Rio Katayama - Postdoctoral Associate in East Asian Studies and Lecturer in East Asian Languages & Literatures
This talk examines the box-office success, film Shin Godzilla (Shin Gojira; 2016) by the director Anno Hideaki, that reveals the affective nature of confined spaces and their relation to the recurring depiction of monstrosity shaped in the enclosed environment. The narrative conveys the dual process of Japan-ness through the representation of Godzilla and the bureaucrats who fight against Godzilla. While Godzilla brings pure destruction, he also holds God-like presence alarming the use of nuclear power. However, in this film, instead of focus being on the monster itself, a group of bureaucrats facing the crisis of the nation is portrayed with fervor and irony, in the closed space of the conference room. The closed space and the extreme close-up of the faces of the bureaucrats intensify the affect shared between the audience and the film, almost to the level where the audience feels suffocating to watch. By showing long sequences of bureaucrats having lengthy business meetings in conference rooms, Shin Godzilla gives the audience the impression that the conference room is where the problems occur and are solved, not where Godzilla is located. This talk unpacks the nature of the Japanese bureaucratic system and business meetings, and how the notion of formalism is intensified via affective filmic techniques. This research project aims to bridge the field of Japan studies, disaster studies, and affect theory, as well as to contribute to the broader discussions around trauma and nationalism.
Rio Katayama completed her PhD in East Asian Languages and Cultures at University of Southern California. Her dissertation explores the multi-layered (de)construction of Japan-ness and its relations to affective bodily responses that is elicited through the depiction of continuous nuclear trauma in Japanese audio-visual media. She has previously published her more social science-focused project “Idols, Celebrities, and Fans at the Time of Post-Catastrophe” in Celebrity Studies. Rio holds her BA in Literature from Waseda University and an MA in Japanese Pedagogy from Indiana University, Bloomington. She also worked in the media industry for several years prior to pursuing her MA.