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Sunday, September 21, 2008
The Yakuza Papers(1973)
The torrent download of Yakuza Papers is finally complete and I've been enjoying it thoroughly. They say this series of films is the Godfather of Japanese cinema. Brutal, fast and's about the post-war Japanese underworld:

During the post-War rationing, the yakuza controlled the black market much in line with traditional tekiya operations. At the same time, they also moved into controlling major sea ports as well as the entertainment industry. The biggest yakuza umbrella group, the Yamaguchi-gumi, emerged in the Kansai region, which had a large entertainment industry in the city of Osaka as well as a major sea port in Kobe. American occupation forces fought against them in vain and conceded defeat in 1950. Yakuza also adapted to a more western style, including wearing clothing reminiscent of US gangsters, and began to use firearms. At this point, tekiya and bakuto no longer confined themselves to their traditional activities and expanded into any venture they found profitable. At the same time gurentai began to adopt traditional roles of tekiya and bakuto. They also began to feud among themselves, jockeying for power and prestige.

In the 1960s, Yoshio Kodama, an ex-nationalist, began to negotiate treaties with various groups, first with the Yamaguchi-gumi of Kazuo Taoka and Tōsei-kai of Hisayuki Machii and eventually with the Inagawa-kai. Fights between individual gangs, however, are ongoing.

However, the history of the yakuza is not as simple as Bombay's "bhai" (the don/big brother) and the American spaghetti mobsters. It is almost as old as Japan itself:

Despite their notoriety in modern Japan, the precise origin of the Yakuza is still somewhat the subject of debate. The first historical interpretation of their derivation is from the hatamoto-yakko or Kabuki-mono of the 17th century Genroku Era,[2] who were derivative classes of the low-rank hatamoto, which resembled a quarter of the shogun.[3]

Other theories, suggested by the Yakuza members themselves claim their origins are from the machi-yokko, who policed villages by protecting them from the hatamoto-yakko that tried to steal from them, despite their being outmatched by the Hatamoto-yakko in training and strength. Despite their shortcomings, the machi-yakko were regarded as folk heroes similar to those in the stories of Robin Hood, with some groups being made the feature of plays and dramas.[4][5] The derivation from the hatamoto-yakko or Kabuki-mono known for their adoption of strange hair styles and outrageous dress manner refers to a relevant era of the Genroku Period in which kabuki plays, and onnagata were prominent.


5 Comments: Post a Comment
Blogger michael pulsford said ..

That sounds great! But where did you find the torrent? I looked for it on isohunt and couldn't find it.

2:00 PM 
Blogger michael pulsford said ..

Ah. Apologies: I didn't look very hard. Isohunt's usually pretty reliable and I got lazy. Found it now.

Thanks for the heads up, though! This appeals to the part of my brain that misses The Wire. I look forward to checking it out.


2:20 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said ..

I use for audio and video and textbooktorrents for well,....books!

isohunt sounds like I should give it a spin.

7:55 PM 
Blogger Mark said ..

I like this series a lot as well, though I do think The Godfather is a better film:P Anyway, the DVD set comes with a great organizational chart which helps make sense of all the families and other confusing Yakuza relationships. I found that helpful. I think my favorite of the series is the second (if only because that's the one that sticks out in my head the most).

2:06 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said ..

That must be helpful, I'm unable to keep track of who's in what family and who's a sworn brother etc. But then, I'm also watching these films while learning Japanese.

My teacher was concerned that I might start talking like the Yakuza. Not a bad idea...

12:21 AM