Dylan O’Brien

Magic, Aliens, Robots, and Eco-Ability: Heisei Era (1989-Present) Japanese Young Adults’ Animation as Eco-ability Pedagogy

By, Dylan O’Brien


Post-World War IIJ apanese literature has, as a whole, demonstrated a move
towards educating the public on social issues, with authors such as Kenzaburo Oe and Haruki Murakami penning works that deal with the earth, dis-ability, and nonhuman  animals. Anime, or Japanese animated film, has emerged as a primary way in which young adults consume literature in Japan, and it contains themes and messages much in line with the new theory of eco-ability. I will explore this trend in my presentation with anime made for young adults from the Heisei era (1989-present) that deals with ecoability. I will end by discussing how anime can serve as a means to discuss eco-ability concepts with a younger generation through an easily digestible meansthat maintains an eco-ability advocacy stance.

I will present a sampling of some of the popular anime targeted at young adults in
Japan since the Heisei era began, and look at the messages of those works. I will use the following as my main texts to demonstrate my thesis: Neon Genesis Evangelionvi (1995), Freedomvii (2006), and From the New Worldviii (2012). All three are eco-ability based texts, and I have chosen them for each having specific emphasis on one of the three distinct parts of dis-ability (Neon Genesis Evangelion), earth (Freedom), and nonhuman animals (From the New World).

Eco-ability is not only an emergent field, the success of which will depend on integration into myriad segments of society including literature; rather, eco-ability is also a concept that cannot be strictly confined to academia if it is to accomplish its goals, and an examination of literary support and extant pedagogy in works can help to advance ecoability as a more widely understood theory and vision of a better world.


Dylan James Hallingstad O’Brien attends Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota on scholarship for his paper on the Heisei era Japanese anime, Serial Experiments Lain, and its relation to third-wave feminism, feminist theology, and democratic transhumanism. Dylan volunteers with the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, Save the Kids Twin Cities, and is a writer and videographer for the Japanese music website, Visual Kei Heaven.


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