In its performances in/of animation, the anime film Kaiju no Kodomo depicts a lively world where the human becomes open to the vitality and activity of the nonhuman (what Jane Bennett would call a world of “vibrant matter”), embracing an egalitarian openness to the nonhuman, presenting a method of expressing the self that goes beyond the anthropocentric individualism so coveted under neoliberalism. This is explored through a specific employment of embodied and figurative acting operations, each engaging with different tendencies of performing the self: embodied acting tending toward anthropocentric individualism with a bordered inside-outside bodily division; figurative acting tending towards a self that is enacted through interconnection with others, whose constitutive parts link across bodies. As such, figurative acting embraces what might be labeled as object-oriented dividualism—a conception of selfhood that Bennett develops where dividuals are entities whose constituent parts stem from disparate sites, affecting themselves as well as others.
Through the specific configuration of the spatiality of embodied and figurative acting, specifically in the character Ruka, the film moves through individualism toward transforming into a specific type of dividual. Not suffering from the radical lack of closure and dissolution of self that dividuality can teeter toward, Ruka maintains an internal-external border like the individual of embodied acting, but acknowledges the permeability of that boundary, still embracing the interdependency and openness to the outside employed in figurative acting. As such, the animated film can be seen as presenting, in Bruno Latour’s terms, a fictional mode of existence, exploring a world and beings with distinct dispositions, and the interdependency with the means and materials through which they are performed.