Science Fiction Film & Television

Global cyberpunk

Reclaiming utopia in Japanese cyberpunk film

Science Fiction Film & Television (2020), 13, (3), 363–386.

Abstract

This article examines the connections between 1960s student protests, particularly the occupation of the University of Tokyo in 1968-9, and 1980s cyberpunk film in Japan. I argue that these films, while critical of the student movement, aim to reclaim and transform the utopian spirit that motivated them. Using the global 1960s framework, I situate Japanese cyberpunk film within the wider debates of this decade, particularly those concerning personal liberation and affluence. Using Tom Moylan’s concept of the critical dystopia, I demonstrate that utopian thinking does not disappear after 1968 in Japan but undergoes metamorphosis in these films.

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Works cited

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Chen, Jian, Martin Klimke, Masha Kirasirova, Mary Nolan, Marilyn Young and Joanna Waley-Cohen, eds. The Routledge Handbook of the Global Sixties: Between Protest and Nation-Building. Abingdon: Routledge, 2018. Google Scholar

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Lavigne, Carlen. Cyberpunk Women, Feminism and Science Fiction: A Critical Study. Jefferson, AL: McFarland, 2013. Google Scholar

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McFarlane, Anna, Graham Murphy and Lars Schmeink, eds. The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture. New York: Routledge, 2020. Google Scholar

Mes, Tom and Jasper Sharp. The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge, 2005. Google Scholar

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Oguma, Eiji. ‘Japan’s 1968: A Collective Reaction to Rapid Economic Growth in an Age of Turmoil’. The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus 13.12 (2015). Google Scholar

Sawara, Yukiko. ‘The University Struggles’. Zengakuren: Japan’s Revolutionary Students. Ed. Stuart Dowsey. Berkeley, CA: Ishii, 1970. Google Scholar

Schieder, Chelsea Szendi. ‘Left Out: Writing Women Back into Japan’s 1968’. The Global 1960s: Convention, Contest, and Counterculture. Ed. Tamara Chaplin and Jadwiga E. Pieper Mooney. New York: Routledge, 2018. Google Scholar

Sterling, Bruce. Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Google Scholar

Stone, Katie and Kabo, Raphael. ‘Introduction: Utopian Acts’. Studies in Arts and Humanities 5.1 (2019): 1-4. Google Scholar

Tatsumi, Takayuki. Full Metal Apache: Transactions between Cyberpunk Japan and Avant-Pop America. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2006. Google Scholar

Tatsumi, Takayuki. ‘The Japanese Reflection of Mirrorshades’. Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodern Science Fiction. Ed. Larry McCaffery. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1991. Google Scholar

Tipton, Elise K. Modern Japan: A Social and Political History. London: Routledge, 2002. Google Scholar

Yutaka, Kokubun. ‘The University Problem’. Zengakuren: Japan’s Revolutionary Students. Ed. Stuart Dowsey. Berkeley, CA: Ishii, 1970. Google Scholar

Westad, Odd Arne. ‘Preface: Was There a “Global 1968?”’. The Routledge Handbook of the Global Sixties: Between Protest and Nation-Building. Ed. Jian Chen, Martin Klimke, Masha Kirasirova, Mary Nolan, Marilyn Young and Joanna Waley-Cohen. London: Routledge, 2018. Google Scholar

Williams, Linda. ‘Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess’. Film Quarterly 44.4 (1991): 2-13. Google Scholar

Azuma, Hiroki. Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals. Trans. Abel Jonathan and Shion Kono. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2009. Google Scholar

Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and His World. 1st Midland book ed. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1984. Google Scholar

Ballard, James G. The Atrocity Exhibition. New York: HarperCollins, 2001. Google Scholar

Ballard, James G. Crash. London: Triad, 1985. Google Scholar

Bey, Hakim. T.A.Z: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. 2nd revised edition. New York: Autonomedia, 2003. Google Scholar

Blake, Victoria. Cyberpunk: Stories of Hardware, Software, Wetware, Evolution and Revolution. Portland, OR: Underland, 2013. Google Scholar

Bloch, Ernst. The Principle of Hope: Volume One. Trans. Neville Plaice, Stephen Plaice and Paul Knight. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995. Google Scholar

Brown, Steven T. Tokyo Cyberpunk: Posthumanism in Japanese Visual Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Google Scholar

Brown, Timothy and Andrew Lison, eds. Global Sixties in Sound and Vision: Media, Counterculture, Revolt. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. Google Scholar

Bukatman, Scott. Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1993. Google Scholar

Caygill, Howard. On Resistance: A Philosophy of Defiance. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. Google Scholar

Chaplin, Tamara and Jadwiga E. Pieper Mooney, eds. The Global 1960s: Convention, Contest, and Counterculture. Abingdon: Routledge, 2018. Google Scholar

Chen, Jian, Martin Klimke, Masha Kirasirova, Mary Nolan, Marilyn Young and Joanna Waley-Cohen, eds. The Routledge Handbook of the Global Sixties: Between Protest and Nation-Building. Abingdon: Routledge, 2018. Google Scholar

Cooper, David, ed. The Dialectics of Liberation. London: Penguin, 1968. Google Scholar

Cooper, Davina. ‘Acting as if Other Law Reform Options were Already on the Table?’ The Future of Legal Gender (13 Oct 2018). https://futureoflegalgender.kcl.ac.uk/2018/10/13/acting-as-if-other-law-reform-options-were-already-on-the-table/. Accessed 10 Mar 2020. Google Scholar

Delany, Samuel R. ‘Saved By the TV Crew’. The New York Times (15 May 1988). https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/98/07/12/specials/ballard-creation.html. Accessed 12 Mar 2020. Google Scholar

Dowsey, Stuart J., ed. Zengakuren: Japan’s Revolutionary Students. Berkeley, CA: Ishii, 1970. Google Scholar

Gibson, William. Neuromancer. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. Google Scholar

Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2003. Google Scholar

Harrison, Oliver. Revolutionary Subjectivity in Post-Marxist Thought: Laclau, Negri, Badiou. Farnham: Ashgate, 2014. Google Scholar

Ikeda, Kazuo. ‘Historical Background’. Zengakuren: Japan’s Revolutionary Students. Ed. Stuart J Dowsey. Berkeley, CA: Ishii, 1970. Google Scholar

Krauss, Ellis S. ‘The 1960s Japanese Student Movement in Retrospect’. Japan and the World Essays on Japanese History and Politics. Ed. Gail Bernstein Lee and Fukui Haruhiro. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. Google Scholar

Lavigne, Carlen. Cyberpunk Women, Feminism and Science Fiction: A Critical Study. Jefferson, AL: McFarland, 2013. Google Scholar

Marcuse, Herbert. ‘Liberation from The Affluent Society’. Ed. David Cooper. The Dialectics of Liberation. London: Penguin, 1968. Google Scholar

Martin, Benjamin. ‘Japanese Mining Labor: The Miike Strike’. Far Eastern Survey 30.2 (1961): 26-30. Google Scholar

Matsunami, Michihiro. ‘Origins of Zengakuren’. Zengakuren: Japan’s Revolutionary Students. Ed. Stuart J Dowsey. Berkeley, CA: Ishii, 1970. Google Scholar

McFarlane, Anna, Graham Murphy and Lars Schmeink, eds. The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture. New York: Routledge, 2020. Google Scholar

Mes, Tom and Jasper Sharp. The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge, 2005. Google Scholar

Montag, Warren. ‘The Workshop of Filthy Creation: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein’. Frankenstein: Complete, Authoritative Text with Biographical and Historical Contexts, Critical History, and Essays from Five Contemporary Critical Perspectives. Ed. Johanna M Smith. Boston: Bedford, 1992. Google Scholar

Moylan, Tom. Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia. Boulder: Westview, 2000. Google Scholar

Oguma, Eiji. ‘Japan’s 1968: A Collective Reaction to Rapid Economic Growth in an Age of Turmoil’. The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus 13.12 (2015). Google Scholar

Sawara, Yukiko. ‘The University Struggles’. Zengakuren: Japan’s Revolutionary Students. Ed. Stuart Dowsey. Berkeley, CA: Ishii, 1970. Google Scholar

Schieder, Chelsea Szendi. ‘Left Out: Writing Women Back into Japan’s 1968’. The Global 1960s: Convention, Contest, and Counterculture. Ed. Tamara Chaplin and Jadwiga E. Pieper Mooney. New York: Routledge, 2018. Google Scholar

Sterling, Bruce. Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Google Scholar

Stone, Katie and Kabo, Raphael. ‘Introduction: Utopian Acts’. Studies in Arts and Humanities 5.1 (2019): 1-4. Google Scholar

Tatsumi, Takayuki. Full Metal Apache: Transactions between Cyberpunk Japan and Avant-Pop America. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2006. Google Scholar

Tatsumi, Takayuki. ‘The Japanese Reflection of Mirrorshades’. Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodern Science Fiction. Ed. Larry McCaffery. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1991. Google Scholar

Tipton, Elise K. Modern Japan: A Social and Political History. London: Routledge, 2002. Google Scholar

Yutaka, Kokubun. ‘The University Problem’. Zengakuren: Japan’s Revolutionary Students. Ed. Stuart Dowsey. Berkeley, CA: Ishii, 1970. Google Scholar

Westad, Odd Arne. ‘Preface: Was There a “Global 1968?”’. The Routledge Handbook of the Global Sixties: Between Protest and Nation-Building. Ed. Jian Chen, Martin Klimke, Masha Kirasirova, Mary Nolan, Marilyn Young and Joanna Waley-Cohen. London: Routledge, 2018. Google Scholar

Williams, Linda. ‘Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess’. Film Quarterly 44.4 (1991): 2-13. Google Scholar

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Myerson, Sasha