New Bass Harp post

On this day in 1949, UNNO Juuza died. He was the father of modern Japanese science fiction.

Like most "father of X-ese science fiction" figures worldwide, he didn't just write sf. He also wrote mysteries, adventures, magical realism, and I recently discovered that he even wrote scripts for radio plays about schoolkids. And so I decided to translate one of them.

This radio play was broadcast in 1938, which was before Japan drew America into the Pacific war -- but they had already been occupying Manchuria for years, and Korea for decades. And Unno wasn't exactly a conscientious objector, either -- he wrote military sf during the war and was in the navy himself. It was apparently a great shock to him when Japan lost.

So, although I haven't done painstaking research into his life, I'd suggest that we can reasonably assume that the uncritically nationalistic elements in his work -- including this play -- are expressions of his personal beliefs, rather than, say, attempts to undermine and satirise the political movements of the day.

I'm posting Act 1 today. It's like a weird cross between 1930s nationalist sloganeering and an Enid Blighton boarding-school story. (Ironically, the part that seems the most immediately shocking today -- the bit right at the start where students in the background tease each other about their skin color -- is, as far as I can tell, the most innocent; the idea of the Japanese as a single, unique race was very much in effect in 1938, so it's about standards of beauty rather than race. I believe that a modern equivalent in English-speaking countries might be teasing someone for having a goofy-looking chin, or red hair and freckles.)

Act 2 will come tomorrow, and Act 3 on Thursday (They aren't really connected to each other.)

Popularity factor: 0

Comment season is closed.