Bodies of future memories: the Japanese body in science fiction anime
This paper analyzes the role of the fighting women in Japanese anime near the end of the twentieth century. It argues that these female heroes are not just shōjo (‘young girls’) who represent Japan the nation, nor are they mere projections of otaku desire, or token women included to attract female fans. Rather than that, I maintain that these female heroes are what could be described as “cyborg goddesses,” who offer an escape from the present’s dilemmas. An analysis of whom and what they are saving reveals a desire to return to an idealized Japanese past, while representing contemporary predicaments and concerns about the future. These heroes embody a form of “honorific individualism” (Ikegami 1995), based on a strong sense of individuality, and they have the potential to generate change by challenging the conformist status quo.