Japanamerica March 13, 2009Posted by jr4024 in anime, cultre, manga.
Tags: cyborgian, Evocative Objects, gedered cyborg, Hentai, Japan, united states, walt disney
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The reading that we had on Japanamerica was very interesting because I feel that the United States and Japan are countries that tend to often be compared when it comes to power, marketing, and who is ahead in the industry. Although the states may have a ‘cyborgian’ mix culture where we work together in terms of production, I do not think of our relationship with Japan as one of simple friendship. In fact, I find it obvious that there are many times when Japan and America butt heads when it comes to norms such as sexy vs. cute, emphasis on violence vs. emphasis of the consequences of violence, grudges from World War II, and opinions based on form of education.
On the topic of anime and manga, I find it funny that America does not want to market certain types of anime because of their content. In the United States, we deal with the many disturbing situations where we blame the media and video games, and I don’t seem to hear of men in Japan sexually abusing a tree or octopus. Although I do not agree with all of the raping situations, if they made it so the woman wanted it, then I would side more with the Japanese. The biggest kick out of all this is the fact that in Japanese culture, where their minds are supposedly ‘always in the gutter’ and highly disturbed, it is in America where women are the most exploited/subjugated to daily oppression. In the reading, it mentioned that women are rarely seen as the sexual objects they play in anime. It states that these fantasies are strictly related to imagination and creativity, and I find that very interesting.
Another fun fact in the reading was the anime artists’ inspiration of Walt Disney. In relation to porn, I immediately thought of all of the sexual innuendos that are in Disney’s films. I did not notice these until recently, yet although hidden, Disney productions should be ashamed of themselves hiding pornographic messages/images in “classic, children’s movies.”
Lastly, I know I am running out of space, but I wanted to mention a few things about the other readings. In Evocative Objects, I found that the story of Murray the stuffed bunny was interesting with its aspect of creator/creation. In addition, the Ford Falcon seemed to have crossed dimensions when she took her physical experience, applied her mental images, and created a website where the falcon crossed into cyberspace. Last but not least, the text in the Gendered Cyborg was thought-provoking with their concept of the woman becoming a model of the perfect machine. To play devil’s advocate, doesn’t the man machine also produce a stereotype that men are supposed to be strong, intelligent, and quick-thinkers? I know that the ideas of reproduction and motherhood have a lot of significance, but I just wanted to throw that out there.
Week Long Anime Events @ HWS: Pop Culture from a Multipolar Japan with Roland Kelts February 24, 2009Posted by animatingthecyborg in anime, comics, culture, film, manga.
Tags: Anthony Weintraub, campus events, Grave of the Fireflies, Pop Culture from a Multipolar Japan, roland kelts, Tekkonkinkreet
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Monday, March 2, Sanford Room, 6:30 p.m. Animé Film, Grave of the Fireflies
Taking place toward the end of World War II in Japan, Grave of the Fireflies is the poignant tale of two orphaned children, Seita and his younger sister Setsuko, who try to survive amidst widespread famine and the callous indifference of their countrymen. Some critics consider it one of the most powerful anti-war movies ever made. Animation historian Ernest Rister compares the film to Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and says, “it is the most profoundly human animated film I’ve ever seen.”
Panel discussion follows film with Professors Les Friedman, Lisa Yoshikawa and Leah Shafer, and students.
Tuesday, March 3, Sanford Room, 6:30 p.m. Animé Film, Tekkonkinkreet
Tekkonkinkreet centers on a pair of orphaned street kids – the tough, canny Kuro (Black) and the childish but mysteriously intuitive Shiro (White) – as they deal with Yakuza attempting to take over Takara Machi (Treasure Town). Tekkonkinkreet is a pun on “tekkin concrete,” the Japanese term for reinforced concrete; it suggests the opposition of the concrete city against the strength of imagination. This film won the 2008 Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, the Grand Prix award at the Anima 2008 festival, the prestigious Best Film Award at the 2006 Mainichi Film Awards, and was named the number one film of 2006 in the annual “Best of” roundup by the New York Museum of Modern Art’s Artforum magazine.
Panel discussion follows with screenwriter Anthony Weintraub, and Japanamerica author Roland Kelts.
Wednesday, March 4, Geneva Room, 7:30 p.m. Pop Culture from a Multipolar Japan, Roland Kelts
Is there something more to the U.S.’s fascination with Japanese animé and manga? How are animé films and manga comics cultural channeling zones, opened by the horrors of war and disaster and animated by the desire to assemble a world of new looks, feelings and identities?
Professor at the University of Tokyo, Sophia University and the University of the Sacred Heart Tokyo, Roland Kelts addresses the movement of Japanese culture into the West as sign and symptom of broader reanimations. With uncertainty now the norm, style, he argues, is trumping identity, explaining, in part, the success of Japanese pop and fashion, design and cuisine in the West. As Western mindsets encounter a rapid decline in longstanding binaries – good/evil, woman/man, black/white – Japan’s cultural narratives evolve in borderless, unstable worlds where characters transform, morality is multifaceted, and endings inconclusive. Animation allows an aesthetic freedom wherein these transformations and gender ambiguity may be given fuller play than in live action films. Nothing appears fixed. No surprise, perhaps, argues Kelts, coming from the only people to have suffered the immediate transformations of two atomic bombs and the instant denigration of their supreme polar father: the Japanese Emperor. Author of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the US, Kelts is also a contributing writer and editor for A Public Space and Adbusters magazines, and a columnist for The Daily Yomiuri. His articles have appeared in The Village Voice, Newsday, Cosmopolitan, Vogue and The Japan Times. He is the editor in chief of Animé Masterpieces, an anime lecture and screening series. Kelts divides his time between New York and Tokyo.
Films, panels and lecture are co-sponsored by Comparative Literature, Media and Society, The Young Memorial Trust for International Peace and Understanding, and Animé Central, and presented in association with Anime Masterpieces, a project of Gorgeous Entertainment.
Join us for a roundtable discussion session with Roland Kelts on Thursday 8:45-10:10 in the Fisher Center, Demarest 212.
Tags: Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse, Echo, Gunslinger Girl, reprogrammable girl, Whedon
I know there are a few Whedonphiles out there in the class, so maybe some of you have heard about his new show Dollhouse. The first episode aired on Friday night, but if you want to see it and have no moral scruples about illegal viewing, you can find the first episode, entitled Ghost, here.
Without spoiling anything- Dollhouse is about a group of people known as Actives or Dolls, who have had their minds, memories, and personalities wiped and can be reprogrammed with new memories or skills for various assignments. These new personalities are not fabricated out of thin air, but are actually amalgamations of various people’s personalities. Each Doll is monitored by a Handler and in between their Tasks, lives in the “Dollhouse” in a brainwashed state. The show follows one particular Doll named Echo, and descriptions of the show have implicated that she will become more self aware as the season progresses.
This show reminded me a lot of the anime/manga Gunslinger Girl, where young girls who have been critically injured are upgraded and brainwashed to work for the Italian Government as secret ass kicking agents. Each girl also has a Handler, always an older male agent, who oversees her training. He is allowed to use any methods that he sees fit, and all the girls are brainwashed to give them unquestioning loyalty. I have only read the first couple issues of the manga, so I’m not entirely sure how the series develops/deals with the issue of cyborg self awareness.
What really struck me in these two examples is the idea of the Reprogrammable Girl. Although there are male “Dolls”, the show’s main character, Echo, is female. In each example, new desires and possibilities are being mapped onto a female body. I would argue that this is not just a sexual fantasy, but something more. Yes, Echo is hot, but that doesn’t account for the fantasy of endless capabilities, of being able to manipulate/upgrade the human body and mind to do anything you want it to- cyborg possibilities. What is it about the female body, or perhaps rather the idea of femininity, that animates this fantasy? (And with Gunslinger Girl, we could also ask this question, not only about the operatives gender, but with their youth as well.) Perhaps it has something to do with the instability of Gender as a social category and ideas about performativity and control. These agents are given powers and abilities which change and challenge the idea of what a woman is, become more then traditional gender roles would ascribe to them. But they also are forced to perform their gender more fully, through their sexiness, their clothes, and additionally through constant brainwashing and reprogramming. Yet this constant brainwashing and reprogramming does not always work, as I think we will see in Dollhouse with Echo becoming self aware.
This idea of female cyborgs stepping out and their ability to exceed their programming and dodge brainwashing can be seen in Battlestar Galactica with the Cylon characters Caprica Six, and Sharon “Boomer” Valerii. I am woefully behind in my BSG viewing, so if my comparison is already outdated I apologize. In Season 2, each of them is reborn with all of these attachments to humanity. Because they have become individuals in a collective society, they are going to be “boxed” or have their personities laid to rest so that they can never be reborn, but last I watched they were attempting to persuade the cylons to negotiate for peace with the last of the humans. Out of all of the cylon models that we are introduced to, it is only these two characters that rebel, these two female characters.
Thoughts anyone? I know that was a bit of a ramble…