By S. Napier
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Additional info for Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation
By the late 1990s it was clear that anime both influenced and was influenced by a plethora of Western cultural products. As film scholar Susan Pointon writes of Japanese anime videos: It is impossible to ignore the constant cross-pollination and popular cultural borrowing that complicate and enrich anime texts. The creators for the most part are young Japanese artists in their twenties and thirties who have been exposed since birth to Western influences. 17 Pointon’s statement concerning the “constant cross-pollination” occurring between anime and Western popular cultural texts is an important one.
Tetsuo’s transformations can be viewed as a particularly gruesome form of combined primal and birth scenes: The phallic tentacular arm that expands and contracts ultimately seems to lose itself into an oozing feminine pinkness, which in turn becomes a gigantic baby. ”12 This scene also seems to be a classic example of Kristeva’s notion of abjection, in which the (male) infant finds the mother’s body simultaneously horrifying and erotic. The abject is a state that 46 ✱ ANIME FROM AKIRA TO PRINCESS MONONOKE exists on the borderline of identity between mother and infant, and in order for the infant to attain subjectivity, it is necessary for him to abject the maternal.
13 Oozing across all the normal borders of identity, it is no wonder that Tetsuo’s mutating form becomes an object of both horror and fascination. Given access to the secret depths of the body, and being allowed to see the transgressions of the body’s boundaries, the viewer cannot quite look away. ” Tetsuo’s “eruptive body” (to borrow popular culture specialist Scott Bukatman’s term)14 becomes an orgiastic spectacle of hideously transmogrifying body shapes that leave the viewer both repulsed but, on some level, perhaps, exhilarated, as the viewer loses him or herself into the overwhelming body catastrophe transpiring on the screen.