anime

Akira

The film screened this week in BCM320 digital Asia was Akira, a Japanese anime film released in 1988 and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. Set in 2019, a motorcycle gang in a post-apocalyptic world struggle to protect themselves from the infectious evil of both civilians and political authority in Tokyo.

This was my first real exposure to anime. It was very different from the usual western cartoons I am familiar with. I associate these colourful moving pictures with my childhood and innocence, but Akira definitely challenged my views. It was a much more mature film regarding its underlying messages in comparison to the Western culture cartoons I have consumed.

Live-tweeting this tutorial sparked more interesting conversations than the previous week. The film’s plot I feel brought scary realities into play. The depictions of a furious, corrupt, power-driven world can definitely be seen amongst certain hierarchies in society.

For me, a futuristic film focused on the elements of such mature themes such as political power and violence rather than new technological inventions was very refreshing. The friendship between Kaneda and Tetsuo is something I think should be viewed by everyone. Akira is definitely a film ahead of its time with its continuing relevance throughout decades past with a strong focus on personal and authoritarian relationships. Scenes felt so raw and real at times. Even though the blood was animated, and the sound effects created by production the violence still made me sick. I found this very weird as I have watched many films in my life so far that has included extreme violence and it did not make this big of an impact.

Through background research of the film and information shared on the Twitter hashtag, I was surprised to see how often Akira has been used as inspiration for many people in their creative works, in particular, Kanye West. Relating to the setting of the film, it was quite intriguing to also find out this now 30-year-old film almost predicted the future with its mention of Tokyo hosting the 2019 Olympics when they are in fact hosting the 2020 Olympics.

“Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis, 2004, Holman Jones, 2005)

My understanding of autoethnographic methodology is that an individual is giving a recount of a past experience assisted by secondary research regarding the subject of discussion. Ellis et al (2011) communicate the practice of ethnography as culturally conducted studies that have a purpose to educate those unaware or in need of assistance to understand particular a culture and its elements.

Some of the methods of research commonly used when conducting a study are journal articles, interviews and photographs. To be considered as valuable in an autoethnographic study, sources go through a process of analysation. Ellis et al emphasise the need to comparing and contrasting personal experience against existing research. They also state the importance to produce a product that demonstrates reliability through fieldwork, aims to reduce generalisability and heighten validity of their study.

I believe autoethnography is crucial to progression within the world due to its deep cultural exploration. The ability to make something familiar to one’s unaware or even ignorant self has the ability to create a chain of education and the passing of information.

AKIRA: My First Anime Experience

So far, BCM320 has proved to be a subject full of ‘first times’ for me. In week 1, our screening of The Host was my first experience with Korean film, and this week was my first time watching Japanese anime. Our week 3 screening was Katsuhiro Ôtomo’s Akira (1988). While neither of the screenings thus far would be my typical genre of choice, I am enjoying the gentle exposure to the diversity of Asian media cultures. (more…)

The exploration of ‘Akira’ (1988)

The original post can be found here.

Throughout the course of BCM320, the autoethnographic approach to study will encourage my personal cultural framework to be challenged by cultures and media I am unfamiliar with.

This week in BCM320 I visited unfamiliar territories by watching my first anime in many years. It has been around 9 years since I voluntarily watched ‘Deathnote‘, with subtitles that I read vigorously as I don’t speak Japanese. In this classroom setting, we watched the English dubbed ‘Akira‘ and my viewing experience was incredibly different now as an autoethnographic student. I believe the reason for my interest in ‘Deathnote‘ whilst in primary school was directly influenced by the social atmosphere I was immersed in. With most of my friends being of Vietnamese background, they encouraged me to dive into the deep end and without their encouragement, I probably wouldn’t have watched any anime at all. This had the power to breakdown cultural boundaries and opened an inclusive conversation in the classroom amongst friends.

The live-tweeting experience (or lack thereof) is reflective of my disliking towards the Sci-Fi genre, for some reason I have never been able to enjoy this genre of film, which made this film hard to follow 99% of the time. I found myself reading a summary of ‘Akira’ on various webpages to develop some kind of relationship to the film. And at this point, I still identify as a ‘cultural stranger’ (with much to learn) in the world of anime as I was left unscathed by its culture. On the other hand, I could admire the pleasurable cyberpunk aesthetic, and this is credited to my excitement for the upcoming ‘Cyberpunk: 2077′ video game to be released in April of 2020. I’ve hyperlinked the cinematic trailer for all the Keanu Reeve’s lovers out there. Upon discussing this with my partner, we both came to the agreement of enjoying ‘real’ actors, humans in film and realistic gameplay on gaming consoles (‘Detroit Become Human’, ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’), as we can create a stronger emotional connection to the content.

Image result for akira anime logo

What also intrigued me about ‘Akira‘ was the external impact of the anime, and how it intertwined with elements of Westernised culture that I am familiar with. Kanye West himself proclaimed his love for the film via Twitter and direct commentary throughout his 2009 music video for ‘Stronger‘. For many people Yeezy is their favourite artist, so a natural response is to also view what inspires his artist development. This acts as a form of intercultural communication through popular media and artist trends. West’s publicised love for the film can encourage his 26,749,938 Spotify listeners and 29,180,671 Twitter followers to watch ‘Akira‘. Similarly, the director of the film collaborated with the ‘Supreme‘ label in creating various merchandise from t-shirts to skateboard decks. These pieces of merch were available for purchase in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, London and Paris which continued to spread anime culture across American and European cultures.

Thanks for reading,

Caitlin

 

Grand Finale Anime Food Project

insight

After a month of anime exploration, Japanese history lessons, kitchen decimation, and editing mishaps the illustrious Anime Food project has finally come to a close. This project which came about from my desire to learn more about Japanese food and pop culture was riddled with failures and minor successes. None the less the research project still resulted in what Ellis et al.(2011) would hopefully describe as an ‘aesthetic and evocative thick description’ of my own personal experience with the field site – or at least my attempt at doing so.

The process of conducting this project far outweighed my original expectations, as the time and effort needed to holistically research and interact with my field site quickly overcome what I had originally planned. After days of researching and watching anime, I then needed to conduct further research into the specific Japanese dishes and how they would realistically

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CLAUDIA MULLER: CHECK IN ON THE DA

https://claudialouisemuller.com/2018/09/21/625/

Bonjourno, (just quickly, you should read this before you continue on here)

Set the task of exploring a facet of a culture previously not experienced, I opened up to a type of research that prompts the researchers vulnerabilities (Ellis et al. 2011, 14.1.18) and cultural frameworks to gather insights typically unattainable. My field site being cosplay and its anime adaptions, I quickly realised that by immersing myself into the experience I felt vulnerable and certainly out of my comfort zone. Whether that be the idea itself as a daunting action, concealing your own identity as another’s for costume play, or whether it be the unfamiliarity with the field site itself, I was acutely aware that I was letting my feelings, thoughts, and vulnerabilities influence the way the project was migrating (Ellis et al. 2011, 14.1.3), in a way that other forms of research methodologies would certainly not allow for.

This investigation into cosplay originally was rooted in personal experience, but when I found myself hesitating to participate I found myself redirecting towards a more niche area of study; whereby perhaps there was a middle ground to find, whereby I could create looks that were alike to the characters from Studio Ghibli films, designing them to look like everyday pieces or at the very least curating costumes from everyday pieces that I already owned. Could I find a way to interact with a culture I was trying to understand in a way that was part of my own cultural framework?

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Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Working in fashion retail and with a history of sewing projects behind me, could I take what I understood already and utilise it to imitate the feelings and processes associating with the action of cosplay? Furthermore, could I create a layered account of my experience by introducing my fondness and knowledge of anime produced by Studio Ghibli? These were all questions I set out to answer, and one that could only be facilitated by the means of autoethnography; a method whereby I could introduce an alternate voice amidst a construction of knowledge (Sturm, D. 2014).

 

As I went on to have my first swing at cosplay, or whatever it was that I deemed a variation of it, I began to realise that the research project was as much about myself as it was about the topic; “..autoethnographies offer a diverse body of works, with many often producing essentially autobiographical accounts of the self as both researcher and the researched” (Kien, G. 2007).

And so here I find myself, at a crossroads whereby I believe I have navigated down an alternate route, truly utilising my own cultural framework to gain a better understanding of other cultures around me. In translation, I will utilise the data I collect to create and curate wearable, everyday pieces that are cosplay, to a degree, and critically analyse the experience alongside further research into the area; a layered account (Ellis et al, 2011). The aspect to tackle now, I find, is distinguishing autoethnography as both a process and a product, a notion brought to my attention by both Ellis (et al, 2011) and Angus Baillie in our seminar conversation, and how they are to interrelate in this investigation.

 

All for now,

Claudia

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14.1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

Kien, G., 2007 A Western Consumer in Korea: Autoethnographical Fiction of Western Performance, Cultural Studies ⇔ Critical Methodologies, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 264-280. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1532708614565454#_i2

Sturm, D. (2014) ‘Playing With the Autoethnographical Performing and Re-Presenting the Fan’s Voice’, Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies, pp. 214. Available at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1532708614565454

CLAUDIA MULLER: INDEPENDENT DIGITAL ASIA AUTOETHNOGRAPHY

https://claudialouisemuller.com/2018/09/11/claudia-muller-independent-digital-asia-autoethnography/

Ola mi amigos, time for another autoethnography project!

Utilising autoethnography as an approach to research can reveal qualitative insights into areas that may go amiss with traditional research methodologies, made evident by the hundreds of BCM students to pass before me. I can particularly see how the process assists many in Digital Asia, encouraging students to view Asia as ‘another’ rather than ‘other’ through immersing themselves into the culture or point of interest. This week, we were tasked with selecting a specific area of Asian interest to become literate in, prompting an account of our experience with a topic, text, product, service or platform of our choosing, to be broken down into a field site, a data type, speculative research area, and a communication format.

Now, if you ask me what the one thing of interest I have about Asia that I have yet to look into and better yet to barely begin to understand, its cosplay. I have always been aware of its existence and acknowledged its seemingly large following purely from interactions online, but with friends recently getting into it and my club having several interactions with the Universities’ Cosplay society, my interest has been peaked. Although, I was particularly curious to understand cosplay surrounding a broad spectrum of fandoms, but also that which surrounds styles adopted from Studio Ghibli. I’ll get to how I got to this point later in the blog, but growing up I didn’t get the chance to watch much anime at all, I was rudely informed only at the ripe old age of 20 that Winx Club was actually Italian and very much not anime (although it did apparently have a cult following in Japan in the 2000s).

Despite this, in high school my two best friends agreed that we should all watch the others favourite movie. While I picked Gatsby and our friend Tom picked Casino Royale, we were very lucky that our beautiful friend Georgie showed us Howl’s Moving Castle as hers. It was the beginning of my love for Studio Ghibli films. I have seen it twice more since that first movie night, and I have seen a few other cult favourites over the years such as Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service to name a few. Each and every time I have fallen in love with the illustrations, the colours, the settings, and the ability of the films to transport you elsewhere. This may stem from many years of art classes growing up, or from my studies in Design throughout uni, but I can never let my mind pass over the images without admiring them.

So here we are. Combine a need to understand and know more about the world of cosplay and an appreciation for the style and aesthetics of a studio’s animes and boom. You’ve got yourself a project. Not just any project, an

~** i n d e p e n d a n t   d i g i t a l   a s i a   a u t o e t h n o g r a p h y **~

The thought of tackling cosplay in a project like this is daunting to me, and it isn’t necessarily the idea of dressing up that scares me but the act of putting yourself in a vulnerable state perhaps? It is definitely not the costumes themselves, as I have always been fond of them for their excessive nature and the likeness to the imagination. I taught myself to sew growing up, and I was forever making weird and wonderful pieces that weren’t practical for everyday use. Most of which I have never shown anyone. I am curious, nonetheless, of cosplayers confidence when in character – I will make a very generalised assumption that it’s the ability to be someone who you are not that allows it to bloom, but who am I to know for sure? This fear of vulnerability may be perfect for this particular project, especially with the intended methodology. Ellis and Bochner (2006) support autoethnography ought to be “unruly, dangerous, vulnerable, rebellious, and creative”. My interest in anime, similarly, most likely stems from an appreciation for illustration and art; I was always drawing growing up.

Which brings us to the breakdown of this research project. I needed to set myself some guides as my mind does tend to wander when it comes to research, particularly ethnography.

Experience/Field Site:

  • Cosplay + Anime: wearable pieces?

Data Type

  • Reactions + feelings during experience
  • History and insights on cosplay
  • Physical clothing items and created pieces:
    (HMC) Calcifer earrings, skirt?
    (HMC) Sophie’s hat
    (HMC) Sophie’s dress
    (HMC) Howl’s wings – dress/top
    (Akira) Kaneda’s red jacket
    (SA) No face earrings or patch

Research/ to Speculate

  • Speculating that the fashion and aesthetic of anime often translates into cosplay which is a high level of commitment, is there a middle ground?

Communication & DA Format

  • Instagram account with vlog-style stories and photos to post. Photographs of alike finds, videos of creating processand/or blog posts to accompany.

To kick the project into gear, I began by creating an Instagram account (@cosplaystudies) to detail all of my data in a curated means, and begin to work my way through the topic. I started by looking for inspiration and put my ‘feelers out there’ but trawling through s o   m a n y   hashtags across Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr to see what people were actually cosplaying as. I feel that I mustn’t let my own preferences get in the way of understanding cosplay as a whole, rather than a specific alley of the culture itself. A true testament to the ability of autoethnography, as Rachel E. Dubrofsky & Megan M. Wood (2014) dictate “privilege participation in the form of self-reflexivity and active fashioning of the self” can act as an extension of the data or rather as a constraint. A starting point nonetheless, there’s much more to be investigated. I am most looking forward to getting to what I hope to be a very tactile part of the project.

 

That’s all for now,

Claudia

Dubrofsky R. E., Wood M.M., (2014) Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies Vol. 11, No. 3, September 2014, pp. 284

Ellis C., Bochner A. P. (2006). Analyzing analytic autoethnography: An autopsy. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, pp. 433.

The Overzealous World of Anime Food

insight

As a connoisseur of fine – although technically take away – food I can safely say I have had my fair share of experiencing different foods from a number of varying cultures. All be it the often-watered-down western version of these traditional dishes that are either delivered along a sushi train or in a paper bag in a takeaway container. Never the less I’ve always been open to a wide array of different foods and open to trying new dishes despite my stereotypical Australian tastebuds that would often take a glass of milo over most other drinks or actual food.

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One particular facet of international cuisine that I take a particular interest in is traditional Japanese food. Growing up out west over the blue mountains there were never any Japanese restaurants or small sushi hubs – or really anything other than old Jaza’s bakery and pie shop – for me…

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Akira – A new found love

Akira, I wasn’t expecting that.

Having not been aware of this film’s existence prior to our live tweeting exercise, I was astounded at my research divulging the world’s love and praise for this strange film’s style and message.

I’ll be dissecting my own reaction to the film (I’ll try my best not to get too excited and HSC-analysing-stuff-until-my-thesaurus-breaks-ish) along with my thoughts on the live tweeting activity that fortunately brought it to my eyes.

To my joy, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels Akira held with that of one of my all-time favourite films – Blade Runner.

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(A shot from the film Blade Runner via https://variety.com/2017/film/columns/how-blade-runner-became-a-geek-metaphor-for-art-1202583468/ )

The first and most obvious being the incredible Neo-Tokyo cityscape, featuring an eclectic combination of metropolis sky-scrapers and grimy industrial wasteland. Just like Ridley Scott’s dystopian city, the landscape beautifully mirrors the overwhelming gap between the powerful and the poor.

Now let’s talk about that colour, wow. I rarely get to throw around the word iridescent (see definition below) but it fits wonderfully here.

iridescent
adjective
  1. showing luminous colours that seem to change when seen from different angles.
    “the drake’s head has an iridescent purple sheen”

Whether or not the effect of shifting colours and double exposures was a result of the lack of tech at the time, it plays to the chaos of the scenes and landscape in an awesome, almost accidental way, and I could hardly look away to do my tweeting.

Finally, the soundtrack. THE SOUNDTRACK. I could never salivate more than I do when listening to Vangelis’ soundtrack of Blade Runner, but Akira sure gave it a good crack. Relatively simple production, perfect rise and fall with the action, and careful selection of sounds and instruments to give it just enough Asian flavour. As a music and sound nerd, I believe soundtracking can dictate the immersion we feel in a film, album, or any life situation, and to Geinoh Yamashirogumi for doing this with Akira, I tip my hat.

I’ll admit my moments of frustration having to look away from the scenes of Akira to live tweet, but I enjoyed the process nonetheless. There’s a sense of community you feel as a result of participating in the feed. It’s like when you’re in a big crowded cinema for a premiere and you’re wondering if everybody else is loving or hating the movie as much as you are, well this answers those questions.

There’s certainly some interesting merit to a constant flow of extra context to the film you’re watching too. Fascinating pieces of trivia made public by a peer, or subtle elements of the film you might’ve missed are just few of the interesting benefits of a live forum environment, benefits I didn’t expect to find.

 

(Featured image courtesy of ESPIOARTWORK-102 via https://www.deviantart.com/espioartwork-102/art/Akira-1988-500416653)

 

 

Simply Surviving Akira (1988)

insight

Despite the plethora of anime I have had the chance to binge-watch at the peak of my procrastination none have been quite as provocative and genuinely insane as the 1988 cult film Akira. Going into this film blind, knowing close to nothing about the intense plot and complex cast of characters, I can now safely say I had vastly underestimated what this film was about and how chaotic it would become.

In response to this film I was tasked with taking an autoethnographic approach to analysing it, essentially having to critically reflect on my own experience of watching Akira. Autoethnography is a research approach that attempts to describe and critically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience (Ellis, C. et al. 2011). This approach is aimed at looking reflexively upon your personal experience and producing a ‘meaningful, accessible, and evocative’ insight into your…

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AKIRA: Autoethnography

https://claudialouisemuller.com/2018/08/11/akira-an-autoethnography/ 

https://giphy.com/embed/VcRAN8c8wwOC4

This week in BCM320 we were right on to the next viewing for Digital Asia; ’88 famed anime, Akira. First, bring yourself up to speed on the film that arguably brought Japanese culture to the West; a story that follows the destruction of Neo-Tokyo at the hands of a warfare between teenage motorbike rebels and a group of kids with telekinetic powers. Set in 2019, the parallels between what was predicted from a post-cold-war produced film and how the world looks now peaked my interest. They got some things right when it came to their eerie foresight of hosting the Olympics and the sheer scale of the cityscape that Tokyo boasts nowadays, however, might have been a little off when it came to hovering police cars…

It was a little hard for me to be able to watch the film in entirety, as we were tasked to respond to the film in live time and I found it sometimes meant I missed important parts of the film. To aid this, we watched the watched the English dub version of the two-hour film – controversially as I later found out. Oddly enough, I found I stumbled into the controversy before I was fully aware of its existence. Given that I was meant to be responding to Japanese media and digital culture, I expressed that I almost felt I was cheating by watching the English dub, and that I felt I was already projecting too much of my own culture that tainted how it was originally intended to be consumed;

I was reassured that the task was to interpret the film using the tools from my own cultural framework, and so this blog post was born. I came into this scenario not knowing much about anime or Japanese films at all, apart from my **very extensive** list of animes I had already seen:

    1. Howl’s Moving Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember seeing Howls Moving Castle for the first time after a friend convinced my begrudging ass to watch it with her, and I remember immediately falling in love with the artistically aesthetic aspects of Every. Damn. Frame. There is something so visually stunning that doesn’t compare to any Hollywood film I have seen, animation or not. I am someone who will watch a film for the second time just to take in the details and the costumes come again, so I understand how I was bewildered with the thought that goes into the likes of Akira and Howl’s Moving Castle. They are visual masterpieces of their time and made me love them all the much more for their uniqueness. These are the kinds of films that make me wish I watched more anime and had a greater depth of desire to actively watch several more.

https://giphy.com/embed/ROUXN6hzDgyf6

Of course, as far as these films stray in artistic variation from Hollywood films, I found myself recognising the likes of similar scenes from Western action films. From a personal standpoint, although the narrative was complex and unlike any another story I had heard, I found myself using films like Fast and the Furious, Transformers, and Avengers to make sense of the film. The latter more so in relation to the likeness to Neo-Tokyo streets a swarm of explosions, shattered glass, and upturned vehicles to depict the mass destruction of the cityscape. I wasn’t alone in this. Watching on as friends live-tweeted their experience of the film, I found the best way to fully understand and interpret it was through our own cultural cues and popular references. Modern-day memes and even references to an earlier viewing of Gojira made jest of the cultural gaps that may have segregated many when watching this film.

The film also had a familiarity that I couldn’t pick until I discovered I had seen it before; not just within Vin Diesel blockbusters, but in fashion, art and music. Re: Kanye Wests’ Stronger and Michael Jackson’s entire wardrobe. I also couldn’t help but wonder how much the product placements would have impacted the production of the brand-heavy film, although that is just the marketer in me analysing. Had I seen this film in a less-analytical context, would I have appreciated its depth and significance? Perhaps not.

Final thoughts on Akira leave me feeling protective, although adopted in fine channels throughout Western culture, I enjoyed the film so much I see myself raising an index finger to Hollywood: DON’T TOUCH THIS ONE HERE, IT’S PERFECT AS IT IS

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