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"From karaoke to manga, emoji to Pokémon, the creations of modern Japanese style have transformed that country and daily life around the world. Pure Invention is a delightful and highly informed view of the people, ideas, and insights behind this pop-cultural revolution." (James Fallows, author of China Airborne)

"Pure Invention is part careful ethnography, part insightful cultural history of the creative men and women who reimagined Japan in the postwar period. Matt Alt tells their backstories and illuminates the impact of their creations, from toy army jeeps stamped out of tin cans in the rubble of World War II to a torrent of anime streamed on Netflix. It’s difficult to imagine a more instructive or entertaining account of a fascinating place, people, and period." (Stephen Snyder, professor of Japanese studies at Middlebury College and translator of Yoko Ogawa's The Memory Police

"Hello Kitty and Pikachu didn't just wander into your house by accident. Maybe they snuck in while you were out crooning karaoke with Super Mario? Intriguing and insightful, Pure Invention hands readers a backdoor key to Japan's culture trend factory, whose offbeat creators remixed and reimagined the world right under our noses." (Alfred Birnbaum, translator of Haruki Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

“A kinetic canter through the social history of globalised Japanese culture.” (Peter Guest, Mekong Review)  

“As startlingly original as the inventions that it describes...Required reading for Japanophiles, this book reads like your most interesting anthropology textbook, weaving together interviews, anecdotes, and primary source material about some of Japan’s most iconic creations...People often ask me why, as an American, I'm so interested in Japanese culture. This book finally provides me with an answer." (Lauren Orsini, Forbes)  

“The rise of Japanese popular culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is an incredible story. Japan conquered hearts and minds with appealing objects and new sensibilities: kawaii characters, digital cultures, and new forms of personal identities. Alt tells this story with verve and panache, giving a comprehensive overview of Japan’s soft power that is informative, enlightening, and always entertaining.” (Susan Napier, professor of Japanese studies at Tufts University and author of Miyazakiworld)  

“A masterful exploration of a history, a people and a culture that have shaped our use of technology, our conception of storytelling, and our fascination with Kitties named ‘Hello.'" (The Irish Times)   

“Deep, engaging...A savvy study of Japan’s wide influence in ways both subtle and profound.” (Kirkus Reviews)  

あらすじ・解説

The untold story of how Japan became a cultural superpower through the fantastic inventions that captured - and transformed - the world's imagination.

“A masterful book driven by deep research, new insights, and powerful storytelling.” (W. David Marx, author of Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style

The Walkman. Karaoke. Pikachu. Pac-Man. Akira. Emoji. We've all fallen in love with one or another of Japan’s pop-culture creations, from the techy to the wild to the super-kawaii. But as Japanese media veteran Matt Alt proves in this brilliant investigation of Tokyo's pop-fantasy complex, we don't know the half of it. Japan's toys, gadgets, and imaginary worlds didn’t merely entertain. They profoundly transformed the way we live. 

In the 1970s and '80s, Japan seemed to exist in some near future, gliding on the superior technology of Sony and Toyota while the West struggled to catch up. Then, a catastrophic 1990 stock-market crash ushered in the "lost decades" of deep recession and social dysfunction. The end of the boom times should have plunged Japan into irrelevance, but that’s precisely when its cultural clout soared - when, once again, Japan got to the future a little ahead of the rest of us. 

Hello Kitty, the Nintendo Entertainment System, and multimedia empires like Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z were more than marketing hits. Artfully packaged, dangerously cute, and dizzyingly fun, these products made Japan the forge of the world's fantasies, and gave us new tools for coping with trying times. They also transformed us as we consumed them - connecting as well as isolating us in new ways, opening vistas of imagination and pathways to revolution. Through the stories of an indelible group of artists, geniuses, and oddballs, Pure Invention reveals how Japanese ingenuity remade global culture and may have created modern life as we know it. It's Japan’s world; we’re just gaming, texting, singing, and dreaming in it.

©2020 Matt Alt (P)2020 Random House Audio

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  • 総合評価
    5 out of 5 stars
  • ナレーション
    5 out of 5 stars
  • ストーリー
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Stone Island Jazz
  • 2021/02/17

Great book for people interested in Japan

I've seen Matt Alt as sometimes goofy co-host of Japanology Plus series with Peter Barakan. Was not sure what to expect from Matt, however I was very positively surprised. Great insights into Japanese culture from a person who lived in Japan from many years and clearly in love with the culture of the country, its people and someone to wants to share his passion and interest with the world.

  • 総合評価
    5 out of 5 stars
  • ナレーション
    5 out of 5 stars
  • ストーリー
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 匿名
  • 2020/12/24

A wonderful exploration into Japanese pop culture

Pure Invention does a great job of exploring the post war history of Japanese pop culture and how it influenced the western hemisphere. I was raised on Nintendo and anime and knew a lot of the trivia that this book presented. Matt Alt, however, did a wonderful job of tying the creation of lots of my favorite toys to the economic and cultural milestones of two nations on the opposite sides of the world.

  • 総合評価
    5 out of 5 stars
  • ナレーション
    5 out of 5 stars
  • ストーリー
    5 out of 5 stars
  • The Brotendo
  • 2020/12/19

Informative, intriguing and enjoyable

I loved the amount of details Mr. Alt puts into this. it starts right after world war ii and even the toys and pop culture stuff I don't know is presented in a very fascinating way. I wholeheartedly recommend this audio book to anyone interested in Japanese culture or just pop culture. it's much more intertwined than anime.

  • 総合評価
    5 out of 5 stars
  • ナレーション
    5 out of 5 stars
  • ストーリー
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Trenton Butler
  • 2020/12/10

Great insight into pop culture!

It got a little political near the end, but the overall audio book was fantastic. Learned a lot for my cartooning career and just for leisure.

  • 総合評価
    5 out of 5 stars
  • ナレーション
    4 out of 5 stars
  • ストーリー
    5 out of 5 stars
  • C. Hawkins
  • 2020/12/10

Japan as Herald and Harbinger of Postcpitalism

I had heard Matt Alt on the Retronauts podcast and thought I would give this a try. I was surprised well-told and researched this book is. While I knew some of this, a lot of the story was new to me. The central thesis, that Japan's rapid industrialization post WWII led to innovations and ills that would come to dominate western society, was new and very convincing.

  • 総合評価
    2 out of 5 stars
  • ナレーション
    4 out of 5 stars
  • ストーリー
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Niveus
  • 2020/08/30

Why involve politics?

The book is a good listen on Japan's history of innovation. Most topics are factual and well researched, until the very end where the author's political stance became very clear.