Since the midterm of the class, we have watched several anime focusing on female protagonists or other important characters in a number of different roles. It is interesting to note the different views the creators have on gender roles, and how they express them in their anime, both visually and contextually. For the sake of saving time, I will explore only two anime that we have watched, namely Ghost in the Shell, and End of Evangelion.
Ghost in the Shell has a strong female protagonist, Major Motoko Kusanagi. She is headstrong, determined, incredibly strong, and rather overconfident as a result. A recurring theme throughout the movie is her uncertainty in her identity. Since she is a cyborg, she states that she cannot prove her existence, even if she is told that she has a human brain inside her electronic body, she has no way of proving it. Just because she has a ‘ghost’ does not prove that she is human.
In contrast, the apparent antagonist of the film is an electronic entity known only as the “Puppet Master”. Since the Puppet Master is composed solely of data and only exists within the confines of electronics (such as computers and cyborg bodies), it has no apparent gender, but is usually referred to as a male for the sake of ease. It is introduced as a character when a cyborg body is manufactured, walks out of the factory, and is hit by a car. The body is brought into Section 9 and perplexes the residents, as It contains no brain cells, but the body seems to contain a ghost. The Puppet Master claims itself as a sentient being, capable of recognizing its own existence, and demands political asylum.
Both Motoko and the Puppet Master question their existence, but in opposite ways. The two are drawn to each other throughout the movie and the Major repeatedly expresses the desire to ‘dive’ into the body and communicate with the ghost within. When this finally happens, the Puppet Master reveals that it is missing two things that would make it fully alive: reproduction and death. In order to facilitate both of these, it merges its ghost with Motoko’s, making an entity that is both yet neither. Because both are severely damaged physically, and hunted by many a party, Batou houses the new ghost in a young girl’s cyborg body. He says it’s the best he could get on short notice.
Visually, Motoko is an adult female, the Puppet Master is female, and the final combination is a female child. Mentally, Motoko is an adult, but does not seem to care about her gender. The Puppet Master is ‘young’ and could be considered a child, but is referred to as male even though it occupies a female body. This begs the question if gender really even matters, if a digital being could exist alongside organic ones. It seems as though gender has no place in this setting, as it is only about individuals.
In End of Evangelion, there are two distinct tones for each half of the movie. The first half of the movie offers seemingly reversed,...