Date of Graduation

7-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Communication

Advisor/Mentor

Russell Sharman

Committee Member

Ryan Neville-Shepard

Second Committee Member

Frank Scheide

Keywords

Body Horror, Catharsis, Cyberpunk, Japanese Cinema, Media and Society, New Flesh Cinema

Abstract

This thesis provides a critical analysis of a specific group of films that combine the subgenres of cyberpunk and body horror which I call New Flesh Cinema. Films of this subgenre counter fears and anxieties of technological advancements by re-imagining the rise of technology and its societal effects as a transitional process through the illustration of literal and visceral depictions of the necessary alterations people will have to undergo in order to transition successfully into the new world. To contradict apocalyptic fears of advancing technology, these films offer a vision of a “New Flesh.” I argue the films share three important commonalities: they depict technology as a mediator of our actions, interactions, and perception of reality, they stress the importance and discomfort of adapting and transforming, and they address technophobia by revealing a fascination and fear of technology as well as the need and inevitability of a new flesh for a new world. The analysis develops over three case studies of five New Flesh Cinema films: Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira (1988), Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989), Shigeru Izumiya’s Death Powder (1986), Shozin Fukui’s 964 Pinocchio (1991), and Fukui’s Rubber’s Lover (1996). Through these case studies, I shed light on the social significance of New Flesh Cinema as a cathartic medium for an anxious society facing social changes. This contributes to a larger conversation concerning media and society’s cyclical pattern of influence.

NB: A note on Japanese titles, terms, and names. If the title of a film varies from its English translation, I provide a Romanized version of the original title in parentheses. Japanese terms are italicized with their English translation in parentheses. Names are given in the following order: given name first, family name second.

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