Author: ellararainnie

Like most of us, I was born on this tiny planet we call Earth, on the patch of land they call Australia. I breathe, eat, sleep, dream, and now, blog.

Pokemon and Soft Power Part 2: Kawaii and Consumption.

I came across an article this week that discussed the concept of Kawaii and how this seemly abstract notion that best translates as “cute” in English is incorporated into Japanese consumerism. For this blog post, I will briefly discuss a section of this paper and do my best to link the concepts Allison describes to my research into Japanese soft power and Pokemon.
This topic could be an entire essay in itself, and there is a part of me that would love to research this topic much more thoroughly, but alas, I’m short on time and words!

Allison (2003) describes the concept of kawaii  as a notion that combines “the qualities of amae—sweetness connected to dependence—and yasashii—gentleness”. While kawaii is linked to girls and girlishness, it is not exclusively ‘feminine’ (Allison, 2003). Someone’s personality can be called kawaii, for example, and so can a boy’s face. This definition aligns with my understanding of the concept of cuteness.

Interestingly, Allison notes that “Yasashii” or the gentle aspect of cuteness is the word Japanese producers use to describe the marketing of Pokemon in Japan:

If there is something soothing and appealing about a Doraemon or a Pikachu, the aim of marketers has been to extend and expand this emotional relationship into more and more vistas of commodifiable existence. As the Japanese toy company, Bandai, articulates this principle, a child’s happiness can be maximized by spreading her favorite character on everything from PJs, backpacks, and lunch boxes to breakfast cereal, bath bubbles, and galoshes – Allison, 2003.

The comments that Allison makes on what kawaii has come to mean and its relationship to how Pokemon has been used as a commodity speaks to the notions of soft power. It is my understanding that it is the combination of Pokemon’s cute factor, and the way both game and toy companies have capitlised on the cute appeal of Pokemon that have helped to popularise the  franchise internationally, as thus increase the appeal of Japanese culture internationally.



Allison, A. (2003). Portable monsters and commodity cuteness: Pokemon as Japan’s new global power. Postcolonial Stud., [online] 6(3), pp.381-395. Available at: [Accessed 8 Oct. 2014].

Pokemon and Soft Power Part 1: A Brief Introduction to Soft Power

This week I’ve been thinking about soft power. I first came across the term in my second year at university, and I haven’t really thought too much about it since until now. It can be argued that Pokemon has had a huge impact on how Japanese culture has spread and is perceived international in the past 18 years or so, and thus has contributed to Japan’s soft power.

So what is soft power exactly?

Let’s begin with the definition of hard power. “Hard power” can be thought of as the “A coercive approach to international politicalrelations, especially one that involves the use of military power (, 2014). Countries can sometimes obtain the outcomes they want without the tangible threats of hard power. This indirect method is often referred to as “soft power”Soft power rests on the ability to shape the preferences of others.  It must be noted that soft power is a difficult thing to both obtain and to measure in a sense. Unlike hard power, soft power relies on the ability of a nation to influence others tends to be associated with intangible assets such as an attractive personality, culture, political values, institutions and policies that are seen as desirable or legitimate (, 2014).

Joseph Nye could be considered the soft power Guru, and explains the concept quite well in this VIDEO.

Recently I found an article by Nissim Kadosh Otmazgin (2007) that examines the nature of the Japanese soft power that derives from the proliferation of its popular culture in East Asia. Otmazgin notes that the Japanese government has been examining ways to promote the country’s cultural exports, in order to generate economic benefits and nurture positive appreciations of the country overseas, through investing in Japan’s cultural industries including food, fashion and content production. By cultural production I refer to the Japanese television, film, music, print and gaming industries. It is no surprise that the success of Pokemon has contributed to Japan’s soft power. The franchises’ success over the past two decades has helped to change the attitudes of nations around the globe towards Japan and Japanese culture.

After reading the article, I’ve have tried to reflect by asking myself “how do I explore Japanese/Pokemon related soft power in an auto-ethnogrpahic sense?”

The more I tried to answer this question, the more difficult the task seemed. That was until I realised that I’ve been exploring Japanese soft power throughout my entire auto ethnographical journey. If soft power can be measured by the ability of a nation to influence others relations with cultural assets, like, for instance, Pokemon, then my exploration of Pokemon fan art online is in itself, an expression of Japanese soft power. Fan art produced online that is able to circulate and thus, be appreciated globally, shows the extent of the influence Japanese culture has had on my own online experience as well as thousands of others. People from around the globe who come together online to discuss, create and explore Pokemon online are participating in an expression of Japanese culture.

I’ll call this Part 1 of my discussion, as i feel like there is so much more to be said.

References:, (2014). Rapid-growth markets soft power index:Soft power defined. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Sep. 2014].

Otmazgin, N. (2007). Contesting soft power: Japanese popular culture in East and Southeast Asia. International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, [online] 8(1), pp.73-101. Available at: [Accessed 27 Sep. 2014]., (2014). hard power: definition of hard power in Oxford dictionary (British & World English). [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Sept. 2014].


Net Museums Pt 2: DeviantArt

Last week I made some observations of Pokemon fan art of, as well as making some observations about the communication style on the site and comparing them with my own experience of Tumblr. As I mentioned last week, these observations are slight, and by no means exhaustive or indicative of how the websites in question operate in relation to fan art on a large scale. These observations merely reflect my personal experience and ability to navigate the sites.

So with that disclaimer out of the way, into this weeks website: DeviantArt! To be quite honest, I have only visited the site a handful of times, and never before have I specifically sought out Pokemon related fan art for auto-ethnographical purposes.  For anyone unfamiliar, DeviantArt, LLC is an online community showcasing various forms of user-made artwork, first launched on August 7, 2000 by Scott Jarkoff, Matthew Stephens, Angelo Sotira and others. deviantArt, Inc. is headquartered in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, California, United States.The site aims to provide a platform for any artist to exhibit and discuss works. Works are organised into categories including photography, digital art, traditional art, literature, Flash, filmmaking, skins for applications to name a few.

Like I did with Elfwood, keyword searched “Pokemon” and brought up a host of results.

The first thing I noticed was the difference in standard of artwork that was produced upon searching the term. Most of the artwork that I found  seemed to be digital art, or art that has been edited/enhanced digitally with visual art software, like Photoshop as opposed to hand sketched, then scanned and uploaded. GIFs and info graphics were also present and often included humour or incorporated elements of fan fiction or fan theories into the work. As I was scrolling, I noticed quite a few artworks that I had seen posted or reflagged on Tumblr, which suggests sharing of material across websites and platforms. One particular image I came across was a fan’s impression of a Tumblr -inspired poke ball which I had seen reflagged on my Tumblr wall a while ago.

The main comparison to be made between DeviantArt and Elfwood for me is the size of each website. DeviantArt evidently has a much larger user base than that of Elfwood, and thus the range and quality and quantity of Pokemon related fan art and fiction is much greater. Both sites however serve as a platform for fans of the Pokemon franchise to share their experiences and creative talents in ways that foster creativity and interaction between users. Like Tumblr, people share their both their work and their options with like minded users.


deviantART, I. (2014). deviantART, Inc.: Private Company Information – Businessweek. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Oct. 2014].

Net Museums Pt 1: Elfwood

So last post I proposed that I would make a comparison between a few of the websites where fan art emerges and comparing them with my own experience of By giving a brief overview of my findings, I hope to gain a better insight into how Pokemon fans communicate online and whether there is any distinct difference in the form of communication between sites. The fan art and communities that spring up online is as diverse as it is fascinating, as is the ways in which people discuss and discover in online environments. I took a trip to, to observe the types of art and communication on each site and aim to compare these differences with the observations I have already made of Tumblr. I have decided to split the observation of these sites across two weeks, otherwise this post with be much too long. It must be noted that these are merely surface-level observations, and I’m sure if given the time, a much deeper and richer understanding of online fan culture could be gained from a more thorough comparative analysis of online fan art communities.

I’d only heard of Elfwood in passing conversation with people, and had not visited the site until this week. For those of you who are unfamiliar, May 1st 1996 was the day Elfwood saw the light of day. Created by a man named Thomas Abrahamsson, the original name of the project was Lothlorien and mainly focused on high fantasy art made by amateurs. On Elfwoods first day it held art from three artist, and Thomas being one of them. Today,  small team of people in Swedish people run the website and the site is owned by the company Usify AB. The site is a mixture now of amateur fan art, photos and fan fiction, or stories written mostly my amateur writers. A quick search for “Pokemon” turned up 604 results, with 601 images and 3 stories. I clicked on a work of Articuno was posted near the top and read through the comments. Articuno is a legendary ice/flying type Pokemon that can be found in the Seafoam Islands in Pokemon red, Blue and Yellow, and this particular artwork of the Pokemon seemed to have been a digital creation.

To summarise in a qualitative manner, the comment section consisted mostly of badly spelled, grammatically incorrect praise for the work put into the picture, along with affirmations of the fan’s love of Articuno/Pokemon in a general sense. There were very few negative comments on that post, which for me reiterated the excitement and genuine interest fans of the genre felt towards the franchise and other amateur artists. It is difficult to tell the age and location of the commenters, but for Elfwood users it doesn’t seem to matter. The picture of Articuno th in a sense, became a symbol for me of the Pokemon franchise’s international successes a vehicle for both non-verbal and verbal communication.

What Interested me most about the site was the range and quality of the Pokemon fan art, with the inclusion of uploads of pencil sketches and hand coloured pictures along side digital artworks. The site is moderated by a “trusted member of the Elfwood team” and has seemed to have made a point of trying to feature a diverse range of artworks in the site. This site seems much smaller and more of a niche audience than Tumblr, catering specifically to amateur fan fiction and art. I feel as though it is harder  on Elfwood to generate discussion among fans than it is on Tumblr, whether this is due to the seemingly smaller user base of the site in comparison to Tumblr, or perhaps it is because of the inability to reblog or share other users works, as is the case with Tumblr.


Pokemon Fan Art as an Online Phenomenon

I found a real interesting article by a scholar named Marjoris Cohee titled “From Amateur to Framauteur: Art Development of Adolescents and Young Adults Within an Interest-Based Community. (2012)” The article describes the role that online fan art communities play in the  “developmental progression of adolescents and young adults within the cultural context of an interest-based community.”  Choee discusses a number of aspects that shape teen interactions with fandom in particular the role of narrative and sociocultural community to the development of  artistic ability. The article is quite broad in its discussion of online fan communities, as Cohee explores a plethora of concepts that describe how fan artists interact and develop in an online environment.

I found myself reading the article and applying each concept she described to the Pokemon fan art and artists I have discovered on over the course of this subject.

What was most interesting for me was Cohee’s comments on amateur artists as ‘copyists”:New fans who were not otherwise proficient art makers repeated the attractive image over and over, practicing an exactness of its appearance as a way of holding the object of admiration close and absorbing or assimilating its desirable aspect into their own persona.

I have found myself doing this (with the Pokemon Mew) as I strive to achieve an image that actually resembles how I picture Mew in my head. I find myself trying to achieve that “WOW” factor that Cohee sites from Jenkins 2006 work of fan culture.

I was also interested by Cohee’s remark on belonging to fan communities and the sense of similarity that amateurs often seek with their fellow fan artists. Cohee refers to sites such as Fan Central, Elfwood and DeviantArt. Perhaps for my next post, it would be interesting to do a comparison between how Pokemon Fan artists communicate on one or two of these hubs and contrast them with my own experience of Tumblr.


Manifold, M.C. 2012, “From Amateur to Framauteur: Art Development of Adolescents and Young Adults Within an Interest-Based Community”, Studies in Art Education, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 37-53.

Tumblr, Fanart and Immersion

A little late on the week 5 post, I know, but I’ve been super busy this week arting. Yes, arting is now a verb. I figured if I’m going to be focusing my auto-ethnography on Pokemon fan art, then I might as well immerse myself in the subject and actually have a go at making some of my own fan art, which is something I’ve never done. 

I’m not an artist by any means, but I do like to draw. The last time I did an art class was in year 10, and I haven’t really picked up a pencil (or paintbrush) since.This past week I’ve managed to do a few drawings of some of my childhood favourites and I will be posting these on my DIGC330 Tumblr blog/digital artefact


My first attempt at making fan art :’)


Without looking at any academic literature and based solely on this past week’s experience, I’m starting to understand why people might invest so much time and energy into creating amazing fan art; It’s fun! I feel that making art somehow immerses you into the Pokemon world in a way that the games can’t. As I’ve been sketching Pikachu, Mew and Dawn (from the anime series) I feel as though with each pencil line, I am translating my experience of the character into some sort of visual language, something that then other artists or fans of the Pokemin universe will be able to comprehend . Since beginning this excercise, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the time and effort that goes into making Pokemon artwork, because, not gonna lie, I’ve spent more than a few hours trying to make art myself!

I’d like to explore this more over the next few weeks and maybe have a look at a few of the genres and mediums used in Pokemon art and see if this says anything significant about the way  people interact with or perceive Pokemon content. 

Oh So Edgy! Pokémon on the Periphery

tumblr_mx6rbuB5AC1sl0lrio2_500For those of you who might be reading from outside the DIGC330 crew, Peripheral media is just as it sounds: media, or media content that is related to or situated on the edge or periphery of the main focus. In terms of media and media culture, the pertains to media sources and content that is a little left of centre stage.

Russo and Watkins (2005) argue that shifts in entertainment and cultural tourism continue to impact upon cultural sectors. Global access to mass broadcast media; cyberspace, mobile technologies, the web, increasingly play significant roles in the consumption of cultural media. While these technologically based media continue to proliferate’ experiences which resemble museums present challenges to the ways in which audiences conceptualize their experiences. So, if broadcast media and internet giants are considered mainstream then a site like Tumblr, could be considered peripheral media. It’s a technology based media sources that allows thousands of bloggers to come together on the platform to discuss, write, create, share and curate bits of media and culture, sort of like an interactive museum. In this way, Tumblr uses “immersion in technology in an abstracted way by using mediated realities as a mechanism for drawing audiences into their knowledge base” (Russo & Watkins, 2005.

Tumblr for me represents a curation and appropriation of elements of popular culture, ranging from GIFS of Kim Kardashian crying to reimagining Game of Thrones characters as Disney movie characters. Bloggers are able to take ideas/images/themes/music/twitter posts most any part of mainstream media culture, and make them their own in one way or another, whether this be in the form of a crude meme made with MS Paint or a detailed artwork drawn by hand and digitally enhanced. As you can probably imagine, Pokémon fan fiction is huge on Tumblr for this reason. Bloggers are able to share and create a certain type of Pokémon fan culture that I have not found anywhere else. While Pokemon itself can be considered a mainstream cultural phenomenon, the fan fiction and art generated on Tumblr can be considered peripheral, as much of this curation and creation happens on the edge of mainstream Pokemon media.

The post that started it all: My first encounter with Pokemon Tumblr fan art.

The post that started it all: My first encounter with Pokemon Tumblr fan art.


Peripheral media sources give different voices to stories that may not be told in mainstream arenas. Tumblr as a peripheral media source allows for a deeper understanding  and appreciation of global issues and cultural elements as well more immersive experience in topics like Pokemon.

Russo, A., & Watkins, J. (2005). Digital Cultural Communication: Enabling new media and co-creation in Asia. International Journal of Education and Development using ICT[Online], 1(4). Available:

Creator vs. Creation


When challenged with the task of writing about a celebrity from my field of study, my problem was not of coming up with a suitable subject, but trying to decide which Pokemon-related celebrity was best to write about. So I’m going to talk briefly about two different, yet all equally brilliant examples of Pokemon celebrity.

Let’s start at the beginning with the father of the franchise. Satoshi Tajiri (Japanese: 田尻 智), is the creator of Pokémon, responsible for the initial concepts which would lead to the “metaseries” as it exists today (, 2014). Currently the CEO of Game Freak, Tajiri first came up with the concept for Pokémon in 1990. He worked on the original games for almost six years (Larimer, 1999). Since then, the Pokemon phenomenon has taken the world by storm, with IGN naming Tajiri one of the top 100 game creators of all time, mainly for his ability to turn Pokémon into a “worldwide phenomenon” (, 2010). His success with the Pokemon games has made him an icon both in Japanese and gaming cultures. Tajiri has acted as executive producer, game designer or director for almost all of the released Pokemon games for Nintendo consoles (, 2014).

Perhaps even more famous than the creator of the franchise, is Pikachu; the electric mouse critter, which for those of you who are unaware, is a species of Pokemon from the media franchise (, 2014). Celebrities organise our emotional investment, which is exactly what Pikachu does. He features across the collection of video games, anime, manga, books, trading cards, and other media created by Satoshi Tajiri, and has held a special place in my heart and Pokemon team since childhood. Even though he is quite weak in comparison with other Pokemon in the games, the character has become a mascot for the franchise. Pikachu has made multiple appearances in various promotional events and merchandise. He was  ranked as the second best person of the year by Time in 1999 and most recently Pikachu was chosen as one of the mascots for the Japanese side in the 2014 FIFA World Cup (Borboa, 2014).


While we owe the franchises existence to Tajiri, I think that the celebrity that is Pikachu has been far more prevalent an ambassador for the franchise because he stimulates a greater emotional response. Pikachu has certainly held a special place in my heart. I remember desperately asking my parents to buy me one for my sixth birthday, because I wanted a small fuzzy best friend like Ash had. It was much easier for me as a child to identify with a cute character and the allure of a fuzzy pet monster than it would have been for me to identify with a Japanese game designer. There must me something to be said about this emotional response that Pikachu and the rest of the Pokemon generate. Thousands of people from across generations engage with the Pokemon celebrity in the form of art, forums merchandise  and games to this day. While the Tajiri’s genius and success as a game developer can be appreciated by adults, the concept is a little difficult for young audiences to grasp. Pikachu’s fuzzy body, red cheeks and, pun intended, electric personality resonate with both children and adults, either evoking a sense of wonder and imagination in children, or a sense of nostalgia or engagement with popular culture in adults.


Borboa, S. (2014). Pikachu Named Japan’s Official Mascot In Brazil 2014 World Cup. [online] Soccerly. Available at: [Accessed 18 Aug. 2014]., (2014). Pikachu (Pokémon) – Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Aug. 2014]., (2014). Satoshi Tajiri – Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Aug. 2014]., (2010). IGN – 69. Satoshi Tajiri. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Aug. 2014].

Larimer, T. (1999). | Pokémon: The Ultimate Game Freak – Page 1 | 11/22/99. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Aug. 2014].

Image: x.jpg from


Follow (and reblog) your Heart.

I want a redo my week 2 post, as I feel like my direction has changed somewhat considerably since I started. I want to have a closer look at Pokemon fan generated content.  While I have enjoyed playing TPP, I feel like it’s a bit of a novel concept. Sure, the gamely might describe utopian democracy, I’m not so interested in political phenomena or collaborative gameplay. I have found myself more and more browsing the inter-webs, particularly Tumblr looking at fan art, fiction and Pokemon fan theories than watching TPP progress rather tediously. While this change may make me appear fickle or that I’m uncommitted, I’d like to think that this change has been more  of a process of self discovery, in that it’s shown me what I’m really interested in!

Like most of my pioneering online experiences, I first stumbled upon alone in that family study at the recommendation of some school friends. One of the boys at school had written his Tumblr URL down in the corner of one of my exercise books. I remember copying the link into the address bar and scrolling through his blog and thinking Holy crap this is so cool!  There wasn’t much actual writing, more just content that had been ‘reblogged’ from elsewhere, which I remember thinking was weird, as my previous experiences of blogging were written articles.The art and content that users create (that I have found thus far) ranges in form from GIFs, comics, fan art, shared YouTube videos, photos and the occasional textual post.

A few years on and Tumblr has become part of my daily routine. The kinds of humour and cultural mash-ups that appear on my dashboard not only illicit nostalgia, laughter and cynicism for popular culture, but also as a scholar, invite me to ask questions of my own political and cultural views of the world. How does this relate to Pokemon? Let me just share some of the awesome Tumblr user generated art:tumblr_n9pu4gJw0w1t7b5qro2_500tumblr_myfanqBYXN1rf9weto1_500tumblr_naem0sexxV1sv7wvqo1_500 tumblr_lvnzmySrhA1qhi51bo1_500

The curation and generation of Pokemon fan content is unbelievable, as people from around the globe share their ideas and draw on the best content from other sites show different aspects of the Pokemon universe, both real and imagined. While was created in the U.S, there are any users from all over the globe. As much as l love Pokemon, I haven’t ever been too involved in the fan culture that accompanies the anime series or the games, so I’m keen to explore more, and delve deeper into understand the who, how and why of Pokemon fan cultures as I did when I first found Tumblr.

Links to some Pokefan Tumblogs!

Twitch Plays Pokemon: First Encounters

As I mentioned in my first blog, I have had a love affair with Pokemon since I was a  kid, watching the anime series on CheeseTV in the morning, collecting the cards and playing both Pokemon Emerald and Leaf Green on my Nintendo GameBoy. Like many Aussie kids, I grew up with the franchise, and at the age of six or seven, was not really aware or interested in the how or why of Pokemon. I liked it because I liked it. End of story. Even as I have gotten older, I have never given too much thought to why the franchise has been so popular the world over, nor have I participated in much of the fandom surrounding the franchise. I want to document my first experience of Twitch plays Pokemon.

Chris sat down with me halfway through the week 2 tutorial to discuss my topic. I proceed to detail my long love affair with the old games and anime series when he interjected. “So you know the best thing to happen this past year is Twitch plays Pokemon?” I smiled quizzically, having never heard of Twitch. I thought Twitch was a person’s screen name. Chris leans over and begins to search YouTube for a PBS Ideas Channel video. “Watch this,” he said. I sat, at first puzzled, then intrigued, then completely agog as the Ideas Channel described something that sounded, in a word, awesome.

Once the clip ended I scraped my jaw off the desk and decide to check out Twitch first hand. The homepage reminded me a little of in the sense that it seems like an organised chaos, ideal for geeks and gamers to hang out, chat about trending topics in the gaming community with the addition of being able to participate in live events. I hit the search bar and click the first suggested post. It seemed Pokemon Red had been long completed, and the community were well underway in tackling Pokemon Stadium 2. I watched for a while as the chat window flashed constantly and the corresponding Pokemon (Gastly and Politoed) battled.


Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 3.42.25 pm

I had a go at punching in some commands. It was insane, completely impossible to tell whether I was impacting the battle at all. Players were not only typing in commands, but also general comments on the gameplay. Out of the chaos a champion emerges and at this point class time is over. I closed my laptop feeling exhilarated and eager to explore Twitch plays Pokemon further.

Review and Analysis

Having had a few days to reflect on my first experience of Twitch plays Pokemon (TPP), and revisiting the TPP live game a few times since last week, I have had time to consider the who, why, and where of TPP. I’ll try and be brief!

An inquiry into why people play TPP would could be interesting. I’ve played multiple times since Chris first showed me the game last week, and to be quite honest, I’m not even sure why. I have little to no control over what is going on, due to having a slow internet connection at times, and the vast majority of people typing commands into the chat box means that my little input virtually gets lost the second I hit enter. I am not exactly sure whether the live game is such a great example or reflection of the true nature Pokemon fandom, nor does Twitch showcase the complexity and dedication of Pokemon fans. Sure, while the Twitch live game does seem to foster a sense of unity between fans as players from across the globe move the avatars towards an end goal, the same could be potentially be done with any other game. Twitch also hosts a number of other live games. I have tried several others with far fewer participants where it’s almost possible to see how I impact the gameplay, but these games are nowhere near as fun as the original, overcrowded TPP. Perhaps the people playing TPP are not all avid fans, but simply enjoy the the thrill of participating in such a monumental online event.  This is definitely something to consider researching further!

– Elle.