Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams
Japanese Science Fiction from Origins to Anime
Christopher Bolton, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., and Takayuki Tatsumi, editor
Connecting Japan’s vibrant science fiction tradition to the global phenomenon of anime.
Since the end of the Second World War—and particularly over the past decade—Japanese science fiction has strongly influenced global popular culture. Unlike American and British science fiction, its most popular examples have been visual—from Gojira (Godzilla) and Astro Boy in the 1950s and 1960s to the anime masterpieces Akira and Ghost in the Shell of the 1980s and 1990s—while little attention has been paid to a vibrant tradition of prose science fiction in Japan.
Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams remedies this neglect with a rich exploration of the genre that connects prose science fiction to contemporary anime. Bringing together Western scholars and leading Japanese critics, this groundbreaking work traces the beginnings, evolution, and future direction of science fiction in Japan, its major schools and authors, cultural origins and relationship to its Western counterparts, the role of the genre in the formation of Japan’s national and political identity, and its unique fan culture.
Covering a remarkable range of texts—from the 1930s fantastic detective fiction of Yumeno Kyûsaku to the cross-culturally produced and marketed film and video game franchise Final Fantasy—this book firmly establishes Japanese science fiction as a vital and exciting genre.
"Eye-opening, entertaining, and informative, Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams provides a fascinating, in-depth overview of Japanese prose science fiction and animated series and films, from prewar precursors to the most recent cutting-edge works."
—Ian Condry, author of Hip-Hop Japan
"The Japanese imagination of both the future and the bizarre come together in Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams, highlighting what may be the most inventive literary and popular culture anywhere in the world today."
—John Whittier Treat, Yale University
“If you want to learn about real groundbreaking sci-fi visionaries, this is the book to take to heart.”
“Robot Ghosts is a collection of thoughtful and mostly substantial essays that shine a light on the origins of Japanese science fiction and the baroque, seemingly impenetrable narratives of recent anime features.”
“Older fans of manga and anime will appreciate this cross-cultural investigation byy leading scholars and critics of Japanese science fiction.”
—Northern Virginia Magazine
“A clear, balanced, and theoretically sophisticated compendium of Japanese science fiction.”
"Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams signals the maturing of English-language studies of Japanese culture and represents one of the better efforts at putting together an edited volume from largely previously published articles, including three translated from Japanese. As such, it deserves a spot on scholars’ bookshelves and college course reading lists alike."
"This is a terrifically useful collection of new and reprinted essays. It will be valuable not just to those who have a special interest in Japanese or nonanglophone [Science Fiction], but to the entire field of [Science Fiction] studies. From start to finish, this is an excellent book, leaving very little to qibble about. Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams is an interesting, intelligent, and exceedingly rewarding volume."
—Science Fiction Research Association Review
"Valuable ... will have a wide appreciation as both a textbook and a guide for the sci-fi aficionado."
—Science Fiction Film and Television
"An essential read, full of startling insights and fantastic nuggets of information, and not just for anime students either."
"This collection makes Japanese science fiction— both prose and anime— three-dimensional by comparing past with present, prose with animation, leading us to a more accurate and current understanding of what is going on in the world of Japanese science fiction."
Contributors: Hiroki Azuma, Hiroko Chiba, Naoki Chiba, William O. Gardner, Mari Kotani, Livia Monnet, Miri Nakamura, Susan Napier, Sharalyn Orbaugh, Tamaki Saitô; Thomas Schnellbächer.
Christopher Bolton is assistant professor of Japanese at Williams College.
Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr. is professor of English at DePauw University.
Takayuki Tatsumi is professor of English at Keio University in Tokyo and the author of Full Metal Apache: Transactions between Cyberpunk Japan and Avant Pop America.
288 pages | 27 b&w photos | 7 x 10 | 2007
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction. Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams: Japanese Science Fiction from Origins to Anime
Christopher Bolton, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., and Takayuki Tatsumi
Part I. Prose Science Fiction
1. Horror and Machines in Prewar Japan: The Mechanical Uncanny in Yumeno Kyûsaku’s Dogura magura
2. Has the Empire Sunk Yet? The Pacific in Japanese Science Fiction
3. Alien Spaces and Alien Bodies in Japanese Women’s Science Fiction
4. SF as Hamlet: Science Fiction and Philosophy
5. Tsutsui Yasutaka and the Multimedia Performance of Authorship
William O. Gardner
Part II. Science Fiction Animation
6. When the Machines Stop: Fantasy, Reality, and Terminal Identity in Neon Genesis Evangelion and Serial Experiments: Lain
Susan J. Napier
7. The Mecha’s Blind Spot: Patlabor 2 and the Phenomenology of Anime
8. Words of Alienation, Words of Flight: Loanwords in Science Fiction Anime
Naoki Chiba and Hiroko Chiba
9. Sex and the Single Cyborg: Japanese Popular Culture Experiments in Subjectivity
10. Invasion of the Woman Snatchers: The Problem of A-Life and the Uncanny in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
11. Otaku Sexuality
Afterword. A Very Soft Time Machine: From Translation to Transfiguration