So, Just How Japanese is the USA These Days?

All around Asian culture fan and writer for among other publications the Guardian, Animerica (much missed) and Otaku USA, Patrick Macias wonders if the US realizes just how Japanese its pop culture is becoming:

Japan has since become a secret sauce, an inspiration, a font of ideas for studio heads and scriptwriters who don’t have to come up with ideas of their own. “The Magnificent Seven,”“Power Rangers,”“The Ring,”“Dragon Ball”- all have passed through the Hollywood meat grinder with varying degrees of success.

I suppose it is only fitting then that a new “Godzilla” film appears to be leading yet another wave that includes the likes of “Edge of Tomorrow” (based on a Japanese SF novel), a new “Power Rangers” reboot and lord knows what else is in development hell.

In a climate where geek culture potentially equals big business, but most of the major geek properties – like “Star Wars,”“Harry Potter,” and every dorky superhero from your childhood are locked up already – Japan takes on the appearance of an untapped reserve of pop culture, ripe for the plucking. I’ve had the weird meetings and can confirm: TV and movie people are now in the process of some serious plucking.

For anyone remotely interested in the America’s on-again, off-again love affair with Japan, Macias’s article for MTV makes for a decent read.

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The Bizarre Rise and Fall of the Tiki Bar

Sven A. Kristen, author of the much beloved and sadly out of print The Book of Tiki published by Taschen (used copies of which are currently selling above $130), has a new book out! It’s called Tiki Pop: America imagines its own Polynesian Paradise and it looks like another good one.

Over at Wired, Joseph Flaherty has an article on both Kristen’s new book and tiki culture in general worth reading:

In the 1950s and ’60s, an epidemic of island fever swept the United States. Tiki-themed structures spread like jungle vines, taking the form of garden-style apartments in Redondo Beach, California and Polynesia-inspired motor lodges in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania. Amway, the quintessential midwestern enterprise, sold jade-green tiki soaps in the shape of Moai. Barely a decade after the Bataan Death March, Americans couldn’t get enough rattan furniture for their living rooms basement bars. For some rum-soaked reason, millions of American adults wanted their lives to feel like a never-ending trip to the Rainforest Cafe.

For the rest of “The Bizarre Rise and Fall of the Tiki Bar”, click here.