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  • Need for Speed:Anime, the Cinematic, and the Philosophical
  • Katarzyna Wasylak (bio)

In Cinema 1 and 2 Gilles Deleuze writes about the cinema's enormous potential to change our way of thinking. For Deleuze, the transformative power of cinema lies not so much in its being an influential medium capable of carrying across certain political, moral, or philosophical messages as in the way motion pictures technically play with time and movement. Claire Colebrook writes in Gilles Deleuze, "philosophy's relation to any art is not that of offering a theory of art or aesthetics, but rather that philosophy responds to the new perceptive forces or affects which art allows" (54). Deleuze describes our normal perception, governed by limited perspective, as a tendency to organize images into ordered wholes. We are able to introduce some order to the otherwise chaotic flow of images that surround us because we spatialize time; identify it with a subject, an object, and a direction; and consequently understand movement as a shift of a body from one point to another. In contrast, cinema is capable of producing a pure affect of time, the sensation of time that is not referred to any specific body or place. Furthermore, the cinematic can break the link between the affect-image (which expresses the sensible force of affects freed from an organizing subject) and action-image (which coordinates movement in time and space so that the effect is goal-oriented action). Therefore, cinema allows us to rethink time and free our perception from a single and all-determining human perspective, and it offers an indirect experience of time beyond our organizing point of view.

For Deleuze life is movement, ceaseless becoming. The body is the outcome of its movement, so the identity of any object or a living being may only be described in relation to the dynamics of its becoming. Deleuze's Cinema books were first published in 1983 and 1985; however, his theory of a crisis of [End Page 427] movement-image and the emergence of time-image in modern cinema is still valid with regard to contemporary productions. It is even more interesting to explore the theory in the context of Japanese animation; as Thomas Lamarre writes in The Anime Machine, because anime uses limited animation techniques, it must invent new ways of creating motion to fight the unfavorable comparison with full animation productions. Technological limits motivate Japanese animation to look for new ways of expressing movement, which brings the art form closer to the concept of time-image.

Cinematic power has been fully embraced by Japanese animation, which has resulted in this unique treatment of time and movement. Since anime is mostly limited animation that aims at reducing the overall number of drawings (usually there are twelve drawings per second) when compared to full animation (approximately eighteen to twenty-four drawings per second, as in Disney movies), it may seem awkward, clumsy, and simply cheap. One reason for this is that when dealing with animation, the general expectation is for fluidity of action and characters' movements. However, looking at anime from a point of view that assumes full animation as the index of highest quality impoverishes our perception of the former. In many ways, anime uses different techniques from those of full animation, aspiring to the creation of a more innovative means of expression rather than the unsuccessful use of the more traditional animation standards of, say, Disney.

As discussed by Lamarre, the differences consist mainly in the fact that limited animation (anime) uses more static images and an absence of movement that is akin to manga graphics, whereas full animation emphasizes the dynamic flow of movement. Second, limited animation favors graphic design and character design over character animation. Finally, there is a tendency in anime toward flattening the layers of the image and thus reducing the in-depth effect in order to create a different sensation of movement. This technique is characteristic of what Lamarre identifies as the unique trait of anime—anim-etism: "[a]nimetism begins when you allow some degree of play or openness to appear between the layers of the image, or when you flatten the layers to make them look and...


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pp. 427-434
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