The Metabolist Imagination

Over on All the Anime, I review William O. Gardner’s new book on the Japanese architects who dreamed of a brave new world in the 1960s, whose ideas informed so much of the science fiction of the years that followed.

“Gardner, for example, finds it ‘striking’ that so many of the mecha shows of the 1970s, starting with Mazinger Z and culminating in the iconic Gundam, should seem to allude so closely to Metabolist ideas of ‘cyborg architecture’ – a machine-based enhancement of human potential that was one of the central ideas of the movement. He points, most obviously, to Katsuhiro Otomo’s Neo-Tokyo in Akira, based on the architect Kenzo Tange’s Plan for Tokyo (1960), which proposed building into and onto Tokyo Bay – an idea subsequently riffed on by Patlabor and Ghost in the Shell.”

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