This website was developed by Sarah Bither '13 and Melissa Yang '14, DHi 2011-2012 CLASS Scholars.


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atosetsu: closing remarks after the film

bamen setsumei: surface setsumei that simply explains what the physical objects on the screen are (ex: “This is a lake”)

banzuke: a chart structured after the traditional Sumo wrestling ranking charts that ranks benshi performers. Charts can, for example, rank benshi locally or nationally or only rank the top performers

benshi (kaisetsusha, katsuben, kojoii, kojo katari, kojoya, setsumeisha): literally meaning “orator” or “speaker,” a performer who narrates silent films and acts out the dialogue

byosha: a style of setsumei that relies on personal impressions combined with a distant first-person narrative

diagesis: a narrative

expressionism: “to present the inner life of humanity rather than its outward appearance;” expressionist films focus on the symbolic and the subconscious (Anderson and Richie 54)

gendai-geki: modern drama

intertitle: a full-screen image of text inserted into the body of a film, usually to express dialogue or to explain the plot (Oxford English Dictionary)

jidai-geki: historical play, “period drama”

joji: a style of setsumei that focuses on giving detailed descriptions of what appears on the movie screen

jojo: a style of setsumei that is lyrical in quality and focuses on poetic phrasing and imagery

kage zerifu: another name for kowairo setsumei meaning “shadow dialogue” because the voice “dubbing” for the actors on screen comes from offstage, hidden in the shadows

kojo, kojo-ii: descriptive, lecture-like, introductory remarks about the film that eventually gave way to maesetsu

kowairo: a vocal style that benshi use to give voices to characters on screen. Literally means “voice coloring” and focuses on mimicry

maesetsu: introductory remarks during which the benshi explains the content of the film. Much more informal and entertaining than the lecture-style kojo

mandan: a monologue of random thoughts that demonstrates the mastery of a benshi’s oratorical skills by making “nothing” interesting. Made popular by Tokugawa Musei and Otsuji Shiro

matatabimono: “men’s weepies;” films that portray the man of action’s feelings and emotions; not simply about reaching an end goal but about emotional development (Standish 100)

mizuten: literally “doing without seeing,” when a benshi performs a film cold without previewing the film before going on stage

nakasetsu: setsumei during the film

nayamashikai: variety shows where benshi were able to show their faces to their fans

oyama: a male actor who plays female roles. Derived from kabuki theater tradition

rakugo: a vocal style that relies on humorous telling

setsumei: vocal narration of a film to “enhance the moving images” and “guide spectators through a film by helping them understand the action on the screen” (Dym 2)

setsumeishu: anthologies of benshi performers’ setsumei for certain films

shinpa-melodrama: “women’s weepies;” domestically produced dramas with contemporary settings

shomin-geki: home dramas