Embodying Japan: Cultures of Sport, Beauty, and Medicine 2017

What is 'gattai'?

Within Anne Allison's chapter on Go Renjā (Power Rangers) within her book Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination, Allison introduces the term gattai, a word from the Japanese language.  Commonly translated as “union” by many dictionaries and Allison herself, she expands on the definition in the context of the Rangers: “assembling the individual bodies, robots, and weapons of the Rangers into superconglomerates” (107).  In the television show, the Rangers will often combine their bodies and weapons to form a giant robot or a giant superweapon.  This act of bodies combining isn’t unique to Go Renjā.  In the American-Japanese show Voltron: Defender of the Universe, five pilots combine their vehicles to form a giant robot (mecha) that bears a striking resemblance to the Rangers’ combined form.  This act of bodies coming together is seen in many other shows, as well.  While not an official definition, Urban Dictionary provides the following definition of gattai, in the context of television:

Popularized by Japanese giant robot type shows, the term literally refers to the act of merging two separate entities. It is often interchangeable with similar terms such as fusion, combination, joining, etc. 

In both of these situations (Rangers and Voltron), the feat of multiple bodies becoming one can be representative of Foucault’s idea of bio-power.  When the five, uniform Rangers combine their efforts and bodies for the greater good and to become an overpowering mecha, they can accomplish something greater and become a part of something more powerful.  They are usually only able to combine when they are all in "sync." This usually means that they are all dedicated to fighting a common evil, while trying to preserve the good.

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