Rhetorics of Autonomy and Mobility in Japanese “AAA” Games

The Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil series within a global media context

Authored by: Daniel Johnson

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Cinema

Print publication date:  August  2020
Online publication date:  August  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138685529
eBook ISBN: 9781315534374
Adobe ISBN:


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The Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid series of video games are some of the longest running and most recognizable media franchises in contemporary Japan. Each has acted as a showcase for new forms of moving image technology within the Japanese game industry since the late 1990s, with comparisons to Hollywood cinema often following the ever-increasing emphasis on blockbuster-style aesthetics on display with each new installment. The spectacle of action set pieces and genre thrills has led to these games becoming globally popular forms of moving image media. With that in mind, this chapter analyzes these two series from the perspective of movement. Games link player action to onscreen movement in ways that create sensations of expanded agency for the human body. Titles such as Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid expand upon this fantasy of mobility even further by casting the player character as a globetrotting spy or super-soldier, and representing the world as a space of action and mobility for the player to enjoy. This chapter focuses on this convergence of spectacle, fantasies of personal mobility, and ideologies of geographic traversal.

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