Japanese Film History and the Challenges of IMAGICA WEST Corp.

Authored by: Kanta Shibata

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Cinema

Print publication date:  August  2020
Online publication date:  August  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138685529
eBook ISBN: 9781315534374
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter takes a fresh look at Japanese film history from the vantage point of IMAGICA WEST (now IMAGICA Lab. Inc.), the only independent commercial lab still in operation that traces its origin back to the pre-World War II era. I use the term independent commercial lab to refer to film processing companies that can stay profitable while operating independently from any specific film studio, production company, or film archive, handling professional-grade 16 mm and 35 mm motion picture negative film, master positives, dupe negatives, and release prints that are still widely used today. By anchoring my study on an independent commercial lab and its changing business model that evolved with key technological innovations such as sound film and color processing, it is my aim to provide an alternative understanding of the familiar narrative of film history that is punctuated by iconic film titles and key directors.

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