Author: alexp997

Behind the story: An autoethnographic approach

@alexxphm

I used to be a child too afraid of his own shadow that even mentioning the word “ghost” or hearing an unusual noise at night could have made my blood run cold. Never had I imagined that one day, studying Japanese mystical urban legends in Studio Ghibli anime, perhaps those with a sense of sinister, would ever help me learn about its culture. None the less, this apprehension of mine does not arise from the denial of godliness, but in the opposite, from my initial understanding of Buddhism and being exposed too early to acknowledging another “dimension” according to Buddhist ideology. Employing autoethnography as the primary approach to this research project, epiphanies as such enables me to understand certain aspects of the Japanese culture based on my cultural framework. While the two cultures (Vietnamese and Japanese) may be different from one another in many aspects, Asian religions often share the…

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Conspiracy theories in Studio Ghibli anime: the study of Japanese urban legends, culture and religion

@alexxphm

“Vietnamese ghosts aren’t that scary as long as you know what it is that they want. If it isn’t staying dead then there’s probably a reason, and all you have to do is give the ghost the thing that it’s seeking – revenge, redemption, a resolution” – Violet Kupersmith.

Many of Vietnameseghost storiesrevolve around powerful, ancient spirits of nature who require recognition and appeasement (Sutherland, G.H 2013). Early years of my childhood were spent listening to those myths and urban legends, though some might have rooted from actual encounters with the unknown entities. Thus, from the young age, I have unconsciously established a connection to theories and narratives about the demonic in Buddhism. Perhaps it has been the memories of hiding under a table or covering my ears whenever the story climbed to its climax and followed by sleepless nights reminiscing the horror once told.

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Akira 1988: Science, Power and Nostalgia

@alexxphm

giphy3.gif Tetsuo is lit

Akira (1988) is, in my perception, the anime to be most distant from the Japanese pop culture I have known. Perhaps the aversion stems from my preferences, that is sci-fi films rarely fascinate me with their concept. Or perhaps the inclination I have for a captivity of history in arts hinders my making sense of Akira. A brief description of my experience watching the anime could be an amalgamation of feelings, mostly bewildered by the overdetailed violence. However, noted that animes in their golden age (1980s) could be much experimental and less audience-oriented than they are now. Not so long before Akira screening, I learned about Hadashi no Gen (1983), an anime details Hiroshima bombing whose horrifying graphics content caused me traumatised.

images.jpg Hadashi no Gen (1983)

And yet the horrific visuals did not stop me from immersing myself into the film. In opposition, I am fond of the…

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Gojira 1954: Behind the Kaiju

@alexxphm

There is a saying by the infamous Roger Ebert that keeps flashing through my mind in every film screening:

Art is the closest we can come to understanding how a stranger really feels

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I’ve always carried an absolute belief that art captures history, appreciating art allows humans to depart from their temporal presence. For a person whose childhood resided with binge-watching Doraemon, I thank art for realising the insane time-travel dream without tucking myself in the drawer.

And because of that, watching Gojira has been quite an experience for many reasons. Never have I been a hardcore fan of Godzilla nor a fan of monster movies in general. I grew up watching tons of Super Sentai episodes and I pride myself in having a tape collection of it. Then I spent my teenage life going crazy about Western pop culture. Thus on making sense of Gojira, a part of me…

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