Cyberpunk anime – past, present, future (?) Part 5 – Toward the Future I call the “Individulity Project”.

(Continues from part 4) (Part 1) (Part2) (Part 3) Kusangi successfully uploads her soul into the net. I don’t recall if the TV series/first movie ever mentioned that the action is difficult or impossible or far fetched in anyway. But I do recall that at least in the TV series, some of it has been done – in the case of the CEO of that Heavy Industry company. But what Kusanagi Motoko does in totality is a step beyond that. Her being dives and mergs deep into the cyberspace and disappears for sometime, a plot which I was told that happened in the movie, “Innocence.”

In the environment of that GitS world, she has successfully connected herself to the net. However, in the real world, she has not successfully connected to anything. In fact, she has successfully lost that connection – Her connection to the humanity in the flesh, in the innate human way.

On the first look that seems ridiculously obvious given the context of the cyberworld in GitS. One gets connected to the net often, one stops being connected with people in a flesh way – and I don’t mean sex, but when Motoko do want to have sex, she gets in touch with her girlfriends via cyber connection. However, when she gets completely uploaded into the net, and when her being, her soul, is gone from the real world for sometime, she loses her connection to humans – to Batou, for example, via physical contact such as merely bumping into each other, but she can speak in his head. I did notice that there’s very little physical contact in the GitS TV series, except when we look at Togusa and his family. It should be noted that the average Japanese isn’t as affectionate as the westerners and even a friendly touching is generally not welcomed, except with family members and between men and between women when drinking, and even then, affectionate touches aren’t seen that often. I guess young people dating would be an exception.

Let me take us out of the cyberworld in GitS for a second and back into our world. Gasp! (Like William Gibson has realized) That’s what’s exactly happening in the real world these days (sorry for the rather sweeping generalization, but)! We’re having more and more people staying inside “connected” to their PCs, at least in Japan.

Remember the idea of the location where cyberpunk happens was based in Japan.

All of the sudden, the reality plugs itself into the cyberpunk anime world, and we’re looking at a lot of it happening in real life now.

In a very strange way, we’re all connected now through the net. To quote what William Gibson said in the interview in the “Now romancer” article on Salon, “Sometimes I’ll think, well, somebody’s going to Google this term I just used and it’s going to take them back to where I found it. And that’s strange.” By finding the same term and finding the same source, one connection is made. However, that connection is going to end up very impersonal.

Wait a minute, so when I do a research on a dictionary in my home, am I connecting with another random person who picks up the same dictionary but a random copy, and researchs the same word?

But when you Google it, you’re looking at the exact same word, presented by the same lines of code which is made for the purpose of displaying on your PC, as many other people have looked at, at the same address, pointed by the same hyperlink which you and others clicked, and when you find the source, it’s most like one of the same sources that a lot of people have found and used. Oh and, don’t forget that a lot of people from all over the world have probably contributed to the sources. And these days, you’re welcome to leave a comment, or even in some cases contribute to the sources based on your experience, have a discussion with someone in the forum, and…

Something doesn’t add up here.

You’re right, it doesn’t. Because it’s a connection that is in some ways, beyond our basic understanding and innate feeling of “connection”. If you could tell people from 1984 that they can just look up something on the “net”, which other people have looked up, or even contributed (think Wikipedia), and all you have to do is “surf the net” by turning on a machine called “PC” or even “Mac cough *another Windows’ slave* cough”, and we can get connected by chatting “online”, the people in 1984 would think you’re nuts, or they’d think you’re an avid reader of William Gibson’s works.

However, we’re not really physically jacked-in, yet (?)

Do remember if you’re reading this article, using this web site and others just like it extensively, you’re more likely “plugged in often” and “staying inside often” then the average people. I’m probably just like you in that way.

You don’t have to be Japanese or in Japan to do all that. Not as imagined by Gibson back in 1984.

It has been documented that people who stay inside more often than going out tend to lose the ability to socialize and to deal with people. They lose what would be termed “real connection” as opposed to “net connection (or in the context of this article, “cyber connection”)” to people.

When a person is by himself or herself most of the time, what often happens is that the person thinks of himself of herself, takes care of himself or herself, and by a large, ignoring or not realizing a lot of concrete things about other people.

In our (anime and manga) world, a person like that is often termed as “Otaku”. Sure, the Otaku still goes out of the house and make friends, but that’s only because going outside is a kind of necessity. We’re not sick. We don’t stay at home every second of our lives and refuse to go out. And oh yeah, we can make friends online, as well as meeting others outside of our homes.

In any case, unlike what Shinji wants in Evangelion (let me side track a little bit – don’t complain, it’s like clicking on a hyperlink in this article for reference), where everyone fuses and melts into the primordial soup, we get to retain and conserve our individuality (note: I’m not talking about every single person who reads this article, nor am I indicating in anyway this phenomenon is about everyone you know). I mean, hell, if an Otaku doesn’t want to go out and find something else to do, all he or she has to do is surf the net all day, in addition to reading manga, even online, and download and watch anime on the HD without having to go out somewhere and buy it, and if the Otaku wants to buy something, he could just order it online without having to go out if that’s not desired, or for Tokyoites, just go to Akihabara, where the only slightly annoying people would the store clerks who are just different from us somehow, and for women in our group who cosplay, stupid fat guys with cameras that take pictures without asking for permission at all.

Let’s not turn this into a social commentary or a warning message of some kind.

In any case, by second season of GitS TV, Kusanagi is back and Section 9 is saving the Japan depicted inside the show, from a certain ambitious individual inside the government and nuclear cruise missiles fired by American submarines. So, in the end, the day is saved! Thanks to – the good people of Section 9, the female Prime Minister, and the Tachikomas. At last, we can all stay connected without having to worry about the status quo being smashed and blown up.

So, here’s the future that I see that can come out, or at least can be made into cyberpunk anime – how about the “Individuality Project”? People can all have cybernetic parts as much as they wish, stay connected to a certain terminal or many terminals alone, or with friends all day if they want to, and if someone gets sick and tired to living physically, then he or she can just upload himself or herself into the net, and ditch his or her body, which I think he or she probably always has some gripes against, and simply live in the cyberspace. I mean, no need to eat but when desired, able to sample and taste food just by cybernetic interactions with the menu and the possible results of the recipe; no need to drink but when desired, able to find water on the net and interact with it; no need to sleep – the cyberhuman AKA as nethuman won’t get tired; no need for sex – how about just depict interactions with the sensations and other good stuff right there in the networld? But hey, if that doesn’t sound so great for a show, depict it that so the characters can get some cybersex-friends to download them, or get them to upload themselves so the characters can copulate without having to worry about depicting undesired pregnancies, and it’s not like 99% of anime ever really portrays pregnancy in a realistic way. When the characters want some new friends? They can find some and interact, even if they aren’t physically next to the terminal that the characters happen to be. So, for anything the cyberhuman characters want, they can have it on their own terms, any time, any where, any domain, by using a supplying method gravitated and centered toward each character. Each character can supply his or her needs, being able to perform a complete self-fulfillment and becoming the perfect individual. Of course that’ll be the end of the show. You can always have rebels and other disgruntled people who feel like they prefer physical sensations and all that, and so some of our main character can be assigned to somehow hack into these people’s brains and you know, conflicts happen in the cyberworld, what’s left of the physical world, the philosophical “world”, the “world” where ghost-like things being are seen, and other goodness that makes a lot of recent anime. The creators just have to take it one big step further and fully dive into the nethuman domain.

As these thoughts are being pondered and poured into the net, I click the “Publish” button and waiting for this article to be uploaded, I wondered how exactly an anime like that would be interesting. In any case, as many before Gibson and Gibson himself have said in one way or another, “You can’t predict the future.”

I hope I at least offered some insight into the cyberpunk/postcyberpunk anime genre, and whatever lies beyond.

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