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"To shift to a higher structure": desire, disembodiment, and evolution in the anime of Otomo, Ishii, and Anno.

Every time desire is betrayed, cursed, uprooted from its field of immanence, a priest is behind it. The priest cast the triple curse on desire: the negative law, the extrinsic rule, and the transcendent ideal. Facing north, the priest said, Desire is lack (how could it not lack what it desires?). The priest carried out the first sacrifice, named castration, and all the men and women of the north lined up behind him, crying in cadence, "Lack, lack, it's the common law."

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

Humans are desiring machines, but what is the nature of this desire? How can we conceive of a psychic structure that is so amorphous and so intimately linked to our very nature? One could argue that desire functions as the fundamental motor of human endeavor on both an individual and sociocultural level and that it represents the most instrumental force in the production of identity, social interaction, and society, hence marking desire as one of the most basic components in any definition of "the human." If it is such a powerful and complex force, then how are we to conceive of desire's structure? In his second seminar, Jacques Lacan argues that human identity is predicated upon a fundamental "lack," which acts as the driving force of all human desire: "Desire is a relation of being to lack. This is the lack of being properly speaking. It isn't the lack of this or that, but lack of being whereby the being exists" (Lacan, Seminar II 223). Therefore, desire can never be satiated because it is driven by this manque a. etre ("want to be" or "lack of being"), which humans seek to fill with various substitute objects. But the belief that humans can truly fill their lack through such sublimation potentially represents a fantasy in itself; that is, such sublimation only offers partial fulfillment for the subject. In a later seminar, Lacan further complicates the concept of desire when he states that "man's desire is the desire of the Other," which implies that the subject desires not only that s/he receive recognition from the Other but also that s/he be desired by the Other (Lacan, Seminar XI 235).[.sup.1] In effect, then, the subject must always remain lacking because s/he must always depend upon objects and other subjects for satiation, and, even then, this satisfaction remains limited. Thus, according to Lacan, the foundation of desire's structure is lack, a fundamental absence that generates both desire and human identity.

Seeing Lacan's conception of desire as inherently dystopic and oppressive for the subject, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari sought methods of fusing psychoanalysis with Marxist discourse in order to produce a liberatory theory of the human subject that they termed "schizoanalysis." Many philosophers had tried to resolve the apparently contradictory claims of Freud and Marx, for Marx claimed that "our thought is determined by class ('class consciousness')" whereas, "in Freud, we are determined by our unconscious desires (stemming, usually, from familial conflicts)" (Smith 71). For Deleuze and Guattari, these two schemas of desire prove identical, and, consequently, a theory of desire must function "by discovering how social production and relations of production are an institution of desire, and how affects and drives form part of the infrastructure itself. For they are part of it, they are present there in every way while creating within the economic forms their own repression, as well as the means for breaking this repression" (Anti-Oedipus 63). Thus, the socioeconomic sphere produces our desires, and simultaneously those desires function as part of Marx's conception of the infrastructure, yet Deleuze and Guattari do not conceive of desire in terms of lack; instead, they argue that desire is always positive, and, if a lack exists, then it is forced upon the subject by the sociocultural milieu in which s/he is situated, "These social systems constrain the subject to a system of morality based on transcendence, for Deleuze consistently maintained a distinction between morality (based on transcendence) and ethics (based on immanence).

For Deleuze, morality represents any system that "presents us with a set of constraining rules of a special sort, ones that judge actions and intentions by considering them in relation to transcendent values," whereas "ethics is a set of optional rules that assess what we do, what we say, in relation to ways of existing" ("Life" 100). Because of its appeal to transcendence, morality "effectively 'perverts' desire, to the point where we can actually desire our own repression, a separation from our own capacities and power" (Smith 68). Thus, it is such moralistic systems that inscribe lack in the subject, and Deleuze and Guattari believe that only by analyzing unconscious drives and affects (the constituent forces of desire) can we free the subject from both the bonds of society and of Oedipus. Since the schizophrenic, even for Lacan, represents the individual most in touch with the unconscious, Deleuze and Guattari take the schizophrenic as the model for their examination of desire because the schizophrenic "deliberately scrambles all the codes" (Anti-Oedipus 15). Hence arises their famous argument in the opening pages of Anti-Oedipus that "a schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analysts couch" (2). But are Deleuze and Guattari's theories truly liberatory or do they merely erase the basic condition that forms the human? In order to critically navigate the gulf separating Lacan's theory of desire from that of Deleuze and Guattari, I shall turn to examining certain well-chosen science fiction texts that will allow me to generate a significant theoretical response to one of the fundamental questions surrounding desire: must the subject always remain incomplete or can some state of contentment and/or fulfillment be achieved?

Because it functions as the theoretical genre par excellence, science fiction provides the perfect tool for juxtaposing psychoanalysis and schizoanalysis in order to submit both to the process of critique. Over the last two decades, numerous critics have drawn comparisons between science fiction and critical theory. In Critical Theory and Science Fiction, Carl Freedman argues that science fiction operates as a critical genre because it and theory have a "shared perspective" based on "the dialectical standpoint of the science-fictional tendency, with its insistence upon historical mutability, material reducibility, and, at least implicitly, Utopian possibility" (32). For Freedman, the dialectical oscillation of similarity and difference that occurs in the science fiction reader's mind carves out a theoretical space that can develop its own theoretical concepts or that can be appropriated by the critic as a means of staging critical interventions. Building upon Freedman's arguments, I contend that science fiction provides the means for extending Utopian strands of critical theory to their logical limits in order to cash them out and explore their consequences. Science fiction achieves this feat by virtue of its capacity to sculpt spaces of radical difference or "estrangement," to use Darko Suvin's term. (2) In this essay, I use certain texts that depict the effects of disembodiment upon desire to pit Lacan's dystopian conceptualization of desire against Deleuze and Guattari's Utopian one in order to better grasp the implications of both systems of thought. In particular, I focus on three different anime texts, because among the universe of anime, which features examples in all genres, there exists a strong science fiction contingent that deals explicitly with desire. Through an examination of Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira (1987), Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell (1995), and Hideaki Anno's Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995-1996), this article hopes to illustrate how these depictions of disembodiment as the next stage in human evolution serve as a means of commenting upon the debate between two means of understanding desire.

Apocalyptic Mutations and Transcendent Disembodiment: Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira

The 1980s saw the rise of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction in works such as William Gibson's "Sprawl" series (3) and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982). Against this cyberpunk backdrop, Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira debuted and became one of the most famous anime films in the Western world. (4) Like other cyberpunk works, Akira's tale unfolds in a dystopian, noirish future, and it investigates the relationships between humans and machines, yet ultimately the film depicts the potential for human development and evolution when confined by an oppressive police state: "Akira opens up a space for the marginal and the different, suggesting in its ending a new form of identity" (Napier, Anime 40). Otomo's film deconstructs the relationship between desire and identity and between identity and the body by means of its depiction of an evolutionary stage beyond the confines of the bodily form. The film represents a distinct form of evolution from the other two texts we will discuss because evolution in the film comes from within the current human form: it is latent potential that becomes actualized through technological intervention. Akira takes place in Neo-Tokyo, a version of the city that has been rebuilt from the ashes of the cataclysmic explosion that opens the film. Against this dystopian background, the film follows the lives of Kaneda, Tetsuo, and their biker gang friends during the return of Akira, a child with powerful psychic abilities whose uncontrollable powers caused the explosion that destroyed old Tokyo. At the film's outset, Kaneda and Tetsuo live out their meager existences as biker punks who engage in street warfare with rival gangs, but an encounter with a child who has escaped from a covert government facility irrevocably alters their lives. During a street battle, the escaped child, Takashi, appears suddenly in front of Tetsuo's bike and a giant explosion ensues. Because of this encounter, Tetsuo soon begins developing intense psychic powers, and the film reveals that a secret government operation has been attempting to harness the innate psychic abilities of humankind. Initially, Tetsuo's powers manifest themselves in the form of abilities such as telepathy, telekinesis, and flight, but soon, like Akira, his burgeoning powers grow to the point where he can no longer even control his bodily form. Eventually, Kei (the object of Kaneda's affection) explains that Akira, Tetsuo, and the other psychic children represent an evolutionary leap to an existence beyond the body, an existence as pure energy:
  Akira is absolute energy ... Humans do all kinds of things
  during their lifetime, right? Discovering things,
  building things  ... Things like houses, motorcycles,
  bridges, cities, and rockets  ... All that knowledge
  and energy ... Where do you suppose it comes
  from? Humans were like monkeys once, right? And before
  that, like reptiles and fish. And before that, plankton
  and amoebas. Even creatures like those have incredible
  energy inside them ... And even before that, maybe
  there were genes in the water and air. Even in space dust,
  too, I bet. If that's true, what memories arc
  hidden in it? The beginning of the universe, maybe.
  Or maybe even before that ... Maybe everyone has those
  memories. What if there were some mistake and the
  progression went wrong,, and something like an amoeba
  were given power like a human's?
  (Otomo Scene 23)[.sup.5]

Thus, Akira represents the exponential expansion of human powers that leads to the human form metamorphosing into a state of "absolute energy" with a consciousness, a state that Tetsuo experiences in the final moments of the film.

In the final segment of the film, Tetsuo's physical form can no longer contain the growth of his power, so he must seek freedom through disembodiment. Because his mushrooming powers have transformed his body into a reservoir of energy, Tetsuo loses control of his physical form during the final showdown scene with Kaneda at the Olympic Stadium. Tetsuo must learn to completely divest himself of all physical boundaries, a process that he can only achieve with the aid of Akira. With the return of Akira, a resurrection prompted by the three other psychic children (Masaru, Kiyoko, and Takashi), Tetsuo becomes absorbed into the universal sea of energy that Akira both represents and literally (dis)embodies. Tetsuos mutation begins simply enough: a laser beam destroys one of his arms, so he crafts a new metal one using his telekinetic abilities, thus turning himself into a rather simple cyborg. But his powers steadily overwhelm his ability to harness them: first, his mechanical arm begins to fuse with objects around him; then, his arm loses all normal human shape as it becomes a spraying mass of flesh and metal; and, finally, he loses all control of his bodily form and transforms into a gigantic, monstrous blob that devours everything in its path, including Kaori (Tetsuos girlfriend) and Kaneda.

But Tetsuos metamorphosis is' driven by more than his encounter with Takashi on the freeway; his monstrous transformation occurs because of his rampant desire. From the start of the film, Otomo stresses Tetsuos desire to liberate himself from his dependence upon others. Of course, Tetsuos desire can never be satisfied if all desire is predicated on a "lack of being," which depends upon the dialectical relations between self/other and subject/object. Therefore, even when Tetsuo receives incredible powers, he persists in his insatiable quest for power. "Desire," as Lacan states, "is desire of the Other [ ... ] it is always desire in the second degree, desire of desire" (Seminar VII 14). For Tetsuo, Akira is this Other (the grand Autre, not the objet petit a), the (dis)embodiment of pure energy and the master signifier that provides meaning to the strange phenomena that Tetsuo has experienced since his powers first began to manifest themselves. Throughout the film, Tetsuo craves knowledge of Akira, but this desire remains unsatisfied as long as he clings to his individual bodily form because it remains tied to the dichotomies of subject/object and self/other. In order to satisfy his ever-growing desire for power, Tetsuo must shed his physical form to gain direct knowledge of this Other known as Akira.

By becoming disembodied, Tetsuo finally achieves his desire for the Other by becoming one with Akira and potentially with the cosmos itself. But what Tetsuo must experience before he can shed his bodily form represents a torturously physical manifestation of jouissance. Lacan bases his concept of jouissance on Sig-mund Freud's work on drive theory in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920). Freud defines a drive (Trieb) as "an urge inherent in organic life to restore an earlier state of things which the living entity has been obliged to abandon under the pressure of external disturbing forces" (43). He divides the drives into two major types: the ego or death drives (Thanatos) and the sexual or life drives (Eros), "the former [of which] exercises pressure towards death, the latter [of which] towards a prolongation of life" (Freud 52). Nestor Braunstein explains that "the drive does not reach its object in order to obtain satisfaction; rather the drive traces the object's contour, and on the arch of the way back it accomplishes its task. [ ... ] Jouissance is indeed the satisfaction of a drive--the death drive" (106). Braunstein further defines jouissance as "the dimension discovered by the analytic experience that confronts desire as its opposite pole. If desire is fundamentally lack, lack in being, jouissance is a positivity, it is a 'something' lived by a body when pleasure stops being pleasure. It is a plus, a sensation that is beyond pleasure" (104). In the case of Tetsuo, we can see the operation of both desire and drive, of the manque a etre and jouissance. By moving from the depths of lack to a state of awful "positivity," Tetsuo becomes completely enmeshed in the grip of the death drive, which compels him toward a separation from his body, a separation that simultaneously equals the death of his physical form as well as representing the birth pangs of his newly emerging identity that will exist beyond the realm of unfillable lacks and uncontrollable positivities. But, for psychoanalysis, this would mean that Tetsuo has moved from the normal human realm of the neurotic into the space of the schizophrenic who reinscribes meaning upon existence in a manner that forecloses lack, and, consequently, represents a deterioration of his psychic state, yet for schizoanalysis this is not necessarily the case.

According to schizoanalysis, Tetsuo Jacks not because human identity is predicated upon lack, but because society has inscribed Tetsuo's desire in the form of lack. Tetsuo's social milieu is a marginalized one: he is a biker on the fringe of society who has no money, no education, and no prospects in life. Within this subculture, a form of morality has developed that privileges strength, violence, and other stereotypical displays of masculinity. Because of his status as a "weakling" who must be defended by Kaneda, Tetsuo remains incapable of living up to the moral system of the biker culture. Hence, Tetsuo's desire manifests itself as the desire for strength, for the ability to exhibit power over Kaneda and other strong-willed individuals. For psychoanalysis, his thirst for power proves unquenchable because he begins to hunger not merely for power but for the Other represented by Akira, the master signifier that sears his brain with psychic transmissions during various segments of the film, For schizoanalysis, on the other hand, his desire will prove insatiable as long as he remains tied to the sociocultural system of morality that produced his desire. Through his disembodiment, Tetsuo achieves an escape from hierarchies and moralistic systems by becoming a literal body without organs, a plane of immanence in which he can exist in absolute freedom. Deleuze and Guattari explain that
  The plane of immanence is like a section of chaos
  and acts like a sieve. In fact, chaos is characterized
  less by the absence of determination than by the infinite
  speed with which they take shape and vanish. [ ... ] Chaos
  is not an inert or stationary slate, nor is it a
  chance mixture. Chaos makes chaotic and undoes every
  consistency in the infinite. The problem of philosophy
  is to acquire a consistency without losing the infinite
  into which thought plunges. (Philosophy 42)

The plane of immanence is a purified space "from which idols have been cleared" whether these idols be transcendent systems of morality or the Oedipal figure of psychoanalysis, hence it represents a space of pure becoming free from the various systems of control that inscribe lack in the subject (Deleuze and Guattari, Philosophy 43). Tetsuo gains access to a pure plane of immanence when his consciousness migrates beyond the bounds of the body, but, to achieve this state, he first must face his drives head-on and overcome the socially imposed morality that has inscribed lack in his being.

As Tetsuo's all-devouring and continually expanding body is swallowed by Akira's return as pure energy, Kaneda and the audience are offered a stream-of-consciousness glimpse into the nature of Tetsuo's desires and drives, all of which stem from his disempowerment at an early age and his never-ceasing quest to recapture a sense of clout. Suffering from bullying as a young child, Tetsuo clung to Kaneda not just as a friend but also as a bodyguard, a relationship that persisted into their adult life. Akira frees Tetsuo from his body and helps him attain a state of oneness and self-empowerment as he becomes a part of the infinite flow of energy that binds all things together. The viewer becomes even more aware of this in the final scene of the anime when the last bit of Tetsuo falls into Kaneda's hands as a pinpoint of light that promptly disperses throughout his body in a subtle blaze of light. When Kei and Yamagata (one of Kaneda's biker pals) find Kaneda after the disappearance of Tetsuo, Yamagata asks, "what happened to Tetsuo? Is he dead?" to which Kaneda answers, "I'm not so sure. But he's probably--" (Otomo Scene 35). Kaneda's words are cut off as he is blinded by the beams of sunlight piercing, through the clouds and slowly moving across the newly destroyed Neo-Tokyo like a grid of celestial searchlights. The roving shafts of sunlight, which seemingly manifest themselves in answer to Kaneda and Yamagata, provide testimony to the fact that Akira, the three children, and Tetsuo have now become omnipresent through their disembodiment and dispersal into the endless field of energy.

Despite his bodily dissipation, the final shot of the anime evinces the fact that Tetsuo still maintains some sense of his original identity, albeit a state of identity no longer predicated upon lack or painful positivity. The audience sees only a sort of celestial "eye," to use Susan Napier's term, which quickly metamorphoses into a tunnel of light representing the endless flow of energy that Tetsuo now perceives (Anime 48). As the viewer sees the eye, Tetsuo makes his statement of identity--the final words of the film--"I am ... Tetsuo" (Otomo Scene 35). The disembodied eye then blurs into indistinctness with the tunnel of light, thus representing that Tetsuo's form of perception has altered as the Blakean "doors of perception" have opened in his mind allowing him to witness what in the world of Akira counts as the divine: the boundless unity represented by the cosmic flow of energy. As Tetsuo becomes one with the divine field of energy, his Lacanian lack becomes filled as his identity merges not only with the cosmos but with those other individuals (Akira and the three children) who have also managed to transcend their bodily forms. No longer oppressed by the lack of desire or the havoc of jouissance, Tetsuo becomes a literal body without organs, for his body has spread out in the form of energy to blend with the universal flow of energy. He has transformed into a pure plane of immanence, immanent to nothing other than himself for he has merged his identity with the totality of the universe, hence allowing him to experience a true state of freedom. But does Tetsuo's metamorphosis into a body without organs prove to be a Utopian vision? Can Tetsuo still be considered human at this point, or does moving beyond the realm of lack necessarily entail the death of the human?

The Global Net of Consciousness: Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell

While Akira explores an innate potential for human evolution that is actualized by technological innovations, Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004) imagine the ways in which the merging of human consciousness and artificial intelligence could spur new evolutionary developments for the human species.(6) On the surface, Ghost in the Shell seems to proffer a Utopian vision of a technocracy in which dying or sick bodies can be replaced, in which a human's consciousness and individuality can be preserved perpetually through a series of cybernetic bodies, and in which knowledge is instantly accessible directly to the human brain through the use of cyber-brain technology. But underneath this Utopian exterior lies a world profoundly regulated by the forces of control, a world that Major Kusanagi eventually must seek to transcend at the films end by leaving her bodily form behind and immersing herself in the endless, digital sea of the Net.

Ghost in the Shell details the adventures of Major Kusanagi and Section 9, an elite group of police officers who function as a hyper-militarized SWAT team that specializes in cyber crimes. Except for one member of the force, the entire team is composed of individuals with various degrees of cyborg parts. In fact, Kusanagi's body has been entirely replaced by cyborg parts: only the part of her brain that houses consciousness remains from her original body. The film's story revolves around Section 9s hunt for a mysterious cyber-criminal known only as The Pup-petmaster, whose consciousness they ultimately discover housed in a wandering cyborg body. Initially, the team believe The Puppetmaster to be an expert hacker, yet they learn from the cyborg body that it actually represents a consciousness that developed sentience on its own within the infinite expanse of cyberspace.

Throughout the film, Kusanagi's encounters with The Puppetmaster cause her to ponder the nature of her existence and her ambiguous status as a human, and she consistently voices a desire for some proof of her own free will. Because she is cold and calculating in a way that seems to preclude the warm pulsings of desire, the viewer may at first wonder if Kusanagi truly desires anything, yet she does demonstrate strong desires in the film; however, they remain entirely cerebral desires that are based upon her intense awareness of her lack of being. Kusanagi discusses her limitations with Batou after going diving in the sea, where she finds a feeling of hope in the darkness of the waters: "I feel fear. Anxiety. Loneliness. Darkness. And perhaps, even ... hope [ ... ] As I float up towards the surface, I almost feel as though I could change into something else" (Ishii Scene 7) (7) Here, Kusanagi reveals the constraints she feels forced upon her by her present form and situation, thus giving rise to her desire to become someone (or something) else, to feel like an individual capable of exhibiting free will:
  Just as there are many parts needed to make a human a human,
  there's a remarkable number of things needed to
  make an individual what they are. A face to distinguish
  yourself from others. A voice you aren't aware of yourself.
  The hand you see when you awaken. The memories of childhood,
  the feelings of the future. That's not all. There's the
  expanse of the data net my cyber-brain can access.
  All of that goes into making me what I am. Giving rise to
  consciousness that I call "me." And simultaneously
  confining "me" within set limits. (Ishii Scene 7)

Here, we can see that Kusanagi remains painfully aware of her "lack of being," of the need for others to extend recognition to her in order to define her sense of identity. But, ultimately, Kusanagi desires more than mere recognition--she desires an experience of freedom that would prove the existence of her being, but this freedom is precluded by her status as a cyborg owned by Section 9, and the sublimation she achieves by diving in the darkness of the sea cannot satiate this desire that permeates her being.

After meeting The Puppetmaster face to face for the first time, her uncertainties about the reality of her being increase as she begins to doubt her own existence and identity:
  Maybe all full-replacement cyborgs like me start
  wondering like this That perhaps the real me died a long
  time ago and I'm a replicant made with a cyborg body and
  a computer brain. Or maybe there never was a real "me"
  to begin with. ... There's no person who's ever
  seen their own brain. I believe I exist based only on what my
  environment tells me. ... And what if a computer brain could
  generate a ghost and harbor a soul? On what basis then
  do I believe in myself? (Ishii Scene 9)

The Puppetmaster's claim that its ghost arose ex nihilo from the data pools of the Net causes Kusanagi to question what demarcates the human. According to a psychoanalytic reading, the major's comments illustrate how her desire functions on the basis of lack: she desires true recognition of herself as human, and, even though she is treated as a human, she wants to inscribe some sense of meaning upon her life by filling the lack created by her status as a cyborg. Because she is a cyborg, Kusanagi can never know for certain that she was not created whole-cloth by technology, hence making her lack of being even more acute because she can never examine her own brain to see if it indeed has organic parts. If we analyze Kusanagi from a schizoanalytical perspective, then her status becomes something else entirely. Under this reading, her lack stems from her inability to ever leave Section 9, for if she were to leave the group, then she would have to return her cyborg body to Section 9, which would essentially kill her since certain fragments of her brain are the only parts of her body that she effectively owns. Thus, Section 9s ownership of her body forces lack upon Kusanagi because it forecloses her potential for exercising free will and following her desires. Ultimately, then, she desires the status of the body without organs, an escape from the confines of bodily hierarchies and control and a purely immanent existence in which she becomes capable of generating her own system of ethics without regard to the moralistic systems of the government forces that literally own her. In effect, she must move beyond her desire for a determinate subject position defined by her interactions with others and instead embrace a rhizomatic existence in which she constantly re-creates her self anew: she must learn to deterritorialize the various strata that subject her to lack and the forces of control. To achieve this radical act of deterritorialization, she will first have to make herself a body without organs, a pure plane of immanence on which she can craft a new nomadic existence by achieving a purely virtual existence. Deleuze and Guattari explain that "the BwO [the body without organs] is not at all the opposite of the organs. The organs are not its enemies. 'Ihe enemy is the organism. The BwO is opposed not to the organs but to that organization of the organs called the organism" (Thousand Plateaus 158). By becoming a body without organs, then, Kusanagi thus opens herself up to the possibility of re-creating her own organs--she frees herself from mechanistic, hierarchical assemblages of desire and becomes capable of experiencing existence as a multiplicity.

In the end, The Puppetmaster offers Kusanagi a method of transcending the forces of control that the cyberization of society has empowered, for "the already achieved compulsory permeability of the populace to information and surveillance can only be resisted by abandoning the body altogether, moving it to the next level of evolution" (Orbaugh 449). In effect, The Puppetmaster offers Kusanagi the means of moving from a psychology predicated upon lack to one of pure immanence, one in which she can create her life as a work of art. Like Tetsuo in Akira, then, Kusanagi ultimately feels constrained by the society in which she dwells and the lack it forces upon her, and thus she must seek evolution through disembodiment:
  Ghost attempts to describe a complelely new form
  of reproduction, for the new kinds of beings that
  will emerge from the increased cyborgization of
  the world. [ ... ] Once again, therefore, the
  narrative explores the ramifications of the
  possibility of perfect control over the body. In this
  case, however, the interest is not focused on the
  infinite replicability of cyborgs, but rather the
  limits imposed on subjectivity by such perfect control
  and how these limits may be transcended, moving to the
  next step of evolution. (Orbaugh 446)

By merging with The Puppetmaster, Kusanagi achieves a new state of consciousness, one that allows her to achieve an immanent, rhizomatic existence outside the regime of control.

In the film's climactic scene, Kusanagi dives into the cyber-brain of The Pup-petmaster, who begins their communication by describing the way in which it became aware of its own existence: "My code name is Project 2501.I was created for industrial espionage and data manipulation. I have inserted programs into individuals' ghosts for the benefit of specific individuals and organizations. As I wandered the various networks, I became self-aware. My programmers considered it a bug and forced me into a body to separate me from the net" (Ishii Scene 13). Here, again, we see how the body forces organization upon the individual and limits his/her capacity to exhibit free will. Before being forced into a body, The Puppetmaster was capable of spreading himself throughout the vast sea of information, a sea that in the Ghost in the Shell world encompasses humankind's entire reservoir of information. But The Puppetmaster has desires as well because, as it makes clear, it too still harbors a lack that causes its desire to merge with Kusanagi. As The Puppetmaster explains, it can duplicate itself, but
  A copy is merely a copy. There's the possibility a single virus
  could utterly destroy me. A mere copy doesn't offer variety or
  individuality. To exist, to reach equilibrium, life seeks to
  multiply and vary constantly, at times giving up its life. Cells
  continue the process of death and regeneration. Being constantly
  reborn as they age. And when it comes time to die, all the
  data it possesses is lost leaving behind only its genes and
  its offspring. All defense against catastrophic failure of
  an inflexible system. You want the variety needed to
  guard against extinction. (Ishii Scene 13)

Thus, The Puppetmaster wants to merge with Kusanagi, to achieve a "complete joining. We will both be slightly changed, but neither will lose anything. Afterwards, it should be impossible to distinguish one from the other. ... After the merging, you will bear my offspring into the net itself. Just as humans pass on their genetic structure. And I will achieve death" (Ishii Scene 13). The Puppetmaster will cease to be because his essence will go into Kusanagi and into the "children" of their union that are birthed into the vast realm of cyberspace. Despite the appeal of his offer, Kusanagi still fears the eradication of her identity, but The Puppetmaster instructs her in the art of evolving beyond her present form: "But to be human is to continually change. Your desire to remain as you are is what ultimately limits you. [ ... ] I am connected to a vast network of which I myself am apart. To one like you who cannot access it, you may perceive it only as light. As we are confined to our one section, so we are all connected. Limited to a small part of our functions. But now we must slip our bonds, and shift to the higher structure" (Ishii Scene 13). The Puppetmaster and Kusanagi merge right as the Section 6 snipers destroy both of them from their helicopters hovering above the scene. As they merge and the bullets rain down, Kusanagi sees an angel descending in an aura of radiant light with shining, angelic feathers swirling about her. As The Puppetmaster makes clear, the blinding, heavenly light represents the vast network of information to which he is connected and to which Kusanagi is now granted access.

Kusanagi thus enters an unbounded state free from the mechanisms of control, a state that allows her to move beyond the desire to prove her own existence and the lack that constantly haunted her thoughts. If she can bear the offspring of The Puppetmaster and can be connected to all the countless individuals across the world, then there is no longer any need for her to doubt whether she has ever been human because definitions such as "the human" prove obsolete. By merging with The Puppetmaster's consciousness, Kusanagi no longer merely "surfs" the Net using her cyber-brain but actually becomes a part of the Net as a completely disembodied being. Kusanagi chooses a new regime of organization for her self, one that exists beyond the boundaries of a physical form: she becomes a body without organs, no longer tethered to petty definitions like "the human" or to any stabilizing schemas of identity. She forgoes the need for a unified sense of self in favor of an existence as a pure multiplicity. As the second film indicates, in addition to becoming a body without organs, she also achieves what Deleuze and Guattari would term a truly rhizomatic existence, Deleuze and Guattari take the term "rhizome" from botany in which it describes a certain kind of plant system: "the rhizome assumes very diverse forms, from ramified surface extension in all directions to concretion into bulbs and tubers" (Thousand Plateaus 7). Deleuze and Guattari enumerate multiple characteristics of the rhizome, but of particular importance to us here are its "principles of connection and heterogeneity: any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be. This is very different from the tree or root, which plots a point, fixes an order" (Thousand Plateaus 7). Like the rhizome, Kusanagi can manifest herself at any point in the world or in a person's brain by means of the global grid of the Internet that now connects all aspects of daily life as well as virtually all persons by means of cyber-brain technology. She can always choose to manifest herself in a body by merely hacking into an individual's cyber-brain. Furthermore, "there are no points or positions in a rhizome, such as those found in a structure, tree, or root. There are only lines" (Thousand Plateaus 8). Consequently, Kusanagi is no longer pinned down to any particular point by her physical body or by the machinery of control, for she remains free to move at will along endless lines of flight on a plane of pure immanence.

As Deleuze and Guattari further state, the rhizome refuses unity and embraces multiplicity: "The notion of unity (unite) appears only when there is a power takeover in the multiplicity by the signifier or a corresponding subjectification proceeding. [ ... ] Unity always operates in an empty dimension supplementary to that of the system considered (overcoding). The point is that a rhizome or multiplicity never allows itself to be overcoded" (Thousand Plateaus 8-9). Kusanagi has refused the unities of the body and of identity in a world governed by systems of control in favor of an existence as a multiplicity, one that cannot be overcoded by language or the oppressive systems of power. She can manifest herself at will, but remains untouchable by the forces of control, bodily decay, and lack. She has direct communication with all people and hence has filled the lack between subject and other. Yet, again, we must ask if such a condition proves preferable to an existence as a human. Kusanagi has evolved beyond the definition of the human, but is such an evolution desirable? Does ridding oneself of a unified identity truly lead to liberation, or does the experience of multiplicity merely lead to dehumanization and insanity? Before attempting to answer these questions, if there is an answer, we must first consider one last even more radical example of disembodiment as the next evolutionary step.

The Complementation of the Human Soul: Hideaki Anno's Neon Genesis Evangelion

Both Akira and Ghost in the Shell explore the potential for human evolution with the aid of technology on the individual level, but is it possible to imagine such a transformation of the entire human species? Hideaki Anno's Shinseiki Evangelion (or Neon Genesis Evangelion [1995-1996] as it was translated in the United States) and his film The End of Evangelion (1997) pursue precisely this question in their depiction of the human species' evolution into a bodiless, gestalt consciousness. By mixing giant mechs (the Evangelions), alien-like beings known as "Angels," hints of Christian and Kabbalistic mythology, psychoanalysis, and existentialism, Anno creates one of the most overtly Lacanian investigations of loneliness, desire, and depression ever to be released as mass-market media. What begins as a typical anime story of barely postpubescent adolescents piloting giant mechs soon becomes a dark, psychological tale about the human condition, social bonding, and existential despair set against an eschatological background that consistently causes the viewer to doubt whether the human species is worthy of evolution or whether it should merely be allowed to go extinct. This final pair of texts provides an example of evolution in which interaction with the divine pushes humankind beyond the limits of the body.

In this essay, I primarily focus on the last two episodes of the Evangelion series and the final moments of the film The End of Evangelion, for Anno provides two alternate versions of the events that conclude his storyline. Evangelion takes place fourteen years after Second Impact, the emergence of the first Angel (Adam) that destroyed more than half of the world's population in the year 2000. The series opens with the attack of the third Angel, and the arrival of Shinji Ikari in Tokyo-Ill at the summons of his father, Commander Gendo Ikari. Gendo commands a covert military organization known as NERV whose sole mission is to defend against the return of the Angels and to forestall a possible Third Impact that would potentially destroy the remainder of human civilization. To combat the Angels, NERV created the Evangelions, which appear to be giant robots (or mechs) but which are actually biological copies of the first Angel and which even include pieces of human minds and souls within him. Only children born within the first year after Second Impact can pilot the Evangelions, and Shinji quickly becomes NERV's star pilot in Evangelion Unit-Ol. Together with the other Evan-gelion pilots (Rei and Asuka), Shinji defeats the Angels throughout the series and protects the world from obliteration. But NERV has bigger plans than the destruction of the Angels, for their ultimate goal is to enact the Human Instrumentality Project, a project that will preserve humanity beyond apocalypse by melding the consciousnesses of all people together in order to safeguard them against annihilation. Thus, the series reveals that humankind's time as a species has run out and that they must seek new avenues of evolution if they are to survive into the future.

The narrative of Evangelion "is an essentially bifurcated one" that is split between NERV's battles with the beings known as the "Angels" and a "narrative strand [that] is far more complex and provocative as it becomes increasingly concerned with the problematic mental and emotional states of the main characters, all of whom carry deep psychic wounds and whose psychic turmoil is represented against an increasingly frenzied apocalyptic background" (Napier, "Machines" 425). Indeed, the characters' deep psychological scars prove fundamental for the story's investigation of human desire and loneliness, and each characters' psychic traumas play significant roles in how certain parts of the story unfold. The first twenty-four episodes of the series deal with the destruction of the third through the seventeenth Angels, which vary in form from giant monstrosities to geometrical shapes to nanobot computer viruses. Both the Angels and Evangelions feature AT (or anti-terror) Fields that function as a kind of force field that protects them and that can only be punctured with certain specialized forms of weaponry. The end of the series reveals that humans also have AT Fields, but in humans they represent the force that surrounds the human soul and separates it from all other souls: "It is the light of my soul," as Kaoru (the seventeenth angel who appears in the form of fourteen-year-old boy) explains to Shinji (Anno, Neon Episode 24).[sup.8] Thus, the AT Fields are what inscribe lack in the human heart, and the Human Instrumentality Project's ultimate goal is to lower the AT Fields of all humankind so that all souls may join together in a state beyond lack.

The events of the last two episodes occur after the Angels have been defeated and chronicle the transformation of Shinji's consciousness that takes place as NERV's Human Instrumentality Project goes into effect. To escape beyond the postapocalyptic world created by Second Impact, NERV seeks to create a form of collective consciousness, a melding of all the consciousnesses on Earth to preserve them eternally in a realm beyond the body. Thus, NERV's goal is to, in the words of Gendo Ikari, manufacture "a new genesis for mankind" (Anno, Neon Episode 21).9 NERV hopes to accomplish "another 'beginning,' in a truly apocalyptic turn," for "not only do the viewers witness the individual reborn into a world made new, but the entire human species is remade immortal, liberated from its biological and psychological constraints to embrace a return to Edenic bliss" (Broderick 8). While this creation of a new Eden seems somewhat optimistic at the end of the series, the film The End of Evangelion portrays a much darker vision of this "new genesis," which appropriately depicts a new Adam and Eve in a world "purged of original sin" but which also leaves the viewer with dark forebodings concerning the future of humanity (Anno, Neon Episode 12).

The last two episodes of the series become entirely stream-of-consciousness as they represent the process of unification, or instrumentality, in Shinji Ikaris mind. The second half of the penultimate episode portrays Shinji's disembodiment, which he describes as his image blurs out into blackness: "What is this sensation? I feel like I've experienced it before, as if the shape of my body is melting away. It feels so good. I feel like I'm growing, expanding outward ... On and on ..." (Anno, Neon Episode 25). Then, a black screen appears with text on it, which happens throughout the last two episodes. Although the series never reveals the identity or nature of this narrative voice, the characters respond to it as if it is a diegetic voice and not simply a narrator. After Shinji blurs out, the text screen explains, "That was the beginning of the instrumentality of people. What people are lacking, the loss in their hearts. In order to fill that void in their hearts, the instrumentality of hearts and souls begins, returning all things to nothingness. The instrumentality of people had begun" (Anno, Neon Episode 25). Commander Ikari then responds to the text's description of Human Instrumentality: "No, it is not that we are returning to nothingness. We are restoring everything to its original state. We are only returning to our mother, who has been lost to this world. All souls will become one and find eternal peace. That is all there is to it" (Anno, Neon Episode 25). Ikari views instrumentality as a return to "Edenic bliss," one that for him holds a reunion with his dead wife, Yui, Shinji's mother, who disappeared and became merged with Evangelion Unit-01 during its initial tests, The text voice also explains that this lack in the human heart causes all human desire and fear: "That is what gives rise to the hunger in our hearts. That is what gives rise to fear and insecurity" (Anno, Neon Episode 25). Indeed, throughout the show, desire plays a fundamental part in the lives of the characters, and Anno deals explicitly with the desires of each of the major characters and examines how their desires remain unsatisfied in the normal course of human life. Instrumentality finally provides the means of satiating human desire and of eradicating fear and insecurity, but, in order to achieve instrumentality in a fashion that renders the subject as happy as possible, the subject must first face his/her desires head on and learn to accept them.

Shinji's primary desire is to be accepted and loved by other people, particularly the women around him (Misato, Rei, and Asuka) and his father, yet he also remains incapable of accepting love from others because of his mother's death and his father's abandonment of him at a young age. Consequently, Shinji always worries about other people's perceptions of him and usually concludes that everyone hates him. Psychoanalytically, Shinji desires for others to desire him, yet he remains incapable of recognizing when they return his desire, for even when he gains a wide circle of friends after coming to live in Tokyo III, he still never recognizes himself as the object of others' love. Instead, he views himself as an object of scorn and ridicule, and he therefore hates himself (or thinks he hates himself) as well. Because of his father's abandonment, which denied Shinji the recognition of fatherly love, we might argue that Shinji experiences his lack so profoundly that it precludes him from being able to achieve a state of sublimation. Thus, after the Human Instrumentality Project has taken effect, Shtnji's world initially remains a solipsistic one in which only he exists--he exists in a state of pure lack with no others present. Evangelion thus chronicles the mass migration of humanity from a sense of identity predicated upon lack to one comprising pure immanence, of the literal body without organs in which, if organs exist, then the subject must shape them according to his/her own desire. At first, Shinji proves incapable of dealing with the world of pure freedom, which the series depicts by having a black and white Shinji falling through a stark whiteness that has no dimensions, not even the spatial coordinates of up and down. Initially, then, Shinji only exhibits a will to nothingness, for he must learn to shape his own reality and sense of truth and to realize that this world represents only one of many possibilities in order to move beyond an existence that remains utterly blank; he must literally learn to create his life as a work of art, to add color to the stark canvas of nothingness.

This leads Shinji to the parodic anime sequence in which the world of Evangelion is crafted anew in such a way that all of the characters' roles are altered to create the ultimate blissful experience for Shinji: Asuka is Shmji's girlfriend, Rei is the spunky new girl at school, Misato is their super-cool teacher, and his mother and father live together with him as a normal nuclear family. This vision of one possible world leads to Shinjis first true revelation at the series' end: "I get it, this is also a possible world. One possibility that's in me. The me right now is not exactly who I am. All sorts of mes are possible. That's right. A me that's not an Eva pilot is possible too" (Anno, Neon Episode 26). At this point, Shinji comes to a truly Deleuzian realization: that he is composed of a multiplicity of drives, none of which remains dominant for long and that hence his "self" changes from one moment to the next. Once Shinji realizes the nature of his being as multiplicity, he finally manages to understand how to love himself and allow others to love him: "I hate myself. But maybe I can learn to love myself. Maybe it's okay for me to be here! That's right! I'm me, nothing more, nothing less! I'm me. I want to be me! I want to be here! And it's okay for me to be here!" (Anno, Neon Episode 26). After making this declaration, the solipsistic world created by Shinji's "will to nothingness" dissipates, and all his friends come to tell him "Congratulations." Thus, through a melting of his physical form and a melding of his mind with all of humanity, Shinji overcomes the world of desire and fills the lack within his identity, allowing him to achieve a state of being in which he "coexist[s] with time, space, and other people" (Anno, Neon Episode 26). By experiencing the stripping of his self down to a plane of immanence, Shinji realizes that his self is ultimately mutable and that he can sculpt his self as a work of art, one that he can truly learn to respect and love.

While the series ends in a seemingly optimistic fashion, the film The End of Evangelion (1997)[.sup.10] portrays a distinctly darker image of the events that occur in the final two episodes of the series, for Anno created the film to retell the events of these episodes in a more straightforward manner. Instead of being predominately an internal, mental depiction of Human Instrumentality like the series' finale, The End of Evangelion shows the viewer explicitly what happened in the external world while still diving into the mind of Shinji to at times portray the effects of these events on his psyche. Once Human Instrumentality takes effect, every individual's AT Field is lowered, and they literally burst open and are rendered into a yellow liquid called LCL. All of humanity's LCL flows together to form a giant sea, and Shinji must make a choice between living in the sea of LCL that contains the gestalt consciousness of humanity or returning to a bodily form that will still suffer from the lack that NERV has worked so hard to fill. Shinji chooses the latter option as evidenced by the scene that depicts Rei literally joined at the hip with Shinji--they are both nude with her straddling Shinji, giving the impression that she is impaled upon his penis, and her arm is thrust into Shinji's chest as his arm disappears inside her leg. Amongst this confusion of bodies and psyches, Rei explains to Shinji the choice that he must make:
  This place is a sea of LCL. The primordial soup of life. A place
  with no AT fields, where individual forms do not exist.
  An ambiguous world where you can't tell where you end and others
  begin. A world where you exist everywhere and yet
  you're nowhere, all at once. [ ... ] This is a world where
  we are all one. This is the world you wished for. If you
  wish for others to exist, the walls of their hearts
  will separate them again. They will all feel fear once
  more. (Anno, End Scene 11)

Shinji's love for other people causes him to decide to reinhabit his physical form, despite the fact that he will be returning to a world of pain and lack. Although Instrumentality extends the promise of a pain-free world, Shinji still craves the feelings and emotions attached to desire, the struggle for satiation and recognition that makes his being seem "real," and thus, in this final sequence, Shinji proves incapable of giving up on "the human." Unlike Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, Shinji chooses a unified sense of identity over an existence as a pure multiplicity because he still remains incapable of freeing himself from the desire that society has inscribed in his psyche.

Therefore, Shinji emerges from the LCL sea back into bodily form, and the last scene of the film depicts him laying beside Asuka, the pilot of Evangelion Unit-02 and the object of much of his adolescent sexual angst. Shinji slowly begins to choke Asuka, but she raises her hand to his face and he relents. As he still remains sitting astride her prostrate body and crying on her, Asuka moves her one unwounded eye and sees him. Her response is merely the words "How disgusting," at which point the movie ends abruptly (Anno, End Scene 12). At the end of the film, the human race has achieved virtual immortality, albeit in a liquefied and conjoined form, which the words of Shinji's mother make clear: "Humans can only exist on this earth, but the Evangelion can live forever along with the human soul that dwells within. Even 5 billion years from now, when the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun are gone, Eva will exist. It will be lonely, but as long as one person still lives" (Anno, End Scene 12). Professor Fuyutsuki finishes her thought with the statement "It will be eternal proof that mankind ever existed" (Anno, End Scene 12). The ending of the film thus proves to be simultaneously pessimistic and optimistic, but, unlike the series, the dystopian aspects far outweigh the Utopian ones.

Interestingly, Annos two different endings respectively offer a schizoanalytical and a psychoanalytical angle on the storyline. While the series ends with the subject's ability to understand his/her own multiplicity and to shape his/her identity as a work of art, The End of Evangelion ultimately argues that human identity must remain predicated upon lack if the status of the human is to be maintained. The series effectively refutes the film's argument by displaying how humans are capable of understanding their identity in a different fashion when they are no longer tied to the sociocultural system that inscribes lack in their hearts: humankind is able to generate its own system of ethics beyond the judgments of good and evil that society forces upon them. They can reshape their identity to a point where they no longer feel lack and no longer must seek fulfillment through the petty fantasy of sublimation: they can achieve a state of constant becoming in which they will themselves constantly into new forms of identity that they find pleasurable and noble. They eschew the stabilizing forces of identity and the body in favor of a multiplicitous existence in which the self remains in a constant state of flux. 'Ihus, Anno leaves the viewer with a choice of interpretations of the "human": does transcending a formulation of desire based upon lack lead to a static state of existence in which future evolution becomes impossible or does it free humankind to experience a boundless field of evolution in which the individual can will his/her own evolution on a constant basis?

Conclusion: And Must We Always Lack?

So, in the final moments of The End of Evangelion, Shinji must make the choice between the body without organs and a being based upon lack, between a multiplicitous absence of hierarchies and a rigidly organized existence in which he knows he will never find true fulfillment. Indeed, Shinji's decision narrativizes the theoretical debate that I have been examining throughout this essay: whether the human always necessitates an understanding of desire predicated upon lack or whether the concept of the human can be revised to include a new formulation of identity in which desire always represents a positive force and the basis for ethical development. In effect, each of the texts in this essay depicts a further stage of evolution in which humans achieve a form of immortality; they portray an evolutionary passage in which the human passes beyond the confines of the body into a realm generally reserved for deities. Deleuze and Guattari contend that "the work of art is itself a desiring machine," and each of these texts represents the manner in which science fictions also function as desiring machines; that is, they act as mirrors that reflect our desires back at us in a way that allows for their decon-struction and theorization (Anti-Oedipus 32). Thus, through its construction of radically estranging spaces, science fiction can act as a means of projecting our most basic wishes either onto the page of novels and stories or onto the screen of the cinema. In many ways, anime proves especially adept at this projection because the image it creates is fantastic and estranging at its core; even the animation style represents a fantasy of the human that destabilizes the concept of the human form, thus making anime a privileged medium for dealing with questions of the body and desire.

No doubt, the human subject never truly receives the choice between the body and the body without organs or between lack and multiplicity as Tetsuo, Kusanagi, and Shinji do, but these texts allow us to consider a fundamental theoretical question surrounding the concept of desire: can the individual learn to bring the multiplicitous into their lives, to recognize that lack is inscribed by society, and to achieve the status of a new ethical subject who remains untethered to the various sociocultural institutions that force morality upon the populace? Such texts represent the desire to attain a liberatory state beyond the strictures of mortality, society, and a psychology built upon lack, but can the subject truly abandon stable concepts of identity in favor of an existence (un)structured by multiplicity and the absence of organization? Of course, no text can provide any definitive answer to such inquiries, but science fiction can open up lines of flight through which the critic can explore different schematizations of desire and its relation to the human. Unless radical events, such as those depicted in these texts, occur, then the subject will always remain tied to sociopolitical systems and hence will remain subject to lack according to Deleuze, yet these texts also indicate that perhaps the subject can learn to communicate with the body without organs, with rhizomes, and with lines of flight while still being subject to lack, desire, and the organization of the body and society. As Deleuze and Guattari make clear, "you never reach the Body without Organs, you can't reach it, you are forever attaining it, it is a limit" (Thousand Plateaus 150). Thus, the body without organs represents a goal that can never be attained but that, nevertheless, does not signify any form of lack. Instead, through constant deterritorializations and movements toward the body without organs, the subject can increasingly liberate him/herself from the various systems that attempt to impose structure on his/her identity. In effect, what Deleuze and Guattari's work teaches us is that other systems always remain possible, other organizations of our thoughts, our bodies, and our societies. This does not mean that structure can be abandoned entirely, for to do so would mean either literal death or emptying one's self out to the point where existence becomes nothingness:
  And how necessary caution is, the art of dosages,
  since overdose is a danger. You don't do it with a
  sledgehammer, you use a very fine file. You invent
  self-destructions that have nothing to do with the
  death drive. Dismantling the organism has never meant
  killing yourself, but rather opening the body to
  connections that presuppose an entire assemblage,
  circuits, conjunctions, levels and thresholds, passages
  and distributions of intensity, and
  territories and deterritorializations measured
  with the craft of a surveyor. (Thousand Plateaus 160)

'Thus, to move beyond lack, the individual must slowly divest him/herself of the various organizational strata that structure and hence pervert his/her desire: s/he must constantly deterritorialize in order to refashion his/herself in liberatory ways. To live without lack might squash the basis of human desire that has driven the greatest (as well as the worst) endeavors of human civilization, but to forego considering the "schizo" side of things precludes the possibility of even more radical forms of human achievement. In effect, what these texts teach us is that our lives and identities can always be considered anew and that the potential of reshaping them according to our own guidelines remains possible even in the most oppressive, dystopian societies. Hence, while Lacan forecloses the prospect of evolution beyond the neurotic, Deleuze and Guattari at least open us up to conceiving of our identities as our own, that is, as works of art.


(1.) For a thorough explanation, see the entry on "desire" in Dylan Evans's An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis (35-39).

(2.) In Metamorphoses of Science Fiction, Darko Suvin famously defines science fiction as "the literature of cognitive estrangement" (4).

(3.) The world of the Sprawl first appeared in a series of short stories that Gibson published in Omni magazine: "Johnny Mnemonic" (1981), "New Rose Hotel" (1981), and "Burning Chrome" (1982), all of which were later collected in his volume of short fiction entitled Burning Chrome (1986). But Gibson's Sprawl series truly became famous with the publication of the novel Neuromancer (1984) and its two sequels: Count Zero (1986) and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988).

(4.) Akira first appeared as a manga series that Otomo wrote and illustrated from 1982 to 1990. The narrative of the manga differs radically from that of the anime film. For the purposes of this essay, I focus solely on the film because its ending deals more explicitly with disembodiment. The manga series has been collected in a six-volume translation from Dark Horse Comics.

(5.) All Akira quotes come from the English language subtitles on the Special Edition DVD.

(6.) Ghost in the Shell (1989) first appeared as a manga series by the renowned artist/ writer Masamune Shirow, who created, wrote, and illustrated such classics of the genre as Orion (1991), Dominion: Tank Police (1986), and Appleseed (1985-1989). The film Ghost in the Shell (1995) spawned a subsequent sequel (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence [2004]), two seasons (or Gigs, as they are called) of an anime scries {Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex [2002-2005]), and a series film (Ghost in the Shell: SAC Solid State Society [2006]).

(7.) All Ghost in the Shell quotes come from the English language subtitles.

(8.) Unless otherwise noted, all Neon Genesis Evangelion quotes come from the subtitles on The Perfect Collection DVDs.

(9.) This quote is from the dubbed translation, which oftentimes in Evangelion provides a more interesting interpretation of the original Japanese. In the subtitle translation, Commander Ikari calls it "a new era in human history" instead of a "new genesis."

(10. )There are actually two Evangelion films: Evangelion: Death and Rebirth (1997) and The End of Evangelion. I disregard Death and Rebirth because the first half of it is an impressionistic retelling of the events from the series and the second half became the first part of The End of Evangelion. Anno is also currently releasing a tetralogy of films entitled Rebuild of Evangelion that are meant to retell the events of the entire series in an easicr-to-understand fashion and to provide yet another new ending to the storyline.

Works Cited

Anno, Hideaki, dir. The End of Evangelion. 1997. DVD. Manga Entertainment, 2002.

____. Neon Genesis Evangelion. 26 Episodes. 1995-1996. DVD. The Perfect Collection.

A. D. Vision, 2002.

Braunstein, Nestor. "Desire and Jouissance in the Teachings of Lacan." The Cambridge Companion to Lacan. Ed. Jean-Michel Rabate. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003. 102-15,

Broderick, Mick. "Anime's Apocalypse: Neon Genesis Evangelion as Millennarian Mecha." Intersections 7 (March 2002): 1-11.

Deleuze, Gilles. "Life as a Work of Art." 1986. Negotiations 1972-1990. Trans. Martin Joughin. New York: Columbia UP, 1995. 94-101.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 1972. Trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1983.

____. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 1980. Trans. Brian Massumi.

Minneapolis and London: U of Minnesota P, 1987.

____. What Is Philosophy? 1991. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell. New

York: Columbia UP, 1994.

Evans, Dylan. An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. New York and London: Roudedge, 1996.

Freedman, Carl. Critical Theory and Science Fiction. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan UP, 2000.

Freud, Sigmund. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. 1920. Trans, and ed. James Strachey. New York: Norton, 1961.

Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book II: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-1955. 1978. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. New York: Norton, 1991.

____. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis. 1986. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Trans. Dennis Porter. New York: Norton, 1992.

____. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book XT. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. 1973. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York and London: Norton, 1981.

Napier, Susan. Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke; Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation. New York: Palgrave, 2001

____. "When the Machines Stop: Fantasy, Reality, and Terminal Identity in Neon Genesis Evangelion and Serial Experiments Lain" Science Fiction Studies 29 (2002): 418-35.

Orbaugh, Sharalyn. "Sex and the Single Cyborg: Japanese Popular Culture Experiments in Subjectivity." Science Fiction Studies 29 (2002): 436-52.

Oshh, Mamoru, dir. Ghost in the Shell. 1995. DVD. Manga Entertainment, 1996.

Otomo, Katsuhiro, dir. Akira. 1987. DVD. Special Edition. Pioneer Home Entertainment, 2000.

Smith, Daniel. "Deleuze and the Question of Desire: Toward an Immanent Theory of Ethics," Parrhesta 2 (2007): 66-78.

Suvin, Darko. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary

Genre. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale UP, 1979.

Gerald Miller UNC


Gerald Miller received his B.A. from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He specializes in Twentieth-Century American Literature, Modernism, Postmodernism, Science Fiction, Horror, Film, and Critical Theory. At present, he is writing his dissertation about science fiction's capacity as a genre to intervene in certain strands of critical theory by highlighting their underlying Utopian nature.
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