Author: Minh-Anh Mia Do

book-smart and sugar-addicted || the written word & all things linguistics || email:

Reading {J}ournal—contextual essay

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Contextual essay

In the “Modern Life and Other Nonsense” section of the Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories (2018), Jay Rubin has curated a wonderful, though small, collection of what is labelled in Japan’s literary theory as “popular literature” (Shaw 1935, p. 292). Marking the fourth turning points in the country’s literary timeline—the nineteenth century (Sanderson & Kato 1939, p. 211), these stories offer a refreshed view of the rich and diverse literary landscape of Japan.


Reading {J}ournal—on Japanese Short Stories—2: Reflect

The Specs

Warning: Somespoilersahead (Kitchen—Banana Yoshimoto, Norwegian Wood—Haruki Murakami, Socrates in Love—Kyoichi Katayama)


In my most recent post, I went down a nostalgic memory lane of experiences with Japanese literature, setting up a background for my upcoming Digital Artefact* on Japanese short stories and the culture’s reflection between the lines—the stories are like age rings of a tree, looking at which one can observe the subtle changes in history and culture, especially among the everyday citizens. Now that I have had some time to distance myself enough from my own writing, it is only apt that I practise looking at that narrative with some objectivity, dissecting the emotional with a more logical approach to bring out the autoethnography aspect.

w 20170821 bcm241 ColabEthnoAutoethnography (my illustration)

The essence of autoethnographic research lies in the analyticitywith which the researcher (in this case, myself) frames their story, using “theoretical and methodological tools”…

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Reading {J}ournal—on Japanese Short Stories—1: Rewind

The Specs

Here’s to all the memories of the very few Japanese fiction books I have had my nose stuck in so far and my upcoming autoethnographic journey into Japanese short stories.


kitchenKitchen book cover (n.d.)

I first picked up a copy of Kitchenby Banana Yoshimoto eight years ago, when I was bored out of my wits at a sleepover at my cousins’. I barely remember the details of that story now—other than that it is a short window into the life of a make-shift family of a young orphan, her friend and his transgender mother—but the afterward melancholic feeling and indescribable afterthought, so alien to a thirteen-year-old back then, still surfaces so vividly at any sight of the book cover.

Such emotional discomfort stimulated by that first encounter with Japanese literature had me steering clear from the genre during my entire early teenage years…

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On ‘Akira’ (1988)—The Beginning of the End

The Specs

The 1988 anime Akira has officially topped my list of hardest-to-watch films, packing millions of details in both the graphics and the content of each sequence, in the span of more than two hours. Admittedly, I yawned rather widely during the middle part, since it started to drag on and became too slippery (plus excessively violent) for my attention to grab on.

bcm320 Akira (1988)Akira (1988) (illustration by me)

Yet when the credits rolled, the familiar empty feeling after finishing a series or flipping the last page of a fiction book crept on me. The world in Akira—that of Neo-Tokyo in 2019—came alive immediately thanks to the elaborate illustrations of the background in every scene, glowing in its cyberpunk vibes and so reminiscent of San Fransokyo…

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On Gojira (Godzilla) 1954—A Natural Embodiment of a Man-Made Disaster

The Specs

“To say that this Oriental monster is fantastic is to state but half the case. Godzilla, produced in a Japanese studio, is an incredibly awful film … the whole thing is in the cheap cinematic-horror stuff … ” (Crowther 1956).

Museum Visitors (Fantatom 2008) (Factotum 2008)

In his review of the very first Gojira 1954 screening in the States, New York Times’ critic Crowther mercilessly bashed director Ishirō Honda’s sci-fi Kaiju film, dedicating a full paragraph to complaining that the iconic sequence of the nuclear-activated monster’s rampage through Tokyo carried little meaning and was done “for no clear reason”. Crowther’s blunt scorn might (understandably) enrage those who have already known the meaning behind this film—nuclear disaster and the loss and pain it brings. But one could also cut him some slack, for he spoke from the point of view of a person from a vastly different culture,

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