J a p a n e s e    C u l t u r e

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.

Monday, June 06, 2016


Masked Rider's Icon: Eye-soul

Masked Rider's Icon (Eye-soul)

The latest masked rider symbolic transformation item from the 2016 series Masked Rider Ghost (仮面ライダーゴースト) is called an "icon" using the characters for eye and soul (目魂). That the transformation item is some sort of symbol is common to all the transformation items of super sentai (power rangers), ultraman, masked riders, Mirrorman, Mito Kōmon, real members of totemistic tribes such as the Aranda, as well as the symbol collecting Japanese Shinto practitioners. The Japanese traditionally believed they received their soul vectored by a symbol received from shines in the form of shinpu, ofuda,or omamori amulet. Mirrorman, the closest to the Shinto tradition, would transform to his super form thanks to a shrine amulet, while standing in front of a mirror.

That these iconic amulets vector something supernatural from the country of light (Ultraman) is also clear. With this particular symbolic transformation item it is becoming increasing clear that these icons vector an "eye" or perspective such that their wearer or consumer may be transformed into the heroic suit or mask, representing visual appearance. One could only identify with a visual appearance by also internalising another. In the case of masked rider Ghost, these others are heroes such as Isaac Newton, Miyamoto Musashi, and the protagonist's father. Internalising the icon of the father allows the protagonists to internalise the father's eye. The "icon" as "eye soul" pun is Tsuburaya genius.

Another commonality shared by many transformatory symbols, such as Masked Rider Orz Medals, Masked Rider Ghost's Icons, and the Tjurunga or "bull roarers" of the Aranda (I made one) is that they are symbols that make a noise, as if reading themselves. If there were ever a visual symbol that could read itself it would 'prove' that the symbol is not merely formal (arbitrary) but an ontological part of a real world, and perhaps that there is of necessity a third person viewer to read it. Intrinsic icons that combine sound and vision, introduce that gap or distance into the world required for self sight. Icons that can read themselves do indeed therefore contain (or would if such things existed) "eye souls," the eye of the soul, that allow those possessed to transform into the seen.

These symbolic catalysts have the same, but 'Nacalianly transformed,' function as the Lacanian mirror image which is or appears to be a image that sees itself. The Lacanian mirror image, Superman's suit and indeed our own faces, is something that misguides or conceals our whispered identity, but it is also the condition for linguistic self-hood. The catalyst or condition for the linguistic world is that two things are the same. That is the importance of Jackson's red, all the images that Western pilgrims go to see, or the wafer in mass. They prove identity. The catalyst or condition for the visual world is that there is something that is two things, a symbol that reads itself, that can intrinsically be read. The Japanese need to prove an intrinsic distance. Westerners need to prove an intrinsic identity.

Both world views are magical but which is best? Keeping ones symbols on the outside, on ones forehead, or in ones watch or belt, is imho a lot more healthy.

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