ASIA 1111: Self & Cyborg in Japanese Animation

Self & Cyborg in Japanese AnimationCan one be human in a non-human body? At what point do technological enhancements to the body diminish one’s humanity? To what extent can an artificial intelligence develop a sense of self? What is the relationship between body, mind, self, memory, and identity? How do visual and electronic media construct and deconstruct self-identity? Does reality matter if a simulation is realistic and you don’t realize it’s a simulation? Who are you? These are but a few questions that this course tackles through the medium of Japanese animation (anime), examples of which are well known for taking up philosophical and psychological issues such as these. Those anime that this course focuses on represent some of the most thought-provoking work created for feature-length theatrical release and for TV series broadcasts in Japan. We will look at the works of Kon Satoshi (Magnetic Rose, Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Paranoia Agent, Paprika); Oshii Mamoru (Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Avalon); Nakamura Ryutaro (Serial Experiments Lain); and Yoshiura Yasuhiro (Time of Eve). In addition to being objects of study in their own right, these anime will serve as materials through which students will practice their analytical and critical writing skills in this First-Year Writing Seminar.