Upon my arrival to digc330, I expected to see anime posters lining the walls, cosplayers sitting all around me and (hopefully) other like-minded otaku‘s and Japanophiles who enjoyed everything Japanese. Oh boy was I wrong. Reflexivity in the context of research practices would be the main focus of this week, in relation to a film […]
I am a little behind the pack on this one, but here it is nonetheless – my reaction to watching the classic Japanese film Godzilla in class, whilst live-tweeting the experience. The tricky thing about writing last is that all the most profound and insightful discoveries have already been stated by others, so I’ll be using my tweets to guide my response.
Godzilla, or ゴジラ as it is written in Japan, is one of the most iconic 海珠 (kaiju, or monster) films of all time. I’ll admit that despite this, I’ve never seen the original, only the Hollywood remake featuring Bryan Cranston. I have also never watched a black and white film outside of high school English studies – damn you, To Kill A Mockingbird!
I don’t know why I’m so surprised, to be completely honest. As a white, atheist Australian woman with no direct links to anything across the sea, any culture I experience is new and foreign to me. Perhaps that’s why I am so drawn to the Japanese culture, history and lifestyle – it is incredible to experience as an outsider.
I am very open to the idea of being absorbed in Japanese culture as it gives me a window of insight into the cultural nuances of Japan. I love the works of Studio Ghibli, and I adored the J-drama series 花ざかりの君たちへ (Hanazakari no kimitachi e) when it was first shown to me by my Japanese teacher. I tried to draw comparisons between the J-drama and Godzilla at first, before realising that they are completely different insights – it’s like trying to compare The Notebook to Transformers.
My early thoughts when watching Godzilla commented on the plot and acting, which I likened to Home and Away in its dramatics. However, it wasn’t long before I began to notice the subtle details, such as the choice to keep non-diegetic movie scarce, and the number of women in the film.
— Brooke Eager (@brookiyuki) July 26, 2017
As the film progressed, I found myself less distracted by the yelling-acting and the dated special effects, and began to appreciate the film’s nuances. One scene in particular, with a mother comforting her two children in the moments before death that they would see their father in heaven soon, made me tear up more than it had a right to. I didn’t realise how invested I was in the film until this point.
The mother with her daughters just made me tear up, Godzilla you have no right to do that to me #digc330
— Brooke Eager (@brookiyuki) July 27, 2017
Once I appreciated the film and its story beyond its goofy effects, I discovered the underlying symbolism of Godzilla as the aftereffect of the nuclear bomb’s dropping on Hiroshima. Once I understood this (around the same time as the rest of the class), the film takes on a whole new layer and depth of meaning.
There’s something to be said about the surprisingly poignant and insightful musings about weapons and fighting, very post-WWII #digc330
— Brooke Eager (@brookiyuki) July 27, 2017
I only shared one quote during my live-tweeting session, and it was the following: “If we keep doing nuclear testing, it’s possible another Godzilla will appear, somewhere in the world”. It’s a devastating moment in the film, where the film is trying to drive home their anti-nuclear and anti-war message. To me, it sounds like a plea, the film asking the audience to understand the crushing realities of war. I felt a little foolish for joking around at the beginning when the reality is that the film, for its time, must have been revolutionary.
In my autoethnographic look at Gojira, let’s just say I had an interesting experience in viewing film. I had never seen the film before, let alone any Godzilla movie in the franchise, and to my pleasant surprise, I actually enjoyed it. I do not have a lot of experience with watching foreign films, just a few Studio Ghibli movies which isn’t something that is completely unusual as they are quite popular. The film started out for me, almost a bit humorous, in the way that it is edited, the acting, sound effects, long silences and Godzilla himself which could be a mixture of technologies available during production in 1954, and the different cultural background that I am used to. For me personally, the only television I could related this too was Doctor who in the quirky editing and the sci-fi genre.
The actual motive itself I thought was very well done in a way that contemporary movies in this genre solely focus on special effects but this movie has a strong story line. Love was a theme whether it was family love or romantic, relationships built, then there was a detailed look at a way of stopping Godzilla through a young scientist Serizawa and his ‘Oxygen Destroyer’. But not only was the story line good, it draws on important themes arising from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the terror in Japan during the final stages of World War 2 which I did not know about prior to this. I thought I would have known everything about this movie from references to Godzilla in scenes from my childhood such as the television show Rugrats with ‘Reptar’. The film definitely surprised me to the depth and complexity of issues explore and how Godzilla is a Metaphor to the bombings and the terror and destruction caused is exactly what happened during the bombings in which you felt sympathy for the citizens and an emotional engagement.
Image of Hiroshima and Image of Godzilla
Another important part of the film was the character Emika, she played a very important role as both a protagonist in the film but also her characters role as a head figure that makes decisions and is able to fight for what she believes. She was the person who was trusted enough to be told about the ’Oxygen Destroyer’ and then passed on that useful information. I definitely think with scenes like that, this shows the movie was so advanced and ahead of its time, with women having the opportunity to speak for themselves and have a say which may not have actually been apparent in society. The role of women and the symbolism of was proves how powerful this movie was. I genuinely enjoyed the film and would be interested to now see how a modern interpretation is presented.
I would never voluntarily choose to watch a monster movie. I don’t like watching destruction, I don’t like watching people get hurt, and I preference plot to action. The saturation of the film industry with action and horror films that encompass superficial stories and cheap scares has left me narrow minded in my view of the genre, with no incentive to explore it deeply.
While being culturally Australian, and in my early twenties, I have had a relatively wide variety of media consumption in my life. From black and white films, to foreign films and tv, to translated novels and comics, I do try to engage in a number of different texts, but none of that prepared me for my first viewing of Gojira.
The unique context that surrounds the original Godzilla film creates a specific atmosphere around its key themes, hugely impacting on my experience of the movie.
While I spent roughly the first half of the film unsure of what made this film so iconic, the moment the monster rose from the water and was greeted by electric fences and gunshots, something had changed. During the entire climactic city-stomping scene I was in a state of conflict. I didn’t want them to hurt Godzilla (was I easily buying into the “don’t hurt the monster, we just don’t understand it yet” narrative that is so popular now?) but I was heartbroken for the city and its citizens and wanted the destruction to stop immediately (the reality of a mother crying and protecting her children on the streets felt less like fiction that I could distance myself from).
When I stopped viewing the film with the contradiction of the special effects and cinematography of a movie from the past, but in the present context, the movie was no longer amusing but intensely serious and suspenseful. A film is an artefact of the specific context in which it was made, and instead of distancing myself in viewing it, I began to consciously try to imagine this movie as it was intended to be – what is actually is – not as something that exists in isolation.
I was unused to such long periods of silence; of such explicit uses of historical events as a reflection and comment, not hiding behind ambiguity; and of such visceral imagery relating to the consequences of destruction. All these elements hugely added to the real drama and terror of the film to me about the consequences of our actions – what things are created when we seek to destroy and dominate each other.
I’m Nathan, currently a fourth year Communications and Commerce student at UOW. I’ve completed my commerce studies majoring in Public Relations, and am now working on finishing up my Communications degree majoring in Digital Media.
I drive and love my Turbo Subaru Forester, and have a general love of cars.
I’m also your friendly neighbourhood team member, working part-time at Bunnings Warehouse.
I guess I have a bit of a history of consuming Japanese and asian media, bingeing on many anime series throughout high school, loving a select few Studio Ghibli films and recently developing a liking for Japanese and South Korean horror films.
I feel like watching anime is a familiar experience for me, but i’m looking forward to re-evaluating my experience as an Australian experiencing Japanese media.
Of note, the Series InitialD, has become a point of reference for me when relating to other car guys online. I’m thinking it would be cool to try and re-develop my experience of this series, more of a look at the culture where the story takes place, rather than just experiencing the story I am already familiar with.
Right now I am sinking into my extremely uncomfortable couch while listening to the humming of my laptop’s fan and very occasionally thinking of a word to type. Mostly I am just lightly brushing the keys with my fingertips in the sort of motion piano composers do in movies while they’re working a masterpiece, it’s not helping but at least it’s keeping me busy. Just in case I am masking this really well, I am not entirely sure what to write about in order to introduce myself in a meaningful way or as to assist with my project, forgive me. I’m Matt and this is my final semester of my Communication and Media Studies degree majoring in Journalism and Digital Media. There we go.
With fears of being “that guy”, I chose this subject simply because it must be done in order for me to graduate this semester, and there is absolutely no way I am doing another media arts subject. It’s probably a little punch in the face for any teacher reading this to hear I’m not taking this out of any bursting interests and love with Asian culture, rather as a means to obtain credit points, but I am sure you guys are much more powerful and equipped to metaphorical face punching than I am. Besides, having had both tutors before, I know it will be fun.
If I were to name some areas of interest relevant to this subject it would be Japanese video games. More specifically Dark Souls, Pokemon, and Zelda, which are perhaps my favourite three games of all time come to think of it. I have also watched one anime and that was Death Note, my housemate who is also doing this subject (and I am sure he will do much better than I) introduced it to me and I enjoyed it. Hopefully I can build on something from this last paragraph, if not: damn. Thanks and goodbye.
I created a blog with a 12 year old girl from Hong Kong when I was 14. I designed the graphics and wrote editorials until I was 18. It was a help blog for a game called Poptropica. Along with it, an enormous community developed from around the world, and every reader that said “Thank you”, I still cherish today.
I know firsthand how quickly a culture can become central to your life, and the people that share it. I had a passion for blogging and gaming when I was young. I struggle to find the time now. But I still have a passion for watching anime, learning about its influences on western animation; borrowing manga and feeling overjoyed or worried when they’re devised for the silver screen; and drawing, copying the styling’s of Akira Toriyama (Dragonball), chibi, online devised comic webstrips, and everything else that made me draw so harshly. These interests are a part of my identity, so much so that I sometimes wish I was Asian.
Currently, my obsession is on Pepakura or Papercraft (model). I’m fascinated with the intricate designs, the detail and precision needed to create models, and the artist’s vision to create a paper toy that conveys movement or expression through its structure. These toys are designed by artists around the world, like Shin Tanaka from Japan. I thought I could focus my research on this subculture of creativity, but I’m concerned that it is primarily an offline medium. However, it is a special art, one that is distributed online, edited, collaborated, and then printed and made by you. There are many communities and organisations designing and sharing paper models based on popular culture or original creations. I hope to discover these communities through the lens of autoethnography and share my explorations with you. I will be updating my research on Twitter which you can follow by searching #2EDIGC.