Event Title

Video Criticism

Research Mentor(s)

O Murchu, Niall

Description

In 1988 Akira hit theaters in Japan and kicked off a ‘cyberpunk’ trend in anime films and television series. Though the post modernist art form finds its root in the American sci-fi horror of the late seventies and early eighties, William Gibson the ‘father of cyberpunk’ said that modern Japan simply was cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is the aesthetic culmination of postmodernist views of the near future. It witnesses the destruction of nature and replacement with technology and man made structures, it predicts the dystopian vision of society that has fully adopted the capitalist dogma, advertising on every surface, bodies replaced with machines. Japan is perhaps the most fitting nation to embody this pessimism as the culture has had to be rebuilt multiple times over the last century. First during the Meiji restoration and the rapid modernization and westernization of Japan that saw the country fall into a fascist military state, then a national tragedy in World War II and the dropping of the atomic bombs. Following that a once proud warrior culture was forced to endure the shame of defeat while simultaneously being occupied by the American military. Forced democratization and western values created anxieties concerning gender roles, national identity, and a general pessimism towards modernist values. In the 1980’s Japan became an economic powerhouse finding itself at the top of the global stage, but in the late eighties it became clear that Japan’s economic success was not sustainable and the nation contended with it’s changing global role. Japanese Cyberpunk embodies these anxieties, it features the grotesque transformations and mass destruction inspired by the atomic bombings. Sex and the relationships between men and women are often represented as violent or at odds with some sort of tension. Cyborgs, robots, and technology are often present and often play an integral role with the narrative. Akira in particular captures all of these traditional elements of Cyberpunk and expands on the genre by deftly navigating difficult themes concerning the decay of the natural world, the dangers of limitless power, and body ownership. Akira takes place in 2019, so I thought that it would be a good film to examine this year especially as some of the main themes in Akira are still incredibly if not more pertinent today. Climate change is ruining the earth, and capitalist overlords deny it’s existence so they may continue to make money unregulated. Advertising is becoming more and more unavoidable and it seems that we are on a global precipice, we are the generation that must decide what the future will look like. Akira as well as the real world are, as Zach Gottesman puts it, ”sites of liminality in which the past fetters the present while the future haunts it.” Akira is intense. It is full of violence, and horror. However Akira and Cyberpunks alike attempt at conveying a sense of urgency about the future. Akira is not some distant far flung sci-fi dystopia. Akira is this year, and it should serve as a reminder that we must determine what kind of world we want to live in.

Document Type

Event

Start Date

15-5-2019 9:00 AM

End Date

15-5-2019 5:00 PM

Location

Carver Gym (Bellingham, Wash.)

Department

Fairhaven

Genre/Form

student projects, posters

Type

Image

Rights

Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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May 15th, 9:00 AM May 15th, 5:00 PM

Video Criticism

Carver Gym (Bellingham, Wash.)

In 1988 Akira hit theaters in Japan and kicked off a ‘cyberpunk’ trend in anime films and television series. Though the post modernist art form finds its root in the American sci-fi horror of the late seventies and early eighties, William Gibson the ‘father of cyberpunk’ said that modern Japan simply was cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is the aesthetic culmination of postmodernist views of the near future. It witnesses the destruction of nature and replacement with technology and man made structures, it predicts the dystopian vision of society that has fully adopted the capitalist dogma, advertising on every surface, bodies replaced with machines. Japan is perhaps the most fitting nation to embody this pessimism as the culture has had to be rebuilt multiple times over the last century. First during the Meiji restoration and the rapid modernization and westernization of Japan that saw the country fall into a fascist military state, then a national tragedy in World War II and the dropping of the atomic bombs. Following that a once proud warrior culture was forced to endure the shame of defeat while simultaneously being occupied by the American military. Forced democratization and western values created anxieties concerning gender roles, national identity, and a general pessimism towards modernist values. In the 1980’s Japan became an economic powerhouse finding itself at the top of the global stage, but in the late eighties it became clear that Japan’s economic success was not sustainable and the nation contended with it’s changing global role. Japanese Cyberpunk embodies these anxieties, it features the grotesque transformations and mass destruction inspired by the atomic bombings. Sex and the relationships between men and women are often represented as violent or at odds with some sort of tension. Cyborgs, robots, and technology are often present and often play an integral role with the narrative. Akira in particular captures all of these traditional elements of Cyberpunk and expands on the genre by deftly navigating difficult themes concerning the decay of the natural world, the dangers of limitless power, and body ownership. Akira takes place in 2019, so I thought that it would be a good film to examine this year especially as some of the main themes in Akira are still incredibly if not more pertinent today. Climate change is ruining the earth, and capitalist overlords deny it’s existence so they may continue to make money unregulated. Advertising is becoming more and more unavoidable and it seems that we are on a global precipice, we are the generation that must decide what the future will look like. Akira as well as the real world are, as Zach Gottesman puts it, ”sites of liminality in which the past fetters the present while the future haunts it.” Akira is intense. It is full of violence, and horror. However Akira and Cyberpunks alike attempt at conveying a sense of urgency about the future. Akira is not some distant far flung sci-fi dystopia. Akira is this year, and it should serve as a reminder that we must determine what kind of world we want to live in.