Tokyo Cyberpunk: Posthumanism in Japanese Visual Culture

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Engaging some of the most ground-breaking and thought-provoking anime, manga, and science fiction films, Tokyo Cyberpunk offers insightful analysis of Japanese visual culture. Steven T. Brown draws new conclusions about electronically mediated forms of social interaction, as well as specific Japanese socioeconomic issues, all in the context of globalization and advanced capitalism. Penetrating and nuanced, this book makes a major contribution to the debate about what it means to be human in a posthuman world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Brown makes a highly important contribution to Japanese visual studies as a whole . . . An enjoyable and eminently readable text . . . It will be very much at home in Japanese studies courses focused on film, anime, and popular culture, as well as film and cultural studies courses focused on science fiction, technology, and posthumanism." - The Journal of Asian Studies

"It should prove of use to specialists in film studies and Japanese culture . . . Recommended." - CHOICE

"A welcome exploration of science fiction within 'Japanese visual culture' . . . Tokyo Cyberpunk is an exciting study that is at its best when it considers the transcultural theoretical value of Japanese visual culture. Its detailed bibliography makes it ideal for university library collections, as well as for teachers and researchers who are interested in the expansion and further complication of the existing work on sf, transnational cultural studies, and critical posthumanism." - Science Fiction Studies

"Tokyo Cyberpunk is hugely inspiring, precisely for the liberating effects of Brown's stance - which runs counter to the totalitarian, monolithic approach of most (or virtually all) film studies, be they historical or monographic. To anyone who has ever felt the slightest sense of amazement at Akira's epic post-apocalyptic visions, the merest excitement at Tetsuo's metallic mutations, or seen a glint of wonder reflected off a gynoid's glistening frame, this is a book that will make the synapses work overtime, providing total recall of that original moment and amplifying it a thousandfold. To anyone with the slightest interest in the power and potential of science fiction, Tokyo Cyberpunk is essential reading." - Tom Mes,

"Tokyo Cyberpunk is one of the best works I have ever read on Japanese popular culture. In fact, I would place it as one of the best works on recent popular culture in general that I have read. The topics are fascinating, important, and wide ranging. The analysis is thorough, imaginative, and sophisticated without being over-jargonated and unapproachable. The book is a genuine pleasure to read - stimulating, informative and even eye-opening at particular moments, when the author works through a wide and sometimes seemingly disparate variety of sources to open up a particular icon of cyberpunk (or should I say simply 'contemporary'?) culture." - Susan Napier, Professor of Japanese Studies, Tufts University and author of From Impressionism to Anime: Japan as Fantasy and Fan Cult in the Mind of the West

"Strikingly original in its conception, Tokyo Cyberpunk engages with critical rigor and artistic insight some of the most challenging Japanese live-action and animated films that interrogate the contours of an increasingly technologized humanity. Brown pushes his analyses past usual domestic readings into new transnational matrixes of meaning. Tsukamoto Shinya's cyberpunk classic Tetsuo: The Iron Man is recast in productive relationships within a globalized media environment that includes Fritz Lang's Metropolis and David Cronenberg's Videodrome in a way that compels us to watch all of these films (again) with deeper understanding and appreciation; Oshii Mamoru's Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence is unpacked within a transnational grammar and dialogue of the posthuman from the dolls of Hans Bellmer to the cyborgs of Donna Haraway while Brown's treatment of Oshii's often overlooked Avalon opens up penetrating and timely discussions on the differences between analog and digital film and diminishing border between live-action versus anime. Informed but not overburdened by critical theory and committed to a transnational frame without ignoring local social contexts,Tokyo Cyberpunkpropels the reader on new lines of flight through contemporary Japanese visual media that peers just over the edge of our present." - Gerald Figal, Associate Professor of History and East Asian Studies, Vanderbilt University and author of Civilization and Monsters: Spirits of Modernity in Meiji Japan

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230103603
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 8/3/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 979,186
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven T. Brown is the Director of Japanese Studies and Professor of Japanese Film & Popular Culture at the University of Oregon. He is the author of Theatricalities of Power: The Cultural Politics of Noh, the editor of Cinema Anime, and the co-editor of Performing Japanese Women, a special issue of the feminist journal Women & Performance.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Posthumanism after AKIRA 1

Reading Rhizomatically 3

Machinic Desires, Desiring Machines, and Consensual Hallucinations 10

Part I Machinic Desires: Hans Bellmer's Dolls and the Technological Uncanny in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence 13

An Overview of Innocence 14

"Once their strings are cut, they easily crumble" 23

From Puppets to Automata 29

The Uncanny Mansion 32

The Dolls of Hans Bellmer 36

Bellmer/Oshii 44

On the Innocence of Dolls, Angels, and Becoming-Animal 50

Part II Desiring Machines: Biomechanoid Eros and Other Techno-Fetishes in Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Its Precursors 55

The Birth of Sexy Robots 56

After Metropolis, Before Tetsuo: Un chien andalou 60

Giger's Biomechanoids, Erotomechanics, and Metal Fetishists 64

The "Regular-Size" Monsters of Matango 71

Mutating from the Inside Out: The Fly 72

"Long Live the New Flesh": Videodrome 79

The Tentacle Motif from Hokusai to Tetsuo 93

Envisioning the Machine-City after Blade Runner 99

Confrontations with the Salaryman Model: Resisting Hegemonic Masculinity and State-Sponsored Capitalism 105

Coda: Co-opting Tetsuo in Tetsuo II: Body Hammer 109

Part III Consensual Hallucinations and the Phantoms of Electronic Presence in Kairo and Avalon 111

Letting In Ghosts, Shutting Out the Sun 113

Into the Mise en Abyme: Spectral Flows and the Forbidden Room 120

The Human Stain: Suicide in the Shadow of Hiroshima 127

Avalon and "Borderline Cinema" 132

The Society of the Spectacle 137

The Surrealism of (Virtually) Everyday Life 140

"Welcome to Class Real" 143

Conclusion: Software in a Body: Critical Posthumanism and Serial Experiments Lain 157

A Shojo Named Lain 161

E-mail from the Dead 162

Doppelgängers in Cyberspace 167

Desiring Disembodiment 176

The Question of Resistance 181

Notes 187

Bibliography 229

Index 247

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