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Entry updated 5 August 2020. Tagged: Film.

["Ten Years"] Film (2018 Japan; vt Ten Years Japan in English signage). Freestone Productions, Asahi Shinbunsha, Ten Years Japan Production Committee. Directed by Akiyo Fujimura, Chie Hayakawa, Kei Ishikawa, Yūsuke Kinoshita and Ai Tsuno. Cast includes Chizuru Ikewaki, Satoru Kawaguchi, Jun Kunimura and Hana Sugisaki. Screenplay by the directors. 99 minutes. Colour.

An anthology piece of five Near-Future Dystopian vignettes about life in Japan, inspired by the earlier Hong Kong omnibus Sap Nin (2015), and, one might presume, by the decision of the Netflix digital broadcaster to acquire later seasons of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror (2011-2019) that same year. As with the original Sap Nin, Jūnen presents an opportunity for Mainstream Writers of SF to approach well-worn topics within the genre itself, functioning as a reasonable barometer of what subjects most animate the national consciousness.

Unsurprisingly, the major issues that concern the five writer-directors are the demographics of Japan's aging population (see also Rōjin Z 1991) in Hayakawa's "Plan75", in which a man attempts to persuade the elderly and infirm to join an ominous government-sponsored "population management" scheme redolent of the euthanasia project in Soylent Green (1973). Overpopulation, however, is not quite so much the issue as the increasing pressures being placed on the younger generation to support an ever-growing echelon of pensioners. School life for such children is explored in Kinoshita's "Itazura Tōmei" ["Union of Naughtiness"], in which constant, implacable monitoring by humourless AI prompts a group of boys to assert their freedom to rebel. The erosion of privacy and the permanence of Memory is the subject of Tsuno's "DATA", in which a bereaved teenager is given access to her late mother's "digital heritage", evoking at first nostalgia, and then surprise at hidden elements of her mother's character. Fujimura's "Sono Kūki wa Mienai" ["That Air You Can't See"] chronicles life for people forced underground by dangerous Pollution, while Ishikawa's finale "Utsukushii Kuni" ["The Beautiful Country"] examines the struggle of a designer tasked with creating an Advertising campaign to encourage acceptance of the reintroduction of the military draft. This last is perhaps the hottest button issue for the Japanese, since military aggression was written out of Japan's US-dictated post-war constitution, and attitudes toward the resurgence of the military is often itself a guide to the degree of unrest and disquiet in the nation as a whole. The same movement among young film-makers also saw Ten Years Thailand (2018) and Shi Nian Taiwan ["Ten Years Taiwan"] (2019). [JonC]

see also: Optimism and Pessimism.


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