Animating Without Organs: A Deleuzian Study of 1995’s Toy Story and Ghost in the Shell
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Throughout its worldwide history, animation has always operated in a state of becoming, often as a blurring, and even denial of subject and object. There is a potential unique to animated film to deterritorialize the realities with which it plays. Despite his lack of work on animation studies, Gilles Deleuze's work on cinema and philosophy can be invaluable to the study of the medium. In particular, one may deploy the Deleuzian conception of the Body without Organs to map how animation treats bodies on screen, across its global and multimodal history. In Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 cyberpunk anime classic, Ghost in the Shell, the Body without Organs manifests itself as the film’s story arc and philosophical through-line, animating the imperceptible by way of its technologically transhumanist commentary. By contrast, Pixar’s first fully computer-animated film was released in the same year. Toy Story (1995) vilifies Bodies without Organs, both as “mutant toys” within the narrative, and as antithetical to the branded media empire that surrounds the film. Using these films and their connected franchises as primary case studies of differing modes of animation, one can map out the internal and cultural functions of the art form in a global perspective.