Rashomon The Rashōmon Effect

Since Akira Kurosawa's 1950 filmic adaptation of "In a Grove" which borrows its setting from "Rashōmon,” the popularity of mutually contradictory accounts of a single event has blown up in many different fields. This concept was coined as "The Rashōmon Effect.” Of course, the term is credited to the film, but the effect is also present in Akutagawa's original short story.

First published in an essay on the politics of journalism for Theaterwork Magazine in 1982 by Valerie Alia, this term can be found in fiction as well as the real world. It is a useful term for journalists and lawyers studying the nature of truth and truth-telling in journalism.

In Karl G. Heider's seminal studies in ethnography, he uses the term to account for the subjectivity of perception on recollection - an idea universal enough to find itself in fields as far away from film as physics and philosophy.

However, the Rashōmon effect was also extremely popular in films, plays, TV shows, and other short stories as well. To name a few: Gone Girl, Talvar, Batman: The Animated Series, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Arrested Development, Happy Days, The Simpsons, Star Trek, and many others have alluded to the effect.

Image: "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" - The Simpsons, TV show