Humanity Crisis

Adam Mazer '08, The Cyborg Self, Brown University, Spring 2005

Bubblegum Crisis brings the cyberpunk genre into the territory of anime. This popular Japanese cartoon melded cyberpunk concepts like the dystopian corporate world with more traditional anime staples such as giant robots, garish explosions, and a team of young, attractive, wide-eyed superheroines. For the fifth episode of the series, "Moonlight Rambler" (synopsis), it incorporates many of the themes of the popular cyberpunk movie Blade Runner. The episode deals with the two survivors of a space station escape attempt, who upon first glance appear to be nothing more than attractive females. However, as the episode continues, we discover that the girls are in fact S-33 androids who must feed on human blood to maintain their life force. This duality of natures -- so common in cyberpunk sci-fi -- brings up a variety of important ethical and philosophical questions.


1. Like Max in the series Max Headroom, the character of Sylvie is mentally, for all intents and purposes, human. However, her body -- though extraordinarily powerful -- has a grave flaw. Is she truly human, then? How and where does one draw the line between human and robot in this case?

2. The representation of sexuality in the show brings up some interesting points. What does the fact that the S-33 androids were originally built to be "sexaroids" imply about the relationship of man to almost-man (or man to machine, for that matter). Likewise, does Priss's attraction to Sylvie reinforce that view? Why or why not?

3. Does a deeper metaphor lie beneath Sylvie's vampiric nature, or is it a simple plot device?

4. The Knight Sabers who eventually kill Sylvie are human, but they depend completely on technology to be effective fighters. What statement does this make? Must technology constantly attempt to dominate and subdue other technologies?

Last modified 18 March 2005