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Japanese Super-Friends as pure Body | by timtak
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Japanese Super-Friends as pure Body

A sub-genre of superhero fiction are partnerships between super-friends, and a human (often a boy). This genre is particularly popular in Japan.


These super-friends are controlled by an otherwise ordinary mortal man or boy. Mazinger-Z was a giant robot radio controlled by a boy. Pokemon (pocket monster) Pikachu is kept in the poket of his friend, ready to fight at his bidding. Doraemon, another robot, lives in the closet of a boy called Nobita. Gundam is a robotic suit worn by Amuro Rei. Ultraman is an extraterestial giant that possesses and is possessed by a kind of policeman called Hayata. Others include Tetsujin-28, the grim reaper in "Death Note", the mother-possessed (!) suits in Evangelion, and duality observed in the Masked Riders such as Kamen Rider Denou.


Western superheroes are far more likely to be a unity that only appears dual due to the fact that for some of the time, the superhero poses as a normal, but "secret" "alter ego." Western superheroes are dual only epistemologically. Japanese superheroes are ontologically dual.


Japanese super-friends are often but not always giants, and often but not always robots. They are also often unable to speak. Pikachu can only say its name, Ultraman can only pant. Many Japanese superheros and characters (such as hello kitty) do not have mouths at all, or have masks which cover their mouths.


Lacking in language, these super friends often carry out the will of their human partner. The super-friends are *all body* - taken to the extreme in Gundam and Evangelion - that provide the power, or technology to carry out the human will.


Western super-friends on the other other hand, as I will argue in a seperate post, are often all mind and no body. They provide their human friend with information. Western super friends above all speak to their human partner. The human carries out the will of the imaginary super-being.


Images from Mazinger-z by joeszilvagyi, Doraemon by Wacko Photographer, Pikachu by ntang, HG 00 Gundam by Chag and ultrama photographed by me but all characters/images copyright their original creators.



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Taken on February 9, 2012