Japanese Cyborgs

Lester D. Stone, EL 65, The Cyborg Self, Brown University, 2006

Japanese Anime and Manga bring an extensive role to the cyborg. Ever since the 1960's, shows have portrayed cyborgs and cybernetics in a vast viewing. The earliest cyborg shows began with Gigantor and Astro Boy. Astro Boy's preface started as a world where androids and humans live simultaneously. Astro Boy became the replacement for a little boy that Doctor Tenma lost. When Doctor Tenma found that the android couldn't grow nor replace his son, he sold the robot to the circus. When the new head of the ministry of science came to the circus and saw the mistreatment of the android, he saved and took the droid as his own son. From there the adventures of Astro Boy start. The ideal of replacing a dead boy with a mechanical boy crosses mechanical and human emotion. Astro boy hits on the idea of robots having consciousness and feelings. Gigantor is about a boy and his robot who are saving the day. While these stories are relatively simple, their plots have been copied and themes have been duplicated several times. The humanity in the machine has always been prevalent. One of the later animes was actually called Cyborg 009. Cyborg 009 took the machine and human further by the premise of abducting 9 humans and turning them into cyborgs with special powers. It is through an evil organization that the transformation was initiated. Besides cyborg 009, other anime bring a cyborgish theme, true of cyberpunk fiction. Ghost in the Shell, Bubblegum Crisis, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star and others. This only further drives Japan's obsession to become a cyborgish society as predicted by the foremost Japanese authorities in robotic engineering. Japanese society reflects the media produced. Part of the culture has been about for years homogeneity and being part of the group instead of the outsider. When one becomes the outsider, great shame has fallen on him or her. The emphasis of group work has been applied many times to business practices. Robotics and its principles have been represented in the artificial liver. Japan in addition to anime, medical practices and culture, has devoted much of their robotic research to the cyborg. Creating artificial life has been the ultimate frontier for the Japanese. The Japanese represent the social cyborgs of today by many western scholars but lead in a civilization of great progress by Western standards.


History of the Cyborg: Index

Course Website cyborg Body & Self

Last modified 30 December 2006