Published by Kaikai Kiki, Co., Ltd., Yale University Press, 2005
22.9 x 27.9 cm | 9 x 11 in
Hardcover, 312 pages
The project’s title, Little Boy, refers to the codename for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Murakami’s interpretation of Japan’s popular culture and graphic arts of the past three decades is rooted in his country’s memories of the war and in the evolution of Japan’s understanding of its postwar condition. In Murakami’s view, the specific historical events and processes that inform otaku culture include military aggression and defeat in the Pacific War (1932-1945); the devastation of the atomic bomb; Japan’s military and political dependence on the United States; and, the replacement of a traditional, hierarchical Japanese culture with a disposable consumer culture ostensibly produced for children and adolescents. The title also refers to the infantilization of the Japanese culture and mindset, evident in the fixation on cartoon imagery, “cute” products and young markets – a result, Murakami argues, of Japan’s economic and political dependence on the west. These unresolved conflicts, Little Boy suggests, are the explosive context of Japan’s pop culture.
Produced on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition at The Japan Society curated by Takashi Murakami, text courtesy of the Society. The show also included installation of artworks in New York City’s public spaces and mass transit system in Spring 2005.