A Mechanized Medley

Jomo Fray '10, English 65, The Cyborg Self, Brown University (Fall 2006)

"Evolution has lead to the Dark Gundam!" Major Ulube

In the anime series Mobile Fighter G Gundam, man and machine combine into one cohesive unit. Due to the mobile trace system the movements of the Gundam are juxtaposed with that of its pilot. According to the official Gundam site the mobile trace system is "the mobile fighter's cockpit, the pilot is wrapped in a form-fitting "fighting suit" made up of microscopic nanomachines. The fighting suit monitors the pilot's motions and physical condition and relays this data to the mobile fighter's computer, which then mirrors the pilot's own movements. The surrounding environment is projected onto the walls of the "virtual cockpit," and external conditions like physical obstructions and battle damage are transmitted back to the pilot via the fighting suit." The Gundam then becomes an extension of its human pilot. Every episode Domon summoned his Gundam there was a 5 second group of shots as he became one with his Gundam. This montage of shots juxtaposed his movements inside the cockpit to the movements of his Gundam. [Some of said shots may be seen here ] Along with interesting ideas for human and technological integration this show also does a marvelous job at examining the fear of mechanized takeover.

The Mobile Trace System

A brief overview of the series would help clarify. A Gundam is a mobile suit used for combat. Essentially a Gundam is a large robot which acts as an extension of the pilot's fighting abilities. In the future a country may control Earth and its orbiting colonies by winning the Gundam Fight (an event held every 4 years). During the competition the Dark Gundam surfaced. The Dark Gundam was created by Neo Japan as the new ultimate fighting power. The Dark Gundam had three theoretical abilities; self-multiplication, self- recovery, and self evolution. During development the Dark Gundam was stolen and brought to earth. "The Dark Gundam's evil influence is manifested in the form of so-called "DG Cells." Using its powers of self-replication, the Dark Gundam can infect living beings with microscopic nanomachines that function as a kind of biomechanical virus. These DG Cells spread rapidly through their victims' bodies, first covering their skin with metallic scales, and then invading their central nervous systems. By the time the contagion reaches the brain, its effects are generally irreversible, and the victim becomes nothing more than a puppet dominated by the will of the Dark Gundam." [For more information/glossary of terms ]

Hosts infected with DG cells

This a negative take on the union of man and machine. Mechanization is shown as another form of control; technology being less of a novelty and more of a parasite. It is interesting to note that pain is always associated with the fusion of the two. Quite like the creation of Max from the show Max Headroom. Max was created with Edison Carter's thoughts after a tragic motorcycle crash. Edison's thoughts were sucked out while he was unconscious from the accident and digitized. It is also interesting to note that only a strong pilot may pilot a Gundam because otherwise the mobile trace system would break your bones if you could not physically endure it. It is so difficult to combine the two forms because it is unnatural. DG cells are deadly because they give the human host a lethal dose of mechanization. DG cells fuse man with machine to create a cyborg. When a cyborg is created a human ceases to be. The fusion of man with machine is the ultimate dehumanization. But in a world of engineered evolution, is this the next step? Is the line between man and machine so hazy that a new species has already been created? Are the DG cells not a virus at all but simply the cure to man's need to transcend the organic world?

"These magnificent DG cells have redefined the future and given us unlimited power!"- Major Ulube

Course Website cyborg Body & Self Literature

Last modified 31 October 2006