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date: 04 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The literature on Japanese film style has been shaped especially by the work of three scholars: Donald Richie, Noël Burch, and David Bordwell. Richie and Burch have promoted a paradigm of Japanese exceptionalism, stressing the salience of traditional cultural aesthetics, while Bordwell has rejected that nihonjinron premise. Underlying the principle disagreement about the alterity of Japanese aesthetics, however, their positions are complex and paradoxical. The notions of Japanese traditionalism advanced by Richie and Burch, while fundamentally aligned, are basically incompatible; while Bordwell, their most forceful critic, is also the most persuasive expositor of Japanese stylistic difference. This chapter analyzes the debate, particularly with respect to the proposition that Japanese national film style may be distinguished by an accentuation on overt stylization and the prominence of stylistic “flourishes.”

Keywords: style, stylization, aesthetics, flourish, nihonjinron, exceptionalism, cultural traditionalism, Richie, Burch, Bordwell

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