Emperor Tomato Ketchup: Some Reflections on Carnality and Politics

Ana Došen


Terayama Shuji is one of the most prominent Japanese avant-garde artists of the 20th century. This paper explores Terayama’s experimental film Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1971), dealing with children’s rebellion against (masculine) authority. With an apparent lack of conventional narrative, this 16mm tinted black and white feature, shot in documentary style, was filmed in public without permission, demonstrating the guerilla tactics of Terayama’s experimental approach. Reflecting the turbulent times of Japan’s 1960s, when the quest for reinvention of national identity was compellingly engaged both right and left, Emperor Tomato Ketchup illustrates a dystopian Japan where the brutal revolution of ‘innocent’ and immature takes place. The focus of this paper is on the notion of carnality and politics of postwar Japan, as film’s transgressive graphic content of pre-pubescent children’s sexual encounter with women can still be perceived as radical.


Article received: December 26, 2017; Article accepted: January 10, 2018; Published online: April 15, 2018; Original scholarly paper


How to cite this article: Došen, Ana. "Emperor Tomato Ketchup: Some Reflections on Carnality and Politics." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 15 (2018): 59–66. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i15.230


Terayama Shuji; Emperor Tomato Ketchup; children; carnality; politics; non-revolution

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i15.230


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