Are You Really a Child?: Androids and Cyborgs in Japanese Comics and Animations

Are You Really a Child?: Androids and Cyborgs in Japanese Comics and Animations

Natalia Dmitruk (University of Wrocław, Poland)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 31
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2973-6.ch003
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A multitude of genres and types of characters, in Japanese comics and animated series, suggests many thought-provoking themes; i.e., questions about human nature. Many artists can see the answers to these questions in artificial humans – both cyborgs and androids. In this research, the author analyzes Japanese texts of popular culture in which artificial children are the protagonists of the stories. The author aims to compare a child figure in sociological discourse, considered there as vulnerable, to the representations in manga and anime, in which characters are created as children or technologically-modified prepubescents. In this chapter, the author presents ideas and culture associations for the concepts of android and cyborg. The chapter focuses also on analysis of the characters from Japanese comic books and animations – both androids and then cyborgs – according to transhumanistic and posthumanistic theories. The analysis results in a conclusion that a child figure is dehumanized in the context of cyborg and android child protagonists.
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Androids And Cyborgs

“There was perhaps never a moment in the ancient or modern history of Europe when no one was pursuing the idea of making a human being by other than the ordinary reproductive means” (1984, p. 201), writes Jay David Bolter in his book, Turing’s Man. An attempt to create man-made creatures similar to humans is not an idea of contemporary times. It is not difficult to recall the myth of Pygmalion, the creator of a woman statue so perfect that he fell in love with her. Eventually, Aphrodite, driven by her affections, decides to revive the idol and at the same time fulfill the dream of the sculptor. Further examples include the classic Homerian, golden, mechanical handmaidens of Hephaestus in The Iliad; cabalistic golem from Jewish folklore; the homunculus of alchemists; and the Frankenstein monster from Mary Shelley’s novel. Yet, the closer to present day, the greater the recognition of artificial creatures. Not only are androids, cyborgs, and robots more and more common in popular literature and cinematography, but also, at the same time, real-life scientists are working on cloning and their artificial intelligence (Radkowska-Walkowicz, 2008, p. 20). As Marvin Minsky wrote of artificial intelligence (AI) back in 1986,

Most people still believe that no machine could ever be conscious, or feel ambition, jealousy, humor, or have any other mental life-experience. To be sure, we are still far from being able to create machines that do all the things people do. But this only means that we need better theories about how thinking works. (p. 19)

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