This week’s blog is about Hi Score Girl which is a Japanese anime series, and I will focus on the Japanese game industry and aspects of Japanese education with Autoethnographic ways. Hi Score Girl highlights Japanese games that include video games and amusement arcades, and I found its theme which is the importance of communication and effects of the family environment.
When I attended Live-tweeting, I realised that it was difficult to find cultural differences unlike 3 previous films because I have a Japanese background. What other people feel strange, funny, interesting for something might be familiar to me already so Live-tweeting activity gave me a new sense of what Japanese culture is. I believe writing about Japanese culture is related to performance ethnography which is defined as “performance ethnography is a way of acting on the world in order to change it” (Norman 2003).
When I watched the first 3 episodes, I found there are many typical scenes that can represent Japanese culture such as the fighting games at the amusement arcade. As this article introduces the Japanese arcades, it is common that people are enthusiastic to play games and they have a long history to build today’s game industry. CNN posted one article that quoted how the Japanese game industry influenced other countries. It said, “Without the contributions of Japan, we wouldn’t have a video game industry”. I could acknowledge this fact by others’ tweeting. There were many tweets that talked about how they experienced fighting games, and some of them have been to Japan. What the Japanese pop culture represents is an essential theme to write this blog post but I would like to focus on another theme that delivers their messages to the audience.
There are two main characters in the first 3 episodes at the Hi Score Girl, which are Haruo who loves playing games and gets low grades at his elementary school, and Ono who is an honor student and loves playing games. The anime unfolds how those different types of people communicate with only one common point. When I talk about the point, I should put my personal experience in order to make my argue meaningfully, and this approach is part of ethnography that is defined as “The ethnographer works back and forth between the contexts and situations of lived experience and the representations of those experiences” (Norman 2003).
The two main characters got closer as they got to know each other and it was revealed that Ono lived a cramped life due to strict education by her parents. Her family was illustrated as a rich family and her parents forced her to do after school activities. When I saw this scene, I remembered some Japanese typical style that I personally do not want to accept. It is common that Japanese parents educate their children strictly and people really care about how smart their children are. I can give one episode that I have experienced before. When I was a junior high school student, mothers always talked about their children’s friends’ school grades and they liked to assess someone’s grades. This happened by one stereotype that students who get high grades are best so parents want their children to be smart.
In addition to this stereotype, Shintaro, Yukio, & Ryo (2018) mentioned that while there are exceptional, Japanese education does not target low-income families. When Ono was forced to do many additional lessons can support this sentence as well as my experience. I remembered how children who are put into much pressure to be smart feel uncomfortable because it is difficult to show their feelings and what they want to do so I really feel sorry for her.
On the other hand, although Haruo did not notice Ono’s situation, he saved her life by talking to her equally without any prejudices, which made her released by her boring days. I think there was an intent to tell what is important and what can make friendships at those scenes. While this analysis that education is not the most priotised thing differs from academic sources that I mentioned above, that is why I write this blog. As Cohen (2012) experienced and described, not all experiences can follow the facts that are academically proven so talking about your own experiences can contribute to the situations.
Cohen, E. (2012). Flooded: An Auto-Ethnography of the 2011 Bangkok Flood. ASEAS – Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 5(2), 316-334. viewed 28 August 2020
Norman K. Denzin (2003) Performing [Auto] Ethnography Politically, The Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies, 25:3, 257-278, DOI: 10.1080/10714410390225894, viewed 28 August 2020
This week’s film is Cake which was directed by Asim Abbasi in 2018 and this movie is categorised as emotional on Netflix. This film is really difficult to follow its story unlike the other two previous films, Love for Sale and Furie, and this my personal impression may be correct because I saw some similar comments on Live-tweeting. On the other hand, I enjoyed this film in the aspect of its theme that is love, family, and loss. Those pieces came up in my mind when I watched them.
To make sure I understand Cake, I would like to analyse the details with my personal experiences. Again, this approach is a part of autoethnography that is defined as “an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis, Adams, and Bochner 2011).
This film, Cake focuses on “women” separately from three main themes that I mentioned above. Regardless of family stories, there are women in every scene and they are surrounded by strong emotions such as sadness, confusion, anger, and so on. According to my research about Pakistan’s culture that is about men and women, it is summarised “women are subordinate to men, and that a man’s honor resides in the actions of the women of his family” (Blood 1994). So this film seems to overturn the stereotype because the women in the film are not hesitant to argue with men. What I got strong impressions of the film is when they were together even though they had battles within siblings. I have never experienced those kinds of arguments with my family so it is difficult to imagine how they were feeling but I could say it did not mean they wanted to mess up and end up their relationships. They have compassion and sympathies at their bottom of their mind basically but they do not know how to express themselves with their own words. Those scenes remind me of my family at the same time. My family has never battles but they are easy to misunderstand especially when they face some unescapable things such as parental care and decision of children future.
To support their lack of communication, some songs are used as background music and each song has messages that can tell each members’ feelings instead. I believe songs have kinds of spiritual power that can stay by your side whenever you listen to music and what I like to do is jumping into the songs to heal myself. I can say this feature worked out for the film because many people reacted to songs especially when they sang for their mother who lies on her bed. Thanks to those songs, I could read their feelings and avoid being totally lost in my position so I imagine the intentions of film producers are to leave room to think and catch the clues by songs.
Lastly, I would like to mention the title “Cake”. Honestly, I could not understand why the film is titled Cake even though some scenes used cakes.
However, this article gave me the answer. It said “Cake. It comes in different shapes and sizes, colours, and textures. The icing on top can often conceal what lies underneath, or whether the cake is actually as delicious as it looks. Quite like families. They are always around, whether physically or in spirit. Each one is different, but they are all familiarly comforting when enjoyed in small slices” (Datar 2019). When I read these sentences, all my questions are solved so it is important to think about the characteristics not only the objects.
Furie is a Vietnamese action movie and the central theme is the maternal affection and the strength of mother while there are many cultural components.Although the main theme that is love is similar to Love for Sale which I watched and wrote a blog last week on the aspect of focusing on family, both films have totally different angles, structures, and storytelling to deliver the messages to the audience. On this week’s blog, I keep Self-reflexivity in my mind to analyse Furie.
Self-reflexivity is related to autoethnography which is defined as “Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis, Adams, and Bochner 2011). The relationship is explained as “The concept and method called auto-ethnography is an attempt at practicing this self-reflexivity by having a closer look at one’s own longings and belongings. This means the auto-ethnographer places the self within a social context by connecting the personal and the cultural.” (Alsop 2002). Recognising and understanding this point, it is possible to analyse Furie effectively.
What I would like to highlight from Furie using self-reflexivity is three points:
the scene Hai who is the main character and mother told about to be strong to her daughter, Mai
about the urban city that appeared in the middle in Furie
the fact they did not use guns until the end of the story
The first point is that one of the scenes gave me strong impressions. When Hai told Mai to not feel scared and to be strong, I personally felt sorry for Hai because the message came from her hurt past. I analyse Hai as she holds many responsibilities and heavy burdens to protect her daughter. Putting me in Hai’s position and imagining how she has grown up and how it has affected her life is a kind of self-reflexivity even though this is all about feelings not cultural aspects.
The second point involves cultural aspects. The urban city in Vietnam is a core place for Furie and the buildings and the townscape reminds me of Tokyo because there are crowded people and most buildings are lighted up even in the night time. This recognition comes from my personal experiences and knowledge that Tokyo never is silent in the night time. Surprisingly, there are other students that talked about the same scenes even though they are not Japanese. This fact that Tokyo has this kind of stereotype can be important for understanding with autoethnography.
The last point is that they did not use guns for fighting until the end of the film. I did not realize and I did not have doubts about that until I found one tweet. The tweet made me aware of Asian action films have fighting scenes with their fists basically unlike American films. Live-tweeting activities gave me a new angle of analysing as well as new discoveries by sharing everyone’s opinions. In addition, I analyse the reason why they did not use guns is that fighting with their fists can make the scene more aggressive and serious rather than using guns.
At the end of this blog, I would like to mention the ending of Furie. I personally take facts that the style of ending which resolves everything and Hai and Mai could back to their happy life is an ideal ending. While when we watched Love for Sale last week, there were many arguments that criticised the ending, most people did not argue about the ending for Furie. So I consider everyone to prefer positive and clear endings as ideal even if we have different backgrounds and experiences.
Love for Sale which is made in Indonesia and is a romantic comedy movie. To analyse and see the depth of this movie, it is necessary to understand the context behind the Asian culture as well as the concept of autoethnography. Ellis, Adams, and Bochner (2011) defined autoethnography as an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience. They also mentioned that “this approach challenges canonical ways of doing research and representing others and treats research as a political, socially-just and socially-conscious act” (Ellis, Adams, and Bochner 2011). Considering those described points, it is possible to imagine that there are some messages and pieces that the movie wants to deliver to the audience.
I would like to analyse there are two points that can be indicated in the movie. The two points are what people work and what people fall in love with.
Love for Sale has two main characters which are Richard A. Widjaja who is a single man and Arini Kusuma who tried to change Richard to a better person. They met through a paid online platform that has 45 days of contracts aiming to find a partner. As they unfold the story, you would find what I mean by two points. The people who were watching Love for Sale at the tutorial of BCM320 showed similar reactions at several scenes. First scene is related to the work that I indicated above. As it has been a common stereotype that Asia is strict for time especially at the workplace. Employees are required to be on time. There was one scene that reminded you of this cultural aspect. In addition, Love for Sale drew that employees were only engaged under strict boss and they did not give objections to their boss. To explain why there were those kinds of scenes, I found one article that mentioned Asian culture. About the aspect of the workplace in Asia, it is explained that “as employees have to respect authority and implement super-incumbent decisions, they are reluctant to challenge the status quo and question a manager’s decision” (Xie & Paik 2018).
In addition to that, there was another scene that reminds me of Asian culture which was the scene of Arini doing his best for Richard. I saw many tweets that said Arini was too nice to him because she did not mind and gave her best. To support the scene, I would like to cite this statement that identifies the relationship between husband and wife in Asia. It said “Asian women respect their men a lot. They prefer to deliver their right to make decisions to men. and they like to follow their husbands and treat them with a big deal of respect” (Asian Women 2020).
Although there are other characteristic scenes that represent the Love for Sale including camera work and storytelling, I personally focus on those two scenes that I mentioned before on this blog. I have an Asian cultural background so those scenes did not surprise me and I could imagine that other people who do not have the background would have some thoughts at the same time. What I would like to highlight the point of autoethnography with Love for Sale is how to deliver messages including cultural backgrounds. Putting pieces of cultural stuff can be part of autoethnography and understanding the point will make sense to understanding the concept of autoethnography as well.
At the end of this blog, I would like to mention the ending of Love for Sale. Most people who watched the movie argued the ending was blurred and did not make sense. Stevens (2020) summarised romantic comedy is thought to be essentially calculating. However, it is not possible to say Love for Sale follows this definition because the ending leaves some room for us to think about what they intend to do. So not all romantic comedies suit the definition and I reckon the contradiction has room to explore the concept of autoethnography.