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Toyota Aritsune

Entry updated 13 September 2021. Tagged: Author, TV.

(1938-    ) Japanese author and screenwriter, sometimes romanized in error as Aritsune Toyoda, intimately connected to the world of Anime and early Fandom in Japan, both as a participant and chronicler of its history. Toyota initially undertook medical studies on the assumption that he would to take his elder brother's place as the head of the family healthcare business. However, on being released from his obligations by his sibling's surprise recovery from a life-threatening illness, he returned to his hobby writing genre fiction. After winning several honourable mentions in literary competitions, his debut as a published science fiction writer came with "Kasei no Saigo no..." ["The Last x on Mars"] (April 1963 S-F Magazine).

Toyota's arrival on the sf scene came at a critical moment in the Japanese Media Landscape, mere months after Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy (1963-1965) started a rush of imitation Anime cartoons from rival networks and production companies. Approached by Kazumasa Hirai for help writing the future policier 8 Man (1963-1966), he encountered Tezuka himself at a meeting of the Uchūjin club (see also Takumi Shibano), and was soon lured away to work on Astro Boy by Tezuka's infamously high salaries at his fledgling company, Mushi Production. Toyota worked for Tezuka for two lucrative years, before he was outed as the pseudonymous "Kōichi Ichihara" also writing for the rival show Uchū Shōnen Soran ["Space Boy Soran"] (1965-1967). Toyota was one of several employees accused of industrial espionage, thought to have "stolen" the idea of Chappy the Space Squirrel from a discarded concept in one of Tezuka's own shows, as well as the idea for an episode set Under the Sea that merely switched mermaids for dolphins. Known in Japanese media history as the "W3 Incident", the scandal led to several staff members quitting Tezuka's employment, and a ten-year rift between Tezuka and the major publishing house Kōdansha. Toyota has always protested his innocence, and claims that the "thefts" were the fault of a loose-lipped fellow writer bragging about certain works in progress, but he did conspicuously and swiftly find employment with TBS, the rival broadcaster in question, as one of the storyliners in their so-called "manga room", where he worked on the Astro Boy clone Super Jetter (1965-1966). His screenwriting career continued in parallel with his early work in prose, most famously as one of the original creatives in the writers' room on the show that would become Uchū Senkan Yamato (1974-1975) – see also Leiji Matsumoto, whom Toyota supported in the long-running dispute over the franchise's copyright. Toyota would detail his role in the series, and his opinions regarding the complex "ownership" of a franchise conceived in committee, in Uchū Senkan Yamato no Shinjitsu ["The Truth About Space Cruiser Yamato"] (2017).

Prose novels and short stories came to predominate in his writing career, which included translations from English of two works by Poul Anderson, The High Crusade (1960; trans Aritsune Toyota as Ama kakeru Jūjigun, 1966) and Three Hearts and Three Lions (1961;trans Aritsune Toyota as Makai no Monshō, 1970). In the third volume of his memoirs, Nihon Anime Danjō ["The Dawn of Japanese Animation"] (2020), Toyota confessed that Anderson's work had long been an influence on him, and that, disappointed with the fact that the plot of Super Jetter left its thirty-first-century superhero marooned in the twentieth century, he had pitched the idea of a similar series with a more mobile "Time Patrol", directly inspired by Anderson's Time Police stories. Time Travel and speculations on the effects of various Jonbar Points would become a major feature of Toyota's work, as evinced in his early best-seller Mongol no Zankō ["Afterglow of Mongolia"] (1967), an Alternate History in which the medieval Mongol Empire never falls. The protagonist, wanted for murder, steals a Time Machine and changes history, only to watch in horror as Caucasian atrocities in later centuries outdo those of the Mongols he has erased. Elements of Anderson's themes echo in much of Toyota's subsequent work, so much so that one might mistake some of his publications as loving pastiches or unofficial Sequels by Other Hands. A greater degree of originality can be glimpsed in Time Slip Daisensō ["The Great Time Slip War"] (1975), in which a "time-quake" catapults Japan back to the eve of Pearl Harbor and allows its inhabitants to restage World War Two with a different outcome, only for subsequent disasters to push them further back into the past to face other crises. Evoking at first the military time-travel speculations of Sengoku Jieitai ["Civil War Defence Force"] (1974) by Ryō Hanmura (see Sengoku Jieitai), its drift from Changewar into Disaster leads it to bear a greater similarity in tone to Sakyō Komatsu's Nippon Chinbotsu (1973; cut trans Michael Gallagher as Japan Sinks 1976; vt Death of the Dragon 1978).

Not listed in the Checklist below are several contemporary thrillers and espionage serials, juvenilia, a swashbuckling pirate trilogy, and dozens of nonfiction works in multiple fields, particularly on topics involved with Korean studies and ancient East Asian history. Toyota's research in this area complemented and informed his fiction, much of which deals with Japan's still-murky Dark Ages, for which Japanese culture's own reliance on mythical chronicles allows for "historical" fiction to drift into the realm of fantastika. His Nihon Shin Shinwa Monogatari ["New Myths of Japan"] series reconceived Japanese legend as Heroic Fantasy in the mode of Robert E Howard, but his true success in that field was Wa-Ō no Matsuei ["Descendants of the King of Wa"] (1972), which tapped into a popular obsession in the early 1970s with Japanese Forteana (see Charles Fort), and the thinning of mainland Chinese-Korean emigrant identities in the strange new land of ancient Japan, and vice versa. It, along with many other of his works of History in SF, might be conceived as part of a "series", although it is difficult for the encyclopedist to definitively pigeonhole and categorize otherwise unrelated works that appear to take place within a general history. Wa no Jo-Ō: Himiko ["Himiko: The Queen of Wa"] (1974), for example, might easily be conceived as a sequel to his Nihon Shin Shinwa Monogatari series, set as it is in the same milieu of ancient Japan, but might be better described as a non-sf historical novel, about a real figure who would have believed the legends of the preceding books to have been true. Kamigami no Tasogare: Olympus Wars ["Twilight of the Gods: Olympus Wars"] (1982) reimagines the End of the World as a Shaggy God Story, suggesting that all the world's myths are a garbled recollection of a prehistoric conflict between two rival groups of super-beings, whose return in the twentieth century forces the human race to pick sides in what soon escalates to a nuclear war.

From 1982 to 1991, Toyota presided over Parallel Creation, a salon, teaching circle and occasional content mill that nurtured several young creatives. Some of its more famous participants included Mariko Ōhara and the anime creators Shōji Kawamori and Yutaka Izubuchi. Despite his influence on the younger generation, for much of the twenty years that straddled the turn of the twenty-first century, most of Toyota's own writing was outside the scope of this encyclopedia, concentrating largely on nonfiction issues in history, Korean relations or nuclear energy, related to his job in his later years as a lecturer at the University of Shimane. In retirement, he returned to science fiction with several personal memoirs of its formation in Japan, most notably Nihon SF no Danjō: Kūso to Kagaku no Sakkatachi ["The Birth of Japanese SF: Authors of Fantasy and Science"] (2019). These books deftly reposition him as a key figure in the Japanese genre, albeit one who has never garnered recognition at the Seiun Awards, nor found fame overseas. Although many of his anime episodes have been translated, little of his prose work has made it into English, besides "Prince of Wales Futatabi" (April 1970 S-F Magazine; trans David Aylward as "Another Prince of Wales" in Speculative Japan, anth 2007, ed Grania Davis and Gene van Troyer), in which a mixed-race naval officer faces a crisis of allegiances as Britain and Japan re-enact the World War Two in the twenty-first century as an extended Wargame. [JonC]

Aritsune Toyota

born Maebashi, Gunma, Japan: 25 May 1938

died

works (selected)

series

Nihon Shin Shinwa Monogatari ["New Myths of Japan"]

  • Hi no Kuni no Yamato Takeru ["Yamato Takeru of the Land of Fire"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1971) [Nihon Shin Shinwa Monogatari: binding unknown/]
  • Izumo no Yamato Takeru ["Yamato Takeru of Izumo"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1974) [Nihon Shin Shinwa Monogatari: binding unknown/]
  • Kamikaze no Yamato Takeru ["Yamato Takeru of the Divine Wind"] (Tokyo: Shōdensha, 1981) [Nihon Shin Shinwa Monogatari: binding unknown/]
  • Eiyū no Yamato Takeru ["The Heroic Yamato Takeru"] (Tokyo: Shōdensha, 1984) [Nihon Shin Shinwa Monogatari: binding unknown/]
  • Tenshō no Yamato Takeru ["Yamato Takeru of Tenshō"] (Tokyo: Shōdensha, 1985) [Nihon Shin Shinwa Monogatari: binding unknown/]
  • Hida no Yamato Takeru ["Yamato Takeru of Hida"] (Tokyo: Shōdensha, 1986) [Nihon Shin Shinwa Monogatari: binding unknown/]
  • Kyojinkoku no Yamato Takeru ["Yamato Takeru in the Land of the Giants"] (Tokyo: Shōdensha, 1988) [Nihon Shin Shinwa Monogatari: binding unknown/]

Daisensō ["Great War"]

Time Patrol Gokuhi File ["Time Patrol Secret Files"]

  • Ibun: Midway Kaisen ["The Alternate Battle of Midway"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa, 1983) [Time Patrol Gokuhi File: binding unknown/]
  • Zero-sen no Himitsu ["The Secret of the Zero"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa, 1986) [Time Patrol Gokuhi File: binding unknown/]

individual titles

  • Mongol no Zankō ["Afterglow of Mongolia"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1967) [binding unknown/]
  • Taima Senki ["Chronicle of Retreating Demon"] (Tokyo: Rippū Shobō, 1969) [binding unknown/]
  • Chikyū no Omei ["Stigma of Earth"] (Tokyo: Rippū Shobō, 1970) [binding unknown/]
  • Ryōmen Sukuna ["Dual Lodging"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1974) [binding unknown/]
  • Wa no Jo-Ō: Himiko ["Himiko: The Queen of Wa"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1974) [binding unknown/]
  • Harukanari Maboroshi no Hoshi ["The Distant Phantom Star"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1978) [binding unknown/]
  • Ijigen Shinwa ["Alternate Dimension Myths"] (Tokyo: Shōdensha, 1978) [binding unknown/]
  • Bōsō-gari ["Runaway Hunting"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1979) [binding unknown/]
  • Kamigami no Tasogare: Olympus Wars ["Twilight of the Gods: Olympus Wars"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1982) [binding unknown/]
  • Yonchōme no Kettō ["Battle in District Four"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa, 1982) [binding unknown/]
  • Cagliostro Hakushaku no Himitsu: Ore no Bike wa Time Machine ["Count Cagliostro's Secret: My Bike is a Time Machine"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1989) [binding unknown/]

collections

  • Kasei no Saigo no... ["The Last x on Mars"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1966) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Azteca ni Fuku Arashi ["The Storm that Blows on Azteca"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1968) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Jissatsu Consultant ["Suicide Consultant"] (Tokyo: San-ichi, 1969) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Futari de Uchū e ["Together into Space"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1970) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Chōhatsuzoku no Ran ["Revolt in the Long-haired Clan"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa, 1974) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Time Kennel (Tokyo: Kadokawa, 1974) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Pachacama ni ochiru Yō ["The Sun Falling on Pachacamac"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1974) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Kindan no Meruhen ["Forbidden Fairytales"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa, 1974) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Saiyūki Plus Alpha: SF Jiken Shōsetsu-shū ["Journey to the West Plus Alpha: An Experimental SF Short Collection"] (Tokyo: Banmachi Shobō, 1975) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Yume no 10-bunkan Short Short-shū ["10-Minute Dreams: A Short Short Collection"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1975) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Cyborg Jo-Ō ["Cyborg Queen"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa, 1975) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Hijinrui Bungaku Nyūmon: Short Short ["An Introduction to Uncultural Anthrolopology: Short Shorts"] (Kōdansha, 1976) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Viva Nihongo! ["Viva Japanese!"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1977) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Adventure Meiji Gannen ["Adventure in the First Year of Meiji (1968)"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa, 1978) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Yamatai-koku Sakusen ["Operation: Yamatai"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1978) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Wadatsumi no Ei ["Progeny of the Sea God"] (Tokyo: Aokisha, 1978) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Mō hitotsu no Sekai ["Another World"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1984) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Akuma no Shiro ["The Devil's Castle"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1986) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Amoeba Yōjo ["Amoeba Spirit"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1986) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Shinka no Chinkonkyoku ["Requiem for Evolution"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shueisha, 1987) [coll: binding unknown/]

nonfiction

links

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