Australia-Japan Society of Tasmania Inc.
Toys, Nostalgia, and the Assassination of Abe Shinzo: A Preliminary Reading of Kamen Rider Black Sun (2022)
This seminar explores the interlinkages between television, toys, and demographic change in relation to Japanese superhero franchise Kamen Rider (1971 – ongoing). Kamen Rider’s central text is a toyetic television program for children aged between three and seven, with a ‘transformation belt’ as the key item of merchandise. One of the most popular Kamen Rider TV series of all time is 1987’s Kamen Rider Black, reimagined as Kamen Rider Black Sun in 2022, as part of the franchise’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations. Rather than a children’s program, however, Black Sun is an adult television series (rated R18+ in Australia) that centres on a critique of the Liberal Democratic Party in general and former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in particular. The child audience who watched Black in 1987 were middle-aged in 2022 and had lived through a radical inversion of Japan’s population pyramid. While these demographic changes have naturally impacted a toyetic franchise like Kamen Rider in many ways, the focus of this presentation is reading the way both the signature tie-in-toy and the overall story of Black have changed in Black Sun as a reflection of demographic and political change.
About the Speaker
Dr. Sophia Staite’s PhD investigated the transcultural adaptation of Japanese superhero franchise Kamen Rider, focusing on the intersection between globalised media flows, local regulation of children’s television, and mediated cultural constructions of boyhood. In addition to her work for the University of Tasmania, Sophia has held positions at the University of Oita, Japan, the University of Sydney, the University of Queensland, and has recently returned from a visiting research fellowship at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität in Germany.
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