By S. Napier
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Additional info for Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation
Due to the episodic nature of television comedy there is far less emphasis on character development or an overall story line (although many might argue that Akira is not nearly as structured as an American science fiction or horror film would be). What is emphasized in Ranma 1/2 are certain comic tropes such as pursuit, mistaken identity, and usually amusing, sometimes poignant, character interaction. Popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the series is an imaginative comic romance that plays with gender (mis)identification through a fantasized form of transsexuality.
In this fantastic mode, ranging from science fiction to occult pornography, the body interrogates the dominant constructions of identity in modern society—be they gender-based or even human species-based. Some anime texts even go beyond the body to suggest new forms of identity. For example, the cyberpunk masterpieces Akira and Ghost in the Shell, while initially focusing on the metamorphic potential of the body, ultimately end up privileging the absence of the body. 6 The following chapters examine the transforming body within a variety of anime texts, from the martial arts comedy Ranma 1/2 and hardcore pornography of such works as La Blue Girl to classic mecha (robotic or technologically themed anime) like Ghost in the Shell.
Coded as the body orifice associated with excretion, the crater is a metonym for the status of the bikers and the mutants, children and adolescents necessary only as fodder for the industrial and scientific demands of their dystopian world. In many regards Tetsuo conforms well to Bukatman’s description of the outcast mutants of American comic books: “While they want to fit in, mutants know their birthright is to exist ‘outside’ the normative. ”16 This characterization is also appropriate for Tetsuo’s story as a whole, which is a classic example of the adolescent fascination with what Freud calls the “omnipotence of thought,”17 the ability to use psychic powers to change the world around oneself, a world that is seen as disappointing, rejecting, and dangerous.
Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation by S. Napier