A Rose by Any Other Name May Smell Different

Why Are the Japanese Titles of Shakespearean Films So Odd?

in Critical Survey
Kitamura Sae Musashi University, Tokyo, Japan

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Using William Shakespeare's name is considered helpful for marketing films in English-speaking regions because of the authority that this name wields. This article reveals a different marketing landscape in Japan, where film distribution companies are indifferent to associations with Shakespeare. For example, when Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus (2011) was released in Japanese cinemas, it was retitled The Proof of the Hero; the Shakespearean association was deliberately erased from the Japanese title. Such a marketing policy should be situated within a wider trend of promoting non-Japanese films in Japan. It is possible to point out three major reasons: the unpopularity of American comedy films, the relative unpopularity of theatre, and Japanese distributors’ heavily localised marketing policies, which are often criticised by fans on social media.

Contributor Notes

Kitamura Sae is Associate Professor of English Literature at Musashi University, Tokyo. She obtained her PhD at King's College London in 2013. She is interested in incorporating women's history and fan studies into Shakespeare studies. Her recent publications include ‘The Curious Incident of Shakespeare Fans in NTLive: Public Screenings and Fan Culture in Japan’, in Shakespeare and the ‘Live’ Theatre Broadcast Experience, ed. Pascale Aebischer, Susanne Greenhalgh and Laurie Osborne (Bloomsbury Arden, 2018), 177–184; and ‘Shakespeare for Women? Margaret Cavendish and Judith Drake on Seventeenth-Century Theatre, Pleasure and Education’, The Journal of the Wooden O 16–17 (2018), 109–137.

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