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Buljan, Katharine: "The Uncanny and the Robot in the Astro Boy Episode “Franken”." In: Animation Studies (13. Juli 2009)<http://journal.animatio ... -boy-episode-“franken”/> (Zugriff: 29. Aug. 2011)
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|Resource type: Web Article
BibTeX citation key: Buljan2009
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Keywords: Animation, Freud. Sigmund, Japan, Randformen des Comics, Tezuka. Osamu
Collection: Animation Studies
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In the story of ‘Franken’, by Osamu Tezuka, humans flee in horror at the sight of a robot named Franken, unaware that he is actually on a search for his lost friend, as well as for mechanical pieces to repair himself. Directed by Kazuya Konaka, ‘Franken’ is an episode of the Japanese animation series Astro Boy, from 2003. The story begins with a shot of an interior, in which three thieves from an underground robot theft ring disassemble the parts of stolen robots with the aim of selling them. The sombre colours of the interior without windows and an unidentified, mysterious and eerie voice heard in the background imbue the introductory shot with a frightening and unnerving atmosphere. This consequently acts as an initial tension-builder for the developing story. In deep night, discarded parts of the stolen robots are then disposed of. Out of the pile of these discarded, dismantled robots’ parts arises a machine-like one-eyed creature, with extremities that resemble mechanical feelers. Soon after, the episode starts to switch between shots, following the one-eyed creature on the way to Metro-musements, an amusement park near Metro City, with other shots following Astro Boy’s class day in this amusement park. The ‘Franken’ story is an intriguing confluence of Western mythological and literary references, while simultaneously incorporating the animistic component from the Japanese Shinto religion. With its sophisticated use of these references, coupled with a masterful use of 2D animation, ‘Franken’ delivers an interesting story about humans and robots.
By looking at the horror, present in the interaction of Franken with humans, the paper explores whether Franken elicits an uncanny effect. Here, for the framework, Sigmund Freud’s and Masahiro Mori’s views on the uncanny are used. The discussion comes to the conclusion that while Franken exercises an uncanny effect on the human characters in the story, he fails to stimulate any sense of uncanniness in the viewer of the animation. This is due to a number of reasons, found in the way in which the animation is directed.
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