Cyborgs have always been an interest of mine. The idea of machine and human integration in various forms for human advancement fascinates me – as such, I love a good cyberpunk or sci-fi show centered around this idea and the moral and ethical discussions that arise from such human alterations. Heck, I even based some of my graduate studies writing on the exploration of various kinds of human/machine integration, using bits of Production I.G.’s dystopian cyberpunk crime thriller Psycho-Pass (2012). Somehow, with all of those boxes checked off, it occurred to me recently that I had never sat down and watched Ghost in the Shell (1995), which just so happens to be another science-fiction futuristic police drama anime by Production I.G. (and the film progenitor of an insanely popular franchise worldwide), and I figured it was high time I corrected that.
Ghost in the Shell reminded me a great deal of Psycho-Pass. The ways in which each of the two works depict crime prevention and the methods used therein is fascinating; the former’s bodily augmentations from Section 9 and the latter’s lack of such augmentations in favor of the Sibyl System and the Dominators presents an interesting contrast in the ways that these two futuristic societies have opted to dispense justice. However, likely because I had gone into the movie with a mindset thinking about cyborg identities and my previous writings, what was more interesting to me was the way in which both works presented cyborgs in their worlds, despite taking place roughly a century apart from one another (2029 for GitS, undefined year in the 22nd century for Psycho-Pass).
Innovation is an idea that’s a lot harder to produce than what it may seem. Within an industry, you’ll see a significant amount of titles or products that all seem to look the same simply because innovation is difficult to create at all times. However, that’s why innovation and creativity are necessary elements. Without them, stagnation starts to creep in, possibly causing the failure of an industry. It’s weird to think that the anime industry would have this problem, what with hundreds of shows and multiple unique ideas being produced every single year. Even though some may say there’s a decline, numbers show that the anime industry has been happily growing since the 90s with more and and more shows and larger profits being made. However, just like other inevitable phenomena — war, famine, another shitty parody movie that tries to be Airplane but fails — there are times in an industry that creativity and innovation are not as present or simply very much needed. The early 2000s was a situation like this for anime. The industry was just starting to grow after the mega hits of the late 90s, and needed something new in order to inspire others and rocket itself into the massive industry that it is today. A few shows started to display interesting ideas that were based around older series (such as One Piece, Rurouni Kenshin, Gundam), but I would argue FLCL (pronounced “Fooly Cooly”) was that one big thing that had such massive creativity that it showed not only what anime could do, but how the industry could turn from a once blossoming tree, which slowly grows each year, into a gargantuan oak that eats orcs and takes down Saruman in the second act. FLCL is inspirational because the show itself is an inspired work. It wore its heart on its sleeve and showed a massive amount of references and wacky humor while attempting to combine interesting ideas from many different places. FLCL’s philosophy is, in a sense, the same as a monkey’s attempt at art: Throw as much shit on the wall as you can and use what sticks. However, this works so well because what stuck was so polished and great that it didn’t matter if it was the weirdest piece of art a creature could excrete and smear on a wall.