By S. Napier
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Additional info for Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation
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.
It is this theater of the gods (matsuri) that forms the basis of the popular culture in Japan. 35 Although anime can have its “austere” side as well, it is certainly true that many works, in their wild humor, grotesque exaggeration, playfulness, sexual content, and violent themes powerfully express this spirit of the festival. As with apocalypse, the festival mode is frequently found in liveaction Japanese films, ranging from the chaotic history of Imamura Shohei’s Eijanaika to anarchic comedies such as Itami Juzo’s Tampopo ANIME AND LOCAL/GLOBAL IDENTITY ✱ 31 or Morita Yoshimitsu’s Family Game, all of which brilliantly play off of the stereotypical notions of the Japanese as a repressed and quiet people and offer a vision of social and familial disorder.
For example the 1970s Space Battleship Yamato series simultaneously celebrated such Japanese cultural norms as the notion of collective sacrifice at the same time as it emphasized more transnational values such as universal peace and love. Moreover, as almost every non-Japanese viewer soon notes, the characters in anime often do not look particularly Japanese, instead they participate in what might be called a nonculturally specific anime style. Rather than necessarily reinforcing Japanese cultural identity, it might be at least as appropriate to say that anime narratives, even when they include strong culturally specific situations, problematize the nature of Japanese identity.