Manga and anime are commonly regarded as media products geared primarily towards entertainment and merchandising opportunities. However, some are capable of offering critical commentary on society, humanity and more broadly, life itself. Following the lead taken by the ‘God of Manga’ Tezuka Osamu in “Seimei-hen” in “Hi no Tori” (“Life” in “Phoenix”, 1980), a number of manga and anime have produced unsettling images of clones and hybrid beings, particularly those resulting from organ transplantation. These works question, typically ahead of the technology of the time, the value of life, the integrity of its form, and its immunity from commodification. In spite of their fictionality, these narratives are associated with a great sense of reality and immediacy, due in part to rapid developments in biotechnology, computing and engineering. At the same time, humanity itself appears to have changed along with these developments and the fictional narratives can be said to embody fears, hopes, and dreams concerning life and its significance. They deal with a range of pressing social and ethical issues, especially those related to the self and its multiple boundaries, whilst entertaining their readers and viewers. Using several narratives as exemplars, this paper will explore the use of biotechnology in manga and anime as devices in envisioning ‘life’ – what it may be, how it is formed and how it could be dealt with, at the individual as well as collective level. In doing so, the paper will demonstrate how these manga and anime narratives and others like them are relevant in a wide range of contexts despite their apparent linguistic and cultural specificity.
|Keywords:||Manga, Anime, Humanity, Cloning, Organ Transplant, Tezuka Osamu’s Phoenix|
Senior Lecturer, Department of International Studies, Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
PhD Candidate in Children’s Literature, Department of English, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
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