Department

Asian Studies

Publication Year

2010

Abstract

Current Japanese animation has shifted to present posthumanism as a formative tool towards the establishment of personal identity, rather than simply a utopian dream, or a nightmare of fear, which is in contrast with prior works of Japanese visual and print science fiction from the 1930's to 1990's, which depicted posthumanity as, at the least, ambiguous or even destructive towards human identity; this shift can be seen beginning with Japan's earliest science fiction works and is suggestive of a gradual acceptance and integration of the mechanical into the self.

Analysis of posthumanity in popular media in other parts of the word, namely the United States, shows posthumanism from a polarizing perspective of either, uncertainty and fear, or idealist fantasy, which suggest that America has yet to establish the same level of conceptual paradigm which has been achieved by the Japanese in the 21st century. From this analysis, it would seem as though the general trend of acceptance and affinity for posthumanity could be represented by an ascending linearity, the general trend is that humanity, especially Japan, is moving closer and closer to robots and identification with them as identity forming tools. This trend suggests a paradigm shift where ideological and cultural constructs are helping to move humans and machines closer together.

As opposed to most of the work that has been done in the study of animé, this thesis is an attempt to analyze new animé narratives which have had very little exposure in terms of academic study. It is not simply about putting robots, machines, or mecha on a pedestal, but is rather meant to decode the shifting portrayal of robots within popular culture and then try to understand how these shifts differ across borders, from the United States to Japan.

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