Barbara Greene: “The Transition From Policy To Pop Culture”

Barbara Greene on agrarian nationalism in Japanese manga in the latest issue of the electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies:

Like Moyashimon, Gin no Saji is set at an agricultural school, although in Arakawa’s series it is a specialised prep school located in Hokkaido. Like the university in Moyashimon, the agricultural students are dedicated to becoming specialists in their field and demonstrate a wide breadth of technical knowledge. Agriculture, rather than a staid and unchanging industry and lifestyle, is again shown as dynamic and high-tech. Unlike Moyashimon, Gin no Saji has a lead character that can serve as the point-of-view perspective for readers who are unfamiliar with agriculture. The lead characters in Moyashimon are both the scions of long-standing sake and miso producers, but the lead in Gin no Saji is a first-generation agricultural student who had burned out of a traditional, elite prep school in Sapporo. This allows her to provide more exposition on the differences between daily life in rural and urban Japan that is glossed over in Moyashimon. But, both series strongly emphasise the emotional reward of this industry, particularly in an era where the tangible outcomes of labour are alienated from the worker.