- JunCture : 超域的日本文化研究 (ISSN:18844766)
- vol.3, pp.140-153, 2012-03-06
In recent years, both in Hollywood cinema and Japanese cinema, we can find an interesting phenomenon in which a considerable number of narrative films has presented stories of two diegetic worlds intersecting with each other. For example, in Hollywood cinema, blockbuster franchises such as the Matrix series (1999-2003), Harry Potter series (1993-2010), and Avatar (2009) with no exception have constructed two diegetic worlds. Typically in these films, one is the world we occupy (our so-called "reality") and the other is usually a strange, fantastic world. In Japanese cinema, animation films such as Perfect Blue (1998) and Summer Wars (2009) also deal with this dual-diegesis narrative. Notably, this kind of dual-diegesis narrative is rather unusual, according to the norm of classical Hollywood cinema. For what reason have these films become popular both in United States and in Japan? This essay tries to answer this question, apprehending the dual-diegetic structure as a spatial metaphor for today's information society in which we have two lives: one dwelling in reality and the other in cyberspace. Cyberspace is a quite new concept for ordinary people, therefore we sometimes feel embarrassed, puzzled, or even uneasy and terrified in cyberspace. The dual-diegesis narratives we find onscreen are in a sense reflections of this sort of cultural experience we have. However, at the same time, from another point of view, dual-diegesis narratives can also be said to offer us a visual sketch, which I call a "folk mindscape," visually and spatially depicting a cognitive map of cyberspace with which we can comprehend our new cultural experience with a greater sense of security in our minds. Dual-diegesis narratives can also be understood as arguments or statements over the issue of embodiment/disembodiment. The pair of theoretical terms is now familiar in the discourse of posthumanism, the new theoretical trend which tries to question the definition of humanity, decentering the cultural position human beings have historically held and relocating it in a new context which includes concerns for state-of-the-art information technologies, animal rights and so on. In dual-diegesis narratives, the arguments over such theoretical issue take the shape of the protagonists' journey, in which he/she departs from (corpo-)reality and explores the virtuality, but finally comes back to reality, where he/she originally belongs. From the two standpoints mentioned above, this essay tries to interpret contemporary popular films as having something to do with our new cultural experience, which was brought on rather abruptly, when we were left unprepared, by the information technology revolution.