It’s been a bumper summer for manga and anime in London, with a series of high-profile events culminating in the British Museum’s titanic Manga exhibition. And now for the perfect coda: Anime’s Human Machines, a season of classic Japanese animated features, which runs at the Barbican, September 12–30.
The program is part of the Barbican’s Life Rewired season, a year-long investigation of what it means to be human in an increasingly technological world, and the films reflect that theme. As the program notes put it:
Japanese animation has embraced robotics, cybernetics and artificial intelligence as major themes. It uses these themes to explore complex moral and social questions: humanity’s responsibility for its actions, response to the other, greed, short-termism and a failure to care for the ecosystem that sustains us. What emerges from these films is how our own view of technology has changed since the earliest in the season was released in 1989, and how humanity still refuses responsibility for the impact of its actions.
There are eight features in all: seven animated titles, from master directors like Mamoru Oshii, Mamoru Hosoda, and Satoshi Kon, and the live-action Tetsuo, The Iron Man, a cyberpunk masterpiece which widely influenced the anime that followed. The films are: