University of Sussex
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Technofetishism of posthuman bodies: representations of cyborgs, ghosts, and monsters in contemporary Japanese science fiction film and animation

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posted on 2023-06-08, 12:19 authored by Kuo-Wei Lan
The thesis uses a feminist approach to explore the representation of the cyborg in Japanese film and animation in relation to gender, the body, and national identity. Whereas the figure of the cyborg is predominantly pervasive in cinematic science fiction, the Japanese popular imagination of cyborgs not only crosses cinematic genre boundaries between monster, disaster, horror, science fiction, and fantasy but also crosses over to the medium of animation. In regard to the academic research on Japanese cinema and animation, there is a serious gap in articulating concepts such as live-action film, animation, gender, and the cyborg. This thesis, therefore, intends to fill the gap by investigating the gendered cyborg through a feminist lens to understand the interplay between gender, the body and the cyborg within historical-social contexts. Consequently, the questions proposed below are the starting point to reassess the relationship between Japanese cinema, animation, and the cyborg. How has Japanese popular culture been obsessed with the figure of the cyborg? What is the relationship between Japanese live-action film and Japanese animation in terms of the popular imagination of the cyborg? In particular, how might we discuss the representation of the cyborg in relation to the concept of national identity and the associated ideology of “Japaneseness”, within the framework of Donna Haraway’s influential cyborg theory and feminist theory? The questions are addressed in the four sections of the thesis to explore the representation of the gendered cyborg. First, I outline the concept of the cyborg as it has been developed in relation to notions of gender and the ‘cyborg’ in Western theory. Secondly, I explore the issues in theorising the science fiction genre in Japanese cinema and animation and then address the problem of defining science fiction in relation to the phenomenon of the cyborg’s genre-crossing. Finally, I provide a contextualising discussion of gender politics and gender roles in Japan in order to justify my use of Western feminist theory as well as discuss the strengths and limitations of such an approach before moving, in the remainder of the thesis, to an examination of a number of case studies drawn from Japanese cinema and animation.


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  • doctoral

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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