JAP2501 – Japanese Contemporary Society Through Film and Animation

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

This course examines Japan’s postwar and contemporary society on the basis of Japanese film and animation. The classes are divided into two parts. The first part consists of screenings of both major and relatively unknown feature films, documentaries and anime from the 1950s up until the present day, by leading or representative authors such as Ozu Yasujirō, Miyazaki Hayao, Kurosawa Akira, Hara Kazuo, Ōtomo Katsuhiro, Kawase Naomi, and others. In the second part we will position the screened works within the various distinct periods of Japan’s postwar history and, on the basis of the screenings and the related readings, discuss issues such as:

  • family and gender
  • depopulation and ageing
  • center and periphery
  • economy and environment
  • rule and opposition
  • immigration and minorities
  • war memory and national identity
  • man and machine

Learning outcome

  • You will gain a deep understanding of some of the issues that are central to postwar and contemporary Japanese society.
  • On the basis of the readings, the lectures and the discussions, you will become familiar with various views and interpretations of these social, political, economic and intellectual issues.
  • You will learn to reflect upon these issues in a critical and comparative way.
  • You will develop your academic writing and discussion skills.
  • You will be trained to analyze a film.
  • You will also become familiar with a dozen core works of contemporary Japanese cinema and animation.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Recommended previous knowledge

The course requires good knowledge of English. The course is conducted in English. There will be English subtitles to the screenings, and the related readings will also be in English.

The course JAP1501 – Present-Day Japan provides helpful background information.


Teaching is in the form of 1 film screening and 1 lecture with discussion every week over 12 weeks. The lecture and discussion are based on the screening and the related readings. Active participation in discussions is required. The basis for this will be the screening and the texts prepared in advance.

Obligatory activities

  • Attendance to at least 10 of 12 lectures. The screenings are not obligatory for those who have already seen the film or animation.
  • An outline of the final paper.
  • A related list of sources.
  • A qualifying assignment.

The obligatory attendance is valid for the next two semesters that the course is taught. The outline, list of sources and qualifying assignment is only valid for one semester.

All obligatory qualifying assignments must be approved in order to qualify for the exam. It is the student’s responsibility to keep track of any absence from class, and to check whether or not the compulsory activities are approved. 

This is how you apply for valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


The examination is a 10-page essay (approx. 2300 characters per page, excluding space), not including list of references. 

The essay will discuss an issue related to modern and/or contemporary Japan on the basis of an analysis of film(s) and/or animation(s). In principle you should not analyse the films and animations that have already been analysed in class, or at least not in an identical manner.

The obligatory activities must be approved in order to sit for the exam. Please see "Teaching" for more information.

Grading guidelines

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

English or Norwegian

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Periodic evaluation Spring 2012

Periodic evaluation Spring 2019

Facts about this course






Every other spring starting 2023


Every other spring starting 2023

Teaching language