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Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Bakugan Transformation

The notion that heroes "transform" (change their form or body, henshin) using a symbol is a very common trope in Japanese superhero fiction from Mitokoumon (who changes when he gets out his seal) through mirror man (thanks JE), who changes when he gets out his omamori (amulet) in front of a mirror, super sentai, masked riders, and here bakugan, a sort of poket monster.

This tranformation provided by the use of a symbol here with Bakugan parallels that provided by named ancestors watching from hills. The ancestors in the hills spread the world of vision out into a landscape. This Bakugan toy however, transforming from a sphere into a hero of sorts by use of a symbol illustrates the way in which the imaginary, that circle or sphere (Heisig, Nishida) of "pure experience" spreads itself out to form the body of the person as "wrapping" (Hendry).

While I admire Hendry enourmously, I think that her use of the "wrapping" conceptualisation plays to prejudices of her Western readers and, perhaps, her own Western cultural preconsceptions. Though she avows otherwise (in reference to her critique of Barthes), the use of the word "wrapping" is bound to suggest to her readers that there is something, something else, something important but ignored, that is being wrapped.

Something is being "wrapped," but that something is more wrapping. The surface, the res-extensia, the plain-of-the-qualia, the tain of the mirror, wraps another mirror. The super suit of Japanese superheros, the masked riders super suit, bakugan body, contains another... (from a western perspective) "wrapping," another "surface." Inside the wrapping is only more wrapping. So the "wrapping" which suggests a duality of wrapping and content is fraught.

The image in Mary's world, ie the world of Western philosophers is, exists, only as a sort of boundary, a veil of perception. The interior world of Mary, herself as narrative, and the world as narrative also, as words, are seperated by a viel, a plane, of the 'qualia.' Words "wrap" words. The interior and the exterior are words. But in between there is an unspeakable, un-wordable, "viel" (of perception). This strange, abject, unspeakable viel seperates the two worlds of words. It is also a catalyst for their separation.

In Japan the word or name is similarly, a viel or boundary. Inside there is only image. Outside there is only image, but in between, that which spreads the interior out into a world is the word, made particular, the name, which has a place, the named place, the meisho, of which there are many.

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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.