Soft robotics are all the rage after the unveiling of the super-kawaii silicone octobot, and each new android incarnation out of Japan seems smarter and closer to the real deal. With experimentation into robotics advancing ever further, we’re getting to a point where robots we can naturally relate to don’t seem quite so sci-fi any more. And now, what with the first trailers for the live-action Ghost in the Shell out and about, we’ve been thinking about our favourite cyber-guys and gals in anime; the ones that could someday be a reality, and the ones that take us away from it all when the demons of tech progression get a bit too real. Obviously, one in particular was already on our minds…
Motoko Kusanagi – Ghost in the Shell
Yes, it’s the indirect focus of anime lovers’ attentions, as our first glitchy look at DreamWorks’ version beyond snapshots arrived in our timelines. But we don’t think she’d be too bothered by the social media storm. She’s far too cool to get caught up in such trivialities, and there’s always another mission that deserves her attention more. We love the original Major’s focus and devotion to her work, but also that we get to see more of her humanity in ARISE. As time and technology move forward, it seems her creators and viewers alike can empathise with her love and self-doubt for a world where data, hardware and humankind are becoming more closely entwined, yet cast further adrift.
Genos – One Punch Man
An irresistible fistful of power and naïveté, Genos masks this innocence with his severe stance on his own training. But we know better than to take this at face value, and assume his motivations are as shallow as Saitama’s. Genos is instrumental in Saitama coming to terms with his own power for this very reason. With his disciple to train, he has a new purpose for carrying on with the hero’s life he chose because he couldn’t stand being a salaryman. Genos at his side, he has a new outlook on his duties as a hero. Chromed to perfection, Genos’ many arms complement Saitama’s sheer punching strength surprisingly well. But when he stands broken, wires stripped and sparking, he’s the hero we want to see succeed, far more than his master.
Android 18 – Dragon Ball Z
Never mind that she’s a “fe-male” (cheers for that, Vegeta), the great 18 can give any opponent a serious workout for their trouble. Her sarcastic humour, dragging Goku’s grinning idiocy through the dirt, conceals her sensitive human soul. A soul and mind manipulated for the bloodlust of a rich scientist, with nothing better to do than tinker with his inadequacies in the depths of a damp old cave. “Laboratory”, feh. If there was ever a better anime metaphor for patriarchy, we’d sure like to see it. And just to drive the message home, she’s hot stuff with intelligence and heart to boot. Man, Krillin’s one lucky guy.
Jet Black – Cowboy Bebop
Despite maintaining a certain distance between his emotions and his crewmates, Jet Black is the Bebop’s father figure. He unites everyone on board with a joke over his grouchy disposition, and if he puts food down in front of you, you can like it or lump it. He’s one of those rare cyborgs whose implants are an aside, never a tool or a weapon, merely a signifier of some past suffering. When he’s quiet, feeling troubled, he lets his guard down to us, and we see the damage done to him by a past that’s barely mentioned.
Franky – One Piece
This body-building mass of steel on muscle has an imagination for self-mods the likes of which we’re yet to see in any other cyborg. His creativity sometimes out-weirds One Piece’s familiar brand of zany. We almost wish we could forget seeing his ass-backwards centaur in the CP9 saga, just so we could relive the scene as if for the first time. What’s more, we couldn’t imagine the show without him. Whenever we come back to this anime, he’s the character we look forward to seeing again the most (besides big bro Baka-berg). His melon rind wide, tombstone-toothed grin is more than just a character aspect – he brings the show its warmth, the SUUUPEEERRR sunshine of One Piece.
And with that, we’ll shut down for now, but we want to hear your thoughts. Who are your favourite anime androids and cyborgs, and why? Upload all data in the comments section below.