Author: ag143

Sailor Moon: Art Styles and Epiphanies

Script:

After reading Ellis et al, my understanding of autoethnography is that it’s a process. A process of methodologies that require personal experience. Simplistically put, you identify a part in a culture you would like to further understand or analyse, for example my group’s autoethnography project was on Japanese dating sims. We identified this billion dollar industry but were unfamiliar with the games, how it became popular, why it became popular and how it has influenced the Western cultures (if so).

After identifying the area of focus and researching everything you can about the topic, the next progression stage is immersing yourself in the experience. Whether it’s playing games, attending events, making something – whatever it be, immerse yourself in that cultural experience and then document it. This is one of the most critical and most stressed points in autoethnography. In the Autoethnography journal, Ellis et al clearly states, “‘auto’ is from personal experience, ‘ethno’ is to understand cultural experience and ‘graphy’ is the approach to research and writing that describes and analyses (Ellis, 2004; Holman Jones, 2005). Obviously alluding to the final progression stage, describing and analysing your experience and findings.

I applied this autoethnography method through my individual research of Sailor Moon. I so far have made two videos available on YouTube where I give my first account and experience, and secondly, where I analyse the account through my own cultural framework and how it structured my investigation.

As I have been going through the process of autoethnography I have had my own epiphanies of realisation. When I say epiphanies, I’m not relating to Ellis et al’s definition, I will get to that in just a moment. I’m talking about the epiphanies I had through the process itself and through my gradual understanding of autoethnography. As you will see through my videos and blog posts, I experience stages of interpreting autoethnography as I carry out my research and even correct myself for the misunderstanding a couple of times.

The epiphany distinction I had to make is different as Ellis et al states in their journal, “…epiphanies that stem from, or are made possible by, being part of a culture and/or by possessing a particular cultural identity”. This distinction is clear, however, it is not to say I did not have epiphanies as I became a part of the Japanese culture by watching Sailor Moon and researching anime.

As mentioned, in my second video I analysed my initial account and how it structured my investigation. In the attached written piece, I confess as I critique myself, “I was somewhat unclear as to the direction of my investigation. I couldn’t quite articulate the differences I was seeing between the two shows and I put it all down to the lack of experience I have in watching anime”, therefore I came to the conclusion that I need to narrow the focus of my investigation.

As I watched and compared Sailor Moon (1992) and Sailor Moon Crystal (2014) I had an epiphany, I noticed that both versions are similar with their use of expressions and tropes. Although I also point out that Sailor Moon had a stronger emphasis on her expressions than that of Sailor Moon Crystal, which led to my assumption, that due to the change in art style (graphics) and minimised expressions, Sailor Moon Crystal has changed for a more western audience. As I later find out, this isn’t true. The change in style is actually due to Japan’s economic decline and using computers in an effort to save money during the 1970’s (Clements, 2013).

This is where I focus my investigation once more. Anime in general is very broad with many avenues to explore which often intertwined in research, so I needed to narrow it once more to clarify where I was heading with the investigation, and its clear focus. With this is mind, as well as still using Sailor Moon as a basis, I narrowed my research to the simple yet obvious question I found in my video, ‘how and why has the art style changed between Sailor Moon (1992) and Sailor Moon Crystal (2014)’.

To start off, the obvious visual answer to the difference between the two styles is stated in a blog post by Crunchyroll, a global video service for Japanese anime and Asian content. Here they describe the differences between the 90’s anime art style and the 00’s. The 90’s art style consisted of thick lines, a strong emphasis on pen pressure, a defined shadow and highlight, big hair with bundled strands, large highlight in the eye with black pupil, eyes are shaped as oblong circle, nose drawn as hiragana (Japanese writing system, in English it looks like an L) and a mouth placed in a high position. In contrast, the 00’s art style consisted of thin delicate lines, conservative use of shadows and highlights, less hair volume and without bundled strands, small highlights in eyes, pupils aren’t filled, circular shaped eyes, nose is expressed as a dot, and mouth is placed low on the face.

However, this is just an overall perception. In comparison between Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal, the main features that changed were her eyes (they’re now bigger and more round), her chin is pointed as is her nose, the colour of her eyes have black pupils and also have highlights and shadows, giving her eyes a 3D look (Crunchyroll, 2013).

Mentioning 3D, it’s also obvious that Sailor Moon Crystal has been made with 3D computer graphics. Until the mid 1990’s animators continued to work with pencils, the lower levels of inbetweening (which is a frame between two images giving the illusion of motion), and colouring to capitalise the labour-saving functions of computers (Clements, 2013). Jonathan Clements states in his book Anime: A History, “the close of the twentieth century saw several productions jostling for the chance to claim the cultural capital of being the ‘first; fully digital anime” (Clements, 2013). This clearly showing that the main reason for style change between both versions of Sailor Moon is due to the advancement of technology and the eager adaptation of computers in Japan. The introduction of computers made it easier and more efficient for animators to create and edit their work, however Japan has had a love-hate relationship with 3D graphics with an apparent desire to cling to 2D animation, or to 3D animation that looks like 2D (Clements, 2013). There’s nothing in my research that says that this -in anyway, was included in the Sailor Moon series, so purely off my own observation, I don’t believe that Sailor Moon was affected by this love-hate relationship. If anything, I think the graphics in Sailor Moon Crystal are used in praise.

Overall, the answer to ‘why’ Sailor Moon has changed art styles is simply because of the adoption of computers in Japan. So, my assumption that it was because of audience change isn’t correct. However, western cultures are becoming more influenced by anime productions and the industry. As for the ‘how’ Sailor Moon changed art styles, it’s mostly visual changes including the change between pencil drawing production to rendered 3D graphics. Unfortunately, there isn’t much on explaining the artistic differences for Sailor Moon, especially in terms of film direction of the show. This would most likely require further research and investigation by contacting the production company Madman.

Other epiphanies I had throughout my research that I found interesting but weren’t specific to my investigation of art style change, were:

  • The difference between ‘anime’ and ‘cartoon’. Anime in Japan is shortened form of ‘animation’ where as to the western audience, because of the distinct stylistic difference, anime refers to an animation made in Japan.
  • Shape-shifting into an animal or demon comes from Japanese fairy tales, which actually derived from Franz Kafka, a novelist and short story author born in Prague during 1883, and who often had works based on transformation and its effects (MacWilliams, 2014).
  • This can relate to Sailor Moon who, through her series, relinquishes shape-shifting demons
  • In Sailor Moon Crystal, Usagi (aka Sailor Moon) is constantly seen playing a Sailor V game at the arcade, which could be a nod to the evolution of the Japanese gaming culture and its capital in animation such as Street Fighter II: V (Clements, 2013)
  • Anime isn’t just for children, it can also for a more adult audience, making animation films with in depth character and plot development, as well as realistic character designs. For example, Ghost in the Shell, and Perfect Blue.
  • There’s a large relationship of influence and history between Hollywood and the anime/manga industry
  • Character designs represents their personality

References:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JapaneseVisualArtsTropes

http://www.diffen.com/difference/Anime_vs_Cartoon

https://www.wired.com/2014/07/sailor-moon-faq/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1h-ZYtHCB4k The Evolution of Anime Character Designs, AnimeEverday

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZQ0EZp0dzk When anime went digital, AnimeEverday

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwj2ahYnci4 The Stylistic Evolution of Anime, AnimeEverday

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3hjtUYPtns Why Does Modern Anime Suck? AnimeEverday

https://gemr.com/blog/how-anime-has-changed-over-25-years/

https://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/11/how-anime-art-has-changed-an-explainer/

http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2013/10/04-1/90s-versus-00s-moe-character-design-examined

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=6dDfBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA82&dq=stylistic+changes+in+anime&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=stylistic%20changes%20in%20anime&f=false Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime, M.W. MacWilliams, 2014

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=UQMVCwAAQBAJ&pg=PT340&dq=stylistic+changes+in+anime&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=stylistic%20changes%20in%20anime&f=false Anime: A History, J. Clements, 2013

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=yPDHCgAAQBAJ&pg=PT121&dq=anime+art+style&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwihke-13pfXAhVJmJQKHYXfARkQ6AEIWTAJ#v=onepage&q=anime%20art%20style&f=false Manga and Anime Go to Hollywood, N. Davis

https://soundcloud.com/user-972508607/sailor-moon Sailor Moon, Wizard and the Bruiser

More On Dating Sims: Hatoful Boyfriend

My group and I presented today on dating sims but unfortunately we ran out of time to go in further detail on Hatoful Boyfriend and the Western Influence. Below are my notes and references for my speech, and here is the post to our Prezi and our individual YouTube clips.

Additional note, this is copied from my word document so some things may be out of correct formatting.

Hatoful Boyfriend

  • An otome dating sim trying to find love between human and bird
  • You pay as a young girl given a rare opportunity to attend an elite school for birds.
  • An elite school called St. Pigeonation
  • She doesn’t say how she got this opportunity other than “it’s a long story”
  • There is some interaction, you can choose classes or activities
  • It does take a while for the game to get somewhere + slow & gradual audience immersion
  • Where Ibrahim’s game (Sunrider Academy) had a point reward structure, the only points you get in Hatoful Boyfriend are to increase your intelligence, charisma and wisdom which changes depending on the class you choose – I’m yet to find out what they’re for though.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend’s first release in its current visual novel format was a freeware demo released as a downloadable application on 31 July 2011
  • Hatoful Boyfriend was originally created on a limited budget and with limited promotion
  • It wasn’t until word of mouth got through Twitter and other social media that it started to boom
  • At the beginning of the game you are able to select whether you would like a human portrait or not upon meeting different birds – the portrait only comes once.
  • The idea behind the game is that the pigeons become seen less like pigeons and more like people, with personalities, characteristics and the use of portraits
  • A sequel, Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star, was released on 29 December 2011, with an English version being released on Christmas Day the following year

Game play experience

OUTSIDE OF THE GAME

  • Several official adaptations of Hatoful Boyfriend including books and publications, webcomics, drama CDs, web radio, web series, and plush production line.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend drinking game
  • Erick Scarecrow released a Kickstarter in November 2015 with Hato Moa and Devolver Digital, asking for $25,000 to create a production line of three characters from the Hatoful Boyfriend universe, specifically Shuu, Ryouta and Okosan.
  • The campaign ended on December 6 2015 with all stretch goals reached, adding seven more characters to the production line. A total of $145,015 had been pledged in less than a month.
  • Because of the success of the first Kickstarter, the following year Erick Scarecrow, Hato Moa and Devolver Digital released a second Kickstarter campaign
  • They didn’t raise as much as the first but it was still above their target, raising $54,455

Doesn’t stop there!

  • Hatoful shop – Okosan Plush for ages 15 & up? http://hatofulshop.limitedrun.com/products/572747-hatoful-boyfriend-okosan-plush
  • Beanies, ponchos, assortment of bundles, socks, tags and lanyards. Not to mention my favourite item, the body pillows – where you can have your sleep with your very own snuggling pigeon boyfriend!
  • One side of the pillow shows the human portrait, the other the pigeon form
  • Last but not least, the less ‘official’ side of things. Redbubble and CafePress are websites and companies that host customised products from users.
  • Redbubble had a majority of customised shirts made by fans with a few miscellaneous things like these stickers.
  • The HatoStore by Cafepress had a bigger variety of products with bags, mugs, pins, shirts and a few others.
  • I thought I should also mention Line. The Line store had stickers for sale but they’re not physical stickers, they were the digital stickers, like the ones you can download on Facebook (think Pusheen). I thought this was interesting having a cross platform and not just physical products.
  • Another thing I should mention, Line has official licensing for the stickers, it just wasn’t the official page from Hato Moa. Thought I could slip that in there.

Before I move on to our next topic…

I encourage you to check out a Sydney Morning Herald article which is linked in our references list, they state some very good points and they have some really interesting facts in their research, in a part of the article SMH states “The developers from Voltage surveyed Japanese women extensively, asking about their lives and needs before adapting their games to match”. I found it really interesting and if you would like further reading on dating sims I highly recommend it.

WESTERN INFLUENCE
I will firstly give a quick brief of three games.

England Exchange! An International Affair is a Visual Novel made by a UK company called Hanako Games.

  • Released April this year.
  • You’re an American student on exchange in England, living, working and studying in London.

Dream Daddy, is a gay dating sim where you date dads. It’s made huge success since its release earlier this year.

  • The success of Dream Daddy was due to promotion of the very popular developers, Game Grumps, a largely recognised Let’s Play web series.
  • As of October this year, Game Grumps has 4 million subscribers and over 3 billion total video views.

Coming Out On Top – released in 2014 but came to Steam as of October this year.

  • Created by an American heterosexual woman under the developer name of ObscuraSoft, and funded through Kickstarter
  • The dating sim involves the white main character coming out to his two roommates
  • He also has a pet goldfish you can confide in with a possible story route of being sexually mounted by this pet fish

Without getting too far into the western gaming concerns and getting off topic, the success of the western dating sims has identified a growing interest in games that think about and explore relationships.

  • The Sims has been a leading figure here for many years, but recent games like Gone Home and Life is Strange are pushing toward more human complexity.

On another scale, we have dating sim parodies. Mostly made by fans using Ren’Py development software but here are some examples.

Shia LaBeouf Meme Master Dating Sim – Free to download and consists of Shia LaBeouf memes. https://gamejolt.com/games/shia-labeouf-meme-master-dating-simulator/77971

  • Found on a website called GameJolt.
  • Free to download and play. Also has a walkthrough.

Resident Evil 4: Otome Edition http://www.pcgamer.com/resident-evil-4-otome-edition-is-a-dating-sim-played-from-ashleys-perspective/

Also on GameJolt, A Day in the Life of a Dating Sim (early access) https://gamejolt.com/games/a-day-in-a-dating-sim/143694

However, because these are all fanmade parodies, there wasn’t much information on where they were developed. It was more so what software was used. I found it hard finding any parodies in a western art style like that of Dream Daddy or England Exchange.

…But with some digging I found this Kickstarter!

Grand Old Academy has a free demo for Mac and Windows on their Kickstarter page.

  • Released in May this year.
  • It’s described as ‘Hatoful Boyfriend but instead of pigeons they’re politicians’. If you’ve ever had a desire to date Donald Trump you now can!

This concludes our presentation. Are there any questions?

 

 

Notes and other bits:
The Guardian gives an in-depth look at how Dream Daddy became a success in the West.

  • The Guardian mentions in their article that ‘daddy’ is a broad term saying it “usually refers to a character, who is larger and typically older than the average player, someone serious but with a sense of humour – someone you look up to even when you’re playing the game as them.”
  • Continuing they say, “some modern characters are more overtly paternal, such as Joel from post-apocalyptic adventure The Last of Us, Booker DeWitt from Bioshock Infinite and Nathan Drake’s surrogate father figure Sully in Uncharted”
  • “It is usually refers to a character, who is larger and typically older than the average player, someone serious but with a sense of humour – someone you look up to even when you’re playing the game as them.”
  • “…Leaving straight women, people of colour and a huge proportion of LGBT people out in the cold. It’s not that games by and for this diverse market don’t exist but they often don’t receive the publicity they need to get them into the hands of as many people who want them.’

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/26/dream-daddy-gay-dating-sim-hit-summer-steam

Comparing dating sims/VNs to a soap opera or romance novel in interactive form.
https://www.dailydot.com/debug/voltage-japanese-romance-simulators/

Who We Are Now is a dating sim based on queer romance in the post-apocalypse. Out of four male candidates, you get to freely choose which relationship you want to invest your time in. In exchange for helping the person you choose, the village elder gives you a place to stay. https://www.kotaku.com.au/2017/06/a-charming-post-apocalyptic-gay-dating-sim/

Dating Sims

This topic is presented in a Prezi by Amy, Hayden and Ibrahim. Links to our individual YouTube highlight videos are below.

Ibrahim, Sunrider Academy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLrWpaqNwbw

Hayden, Lucy the Eternity She Wished For: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=24&v=6jFem6Oc1sk

Amy, Hatoful Boyfriend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bgk7gWAI6yA

https://prezi.com/view/8hsYJii34BzhKxWCrKNT/

 

What sets anime apart: A look at anime through Sailor Moon

In my previous post I uploaded a video of my initial reaction as I watched the first episode of Sailor Moon (1992) and the first episode of Sailor Moon Crystal (2014), and then compared the two. This can be viewed here.

As I experienced watching the two shows throughout the video, I was somewhat unclear as to the direction of my investigation. I couldn’t quite articulate the differences I was seeing between the two shows and I put it all down to the lack of experience I have in watching anime.

As a child, Sailor Moon was the first anime I had been introduced to. Besides this and the ever popular Pokemon, I had never been exposed to anime. For the film buff and aspiring entertainment journalist that I am, I have always been more concerned about the more western productions. I’m now ashamed I haven’t considered broadening the scope of entertainment. So for my individual autoethnography project, I’m taking the first step towards broadening my experience by starting with anime.

Anime in general is quite a large topic and a very divergent one at that. Yet I have noticed that they also carry something similar that sets anime apart from every other animation. Their use of expression and other tropes.

Sailor Moon had a more emphasised and obvious tone clearly showing it was anime especially through the expression (this can be seen in the above featured image). Sailor Moon Crystal has been made 22 years later and with modern computer graphics. From initial assumption, I thought that Sailor Moon Crystal had been targeted towards a more western audience because of this slight change, as well as the less obvious tropes included in the show. I tried briefly researching this to see if it were true, but nothing has been mentioned about the possibility of target audience change.

When trying to research Sailor Moon for even the basic information (dates, series info etc) there wasn’t as much information as I thought, not to mention conflicting information. The main sources are from Wikipedia and fansites, although this is a great indication and help to start off with, if I wanted more reliable and scholarly information, it will prove to be quite difficult. Therefore I’m narrowing my focus for the project. I will concentrate my autoethnography project strictly to anime art tropes, using Sailor Moon as a base. Finding more reliable sources to help me recognise what sets anime apart from cartoons.

A YouTuber called LavenderTowne redesigns Usagi (aka Sailor Moon) into a cartoon, giving a great insight to the difference of anime designs and cartoons. In her video she mentions how anime is more realistic due to the closer depiction of human anatomy compared to western cartoons which tend to be more exaggerated. I thought this was a good place to start as LavenderTowne uses her own experience and memories of cartoons growing up, referencing and giving examples of current and previous cartoons helping the audience relate and understand easier. This reminded me of a journal, Autoethnography: An Overview by Carolyn Ellis, Tony E. Adams and Arthur P. Bochner. In the journal Ellis et al states, “they [researchers] seek to produce aesthetic and evocative thick descriptions of personal and interpersonal experience” (Ellis et al, 2017). Here is LavenderTowne’s video:

 

References:

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

LavenderTowne, 2017. What if Sailor Moon wasn’t an anime? Redesigning Usagi 3 ways!. Online video available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm4CwGYifp4

Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon

When I was a child, Sailor Moon (known in Japan as Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon) was the first anime I was introduced to and probably the first female leading role I’ve seen too. Looking back however, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was the show that took my interest by storm over Sailor Moon. Although MMPR was an American show influenced by a Japanese TV Show, I wasn’t in a household that watched a lot of anime or Asian influenced shows (besides Power Rangers of course) so I decided to re-introduce myself to Sailor Moon by watching the very first episode.

I intended to make a reaction video but I had an epiphany during the viewing, so it went from a reaction viewing to something else. Watch below to find out 🙂

There’s no ‘me’ in ethnography until you add ‘auto’: an understanding of autoethnography

Autoethnography as Carolyn Ellis et al. (2011) describes, is a methodological approach to research that analyses personal experience to understand cultural experience. To further specifically define, Ellis cuts down the word ‘autoethnography’ by splitting the word in three and explaining each part. ‘Auto’ Ellis clarifies, is from personal experience, ‘ethno’ is to understand cultural experience and ‘graphy’ is the approach to research and writing that describes and analyses (Ellis, 2004; Holman Jones, 2005).

Previously I wrote a blog post on ethnography and my account of Gojira (1958). Here I spoke about my cultural background and how I made sense of the Japanese culture by reflecting on my personal experiences. I think I had this wrong. This is autoethnography, when I reflect on my own experiences to understand and make a connection with another culture. Ethnography however, is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the scientific description of peoples and cultures with their customs, habits, and mutual differences” (Oxford University Press, 2017). Essentially, ethnography is researching a culture from afar, without personal involvement. This for some reason took me a while to grasp, but I understand it now. There’s no ‘me’ in ethnography until you add ‘auto’.

Previous post: https://digc330.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/gojira-1958-reminds-me-of-a-power-rangers-standoff-an-ethnography-account-from-an-aussie-millennial/

References:

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

‘Ethnography’ 2017, in Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press, viewed 18 September 2017, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/ethnography

Gojira (1958) reminds me of a Power Rangers standoff: an ethnography account from an Aussie Millennial

My cultural background mostly consists of classic Aussie barbecues, backyard cricket (although we played out the front) and watching the footy on the TV. My family is seven generations Australian but the origin of my surname is German and the origin of my mother’s maiden name is Irish. I grew up watching TV and playing video games, so from an early age and due to being born in the millennium generation, I have always been accustom to technology and entertainment.

I had many influences showing on TV when I was young; shows including Captain Planet, Power Rangers, Pokemon and I remember watching a few episodes of Sailor Moon too. Although, my cousins took on Pokemon faster than ever I did. They knew the whole collection, whereas I only knew the main Pokemon and stuck to my favourites like Pikachu, Charmander and Squirtle. I was more into Power Rangers and wanted more than anything to be a ranger myself.

I always thought Power Rangers had been made in Japan as they prominently showcase karate and other various mixed martial arts. However, it wasn’t until I started studying Digital Asia at university that I found out that I was pretty much, completely wrong. The Power Rangers series in the 1990’s was called Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, an American TV show based on a Japanese television show called Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger. The similarities of the respective shows are uncanny, with only slight differences to the storylines. The action scenes however are very much the same as Power Rangers used featured film stock from Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger. With careful editing and new footage from the Power Ranger scenes, this transformed into a new television show.

Towards the end of each episode of Power Rangers there is a big battle between the Power Rangers’ Megazord and an enlarged monster/villain in either a city setting or in large landscape. Thanks to this part in the show, when I saw Godzilla King of Monsters (1956), this instantly came to mind. Sadly I wasn’t able to maintain interest with the movie as much as I had hoped, but I enjoyed watching it on a historical standpoint. I don’t have a big background in watching classic movies nor in Japanese influenced films but I have studied film and can see that Godzilla is impressive for its time and in its genre with its ability in editing, directing and originality.