I recently started watching an anime called BubbleGum Crisis (BGC). I haven't see the whole thing yet but I was told before I started that it was a cyberpunk style and so I've been particularly interested while watching to see just what that is. I knew it is a literary style that had been adapted for this anime, but I wanted more. Hunting around on the net led me to this FAQ from which I will draw some of my information
The first component, the "cyber" aspect of the term is all about technology's role in society. "Cyberpunk literature, in general, deals with marginalized people in technologically-enhanced cultural 'systems'." The omnipotent coporation Genom is the source of the problem in BGC. There is so much technology and information out there in the world that people are no longer able to control it, but are instead controlled by it. This includes technology extending directly to the human body as well. Implants, fancy robotic suits and more. Humans become part of the machine. We need look no further than Boomers and Hardsuits to see this in BGC.
Now for the punk aspect. While the system may swallow most people, the "punks" are those who live on the fringes of society. They are basically your criminals, mercenaries, discontents and others that are part of any culture. Here however, they have a romanticized role. Not to say they are good. They have found ways to use the system for their own benefit, and that is their primary concern. They can appear as heroes though because the system they are working against is always repressive and evil, trapping people in a sense of hopelessness. The Knight Sabers of BGC can be fit into this mold.
BGC is "action-packed" without laying out motives for the different parties involved. The motives are there, but if you're not careful you can miss them. This too, is surprisingly part of the cyberpunk philsophy. If you're a marginalized person, you're not getting anything done for your benefit and you're getting stuff thrown at you without explanation in your everyday life. BGC has spawned a lot of theories and discussion about some of the story aspects that are only suggested at (or so I'm told). Knowing that helps me appreciate it all the more, since before I was thinking: Well this is just another typical guy anime. Big explosions, minimal dialogue, and fancy electronic gizmos.
The explanations for why this particular style would be a popular fit for anime are mostly obvious. With the correlation between anime lovers and 'geeks' already established, we're the type of people who might best identify with those fringe elements. Hackers, Crackers, Programmers, Engineers, we have some idea of how to make the technology work for us. The rest of the masses are the marginalized people who use but don't understand. Western culture already sees the dominance of big companies and hi-tech ideas. There really can be a sense of hopelessness about fighting against these behemoths like Disney or Microsoft, etc. Even Hackers who are caught breaking the law can be viewed as heroes by the average joe: "Wow look at what that guy did, he stuck it to that company and made them look like fools."
Maybe a lot of you were familiar with this concept already, but I thought taking a look at cyberpunk was highly interesting. I urge you to read the FAQ and then sit down and watch something like BGC with that in mind. It really has helped me appreciate the show beyond the level of guns, explosions and babes.
Sunday, November 18, 2001