steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Orientalizing the West (Sakura again)

One of the interesting things about Cardcaptor Sakura, which I should have mentioned in my previous entry, is the way that England gets "orientalized". It's seen as a place of history, mystery and magic by the children in Tomoeda (a notably bland Japanese city - the American name is Readington, which captures this well!). Not only that, all the Clow Cards have English names - something that doesn't come across in the American version because they're speaking English anyway. How strange it is, listening to Sakura get her tongue round those difficult English words!

Of course, it's not really orientalism in the sense that Edward Said used the term because it comes without the colonial baggage, but although I've often seen England used in this way in American film and TV - history makes that inevitable - it's the first time I've come across this construction in Japan. Could it be that this attitude to England (not Britain, at least according to my subtitles) is a cultural import from America, like baseball? Watching it's a strange experience, anyway - and, considering how often "the mysterious East" has been used in the same way in this country, an enlightening peek into the funhouse mirror.
Tags: maunderings, nippon notes, real life
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