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Making things new: Regeneration and transcendence in anime

Broderick, M. (2009) Making things new: Regeneration and transcendence in anime. In: Walliss, J. and Newport, K.G.C., (eds.) The End All Around Us: Apocalyptic Texts and Popular Culture. Acumen Publishing, pp. 120-147.

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As anime scholar Susan Napier (2005) suggests, apocalypse is a major thematic predisposition of this genre and mode of national cinema. Many commentators (for example, Helen McCarthy, 1993; Antonia Levi, 1998) on anime have foregrounded the “apocalyptic” nature of Japanese animation, often uncritically, deploying the term to connote annihilation, chaos and mass destruction, or a nihilistic aesthetic expression. But which apocalypse is being invoked here? The linear, monotheistic apocalypse of Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism or Christianity (with its premillennial and postmillennial schools)? Do they encompass the cyclical eschatologies of Buddhism or Shinto or Confucianism? Or are they cultural hybrids combining multiple narratives of finitude? To date, Susan Napier's work is the most sophisticated examination of the trans-cultural manifestation of the Judeo-Christian theological and narrative tradition in anime, yet even her framing remains limited by discounting a number of trajectories apocalypse dictates. However, there are other possibilities. Jerome Shapiro (1994), for example, argues convincingly that the millennial imagination, as a subset of apocalyptic thought, is closer to the Japanese spiritual understanding of heroic mythology.

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Publisher: Acumen Publishing
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