The Technologies of Isolation

Japanese Studies 30 (2):185-198 (2010)
In this investigation of the Japanese film Kairo, I contemplate how the horrors present in the film relate to the issue of self, by examining a number of interlocking motifs. These include thematic foci on disease and technology which are more intimately and inwardly focused that the film's conclusion first appears to suggest. The true horror here, I argue, is ontological: centred on the self and its divorcing from the exterior world, especially founded in an increased use of and reliance on communicative technologies. I contend that these concerns are manifested in Kairo by presenting the spread of technology as disease-like, infecting the city and the individuals who are isolated and imprisoned by their urban environment. Finally, I investigate the meanings of the apocalypse, expounding how it may be read as hopeful for the future rather than indicative of failure or doom.
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