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Living between Infrastructures:

Commuter Networks, Broadcast TV, and Mobile Phones

Thomas Lamarre

On the evening of August 2, 2013, from nine to eleven thirty, NTV (Nippon terebi hōsōmō kabushikigaisha) broadcast Miyazaki Hayao’s ani- mated film, Tenkū no shiro Rapyuta (1986), or Castle in the Sky in English. At about eleven twenty, the film reached the climactic scene in which the heroes, Sheeta and Pazu, together intone “Barusu” (transliterated as “Balse” or “Balsus” in English), which triggers the destruction of Rapyuta, the castle in the sky, to prevent the villain Mooska from utilizing it for military domination. At that moment, an unprecedented surge of tweets occurred, 143,199 within a single second, or twenty-five times the usual volume. As the Economist noted, because Twitter successfully dealt with the spike, the event not only served to confirm its technological robustness but also helped Dick Costolo, its chief executive, to further his promotion of tweeting while watching TV, styling Twitter as a “second screen.”1 Costolo had already given a talk in Tokyo on Twitter usage in Japan,

Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own. 1. “How Did a Japanese Anime Film Set a Twitter Record,” August 20, 2013, www.economist


boundary 2 42:3 (2015) DOI 10.1215/01903659-2919558 © 2015 by Duke University Press

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on April 16, 2012, in which he called attention to the current record for tweets per second (11,349), also during a television broadcast of Rapyuta, in 2011.2 Generally speaking, tweets hit new peaks during big TV events, such as the Super Bowl, or in response to mass media events (the announcement of Beyoncé’s pregnancy).3 The surges associated with Miyazaki’s animated film are more pronounced and concentrated due to the practice among fans of responding to a specific moment in a film. As such, they imply a specific kind of connection between television audiences and social media, between the small screen and a smaller mobile phone screen, which is increasingly pitched as a second screen, or a companion screen, to the television screen. The blogger Mizuiro Ahiru describes the connection between the two screens in this way: “Rapyuta is a wonderful film but surely we’ve all seen it enough. And yet this year, the audience ratings went way up. The motivation behind ‘tweeting Barusu’ is less one of ‘watching TV and shout- ing Barusu’ and more one of ‘watching Rapyuta to participate in the fes- tive event (matsuri ) of shouting Barusu with everybody.’ Even if people are watching it alone in their houses, Barusu lets them ‘be with everybody.’”4 Such a festive event, as this blogger and others were quick to note in the wake of a report by Twitter Japan, entailed a very close, even intimate relation (missetsu) between broadcast ratings and tweeting.5 Tweeting had dramatically improved television ratings for Rapyuta: audience ratings had dropped to 15.9 percent at the time of the Rapyuta tweet surge in 2011, while the 2013 broadcast culled an impressive 18.5 percent. It is not surpris- ing that the term matsuri (festival or celebration) appears to describe fan- created connections between the small screen and the smaller screen: the term often arises in the context of fan interactions with media beyond one- time consumption of a product (for instance, the manga market Comiket and anime-related tourism). What demands further consideration, however, is the aura of success and happy synergy that surrounds the responses

2. See the report by Kubo Yasusuke, “Nihon no besuto purakutisu kara manabu Twitter no

kore kara” [Learning from Japan’s top practices: Twitter from here on], accessed Novem- ber 26, 2013,

3. The Economist offers these comparisons in “How Did a Japanese Anime Film Set a

Twitter Record.”

4. See “mizuiro_ahiru no nikki: 2013-09-28” [Mizuiro Ahiru’s journal: September 28, 2013],

5. See, for instance, “TV-shichōritsu to tsuīto no missetsu na kankei” [The close connec-

tion of tweets with TV audience ratings], accessed November 26, 2013,


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to the tweet surge. Everyone appears delighted. Technicians responded beautifully, assuring that the surge did not affect Twitter service negatively. Television broadcasters garnered higher ratings, which translates into advertising revenues. Twitter’s CEO saw his promotional strategy perfectly realized: the smaller second screen acted synergistically with the television screen, compounding the success of both. Fans found new recognition of their collective force. Media remediation here appears as a mode of recip- rocal intensification, of synergy, convergence, and resonance rather than rivalry, divergence, or interference. What’s not to celebrate? Interesting enough, Rapyuta tells a very different story about net- works, calling for the destruction of the castle in the sky, and not only because it operates as a weapon of mass destruction but also because it is part of a highly advanced telecommunications system that works at a distance from the earth, thus distancing human experience from the earth. The threat of the castle in the sky is at once technological (capable of destroying cities from the air) and perceptual or aesthetic (capable of pro- ducing an image of the world and thus reducing the world to its picture).6 Ironically, however, at the moment when, in the animated film, Sheeta and Pazu intone the word that destroys this militarized telecommunications satellite, fans are bouncing electronic signals off satellites and communi- cations towers in celebration. Are they celebrating the destruction of big media or its ascendency? Fans, and indeed people in general, probably do not think of mobile phones as big media or mass media, despite the increased construction of large-scale infrastructures to support service. The notion of the horizontal, leveling force of telecommunications and televisual media, first associated with television (as with Marshall McLuhan’s global village) and then with Internet and wireless networks, so dominates the contemporary imagina- tion that television and social media are commonly assumed to present a force that acts in opposition to the threats embodied in Miyazaki’s castle in the sky, that is, techno-aesthetic “massification” as a prelude to mass mobi- lization and destruction. We tend to think that television and social media have already brought mass media down to earth. Consequently, vertical or hierarchical integration does not come under much scrutiny in the context of the Rapyuta tweet surge. Nonetheless, there are signs of one kind of hierar-

6. Miyazaki’s approach recalls that of Martin Heidegger in this respect, as I have argued at length in The Anime Machine. See also Martin Heidegger, “The Age of the World Pic- ture,” in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (New York: Garland Publishing, 1977), 115–53.

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chical integration at work in the reporting of the event: somehow the collec- tive force of fans (their little village, as it were) has been equated with Japan, with the masses of people living in the nation. The synergy of the smaller companion screen with the bigger television screen encourages a confla- tion of subculture with national culture, erasing any tension between them. This synergy is precisely what I wish to contest. Such synergy does occur, and yet it is not all that happens between television and mobile phones. As accounts of glitches in online networks suggest, it is when smooth functioning breaks down that we become aware of underlying operations. “Error,” writes Mark Nunes, “reveals not only a system’s failure but also its operational logic.”7 The same is true of the relationship between different media platforms or between infrastructures. The excitement sur- rounding the Rapyuta tweet surge came from the fact that it almost toppled Twitter and thus partially exposed its operational logic, including its relation to broadcast television. As such, in order to explore the relation between these media platforms (mobile phone and television) and infrastructures (broadcast and Internet service), I propose to increase the gap between them, looking at mobile phones in the context of commuter networks. My goal is not, however, to provide a full sociological account of commuter net- works or mobile phones, or rather, as they are called in Japanese, keitai, a term that Mizuko Ito glosses as “something you carry with,” a connota- tion implicit in my use of “companion screen.” Because the experiences of mobile phones and broadcast television can no longer be confined to dis- crete places and times, I am interested in the strategies that arise in every- day life to smooth over the differences between them, to ignore or suppress the gaps and glitches, so to speak. Yet, in filling the gaps, people also start to incorporate those gaps into their habits, to embody them. Everyday life becomes the site of forced assemblage. Alongside an account of the experience of commuter networks and mobile phones, I will also draw upon Japanese animation, or anime, for, as the example of the Rapyuta tweet surges attests, anime also finds itself in the gaps between infrastructures. It doesn’t stand at a distance and rep- resent them. Its materials and functions are entangled with the everyday experience of media platforms and infrastructures. Yet, insofar as it tends to intensify daily experiences, anime provides a point of entry for an imma- nent critique of them.

7. Mark Nunes, “Error, Noise, and the Potential: The Outside of Purpose,” in Glitch, Noise, and Jam in New Media Cultures (London: Continuum, 2010), 3.

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Infrastructural Tendencies

Mobile phones appear everywhere in Tokyo, but their presence seems especially palpable on commuter trains, with commuters thumbing out messages, scrolling through web pages, lingering on images, reading, watching, sending messages, or dashing through wickets. The dominant company in Japan’s keitai market is Docomo, formed in 1991 as a subsid- iary of the telecommunications company NTT, which launched its mobile Internet service in 1999, and whose rapid and widespread adoption inaugu- rated a mobile revolution. The name Docomo, derived from the phrase “do communications over the mobile network,” also means “everywhere,” which

aptly captures the ubiquity of keitai. In addition, Mizuko Ito notes, “in con- trast to the cellular phone of the United States (defined by technical infra- structure), and the mobile of the United Kingdom (defined by the untether-

ing from fixed location), the Japanese term keitai

new technical capability or freedom of motion but about a snug and intimate technosocial tethering, a personal device supporting communications that are a constant, lightweight, and mundane presence in everyday life.”8 Still, the distinction between keitai, mobile phone, and cell phone is not categori- cal. It is a matter of contextual emphasis. As Rapyuta attests, when anime stages a relation between television and keitai, it shifts easily from every- dayness to technological infrastructures and to a sense of mobility and dis- location. Such media objects can encourage the overall impression of a decentralized and dehierarchized participatory media world, in which flows are entirely horizontal, and the agency and productivity of media users or consumers are on par with that of media owners and producers. In many areas of Tokyo, when you exit the maze of the metro, you will see looming on the horizon the very embodiment of another dimension of media happening alongside the increased flattening and decentralizing associated with mobile phones and social media: Tokyo Sky Tree, at 634 meters the world’s tallest broadcast tower, completed in 2012, with a com- plex of services woven into it, including observation decks, restaurants, train lines, and stores. Built as part of a major initiative to phase out ana- log broadcasting by providing complete digital terrestrial television (DTT), Tokyo Sky Tree is the very symbol and enactment of vertical media integra-

is not so much about a

8. Mizuko Ito, “Introduction: Personal, Portable, Pedestrian,” in Personal, Portable, Pedes- trian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life, ed. Mizuko Ito, Daisuke Okabe, and Misa Matsuda (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005), 1.

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tion, initiated and founded by the most powerful television broadcasters, with Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai (NHK) in the lead, working with corporate inter-

ests (Tobu Railway Company, Ltd.). As such, it is an integral part of the bid to assure the continued ascendency of NHK and other major media pro- ducers, owners, and distributors, while appealing to national values, unity, and identity. The contrast between Tokyo Sky Tree and use of mobile media on commuter trains and in the streets implies a distinction between tendencies toward what might be called vertical or hierarchical media integration (a tendency more pronounced in broadcast TV) and horizontal or heterarchi- cal media differentiation (a tendency more pronounced in mobile social media). The contrast between the Tokyo commuter network and the Tokyo Sky Tree also calls to mind a now familiar distinction made by Michel de Certeau between the tower and labyrinth. The Sky Tree fairly exemplifies Certeau’s characterization of the tower’s tendency toward panorama and spectacle: not only does it offer the ultimate panoramic views of the city but it also includes a variety of high-end shops and restaurants, providing

a combination of tourist destination, shopping mall, and consumer spec-

tacle. In contrast, even a glance at the map of the Tokyo commuter network

attests to its labyrinthine qualities. As Michael Fisch writes, “To live in Tokyo

is to live on and by the commuter train network. Its web of interconnect-

ing commuter and subway lines dominates the urban topography, providing the primary means of transportation for upward of 20 million commuters a day.”9 Because train lines must run at overcapacity, with cars overcrowded and timetables tightly compressed, their operation builds in a margin of indeterminacy for quick responses to disturbances, including suicides, euphemistically glossed as “human accidents.” Fisch thus calls attention to “a shift from thinking the commuter train network as an active or deter-

minate apparatus to perceiving it as a responsive, interactive technology.”10 The labyrinthine quality of the commuter network thus differs from the illegible compositions of everyday life that Certeau wished to valorize

in contrast to the tower: “The ordinary practitioners of the city live ‘down

below,’ below the threshold at which visibility

these moving, intersecting writings compose a manifold history that has

The networks of

9. Michael Fisch, “Tokyo’s Commuter Train Suicides and the Society of Emergence,” Cul- tural Anthropology 28, no. 2 (2013): 321. 10. Fisch, “Tokyo’s Commuter Train Suicides,” 326.

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neither author nor spectator.”11 As Fisch shows, the labyrinth becomes

a source of legible fluctuations, which register as signatures of nervous energy that fuel an infrastructural system of modulation. The Tokyo commuter network puts a quintessentially modern distinc-

tion in crisis, for the tower and the labyrinth cannot be held apart.12 That dis- tinction is everywhere in crisis: every labyrinth becomes somehow legible, and conversely, every spectacle seems to afford a labyrinthine structure with wandering, intersecting, manifold iterations, which nonetheless lead back to a commodity world—as in the case of convergence culture. Never- theless, even if the tower and labyrinth no longer appear to stand apart as they once did, they do not hold together through some preestablished urban or postmodern harmony. They still afford distinctive experiences, which happen within and through different infrastructures, and which must be forcibly assembled. Rather than a rupture between a modern condition and a postmodern condition, the example of the commuter network implies intensification in the forced assemblage of different infrastructural dimen- sions of daily life. The commuter network serves primarily to get workers from home

to their place of work, and, by extension, to get students from home to their

schools and consumers to sites of consumption. While commuter networks entail a physical link between home and work, they afford an experience of something that is neither work nor home, yet at the same time, feels like both. Commuting time is not recompensed, yet it may feel like work, and, in fact, however long or short your commute, you calculate it into your workday or school day. Commuting time is, however, less structured and

disciplined than work or school, and even if it is not exactly leisure, there

is a sense of proximity to leisure, echoed in the advertisements colorfully

announcing events, products, and opportunities at every platform, train, and station, and in the ubiquitous kiosks selling magazines, candy, snacks, tea, coffee, and other sundries. It’s time to relax, and it also is not. Every- thing conspires to assure that, even if commuters are not at work, they are not at home, either. Commuter trains generally operate at overcapacity, and schedules

11. Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California

Press, 1984), 93.

12. Thomas Looser makes this point in “Superflat and the Layers of Image and History

in 1990s Japan,” in Mechademia 1: Emerging Worlds of Anime and Manga (Minneapolis:

University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 92–101.

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tend to be highly routine, with commuters using the same train at the same time each day, usually encountering the same people. The dictates of cour- tesy are such that you do not address those whom you see on your train day after day: you acknowledge their presence by not acknowledging it. Similarly, while overcrowding means you may be pressed tightly, uncom- fortably, against other commuters, the general comportment assures a sense of contact without contact. Commuting demands, above all, tact— ways of touching without contacting, seeing without recognizing, communi- cating without speaking. Tact might be described as an experience of distance in proximity. It is not exactly that you ignore your body or retreat into it. There is a sense of “mineness,” or self (not selfhood), that derives from your sense of bal- ance and proprioception, of holding yourself together under conditions of tilting, jostling, swaying, and moving, while becoming impervious to exter- nal tactile cues. What is very close is placed at a distance, for touch has been transformed: it comes to operate not as sensation or affection, which places you in direct material contact with your surroundings, but as per- ception, which constructs an experience of distance between you and what lies at hand. The insignificant distances between bodies become experi- enced as significant distances by turning sensation into perception, con- tact into tact, skin into eyes and ears. What arises, then, at the level of sen- sation and affect is an internal proprioceptive sense of selfness, attuned to its world at the level of fine corporeal adjustments. Such a “molecular” experience of the body also responds to the “molar” level of experience: to repeat, this is not exactly leisure, not exactly work, which results in a mix- ture of physical tension and relaxation. You may relax only insofar as you sustain a certain degree of tension, of self-vigilance. In effect, the molecu- lar experience holds the molar experience of the subject in suspense. The overall effect of these regimens of tact, then, is not generalized politeness to others (courtesy is but one practical register) but a trans- formed sense of self, in which the commuting body “reads” or “feels” the train, its passengers, its stops and starts, its pressures and gaps: they are at once out there in the world and in here, in the body. This molecular sense of self brings into play a sense of distance-in-proximity, which might be reduc- tively described as a protective bubble, formed through affective feedback. This is why commuting, at a subjective level, often becomes construed in such varied terms as loneliness and alienation, as well as autonomy and freedom, but precisely under conditions of exposure to crowds, to urban masses, in which what is at hand also feels to be at a great distance. While

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the bubble effect implies certain tendencies, it can lead in any number of directions.

Doppler “Affect”

Signs asking commuters to switch their keitai to “manner mode” (sometimes also called “public mode”) often appear in commuter trains. Commuters are enjoined not to make or receive calls inside the train, to avoid disturbing other commuters.13 Such manners reinforce the experi- ence of contact without contact. Even speech is construed as a breach in the regimen of tact, as if the voice would collapse the sense of distance between passengers, physically contacting them. In the late 1990s, con- cern also arose that electromagnetic waves from keitai could affect pace- makers.14 In sum, the regimen of tact even extends to the molecular level. With the use of mobile phones to make calls thus doubly conflated with adverse physical contact (vocal and electromagnetic), texting becomes all the more desirable. Not only is texting a sort of communicating with- out speaking, and thus communicating without direct contact, but also, as Jared Spool’s discussion of user interfaces reminds us, the touch screens of mobile phones are not at all about touch, in the strong sense of actually grasping things, feeling a contact, or using the finely tuned abilities of the

hand.15 It is digital “not in the sense of the manual, but in the sense of the

finger that

The hand is reduced to a finger that presses on an

internal optical keyboard,” as Gilles Deleuze puts it.16 While the drumming of thumbs on keitai to text messages may appear somewhat less austerely digital than a single finger on a keyboard, there is also the delicate swipe of a finger as it scrolls pages and hovers expectantly. Keitai also provides a sense of disconnecting from your surround- ings and operating in a personal space at the level of attention. Such atten- tion is sustained or underwritten by the molecular commuter experience of proprioceptive, internal “self-touching” under conditions of oscillating ten-

13. Daisuke Okabe and Mizuko Ito, “Keitai in Public Transportation,” in Personal, Portable,

Pedestrian, 111–16.

14. Misa Matsuda, “Discourses of Keitai in Japan,” in Personal, Portable, Pedestrian,


15. See Nora Spark’s CBC interview with usability expert Jared M. Spool, “Hands-on Inter-

action,” accessed January 3, 2014,

16. Gilles Deleuze, Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation, trans. Daniel W. Smith (Min-

neapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), 84–85.

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sion and relaxation coursing through the body, jostling, jolting, adjusting, falling, catching oneself. This nervously energized, jittery, even irritable cor- poreality appears as the dark precursor for an attention economy, like a stream of bodily thought underlying the stream of consciousness. Yet the tactful impulse to shrink from contact also finds an outlet: tactility is con- densed and abstracted into a point, the tip of the restless digit that scrolls, points, taps, and clinks. The molecular commuter self can be intensified or amplified, raised to another level, via keitai. A possibility appears: rather than subsume the part within the whole, keitai amplification of commuting experience can also make the part into a whole. An analogous effect often occurs in animation:

when the experience of commuting appears in animation, a sense of the movement of the train is generated through an audiovisual stream. Lights, and sometimes images, flash by the windows, their frequency shortening as the train gathers speed, lengthening as it slows. Similarly, frequencies of sound shorten and lengthen, producing a Doppler effect. The zipping lights and images, together with the surging and pass- ing sounds, impart a sense of the world pressing in yet not touching. The Doppler effect thus inscribes effects of tactfulness in another register, because it assures that whatever is approaching will soon be receding. It is strange in that it places you in a ballistic, seemingly perilous environment of things rushing at you, and yet you do not feel at risk, precisely because as soon as you detect the lengthening of frequency, you know that what is approaching will zip past you. In other words, if you hear the Doppler effect, you are already safe. Train scenes in animation play with audiovisual Doppler effects to assure a sensation of safety amid the rush and roar of moving at speed through the world. From the side of experience, then, it might be called “Doppler affect,” for such effects carve out an experiential perspective (not a subject position) in a world of movement, via an experience of the body folded back on itself, as if in a sensory bubble. Indeed the “substance” of the bubble is nothing but sensations. Doppler affect can thus amplify the experience of the body tensed on the train to hold itself at a distance from what touches it, generating an experience of the world deflecting and inflecting around an audiovisual perspective. Animation generally tends to enhance such effects, working with a separate image layer for the visual stream that courses past the window, as well as adding Doppler sound effects. Because commuter trains usually run underground through tunnels, the visual stream consists of lights or

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luminous bands, rather than landscapes, which dance across the dark- ened windows. The visual stream outside the window takes on an inten-

sity of light and color, which heightens the sense of its proximity, even as it moves past the train. The result is an amplification of distance-in-proximity. The first episode of RahXephon (dir. Izubuchi Yutaka, 2002) offers a prime example. The episode follows a young man, Kamina Ayato, as he begins his day, setting out to meet a friend, taking the train to Ikebukuro to meet two friends, and the three of them continuing on together. There are already signs of something unusual afoot behind the scenes: people in dark suits and dark glasses are trailing him. But the real twist occurs when the com- muter train jumps the rails in a tunnel, screeching and grinding to a metallic halt. As the three friends in a daze pull themselves to their feet, it seems that the other commuters are all dead, the car littered with limp bodies. Kamina forces open the door of the car, heads for the light and the end of the tunnel, and as he steps into the world, discovers that it is a world destroyed: Tokyo lies in ruins, and war is being waged. Nothing about such

a scenario is particularly surprising. In fact, the basic elements are so famil- iar as to be cliché: an outing with friends, a shadowy organization trailing the hero, and the abrupt transition to a highly militarized postapocalyptic world in which aliens with comprehensible powers and motivations appear. Precisely because this setup is a common one in anime, it provides insight into how, in a general way, anime tends to amplify and extend the sensory effects of commuting time. The “luck” of the protagonist Kamina may seem to imply an implau- sibly invulnerable position: those in pursuit do not catch him, he and his friends emerge unharmed from a major train accident that kills hundreds, and then he steps into a battlefield, yet none of the bombs or missiles or explosions touch him. His invulnerability also sets up a familiar, entirely impossible and ethically dubious situation: you can experience war and apocalypse at close range and remain safe, miraculously unharmed. Yet

it is clear that showing the realities of war is not the central concern of this

anime series. In fact, as the setup of RahXephon indicates, the ballistic sensory experience of the battlefield, with missiles screaming past the pro- tagonist and explosions rocking the ground beneath his feet, is an ampli- fication and extension of everyday commuter experience. As such, what might appear initially to be exceptional (total war) is in fact the rule of daily routine, and battlefield experience is not about a transition from peace to war but about the “police”—in Jacques Rancière’s sense, a distribution of

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the sensible that regulates bodies without any need for police forces to intervene with enforcement.17 If the ordinariness of war is a common trope

in anime, it is designed not to naturalize or glorify war (even if such a read-

ing is not ruled out) but to expose and explore the sensory police of urban life. When Kamina exits the commuter train network, he now sees the world as it really was all along, for its underlying reality is now revealed. In sum, the apocalyptic scenario follows from and heightens sensory experience of commuting time, at a couple of levels. In a city like Tokyo, prone to earthquakes, fears of being crushed or trapped underground are not surprising. A large number of anime and manga imagine such scenarios. The reality of earthquakes in combination with Tokyo’s extensive underground has made the experience of under- going (and surviving) a citywide disaster (from earthquake to alien invasion) within the commuter network a powerful scenario. At another level, the sensory experience of commuting, if sustained, introduces a sense of continuity, which allows the apocalypse to function as revelation amid destruction. Again, the example of RahXephon is instructive:

as the three friends chatter happily in the train, a series of lights zip past the windows, as part of the audiovisual Doppler effect associated with commut- ing, at once imparting a sense of movement and enhancing the aura of the safety and security of everyday life. As such, the points of light streaming by feel like guardian spirits. They are not merely indicators of movement; they are protectors of movement. They feel like entities in their own right, counteracting the insinuation of threat embodied in the shadowy track- ers. These streaming lights do not actually become characters, of course. Instead, they serve to indicate an energized field around the protagonists, revealed under conditions of movement. Similarly, after the war between humans and the aliens (called Mū) escalates to nuclear warfare, the aliens place the entire city and suburbs of Tokyo under a dome, called Jupiter because its diaphanous swirling surface resembles the planet Jupiter. The polis becomes conterminous with its police. Moreover, in keeping with the experience of the temporality of commuting as different from both leisure and work or school, time inside Tokyo Jupiter is dilated, which adds to the temporal anomalies informing the central romance between Kamina and

a childhood friend Haruka, whom he does not recognize because she has grown up outside the dome and has aged more rapidly.

17. Jacques Rancière develops this notion of the police across his works, but a good intro- duction can be found in Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (New York: Continuum, 2004).

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The Doppler affect that intensifies the affective bubble around the pressured commuter is thus amplified and extended to other levels of experi- ence. Yet the affective feedback turns out to be not so much a protective bubble as a strange new kind of interface that situates the self and urban life within the cosmic, transforming the urban into the planetary.18 Oddly enough, then, the intensification of the commuting experience functions to disconnect the self from the urban and to connect it to the planetary, to cos- mic dimensions of experience. It is, above all, music that conveys this trans- formation: the Mū attack with mecha called Dolem. Pilots control Dolems by vocalizing with musical inflections, and the Dolems in turn attack with songs that generate force waves capable of leveling large areas of the city. This is sensory war, with cosmological overtones. Commuting time thus turns out to entail exposure to the planetary, to cosmological dimensions that already surge through daily life, in the form of energies, both electro- magnetic and nervous, that sustain the network yet entail risk—reminiscent of the waves from mobile phones reputed to affect pacemakers. In RahXephon, the experience of commuting time is amplified through recourse to another infrastructure: while this other infrastruc- ture remains unidentified, the references to music and force waves evoke broadcast, both radio and television. It does not evoke broadcast as pub- lic sphere, however, but as energetic attacks, wavelike mobilization, and sensory enclosure. In other words, the commuter experience in RahXe- phon serves as a springboard for articulating an experience of the inten- sive life happening between infrastructures, between commuter network and broadcast system. RahXephon thus shifts attention to technological others and media entities, and to forms of mass mobilization that entail at once a politics of countermobilization (destroy the trains, destroy the broadcast) and fascination. Its ethical trajectory neither addresses nor sup- presses normativity and marginalization, but lingers instead on the forces of destruction and creation that arise in the gaps between infrastructures, between everyday modes of sensory mobilization. On the one hand, the gaps between infrastructural existences take a toll on the human body, for humans are forced, through sensory mobilization, to create new life in those inhabitable, unbearable intervals. On the other hand, the affec- tive powers of the human body, forced into existence through mobilization, promise to provide a source for creative countermobilization, which RahXe-

18. I am indebted here to Christophe Thouny’s discussion of Henri Lefebvre’s notion of the planetary in his dissertation, “‘Dwelling in Passing’: A Genealogy of Kon Wajirō’s 1929 New Guidebook to Greater Tōkyō” (New York University, August 2011).

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phon strives to locate through a tortuous story about the biotechnological construction of human saviors. Such a scenario invites a tentative thesis about what is happening in the molecular experiences arising between media infrastructures: not the destruction of everyday life but its ongoing transformation into what Deleuze and Félix Guattari call anti-production, entailing desire for the maximum dissipation or expenditure of energies. They contend that it is not capitalist production that serves as the primarily attractor for desire but capitalist anti-production, which is not opposed to production but rather operates alongside it as its surface, offering a map of potentialities yet to open, with experiences blocking the emergence of subjective processes.19 While it is tempting to think that a powerful new subject position might appear to overthrow our insanely destructive capitalist regimes, the field of anti-production, so enlarged from living between infrastructures, churns forth saviors and redeemers on a daily basis, forcing us to pose anew the question of how we are to believe in this media world.

19. Félix Guattari, Molecular Revolution: Psychiatry and Politics, trans. Rosemary Sheed (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984), 19.

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