Japanese Identity in Manga: Race and Representation in Cyborg 009 and Afro Samurai Open Access

Whittingham, Carolyn Rose (2015)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/gt54kn508?locale=en


This paper uses the medium of manga to explore how race, ethnic difference and the Japanese perception of the self manifest in Japanese media. To do so, this paper examines two manga series, Cyborg 009 and Afro Samurai, published approximately three decades apart to examine how the perception and representation of "otherness" has evolved throughout Japan's post-war history. Using an anthropological lens for analysis, this paper focuses its discussion on identity based on a spectrum of cultural integration rooted in the notion of "hybridization." The paper explains that due to Japan's long history of appropriating and indigenizing aspects of other cultures that Japanese society inherently exists as a product of multiple generations of cultural fusion. Based on evidence in the primary sources, the paper addresses how this fusion is problematized and sometimes stigmatized, but ultimately symbolizes increasing tolerance for cultural diversity in Japan. The paper also addresses representation in media, namely how the graphic art of manga relates culturally integrated information, and how identity-based meaning is imbued through caricature. Furthermore, the paper examines the function of racial stereotypes and stereotypical iconography in both series, and how these culturally specific markers of difference can serve to both belittle and glorify the character in question. Finally, this paper touches on how the values communicated in the two series have impacted modern-day Japanese mentalities, and what the future holds for cultural integration and acceptance of human difference in today's Japan.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1: Literature Review 12

Chapter 2: Cyborg 009 27

Chapter 3: Afro Samurai 45

Conclusion 64

Endnotes 69

References 72

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