“On the Recent Tonality of Panpsychism in Japanese Animation"

Presented By: Toshiya Ueno, Wako University

This paper explores the meaning of non-human agency and characters in recent Japanese animation. There have been some intriguing currents in recent years. Many animations and manga are concerned with non-human agencies. Non-human or non-living beings are focused on the form of characters and protagonists of some anime pieces. One facile example, Tales of Agriculture, a.k.a. Moyashimon, is highlighted and scrutinized in this presentation. In this narrative setting, the protagonist agricultural university student can communicate with microbes or bacteria, and even envision all operations of microorganisms in our everyday life. What kinds of methods and perspectives can afford a proper explanation for the plural appearances of this current in the anime and manga genre? This paper will address the recent discussion on panpsychism in both scenes of cognitive science and contemporary philosophy. Unlike a metaphorical anthropomorphism or cozy animism, panpsychism problematizes the relation of thinking and being, subjectivities and the world, mind and nature with which Cartesian or Kantian framework has dealt in a conventional manner. It doesn’t claim that everything, including non-humans, non-living beings, even things and objects, can hold an intelligence, but suggests the notion of a certain sentience in everything, rather than invoking the presence of intelligence or mind. Panpsychism can be a clue or secret kernel of contemporary animations.