Disenchanting the End: Secular Apocalyptic Visions in 20th Century Boys

Main Article Content

Bancha Rattanamathuwong

Abstract

Employing the concepts of disenchantment and secularism, this paper explores the depiction of apocalyptic scenarios in 20th Century Boys, a Japanese dystopian manga written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa. My argument is informed by the analysis of the manga offered by Jolyon Baraka Thomas in Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan (2012). I shall argue that the story in 20th Century Boys promotes secularist values with its emphasis on the necessity of disenchantment and the representation of science as a new secular savior for mankind. The first part of this article offers a synopsis of the story as well as the information regarding the author’s background. In the following section, the definitions of apocalypse in various contexts are discussed. The analyses offered in the third section will revolve around the characterization of some characters in the manga. A close examination of these characters reveals that, despite their mythic roles, they can caution the readers against their own fascination with fatalistic and soteriological motifs commonly found in popular apocalyptic worldviews. In the fourth section of the article, I will mainly examine the thematization of science and technology in the manga in order to contend how they can embody secularist values.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

Section
Research Articles

References

Berger, J. (1999) After the End: Representations of Post-apocalypse. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota.

Bull, M. (1995) Apocalyptic Theory and the Ends of the World. Oxford, Blackwell.

Derrida, J., Porter, C. and Lewis, P. (1984) No Apocalypse, Not Now (Full Speed Ahead, Seven Missiles, Seven Missives. Diacritics 14(2): 20-31.

Dewey, J. (1990) In a Dark Time: The Apocalyptic Temper in the American Novel of the Nuclear Age. West Lafayette: Purdue UP.

DiTommaso, L. (2014) Apocalypticism and Popular Culture. In The Oxford Handbook of Apocalyptic Literature, edited by J.J. Collins, pp. 473-509. New York: Oxford UP.

Dorsey, J. (2011) Manga and the End of Japan’s 1960s. In Graphic Subjects: Critical Essays on Autobiography and Graphic Novels, edited by Michael A. Chaney, pp. 117-120. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Emmerich, R. (Director). (2004) The Day After Tomorrow [Motion Picture]. United States: 20th Century Fox.

Gardner, R. (2008) Aum Shinrikyo and a Panic about Manga and Anime. In Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime, edited by Mark W. MacWilliams, pp. 200-218. New York: An East Gate Book.

Landes, R. A. (ed.) (2000) Encyclopedia of Millennialism and Millennial Movements. New York: Routledge.
McCarthy, C. (2006) The Road. New York: Vintage Books.

Napier, S. J. (2005) Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

O’Leary, S. D. (2000) Apocalypticism in American Popular Culture: From the Dawn of the Nuclear Age to the End of the American Century. In The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism Vol. 3, edited. by Stephen J. Stein, pp.392-426. New York: Continuum.

Oswalt, C. (2003) Secular Steeples: Popular Culture and the Religious Imagination. Harrisburg: Trinity Clark International. Oxford English Dictionary. [Online URL: https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/9229?redirectedFrom=Apocalypse+#eid.] accessed December 6, 2018.

Partridge, C. (2006) The Re-enchantment of the West: Alternative Spiritualities, Sacralization, Popular Culture, and Occulture. London: T&T Clark International.

Saunders, B. (2011) Do the Gods Wear Capes?: Spirituality, Fantasy, and Superheroes. New York: Continuum.

Schoepflin, R. (2000) Apocalypse in an Age of Science. In The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism Vol.3, edited by Stephen J. Stein, pp.427-441. New York: Continuum.

Sontag, S. (1996) The Imagination of Disaster. In Hikabusha Cinema: Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Nuclear Image in Japanese Film, edited Mick Broderick, pp. 38-53. London: Kegan.

Thomas, J. B. (2012) Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.

Urasawa, N. (2000-2007) 20th Century Boys. Tokyo: Shōgakukan.

Wachowski, L. and Wachowski, L. (Directors) (1999). The Matrix [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Bros.

Wojcik, D. (1997) The End of the World as We Know It Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America. New York: New York UP.