BCM320 has opened up a wholeness experience within the last couple of weeks in class. We have been consistently watching films of differing genres and cultures to what I am used to and live-tweeting our thoughts and reactions to each film. The reason in which we are partaking in such behavior is to explore a form of auto-ethnography.
Before beginning this class I was unaware of auto-ethnography as a concept, however through class content, but more specifically the reading ‘Autoethnography: An Overview” I have established a better understanding of not only the concept of autoethnography but also how evidently present it is in everyday life. Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) describes the concept of autoethnography as ‘an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno) (Ellis, 2011)’. Essentially it is a method of research that uses personal experiences to facilitate a better understanding of culture through differing cultural experiences.
This week in BCM320 our film we were to watch and live-tweet about was Akira. A highly-acclaimed Sci-Fri action anime film directed Katsuhiro Otomo and written by Otomo and Izo Hashimoto. Akira is a film about A secret military project that endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psychic psychopath who can only be stopped by two teenagers and a group of psychics.
This film was unlike anything I have previously watched, with anime being a new experience both culturally and visually with animated movies not being a familiar genre. I found the film hard to follow due to the viewing being dubbed rather than the use of subtitles as I found the English didn’t line up in certain parts and that the film lacked the Korean/Asian inspiration I was expecting. However, watching the film was adventurous and I thoroughly enjoyed the visuals and the vibrant psychedelic colors used throughout the film. While participating in the live-tweeting I was researching into the film to find that the film serves an inspiration for many people such as Kanye West’s music video ‘Stronger’ and ‘Stranger Things’.
I found the film, Akira to be a positive introductory experience into the world of Anime and while I found my lack of Asian influence and experience in the anime genre affected my viewing slightly, I am open to experiencing further the world of anime extending my cultural experience with such Korean films and genres.
When enrolling in this Digital Asia course I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. It seemed that the semester was filled with cultural movie watching, tweeting and blog posting. Something that seemed fun, interesting and something that may put me a little out of my depth. Not only do I not watch many films at all, but rarely ever have I watched a non-Hollywood produced film. I knew this culturally was going to be something new, but I was ready.
Week one of BCM320 was kicked off by watching The Host, a South Korean horror film directed by John Ho Bong. This was a whole new experience for me the film itself and the live-tweeting. I originally found this film hard to follow, I was distracted by live-tweeting and reading the subtitles while also trying to understand what was going on while also not feeling I could relate to the movie due to my cultural differences, but by the end of the film, I felt I had a good grasp on the plot and found myself enjoying watching and engaged in what was happening. The Host seemed to jump from genre to genre throughout the film, having aspects of comedy, drama, horror and also including hints sci-fi, however, it seems that this is normal throughout Asian films, and it is something I should expect upon coming weeks.
To put me further out of my depth that I already was I also had little historical understanding of any American/Asian events, however during the film I quickly discovered through research that parts of the film such as pouring the formaldehyde into the Han River was something that was based on a true event in 2000 at the Seoul military quarters. While I did have very little understanding of the historical and political background behind such events, It didn’t make me feel I could enjoy and understand the movie any less.
While this movie has differing cultural aspects to myself and my upbringing I found that I still enjoyed the film, related with the strong family connection and already I feel I’ve learned about how Asian films differ to films I am used to. I’m still hesitant and unsure what is to come for future BCM320 seminars, however, I’m intrigued and excited.