Dym, Jeffrey A.
About the author: Jeffrey Dym is an Assistant Professor of History and the Director of Asian Studies at California State University, Sacramento. He earned his PhD in Japanese History from the University of Hawaii, Manoa. He is currently researching Japanese kamishibai (paper play) performers.2003 0-7734-6648-7
This research fills an important lacuna in Japanese cultural history and film history. During the early decades of motion pictures, film exhibitors worldwide experimented with having entertainers sit next to the screen to provide commentary and dialogue. Though this never caught on in the West, in Japan, the narrators (benshi) became an integral part of motion picture history, creating the unique narrative art of setsumei. This work details the history of both benshi and setsumei, placing them within the cultural milieu of early 20th century Japan.