in Anime


Sexual Robots & Plastic Humans is a set of slide presentations initially formulated to promote the book 100 Anime.


For the exhibition JAPAN - KINGDOM OF CHARACTERS, College of Creative Arts, Wellington, New Zealand; keynote for the 25th Society For Animation Studies Conference, RMIT University, Melbourne; VCA Film & TV School, Melbourne


WORLD CINEMA NOW - Monash University, Melbourne; RMIT University Gallery, Melbourne; VCA Film & TV School, Melbourne; National Film & Sound Archive, Canberra


VCA Film & Television School, Melbourne; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney


Lecture tour commissioned by the Consul of Japan & the Japanese Embassy, New Zealand & the Japan Foundation: University of Canterbury, Christchurch; Victoria UNiversity, Wellington; the Japan Information & Culture Centre, Wellington; Auckland Museum, Auckland


Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Australian Film & Television School, Sydney


It is in bodily representation that anime heavily subscribes to a thesis of ‘post-humanism’ – the re-imaging, reinventing and reconfiguring of all we assume humanity and humanism to signify. The body in anime is aggregatively sculpted to create a contra-photographic, mega-ornamental, hyper-extended figure. Clean of any collaging of classical and archaic parts, the anime body is a new species, holistic in form and genetically manipulated according to anime’s encompassing of the history of human form as perceived within Japan. Anime’s reliance on mannequinned form and its animation of multifarious guises, masks and faces presents the human as skeletal architecture, plasticized flesh and neural matrixes. Sublime in its post-humanism, anime tells the story of a human who dreamt of being a robot – and whose dream one day came true.

Sexual Robots & Plastic Humans is predominantly based around 2 discrete presentations:

1. Sexual Robots: the opening CGI sequence to Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence (2004 - feature), directed by Mamoru Oshii, animation by Production IG., based on the manga by Masamune Shirow, and with a theme score by Kenji Kawaii.

2. Plastic Humans: The Pillows' "Come Down" music-video for FLCL (2000 - 6 part OVA), directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki, animation by Studio GAINAX, original story by Studio GAINAX.


Part 1 - Defining 'the post'

The Past

1854: American entry into Yokosuka
1923: Great Kanto Earthquake
1945: Atom Bomb blasts on Hiroshima & Nagasaki
1945: Japanese surrender to the US
1945: Humanization of Emperor Hirohito

The Post

1854: American entry into Yokosuka
1923: Great Kanto Earthquake
1945: Atom Bomb blasts on Hiroshima & Nagasaki
1945: Japanese surrender to the US
1945: Humanization of Emperor Hirohito
1945-1952: American Occupation under General MacArthur
1964: Tokyo Olympics
1970: Osaka World Fair

Part 2 - Defining Anime Image & Movement


Ukio-e (c. 1650 – 1850) statuesque portraiture
No shading; restricted palette; negative space
Yamato-e (c. 900 – 1500) psycho-geographic perspective
Multiple planes; spatial contemplation; cosmological overview
Yoga (c. 1850 – 1900) stylistic fusion
Mimetic allusion; visual heterogeneity; painterly re-coding
Nihon-ga (c. 1850 – 1900) cultural projection
Gestural rendering; calligraphic instatement; material sublimation


Kabuki (c. 1600 – 1950) spatio-temporality
Frozen poses; flattened scenography; disruptive presence
Bunraku (c. 1650 – 1900) puppet effects
Visible mechanics; human distillation; limited animation
Noh (c. 1400 – 1900) dehumanization
Facial masks; human absence; fixed visage
Butoh (c. 1960 >) rehumanization
Bodily energy; muscular collapse; fluid stature

Sexual Robots

Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence

Merging cosmologies – macro as micro. Ariel bombardment – WWII point-of-view. Hiroshima – advent of Ground Zero

Rebirth – the eruption of being. Regrowth – genetic mutation. Re-design – the new human shell

Exponential transformation. The locked genetic code. New creation phase 1 – motion mechanics

New creation phase 2 – manual logistics. Godless armature. Positive/external dexterity – internal/negative neurology

Morphological mutation – the plastic human. Cloning the Self. Mirror phasing the Other

The genetic pool. The implosion of physics – new exponential effects. Simultaneous yet conflicting realities

Being born through the white light of death. The post-human – the sexual robot. The guise of geisha servitude

The eye of Japan

All images © Production I.G.

Plastic Humans


Naota: Teenage trauma / The ground zero of Self / Hikikomori (‘stay-at-home’)

Naota: Reversioning the Giant Mecha / Cranial birth of the Imaginary Robot / Externalizing the Self

Haruko: Alien spectre of the yokai witch / Avenging new-woman / Rock bitch with Fender bass / Mystical maiden

Mamimi: The transcultural ingenue / The feminine entwined with the elements / The Japanese doll

War on Everything: Transformed powers / The re-invented Self / Just another ‘end-of-the-world’

All images © Studio GAINAX All text © Philip Brophy