
  • Kubo and the Two Stringss is set in a fantasy world that resembles feudal Japan.
  • The Last Samurai portrays the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion as the long-overdue end of Japan's medieval style of society, where the Imperial government wants to modernize while a group of samurai fight back. The film depicts ninja night-raids in addition to the rebels fighting rifles and cannons with blades and bows. In reality, the war was fought with gunpowder on both sides, with the rebels only reverting back to traditional weapons after they ran out of modern ammo.

     Tabletop Games 

  • The Draconis Combine in BattleTech is basically Hollywood Medieval Japan IN SPACE! with Humongous Mecha: people in the Combine speak Japanese, they fight with katanas, they sic ninjas on their enemies, they commit seppuku when they've acted dishonorably... This is even subtly acknowledged in several books, such as a note in one novel where several Draconis Combine warriors visited Japan while on Terra and annoy the heck out of actual Japanese people with their Loony Fan behavior.

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Alternative Title(s): Hollywood Japan, Medieval Japan

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