Japanese science-fiction animation, from Katsuhiro Otomo’s seminal “Akira” (1988) on, often points toward a post-apocalyptic, post-human future. For all the blasts ‘n’ babes, the curvy heroines in Spandex pouring thousands of rounds into clanking foes, the essential vision is dark — more “Blade Runner” than “Star Wars.” Japan’s nuclear-ravaged past is one source; another is its cultural enthusiasm for all things robotic — from Tetsuwan Atom (“Atom Boy”) to Morning Musume.

Not all Japanese animators are following the same path into the dystopian gloom, however. Based on a manga by Shirow Masamune, Mamoru Oshii’s “Kokaku Kidotai (Ghost in the Shell)” (1995) went beyond the usual man-as-machine tropes to explore a world in which cyborgs have souls — only we find that what remains of humanity is merging with the digital data stream.

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