Franken Fran: Inhumanity has its Price
October 9, 2010
Human bodies are flawed in many ways. Our skins wrinkle as we age, mothers must undergo ridiculously long and painful and pregnancy, and we have only one (!) body to give to our loved ones. But what if we can’t choose between the boys (o how terrible)? What can we do?
Franken Fran is, in a sense, a series of such grotesque thought experiments. It plays around with fascinating medical possibilities of altering human body to conveniently solve particular problems, like being able to split into two same people and take one boy each (o my god). But at what cost? What is the consequence of choosing to play god and change the way we were born with?
I have a lot of respect for the mangaka’s imagination. Just from reading few chapters you know he has vast interest and knowledge in human bodies, but even more impressive is his ability to take that simple scientific concept to a terrifyingly twisted possibility. Franken Fran shuns beautifully glorified image and embraces the most repulsive approach possible in drawing those changes to human bodies, effectively externalising the degree of horror of becoming less human.
Human nature, things that make us human, is the price we pay in pursuing our vain illusions of perfection. Want to look younger forever? Eternal youth! Don’t know who to pick from two boys? Cloning! Want more strength to fight evil? Superhuman strength! All are within grasp in Franken Fran should one desire it. But only doom awaits for those who strip themselves off of humanity.
Another favourite chapter of mine is “Egg of Parturition”. You have a medical procedure allowing a mother to give birth early to a miniature embryonic cocoon, where the prematurely born baby will develop outside the womb. Surely this will solve many pregnancy-related issues for women like work and pain/risks. What could possibly go wrong?
For one, the cocoon may be parasitised by Apanteles Glomeratus. Or by cockroaches. And since they look more like a disposable egg you can just pop out anytime, people just won’t give enough care for them, or even illegally trafficking and selling them like drugs. This is the horrifying price we pay by choosing to bypass our painful and laborous ways of giving birth through medical means in the twisted world of Franken Fran. Perhaps there is a good reason why human body is designed to give precious birth to babies the hard way.
That is not to say there is no human triumph to be found in Franken Fran. Can you love a girl who has turned into a caterpillar? Do you love someone enough to change your sex? Has your pet’s devotion touched you enough to love your pet for who he is?
I am not saying Franken Fran is an emotionally touching work, but when our feelings and sincerity transcend such horrifyingly disturbing aspects of our body, I perceive it to be much more authentic and affecting than glorified love in typical Hollywood movies (there is actually an excellent chapter making fun of Hollywood adaptation). Whether advanced technology makes us human or not depends on the person who use it. Just as we shouldn’t blame political system for the evil deeds done by those in power in Legend of Galactic Heroes, we shouldn’t blame technology for inhumane sins committed to satisfy our unsatiable desire for perfection. Because beauty and love can blossom by obliviating our body, in Franken Fran‘s own twisted and sick way, as long as your heart is sincere.
Still, I don’t think Franken Fran aims to seriously explore this issue as a critical text, and you shouldn’t read Franken Fran for that alone. I would say you should read Franken Fran if below pictures satisfy your twisted desires.