Humans, Animals, and Technology: A Single Living Entity

In the animated works titled Momotarō’s Sea Eagles and Astro Boy, technology is showcased as a pro-life entity that organically functions alongside humanity and animals alike. For example, in Seo Mitsuyo’s Momotarō’s Sea Eagles film, stark military machinery is enlivened when utilized and managed by animal characters that note, are essentially human since they sport human garb and demonstrate organizational capability.  And so prior to animal manipulation, the warplanes and such in the Momotarō film at hand are static and darkly colored. In effect, technology is initially unapproachable and threatening in the film.

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Momotarō’s destructive warplane.

Further into the film though, animal activity around the warplanes subdues their violent nature. Specifically, energetic prancing, sliding, and mounting into them and around them transform the warplanes into approachable, familiar objects. Also, the high degree of physical contact the animals impart onto the warplanes generates a sense of organic symbiosis that states life (the animals) and technology are a single functioning entity. Likewise, technology in the form of robots in the Astro Boy animated series created by Tezuka Productions, exists and functions alongside humans. Accordingly, the robots are very human in design. For instance, their social mannerisms and physical capabilities are fairly indistinguishable from that of humans. That is to say, both entities are equally animated, they both speak, and willfully act. In effect, a sympathetic attitude indicative of social equality is established and maintained towards technology in Astro Boy. That is to say, the robots in the series like their human counterparts are victims before other humans and their own kind. In addition, robots, Atom specially, are genuinely capable of emotion. Just like humans, they grieve, fear, and rejoice.

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The melancholy of Atom.

Overall, these personifications shine a positive light on technology.  It renders it harmless and highly relatable, a much needed message in Japan after World War 2. All in all, technology is presented as a friendly effective tool in both Momotarō and Astro Boy that mostly preserves life. Note that this theme is a direct reference to the understandable technological scare present in Japan after World War 2. Its animated manifestation for example, a beaming Atom with encouragingly uplifted hands, gently advocates closure from any technological ill sentiment WW2’s destructive events could have provoked.

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Atom, a friendly advocate of technology.

One final note, both films to some degree present technological violence. For example, Tobio in Astro Boy passes away due to a technological malfunction on the road and the warplanes in the Momotarō’s Sea Eagles film cause great material destruction on Demon Island. It is highly commendable of both animations to define technology in such an objective manner but, this given stance proves to be short-lived since the single anti-technology representations in each film are heavily overwritten by many pro-technology messages. Ultimately, “Technology is a pro-life tool” is the main message communicated by the human-animal-technology dynamics respectively found in the animations of Momotarō’s Sea Eagles and Astro Boy.

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