Comparing horror production in Japan to the USA.
"Even if one is interested only in one's own society, which is one's prerogative, one can understand that society much better by comparing it with others."
-- Peter L. Berger
When we took it upon ourselves to create a visualization, more precisely graph, that would instantly present the evolution of the most popular horror genres throughout recent history, we understood that we had a lot of data mining to do. This is because we were going to have to find all American – and Japanese horror movies produced since 1980 and categorize them by subgenre. As you can imagine, that’s a lot of work.
It should be said that the data we present is not be a hundred percent correct. Of course there might be low budget movies that the internet doesn’t know about, nor were all the movies genre immediately written out. We had to watch movie trailers, read recaps or wade through the internet in search of information that would inform us about a movie’s specific genre or genres. It was a tiring experience but by strategically dividing the work we eventually found our numbers to be able to compare these two parts of the world and their movies of the horror type.
Without further ado, we present our research about the eastern part of the world:
It is evident that “gore & disturbing” was a popular genre in the year 1980 until 1989 with roughly 45% of horror movies having it as genre . This genre gets to bite the dust when the 1990s come around. The paranormal genre gains in popularity with around 50%. In the years 2000 until 2009 the paranormal genre is still the most popular one, but it dropped to 40% of total production. Finally, to no one’s surprise, the most popular genre in the years 2010-2019 was - yet again - the paranormal genre. However, it dropped in numbers again, now to a solid 35%. The psychological genre also seems to be more popular in the 21st century and together with the monster genre it even makes up for half of horror movie production in the past 10 years, while in the 80’s they both only covered 13% of production. Why this change? We don’t really know for sure but we suspect it’s due to the advancement of CGI technology and people fearing the unknown more these days whereas in the past what scared people most was being cut to pieces.
Now how do these numbers compare to its american counterpart? When we decided to produce these graphs, it was with the intention of finding out how Japan’s horror scene evolved in a society that would be able to increasingly connect more efficiently to the rest of the world. This, obviously, due to the invention of the internet and how its applications evolved over the last decades. The next graph represents the USA’s horror movie production evolution by genre over the past 40 years.
As opposed to japanese horror industry the Killer genre (which mostly refers to slasher films) was immensely popular in the 80’s with a staggering 27% of total horror production. The runner up would be the Monster genre consisting of about 23% of production. an interesting remark would be that during our research whenever we came upon the Monster genre we also found that a lot of these movies would have a comedy element to them. This may be the result of the rising popularity of horror parodies that focused mainly on the monster subgenre. Even though the Killer subgenre becomes less present over the years it is still fair to note that it is way more present in the industry than it is in Japan.
In the 90’s there seems to be a rise in the paranormal subgenre up to 40%. This may be related to the popularity of topics around the devil, possession but also satanic cults which are very present in America. The monster genre still remain at the same position which is around 25%.
In the early 21st century slasher movies make a small comeback but they would take a dive (again) a decade later. The paranormal subgenre, which had formerly increased in popularity in the 90’s, took a small hit in this decade but they would again rise in popularity during 2010-2019.
What is interesting to american horror production is that the Monster genre stays relatively dominant throughout 40 years whereas in Japan is was nearly absent in the 80’s and grew to the same dominance in the past 10 years consisting of roughly a fourth of all horror production.
The science fiction genre is present in both parts of the world with its peak in the 90’s and slowly deteriorating after that. In Japan it even completely disappeared.
Psychological horror movies also increases in both scenes but it became more dominant in Japan than it is in the USA.
We conclude our research by noting that even though the Meiji Restoration launched great change over a country that was formerly so different in almost every way to western society and the internet with all its applications opened even more doors to uniformisation of the world, based on our research on horror production, both parts of the world have similarities but also differences we so heartedly embrace. Even though Japan is very modernised, it is still so different to other modern countries in the world because they embrace their culture and spread it all over the world. And this is why we love Japan.