Portrayals of Omnipotence and Ascension in Japanese Animation

Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki), Paprika (Kon) and Akira (Otomo) were landmark films in the development of Japanese animation in the late 1900s and early 2000s. Otomo’s magnum opus has had an unprecedented impact on science fiction. Miyazaki’s groundbreaking work established his reputation as Japan’s most skilled animator. Kon’s film, on the other hand, is a showcase of his inimitable style paired with his excellent editing, detailed in a video by Every Frame a Painting.

(Spoiler Alert)
All three sport a familiar plot device that kicks in in the third act: the presence of an omnipotent being, though not quite fitting entirely in the definition. The three films end with the presence and emergence of a godlike figure-in PM, the Forest Spirit, in Paprika, the chairman and eventually Chiba/Paprika herself, and in Akira, the eponymous character. Personally, i found these three films (both because of their similarity in portrayals of omnipotence yet varying style, as well as the proximity of their releases) as good examples of a possible investigation into Japan’s preoccupation with omnipotent and powerful beings (most involve a kind of ascension, a veil that is passed through, a barrier crossed). Perhaps one could go further into analyzing Japan’s postwar cultural booms and how they eventually culminated in such films.

  • Hey thanks for the revision! Actually i did consider putting in under the anime category, but i wasn't entirely sure if it was strictly anime. The anime section and i suppose, by extension, the definition of anime itself is pretty widely contested, but i came to understand anime as more than just Japanese animation but the smaller subset of serialized animation within the larger sphere. I assumed "anime" to be long-form, that is, a series of episodes (ranging from 10-40) a season as opposed to Film, which i thought fit my bill of examples better. Hopefully someone more educated than me on such definitions could help clarify. – Matchbox 7 years ago

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