studio ghibli

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?

IMG_0900
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.

With my first encounter with the concept of auto ethnography I first thought that it would be some hard idea to wrap my head around but after putting it in practice i realised the it is extremely interesting as it takes away from the usual ways that we understand cultures. Ellis (2001) describes autoethnography as being “an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)”.

Through the way that autoethnography is structured, it seems to allow for a more personal experience of how you interact and analyse a culture as you are not just watching, but actively being apart of the culture and the way of life, and as Ellis states that “Ethnographers do this by becoming participant observers in the culture” and the way that they do this is by studying “a culture’s relational practices, common values and beliefs, and shared experiences for the purpose of helping insiders (cultural members) and outsiders (cultural strangers) better understand the culture”

My first autoethnographical experience with Japanese media was with the movie Godzilla (1954) and it was really interesting as I found myself picking up on things that I never really thought about when it comes to the differences between Japanese film as opposed to Western film. The differences i found were that the movie uses different techniques to convey a story. The editing and the camera angles are extremely fast and the transitions are extremely harsh and there is no fading in our out. Which suits the way the movie is directed. They have a large focus on the love story and the lust of the female lead which almost takes precedent over Godzilla and is about how the relationship will turn out. It really shows how the audience values the action over the drama.

gojira-1954-jon-20

Gojira 1954.

The movie also has parallels to what has happened to Japan during WW2 and the roll that nuclear radiation has had on the environment and the people. There are small shanty towns and coastal villages which don’t fare very well when disaster strikes. It draws on the ideas of permanence and the way that humans survive when facing disaster.

It was extremely interesting seeing how film is different but also similar in Japan as opposed to America and the way that I perceived the meanings of the film. The techniques used can show me how Japanese culture is portrayed in film. Going forward I would like to research more into how Asian film differs from other cultures film styles and markets, and the impact that it has on their culture as a whole. With research on film companies like Studio Ghibli and Toho.

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!

(more…)

Ohayou Gozaimasu!

Hullo!

I’m Anthony Rewak, a reader, writer, gamer, lover of laughter, and mild otaku. I’m currently in the third year of my Arts/Communication and Media Studies double-degree at the UOW. I’m studying English Literature (Major) and History (Minor) in Arts and studying Journalism (Major) and Digital Media (Minor) in BCM. I also manage a Blog and Facebook Page both titled “The Russian Blue,” (inspired by the breed of my feline companion, Tasha,) where I write and share content predominantly about Philosophy, Spirituality, and occasionally, Geekery. You can also find me on Twitter.

In the future I plan to pursue my passion for writing, perhaps one day becoming a professional teller of stories, and releasing my first novel. As such, I spend a lot of my time reading and watching a wide variety of content, absorbing and studying as many narratives as possible in order to gain more experience (my favourite genre is Fantasy – love Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling, Patrick Rothfuss, and Jim Butcher, currently reading through Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy.) As such, in this subject I’d love to focus on either manga or anime, and perhaps explore how ‘Eastern’ narratives differ from ‘Western’ narratives, perhaps even going further to study fandom communities.

Fighting the Colossal Titan at Sydney Supanova, (cosplaying as Arthur Dent - Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy.)

Fighting the Colossal Titan at Sydney Supanova, (cosplaying as Arthur Dent – Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.)

I plan to focus on Japan specifically since they enjoy a brilliant and colourful fascination with pop culture, which I adore. My love of Japan blossomed in my childhood where I obsessively played Pokemon and watched Dragonball & Dragonball Z, my love strengthening over the years. I’ve actually been watching quite a lot of anime recently – Sword Art Online, Attack on Titan, The Devil is a Part Timer, Soul Eater & Love Stage. I’m also in love with manga and have been reading Attack on Titan, collected and read Akira Toriyama’s entire DB & DBZ series, read a bit of Naruto & Dr. Slump, and am currently reading an amazing manga called Vinland Saga which is about Vikings, is extremely brutal, and extremely amazing! I also love Japanese video games from Nintendo’s Pokemon, Legend of Zelda, and Animal Crossing titles, and am an absolute massive fan of Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts. I’ve also been playing a quirky Japanese game for the 3DS called “Tomodachi Life,” where you create a host of characters (fictional characters, celebrities, people you know,) who all interact with each other. To top it all off, I’m a massive Studio Ghibli fan, my favourite’s being Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke & Spirited Away!

I’m looking forward to the subject, and am looking forward to working with you all over the course of the semester!

Anthony.