30 cyberpunk shows over the past 30 months (and what they teach about civil liberties)


This blog started just before the new year of 2014.

Initially I was strongly motivated to blog a diary of my anime consumption, which initially was disconnected from my cyberpunk fixation.

Later I got recruited as the caretaker of a serious political economy blog and turned it into a current events blog.

But today I look back at what the heck occupied my anime-viewing time.

I started out with Turning Girls, which was amazingly relevant to MGTOW, neoreaction, etc. It is the cynical antidote to Joshiraku.

For some reason, I diverted a lot of time into cute girls.

yozakura quartet


non non biyori


Further, some attention should be given to very artsy shows that clearly impressed professional artists as well as mainstream audiences:

kill la kill


space dandy


Although I tried to find a lot of gritty shows such as Legend of Galactic Heroes and Jin Roh, they are few and far between.

For no apparent reason, I took a sharp turn into cyberpunk.

There were some amazingly counterproductive shows, notably Blame! (Don’t bother watching this show. It makes no sense and it is a waste of time unless you have read the entire manga.)


I tried to review a lot of 1980s anime, looking for connections to cyberpunk, e.g.
maris the choujo – supergal, Dream Hunter REM and NEW,
and dream dimension hunter fandora.

Notable cyberpunk-related titles viewed from 2013 to 2017:

cyber city oedo

The good guys are paroled prisoners who function as cops.


the Animatrix


new dominion tank police

The good guys are cops (with no respect for civil liberties or the rule of law).


dominion tank police

The good guys are cops (with no respect for civil liberties or the rule of law).


angel cop

The good guys are cops. Civil liberties are addressed seriously.


mardock scramble

The antiheroine is a criminal who functions as a cop.


ad police ova

The good guys are cops.


Psycho-PASS 2

The good guys are semi-paroled prisoners who function as cops.


cat soup


a d police TV

The cops all are too good to be true; realism goes out the window.


armitage iii

A very humanistic look at feminism and civil liberties


armitage dual matrix


fantastic planet

Not exactly Japanese, but very much worth watching.


battle angel alita

Not very classic cyberpunk, but beloved by many cyberpunk fans.


ghost in the shell arise

The good guys are cops (with no respect for civil liberties or the rule of law).


genocyber

The government is somewhat sinister, but we are just here to see Tokyo burn. Melodrama and personal desire for revenge, armed with physics-defying powers, overwhelm government opposition.


goku midnight eye

The good guy is essentially a vigilante, but probably has some association with official police authority.


parasite dolls

A very mature look at the morality of police violence and political ambition.


Tatakae ! Iczer One

Pushing the limits of cyberpunk, this does feature symbiotic robots, so it’s “cyber” enough for me.


sen shoujo iczelion


heat guy j

A child-friendly introduction to cyberpunk, where all the grit has been polished away.


metal skin panic MADOX 01

This is the classic Japanese sci-fi that allowed cyberpunk to take root in Japan.


eve no jikan

Civil liberties are relevant, as seen through the lens of romantic comedy.


m. d. geist

The antihero is a criminal and quite possibly a sociopath.


Cyborg 009 versus Devilman

In this fantasy, civil liberties are never threatened because there is no realism.


coyote ragtime show

The good guys are criminals, pure and simple.


technotise

The heroine is an innocent civilian struggling to regain her civil liberties.


neotokyo


black magic m-66

The good guys are secret agent government cops (with no respect for civil liberties or the rule of law).


Megazone 23

The good guys are criminals, pure and simple.


Download: Namu Amida Butsu wa Ai no Uta

The good guys are criminals, pure and simple.


What did I learn from those 30 shows? I learned that the cyberpunk that rings true for me must contain considerable elements of lower-class survival and carousing, not just violence. Stories about carousing ring true to me, but sadly they play a small role in most cyberpunk anime. The low-level struggles of relate-able characters are tough to work into a show about fantasy violence.

And I learned that action movie cliches are like high-fructose corn syrup – they can keep you alive, but they are bad for you in the long run, and they make a lot of things bland and bloated.

The running theme in my reaction to these 30 stories is that civil liberties are important. Cyberpunk came into being at a time when civil liberties were suddenly being eroded. Cops should be ashamed when they betray society by putting themselves above the law. However, action movies glorify Dirty Harry, who really does put himself above the law, and then shows like Dominion Tank Police take that grit and view it through a lens of fantasy.

Very few shows give a realistic view of ambition. Those that do should be treasured. Most shows glorify a prettified fantasy of violence. Most shows are full of hyperstimulating action. Violence is depicted as easy, somewhat like a video game – press a button to start the action instantly!

We are not going to get a cyberpunk that remedies these problems. The real tech of the world is already too different from 1980s tech.

We don’t know if any country on the planet is actually going to have any civil liberties in the 21st century. The USA is a police state. Russia might be slightly better – I don’t know, I haven’t visited Russia.

Cyberpunk glorifies individualistic rebellion. That might be an unreachable dream for the immediate future. There will probably be some rebellions in the real world, but they will probably be anti-globalist and collectivist – in some cases, they will be nationalist, and in others, they will be theocratic.

Cyberpunk glorifies rock and roll, with lots of hedonistic sex. A collectivist future might be sexually repressed. The heroic achievers of the 21st century might turn out to be a bunch of uptight virgins who are coerced by a collectivist ideology.

Further, the sexual disruption caused by widely available porn should not be discounted. In fiction, Pris Asagiri was fascinating because she was a strikingly sexy woman. But if every man in the world has access to unlimited porn fantasies, quite possibly Pris Asagiri’s sex appeal will be obsolete.

So – if any fiction writers are reading this – here are the fictional possibilities to explore. Create fictional worlds with various kinds of sexual politics, ranging from repressed virginity to porn burnout. Figure out whether there might be any hope for civil liberties. And remember to read Jeter’s Dr. Adder before you start writing.

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