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Pure Invention How Japan's Pop Culture Conquered the World (Hardcover)

5 star rating out of 5
3 Reviews
SKU: 9781984826695

Retail Price: $27.99

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About Pure Invention How Japan's Pop Culture Conquered the World (Hardcover)

Pure Invention: How Japan's Pop Culture Conquered the World was written by Matt Alt and is presented in this Hardcover edition.

The Walkman. Karaoke. Pikachu. Pac-Man. Akira. Emoji. We’ve all fallen in love with one or another of Japan’s pop-culture creations, from the techy to the wild to the super-kawaii. But as Japanese media veteran Matt Alt proves in this brilliant investigation of Tokyo’s pop-fantasy complex, we don’t know the half of it. Japan’s toys, gadgets, and fantasy worlds didn’t merely entertain. They profoundly transformed the way we live.

In the 1970s and ’80s, Japan seemed to exist in some near future, soaring on the superior technology of Sony and Toyota while the West struggled to catch up. Then a catastrophic 1990 stock-market crash ushered in the “lost decades” of deep recession and social dysfunction. The end of the boom times should have plunged Japan into irrelevance, but that’s precisely when its cultural clout soared—when, once again, Japan got to the future a little ahead of the rest of us.

Hello Kitty, the Nintendo Entertainment System, and entertainment empires like Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z were more than marketing hits. Artfully packaged, dangerously cute, and dizzyingly fun, these products made Japan the forge of the world’s fantasies, and gave us new tools for coping with trying times. They also transformed us as we consumed them—connecting as well as isolating us in new ways, opening vistas of imagination and pathways to revolution. Through the stories of an indelible group of artists, geniuses, and oddballs, Pure Invention reveals how Japanese ingenuity remade global culture and may have created modern life as we know it. It’s Japan’s world; we’re just gaming, texting, singing, and dreaming in it.


  • Publisher: CROWN
  • Media: Specialty Books and Magazines
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Themes: Historical
  • Age Rating: ALL
  • Release Date: 6/23/2020
  • Page Count: 368
  • Dimensional Weight: 2

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Ratings & Reviews

3 reviews

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5 star rating out of 5

One to get


I just finished this one. Matt has done a great job documenting the expansion of Japanese pop culture from the mid 20th century to today. I rate books on how much I learned form them and this one I rate highly.

5 star rating out of 5

Modern History In These Pages


I loved Matt Alt's research, dedication and reliance on his peers to create this book. Alt's personal experience is written in it but you have to look for it like an easter egg in a video game. I would recommend this book as a resource to a university class on Japanese Popular Culture and Japanese Modern History (1945-2020).

5 star rating out of 5

The history of all we love as geeks


As a massive and unabashed fan of all the things that this book talks about, I confess I can't be completely objective about it. But anyone should be able to agree that Alt does his homework in researching the history behind the country and the things he writes about. Its information is well-researched and detailed. Presented in such a way that it reads like you're having a conversation with those that lived through it. Which in most cases, you do this through Alt interviewing them.
It's pretty incredible to see things laid out in such a way that the inevitability of Japan's pop culture spreading is so obvious. I guess hindsight is important here and there might be some skewing of facts to help the hypothesis, but I respect Alt for the massive amounts of research that went into this. He's created a timeline of the way that seemingly purely Japanese inventions have saturated the Western world and made it that much more interesting.