Anomie and Isolation: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Ghost in the Shell, Serial Experiments Lain, and Japanese Consensus Society

Elmo Gonzaga


The essay explores how the societal effects of Japan’s economic recession during the 1990s are reflected in several cultural texts from that period: Haruki Murakami’s novel The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, the animé film Ghost in the Shell and the animé series Serial Experiments Lain.

Faced with sudden job uncertainty due to the recession, Japanese individuals accustomed to the ideology of progress of a society that values uniformity and conformity have fallen into listlessness and withdrawal. Accordingly, the protagonists of these texts all experience a crisis of embodied subjectivity, or shutaisei that is tied to a loss of community and history.

They work to reconstitute their shutaisei by first uncovering their personal and collective history in the form of a coherent awareness of their past. Transcending their isolation, they likewise strive to develop bonds with others through reciprocal communication.

Particularly because these texts are characterized by elements of the fantastic and narratives of metamorphosis, they can also be seen as allegories of subversion against Japanese consensus society and its ideology of progress.

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ISSN: 2012-0788