Cell: Sex Symbol or just a 'Cartoon'?
Rated PG13. Deals with the sexual symbolism concerning DBZ.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: I do not own DBZ. NO PART OF THIS ARTICAL MAY BE COPIED OR REPRODUCED WITHOUT MY PERMISSION.
He was created using all the cells from the earth's most powerful fighters, the spawn of an artificial womb....
But was the being called Cell just a harmless anime villain, or does he have underlying sexual innoctations?
Before we go any further, I'd like to first mention fairy tales. As we all know, fairy tales possessed discret, hidden sexual meanings. Sometimes these things may be everyday innocent activities that can be easily overlooked. For instance, the story Little Red Riding Hood was about maturity and coming of age. A few examples of innoctations in that story would be her RED hood, (said by many to symbolize the coming of age by the menstrual cycle) and the 'Wolf', said to symbolize the lustful male who was pursuing Red Riding Hood.
This is also similar in the story of Cell. In the anime, we see, as well as hear, various points about Cell, that otherwise wouldn't be very obvious had you not been paying attention.
For instance, the word 'Consume', which is a shorter form of the word, 'Consumate'. In 'Webster's New World Dictionary', (compact school and office version), it defines 'Consume' as meaning, 'to eat or drink up; devour', which perfectly describes what Cell was doing to the androids. Absorbing. BUT...if you look a little further down, the dictionary goes on to define the word 'Consumate' which is basically a stem of the word 'Consume'. One of the definitions of 'Consumate' as defined in the Webster's dictionary, is said to mean, 'To Complete, Perfect; Supreme. If you were to run back over the episodes in the Cell saga, the ones where Cell was about to absorb #18, you'd hear Vegeta say, the word 'Consume'. "Would you just hurry and Consume the blasted android! I haven't got all day!," which just struck me as odd. Why didn't he just say 'absorb' as they'd been saying normally? Why did they have to use that particular word? Ofcourse, if you wanted to debate on this, you could say, 'Vegeta is a Prince...he always uses proper words.' And you're probably right. I still find it odd though that at that moment he chose that particular word when he and everyone else had been saying something totally different before.
Strangly enough, this is the only time that particular word is mentioned, and if any reference to the androids or Cell is made mentioned at another time, the word 'Absorbed' is used.
Some Fairy tales feature young maidens being devoured by dragons and or orges/giants. In this sense too, we see another innoctation. The consumation of the woman, (said to symbolize sex, or the forceful act of it, and child-birthing...(or in some cases, rebirth, to be born again) The swallowing of the woman whole, and then the regurgitation of the woman later on, (or the rescue of her, by someone killing the beast) is said to represent child birth. The woman is produced, whole and unharmed, from the belly of the beast, where children come from. So we now have the sexual act, (the swallowing of the maiden by the beast) and the outcome of this act, pregnancy/childbirth, (the reinstallation of the woman produced whole again) In this way, Cell is also similar. He admits that he needs to 'absorb' the two androids in order to become complete, and when he DOES absorb them, he swallows them whole through his tail, which stretches to accomidate the size. Interesting enough, when he absorbed mere humans, he only sucked the life from them.
Ofcourse, in General, Manga and Anime frequently have mature meanings, so it's really nothing new...But the fact that Dragonball Z is a Shonen based manga/anime ('Shonen' meaning manga/anime for boys) is just a little odd to say the least. We generally do not see any other obvious references to sexuality in this series. Infact, every legion in DB/DBZ is avoided. For example, Bulma and Vegeta...Krillin and #18...we have absolutly NO idea how these couples ended up together. Ofcourse, an explaination of this could be that Toriyama just didn't want to waste time with the technicalities of explaining such unlikely pairings. But then, why put them together at all? Instead, he focuses more on fighting..and many of the fighers', good AND evil, exhibit a sort of escasy...an intense desire to do battle, even when it's perhaps avoidable. And we see to how in sync the Z senshi become towards their enemies. They began to understand them, to read their moves. Ofcourse, many may disagree, but notice Cell's behavior. In a pre-recording to Cell, Dr. Gero mentioned that he would have an insatiable appetite for battle. So in a word, Cell takes pleasure from BEING in battle, as most people would take pleasure from a sexual union. Cell strives to satisfy his 'lust' for battle by having a tournement, in which he invites anyone to enter. In the fight with Goku, he destroys his fighting ring because he's 'tired of being confined' to it. He likes being in control. In the fight with Gohan, we see how quickly Cell loses his cool when it becomes obvious that the boy is prevailing. Cell becomes outraged..he is unable to think straight. He is now acting on pure instinct; a reaction to an action. He strives for victory over the child, a figure who should, by right, be SUMBISSIVE or DEPENDANT to his dominance. And when he DOES prove to triumpth over the boy, he is again in control; the calm, cool, collected adult he was before.
Reverences: All observations made on my part are based on the anime. All reference work was based on Marina Warner's 'From the Beast to the Blonde: on Fairy Tales and their Tellers', an excellent book!
****Stay tuned for next month's artical!****
Back to the Articles page