Post-Gendered Bodies and Relational Gender in Knights of Sidonia
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionFafnir. 2019, 6 (1), 56-69.
Abstract: This paper analyses representations of non-binary bodies in the animated television series Knights of Sidonia. For some time, posthumanist and gender studies have used the gendered body of the future in television series and other media as a framework to reflect on contemporary human bodies. How are bodies imagined and experienced in this animated TV series, and how is our understanding formed by these representations? I argue that the bodies in Knights of Sidonia can be understood as “post-gendered”, which I analyse in relation to understandings of future gender representations drawn from science fiction. The main case study is the character Izana who, in the first episode, proclaims an agender identity that is biologically sexed as neither male or female. Izana’s biological gender is presented throughout the series as relational: it changes in response to the character they are in love with. A close viewing and analysis of the two seasons released so far shows that, although Izana is initially presented as a character with an alternative third gender, their transition to female reinforces a heteronormative view of sexuality, as their attraction to a male character, Nagate, pushes them to develop female genitalia. This biological sex change prompts Izana to also develop a female gender identity, which I conceptualise as “relational gender”. Although it initially represents gender in a novel manner, the anime partly reinforces traditional gender norms. Keywords: Post-gendered body; Cyborg anthropology; anime; relational gender; posthuman sexualities