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By Any Other Name: Theorising the Posthuman in Japanese Animation Timothy Iles University of Victoria The Question: What is at root of the apparent affinity Japanese animation has for themes of technology, science, and communication between human and non-human forms of existence?
Posthuman in Japanese Animation
University of Victoria
Further, why is animation so popular as a form of film production in Japan?
• Aspects of Japanese philosophy and spirituality, growing from Shinto and its attitudes towards the self, the community, and the natural and spirit worlds, have influenced the popularity of animated (science fiction) films in Japan.
• Japanese philosophical and spiritual influences can contribute to this emerging, ‘western’ attitude toward technology and can allow it to overcome its inherent anthropocentrism
• Human beings have always been dependent upon technology for survival, prosperity, and for self-definition
• Human agency, identity, and subjectivity are distributed and do not reside in the individual: the individual is but one facet of the processes themselves which collectively become “agency,” “identity,” and “subjectivity.”
Oshii Mamoru, 1995
• Postulates the presence of kami, deities, in all awe-inspiring things.
• kami (which number in the millions), are responsible for watching over human communities, but they also require human assistance and support.
• Shinto postulates an easy accessibility to the spirit world—not necessarily an easy entrance, per se, but an easy communication, through prayer, offering, festival, or even direct speech.
• “Shinto maintains that human beings are internally related to kami and without this relation people would not be what they are. The other side is just as important: it is in the inherent nature of kami to be interdependent and intimately connected with the world, including human beings” (Kasulis, 2004: 17).
• Kami are accessible because of the community which binds them to humankind.
Miyazaki Hayao, 1988
Miyazaki Hayao, 2001
We know that they are… projections of drawings on a screen.
We know that they are… ‘miracles’ and tricks of technology, that such beings don’t really exist.
But at the same time:
We sense them as alive.
We sense them as moving, as active.
We sense them as existing and even thinking! (Eisenstein)