Tell me something I don’t know


The final part in this three-part experiment is researching Hatoful Boyfriend. I’ll tell you some basics. It’s a dating sim/visual novel based on an alternate reality where birds are sentient. The protagonist is the only human at St Pigeonational’s trying to navigate her way through a bumbling best friend, pompous transfer student, narcoleptic maths teacher and extremely shy freshman among a whole host of other crazy birds.

First problem when it came to researching this further: what’s the difference between a visual novel and a dating sim?

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What’s the big reveal?


I recently played throughHatoful Boyfriend for the first time. It was completely not what I expected but first I need to explain my decision to engage with this particular aspect of digital Asia. I first found an interest in let’s playing visual novels after a friend showed me PressHeartToContinue and I could not stop laughing at all the funny voices she made. Needless to say my voice does not compare. Please see her fabulousness below.

Dodger conveys her experience of visual novels in an entertaining and compelling manner, something that compelled me enough to try a visual novel for myself.

Back to expectations. So, my channel, GameWreck, is all about me being incredibly shit at games for other people’s entertainment. Generally, I stumble about running around in circles until I literally bump into the thing I need to pick up all by accident.

Apparently visual novels don’t work…

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Otaku, Fan Culture and Fan Fiction

Otaku Meme

According to the Otaku Encyclopaedia, the English equivalent of Otaku is “geek or fanboy. A hardcore or cult fan.” However it has a lot more meaning than that, in Western culture it has always been a positive notion to associate yourself with however it wasn’t until the early 2000s that Japanese negative connotations associated with Otaku started to fade (Galbraith, 2009, p. 171-173). Simply put it is someone who is a fan of anime, manga, video games and technology. “Otaku have come to represent a “Peter Pan syndrome, or the refusal to grow up and take on adult social relations. […] Without social roles, otaku had no fixed identities, no fixed gender roles, and no fixed sexuality (Kinsella 308-12, 314)” (Darlington, 2010, p. 13). The Otaku world is a place where young Japanese people can express their true fantasy through creating their own amateur manga, dressing in costume etc. and because of this Japanese mainstream culture has looked down on it. Darlington states that the mainstream culture views it “as a symbol of dangerously misguided youth, has created its own counter-economy by producing narratives that undermine the values of the society that looks down on them.” (2010, p. 10).

An important part of otaku is the fan fiction created, the Japanese term for this is doujinshi, and it is hugely influential. The fans take the original characters and place them in “new stories, alternative couplings, or parallel worlds” (Galbraith, 2009, p.65). Fan fiction is nothing new, it very much exists in the Western world too, take for instants 50 Shades of Grey which is definitely the most successful work of fan fiction for Twilight. Doujinshi is so popular that it has its own convention called Comic Market which was established in 1975 for otaku to attend and “distribute amateur manga” (Darlington, 2010, p. 10). In Japan fan fiction is an industry in itself, no only does it have the convention but also bookstores and publications and is almost branching out on its own separate from mainstream manga.

Having background knowledge of otaku and doujinshi is important for understanding Ouran High School Host Club because the most significant element of the show is its play on otaku culture.



Darlington, T. 2010, ‘The Queering of Haruhi Fujioka: Cross-Dressing, Camp and Commoner Culture in Ouran High School Host Club’, Interdisciplinary Comics Studies, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 1-19.

Galbraith, P.W. 2009, The otaku encyclopedia: an insider’s guide to the subculture of cool Japan, Kodansha International, New York.


OHSHC – Laying the groundwork.


Ouran High School Host Club is a difficult show to wrap your head around. It deals with host clubs, twincest, “boys love”, gender fluidity, fan culture, cross-dressing and a multitude of other interesting themes. I’m going to use my blog posts as well as character profiles in order to lay the groundwork for my major work which will explore how Ouran High School Host Club is a parody of anime… while being an anime. It’s interesting that in order to understand the show and the show’s humour you need to have an understanding of anime. As such it’s an interesting anime to examine in a Western setting because anime does not have the same level of following as it does in Asia.

I’m going to create character profiles as a way of exploring the different characteristics of anime that the show examines. For example the character of Fujioka Haruhi is the perfect image of gender fluidity as she cross-dresses as a boy for majority of the show. The character profiles will be compiled on a blog.

The blog posts will look at the following:

1. Otaku, fan culture and fanfiction

2. Sexuality and gender

3. Boys love

4. Western perspective

5. My autoethnographic study

Avatar: The Last Airbender – Is it an Anime?

Searching around for an interesting peripheral figure or group to look at regarding anime, I came across the above video from the PBS Idea Channel, hosted by Mike Rugnetta, a successful YouTube show that “examines the connections between pop culture, technology and art.” The YouTube Channel, and it’s videos boasting millions of views, demonstrate how many people are interested in these niche investigations. Furthermore, the video brought to my attention the discourse about the genre classification of anime, and the question of, is “Avatar: the Last Airbender” an anime?

As Mike Rugnetta informs us, anime is simply the Japanese word for animation. Outside of Japan, the term specifically only refers to animation from Japan, although in Japan, it refers to every type of animation. With this applied logic, “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” can be classified as American or Western Anime. Chris O’Brien from the Escapist leads an interesting argument, stating that “anime has been around and popular for so long, its influence now stretches far outside the confines of the tiny island country in the Pacific from which it originates.”  Thus certainly, this information surely calls for the discussion and perhaps a rethinking of our often rigid genre classification system.

The question, I think, is what is gained by excluding works that meet major stylistic criteria from a genre?

Are we maintaining the usefulness of the word anime, having it mean a very specific thing?

There is a usefulness in having anime communicate equality or a set of qualities, but is a disservice done when it starts excluding things that admirers of the form might appreciate regardless of it’s “authenticity?”

Or speaking of which, maybe it’s about protecting the sanctity or quality of the genre itself?

– Mike Rugnetta, The Idea Channel

Personally what I’d like to find out by investigating fandom communities, is how fans of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” and it’s sequel series, “The Legend of Korra” feel about Anime. I personally find the two shows to be extremely fascinating, as not only do they combine the styles of anime and American cartoons, they also communicates cultural imagery, adult intellectual themes, mythology, and theology of various East Asian, Inuit, Southeast Asian, South Asian and New World societies.

What are your thoughts on the subject? I’d love to know!


– Rugnetta (2014,) “Is Avatar: The Last Airbender Anime?” PBS Idea Channel, Accessed 28 Aug 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRfv5a9QFu8

– O’Brien, (2012) “Can Americans Make Anime?” The Escapist, Accessed 28 Aug 2014, http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/features/9829-Can-Americans-Make-Anime

Hayao Miyazaki, Domo Arigatou Gozaimasu

When pondering influential figures of the Japanese animated film industry, one name stands above them all, “Hayao Miyazaki.” Miyazaki’s career as a director, animator, manga artist, producer, and screenwriter has spanned over fifty years, sharing his success with his work partner Isao Takahata, the co-founder of influential film and animation studio, Studio Ghibli.

Hayao Miyazaki art portrait by C3nmt

‘Hayao Miyazaki Art Portrait,’
by C3nmt

His award winning films have captured the hearts of a global audience. In fact, according to the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, his film Spirited Away (2001) is currently the highest-grossing film in Japanese history, having grossed over ¥30 billion, (equivalent to over approximately $310 million AU.)

Spirited Away was actually what introduced me to the world of Ghibli, seven years ago at the end of the school year in a French class. Ever since that fateful ‘bludge period,’ my love for Miyazaki and his films has since grown exponentially. Yet, why have these films captured our hearts? Perhaps the secret lies within one of the master’s famous quotes, “in order to grow your audience, you must betray their expectations,” a motto which certainly applies to my experiences with his films. Each of his films, without fail, have both surprised and delighted me, the wonderful characters, artwork, stories, and soundtrack enchanting me.

Researching his online presence, I discovered that he wasn’t publicly active on any social media site. However, it appeared that his work had a life of it’s own. Everywhere I looked I found fans sharing and creating original content related to Studio Ghibli, just look at the tumblr tag.

I’ve personally participated in this celebration of Ghibli as a fan. In fact, reflecting on past instagram posts, the photos I’ve posted which garnered the most likes were all related to Studio Ghibli. Furthermore, another instance demonstrating the pervasive nature of Studio Ghibli, at the recent Sydney Supanova I attended a few months ago, perusing through stalls I discovered a plethora of Ghibli merchandise, even running into cosplayers dressed as Chihiro & No-Face from Spirited Away.

Chihiro & No-Face spotted at Sydney Supanova 2014!

Chihiro & No-Face spotted at Sydney Supanova 2014!


Introductions to Anime – A Reflection of the Human Condition?

Making the decision to study anime, I went back to the moment where my love blossomed.

Three years ago I stumbled across a video called “Every Anime Opening Ever.” At that stage in my life I didn’t identify myself as an otaku or much of a fan of anime. I had watched bits of Sailor Moon and was a fan of Akira Toriyama‘s work, however, since Dragon Ball Z was so popular in the “West,” I didn’t exclusively associate it with Japan. It wasn’t until I watched this video, where I exclusively remember saying to myself, I really love anime.

Three years later at my computer I open my browser, click on the YouTube icon in my bookmarks bar, and search “Every Anime Opening Ever.” I find it automatically, it’s the top hit. The video has amassed over 2.2 million views, a testament to both the video’s popularity, and the popularity of the genre. My lips curl into a smile as I open the video. Now familiar to me, my smile widens as Ayumi Hamasaki’s “Euro Mega-Mix” begins to play alongside fast and colourful cuts from a range of different anime’s, some familiar to me, some alien. It’s incredible to see how many conventions permeate the opening credits. I wonder what initially inspired these conventions?

Derek Lieu, the creator of the video, states that the repeated imagery that exist in anime opening credit sequences has “always amused me.” He first became aware of these permeating conventions when watching the X-Men intro made in Japan to replace the American one. He states, “the part that especially hit home was Wolverine, and Cyclops standing on some nondescript land mass,” (pictured below.)



Welcome to the world of Cosplay


In today’s lecture as soon as I saw the words ‘cosplay’ and the video linked to it I knew what my post for this week was going to be.
It was generally easy to access this video, as the link of the Prezi was uploaded by Chris onto this site.
This video was created by – I don’t know – because the Prezi app on my ipad would not allow me to view it on YouTube and therefore I could not access more information on the creators and their reasoning behind this video. Unless I was to attempt to find it via google or YouTube but ain’t nobody got time for that.
I had never watched a video on the creation of cosplay before so I didn’t know what to expect, and in all honestly, this video challenged everything I originally thought of the cosplay culture.


I felt two major feelings while watching; Intrigued as to the time and effort put in and disappointed when they were not completed in time for the convention.
The term ‘Otaku’ (people with obsessive interests) never came up in this video. Instead, the individuals referred to the art of cosplay in their lives as ‘just a hobby’ as they each had a life outside of their cosplay creations and mainly used the act of cosplay to socialise.
To be honest, whenever I think of cosplay I think of it as heavily Asian; based on Asian characters and played out by Asians. This cultural assumption significantly impacted upon the way I watched this video.
The video compared the act of cosplay to costume design in films and TV, so similar yet one is stereotyped as ‘geeky’ and heavily judged where as the other is ‘art’ and considered a ‘real job’. Personally, I have generally considered cosplay as a fairly ‘geeky’ practice, which reveals even further my personal bias toward it (sorry). However, this video and the creative challenges which are brought about by this art form have changed my thinking purely due to the self confidence and individuality which is able to be portrayed through the characters.
One of the main points communicated through this video I believe is the way the cosplay culture breaks down barriers to sexuality. In this ‘world’ a male can be dressed as a female character and visa versa without it being considered ‘strange’.

Further research for me in this topic could potentially be expanding my knowledge of the characters to understand this art and the motivations of the audience. In addition to this, the topic of sexuality within the cosplay culture has many avenues to still be touched on which I believe could lead to some interesting discussion.

Now I’ll leave you with this picture of two of my brothers friends at Supernova with this insane robo-pikachu cosplay character – imagine the time that would have gone into that!! .