I’ve been quietly working on it, and occasionally making noises about it, for a while now, but let’s make it official: I am trying to get a new book out by the end of the year, an essay collection about anime titled Animated Discussions.
This will include past blogposts such as “Beyond the Inferno: Situational Ethics in Fullmetal Alchemist”; adaptations of panels like “Break the World’s Shell: Anime Apocalypses as Personal and Social Revolution”; and excerpts from The Very Soil, plus new, book-exclusive content like an essay on narrative imprisonment in Revolutionary Girl Utena and Princess Tutu, and something I’m tentatively calling “Hinamizawa Syndrome: Time Travel as Trauma Metaphor.” And more I’m not telling you about yet!
I’m planning to launch a Kickstarter in two to three weeks, likely structured much like the My Little Po-Mo Kickstarters, and I’ve already retained the editorial services of Kit Paige, the same editor I worked with for The Very Soil, and the design services of Viga Gadson, who’s done all my book covers. I’m currently in talks with a certain scholar (with whom I’ve collaborated in the past) about doing a guest piece, too!
I’ve put a brief sample of what I’m working on tonight under the cut.
Akira is very much readable as being about the anxiety of power. The government possesses power, but is afraid the people might take it away, and so lashes out at them violently, in the form of police brutality. The military possesses power, but is afraid the government might try to take it away, so lashes out violently in the form of a coup. Tetsuo possesses power, but it is new and therefore frightening to him, so he lashes out violently in the form of destroying a significant portion of the city and then turning into a horrible blob monster before leaving the universe. Meanwhile, those who lack power fear those who possess it, understandably given the way the powerful keep lashing out, so they try to push back through protests, terrorism, or, in Kaneda’s case, shooting Tetsuo with a laser rifle.
Ultimately, the structures of power are inherently unstable, forcing everyone involved to lash out violently at one another until everything collapses. There is hope within that collapse, however. The cosmic birth of a new universe through the union of Tetsuo and Akira is paralleled by the personal growth of Kaneda and Kei through their union with each other. Between the two lies the realm of the political, and hence there is hope that the coming together of multiple factions might be able to forge a new and better successor to Neo-Tokyo.
(Given that the logical name for such a city might well be Tokyo-3, this hope may be somewhat premature.)