Clones, Hybrids and Organ Transplants in Manga and Anime

By Mio Bryce, Paul Cheung and Anna Katrina Gutierrez.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp.279-290. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 629.854KB).

Dr. Mio Bryce

Senior Lecturer, Department of International Studies, Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Senior Lecturer and Head of Japanese Studies in Dept of International Studies at Macquarie University, teaching Japanese language, literature and manga related units. PhD in Japanese classical literature, The Tale of Genji, from the University of Sydney. Mio is particularly interested in historical, socio-cultural and psychological issues depicted in fiction. She is currently involved in interdisciplinary research into youth cultures, with particular focus on manga and anime, in conjunction with the English Department at Macquarie University.

Dr. Paul Cheung

Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dr. Paul Cheung is a researcher and writer with an interest in the relationship between philosophy and art. He is progressively publishing a series of articles examining this relationship with respect to the treatment of biotechnology in manga and anime. This rather specific focus reflects in part an interest developed through doctoral and post-doctoral research into the rejection of various forms of biotechnological interventions. A common thread running through these publications is an attempt to break out of the confines of disciplinary orthodoxy without the unquestioning embracing of inter-disciplinarity. He is currently an Honorary Associate in the Department of Linguistics, Macquarie University, having been an academic visitor to tertiary institutions in the People’s Republic of China and the United Kingdom.

Anna Katrina Gutierrez

PhD Candidate in Children’s Literature, Department of English, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Katrina Gutierrez is a PhD student in the Department of English (Children’s Literature) at Macquarie University. Katrina has dedicated her life to reading, teaching about and creating stories. Her interests are fairy tale, film, comic books, anime, manga and music, and how these interact with one another to create glocal identities. She has published on the connections between glocalisation and transnational identities in The Philippines.


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