The recent surge of popularity in Japanese horror cinema has not been accompanied by books examining and illuminating the phenomena. Very little has been written on what is an elusive and complicated world.
Filling this gap, "Japanese Horror Cinema" is an academic study of the various worlds of Japanese horror cinema, an assemblage of essays by various authors each elucidating one of four essential topics. The essays are mainly sociologically based, involving more of the psychology of Japanese fear rather than cinematography or film-studies based. Each focus area is accompanied by a case study of an individual horror film or series.
"History, Tradition and Japanese Horror Cinema" looks at films from a historical basis, looking at the evolution and foundation of Japanese Horror Cinema. The aesthetics of cruelty is shown from traditional Japanese theatre such as Kabuki and Noh, and how they relate to modern-day horror. The case study for this section is Nakata Hideo's "Ringu" and "Ringu 2."
"Gender, Terror and the "Avenging Spirit" Motif in Japanese Horror Cinema" looks at Japanese Horror under Western eyes as well as Anime Horror and the Japanese interpretation of the rape/revenge genre. The case study for this section is Ishii Takashi's "Freeze Me."
"National Anxieties and Cultural Fears in Japanese Horror Cinema" looks at Japanese body-horror and technophobia as seen in films such as "Tetsuo the Iron Man"
and "Pinnochio 964." The case study for this section is Fukasaku Kinji's "Battle Royale."
"Japanese Horror Cinema and the the Production and Consumption of Fear" looks at not only the selling of modern horror, but the interpretation of Japanese Horror Cinema by US internet-based fan communities. The case study for this section is Shimizu Takashi's "Ju-On: The Grudge."
The book is very academic in nature, and probably not well-suited for casual fans looking to geek out on their favorite fright flicks. However, for those seeking a greater insight into the psychology of Japanese Horror Cinema, there are few better books on the market in this largely unexplored area.