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I was reading an article about Visual Culture on my way home and once again bumped into the notion of body as a machine. It’s a seventeenth century ideology adopted by the postmodernists to explore the expressions of the future and desired body.

So upon reading this metaphor, it instantly reminded me of how Black Rock Shooter creatively and beautifully fusions the heroines’ bodies with technology,  plus how this anime grippingly depicts the female bodies as a machine-like aggregates of detachable and interchangeable parts.

It was said that in early modern days, machine imagery popularized the metaphor that human bodies operate as a set system which is ticking away in a predictable and orderly manner—like clocks, watches, and collections of springs—wherein people are helpless and controlled by nature or God the watchmaker.

Gradually and surely, the advent of technology revolutionized this modern thought and fueled the fantasies that our seemingly fragile and vulnerable bodies can be easily rearranged, transformed, and corrected. All of a sudden, instead of having a “watchmaker”, we now become our own master sculptors wherein we can perform limitless improvements and fix our bodies—through microsurgery, organ transplant, and artificial organs…

But then evidently, a more ideal conception of the body as a machine is broadly expressed through art and visual media. Say for instance, BRS’ fight scenes have good examples of portraying an “ideal” female body. The girls on the alternate world are pictured as the ultimate fighting machines in their youth and coded by the fetishized designs—outrageous clothing, sturdy weapons, and slim figures—to cater more specifically the wider (male) demography.

In addition, the invincibility of the flesh is so evident. Whenever I watch anime like BRS, I was wondering why the creators like to picture their heroines having that massive amount of “fluids” in their bodies—it’s like these girls have fountain of life inside them.

The body parts can easily be replaced and are capable of enduring such terrific pain. As we have seen, the Insane Black Rock Shooter coldly pulled her arm and replaced it with chains as if it was nothing. And each time she gets hit and stab, she doesn’t mind how much splashes go out of her body.

So with these graphic illustrations, we might say that our visual culture acts like an alternate universe or gateway to the idealistic embodiment of our desires. Pretty much just like in Black Rock Shooter’s the Other World, we “act” like machines to endure the pain of the Human World. This technological portrayal of the human body in media creates a mechanist conception of how we want to free ourselves from its limitations—being old, sickly, and dying—and liberate the gendered body from its stereotypic depictions.