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Blurring the screen: the fragmented self, the database, and the narratives of Satoshi Kon



Dream states, virtual identities, shadow selves, psychological deformations of space and time and many more – these are the cinematic narratives that the Japanese animator Satoshi Kon spectacularly created. When dealing with a permissive medium such as animation, termed by the American theorist Paul Wells as extending the limits of both imagination and human consciousness (1998), and following the idea of a speciļ¬c form of animation that is anime (Japanese animation), which creates a blending of reality and fantasy in what Susan Napier termed the fantasyscape (2001), one must wonder what the underlying stake is for the future of narrative.

Also, in a moment when the database as concept is considered a new form of fan consumption (Azuma, 2009) and, even, a new cultural form (Allan Cameron, 2009), thus transforming the way narrative is performed and consumed, anime researcher Brian Ruh went even further in analyzing anime as sustaining the formation of a global database fantasyscape (2014).

The current paper proposes to explore the concept of database in connection to narrative, identity and anime. Thus, the paper will start with the representations of identity in relation to space, time, the real and the virtual, while using the operational concepts of modular narratives (Allan Cameron, 2009) and remediation (Bolter & Grusin, 1999) in analyzing Satoshi Kon’s Perfect blue (1997) and Paprika (2006). Is the database an exploration or a reaction to contemporary anxieties? Is it a reaction to the liquid modernity and the fragmented self (Zygmunt Bauman, 2013)? Is it a symptom or a warning for all of the above?

Keywords: apanese popular culture, animation, remediation, database fantasyscape, modular narratives