WEEK2

For the love of cars.

Picture this. You’re walking on the side of the road towards university having parked what feels like a state away somewhere in Keiraville. You’ve gotten up early, packed your bag full of books and a lazily made lunch for a long day ahead. It’s barely 8:30, its cold, and your hating how much more you have to walk.

As you go to cross the road, amongst all the sounds of commotion, cars, buses and the birds, amongst all that – bam! You hear it. Your head turns. Your ears stand up. That sound!

A quick head turn.. Nothing!

..

..

..and then again, you hear it. You stop. Look around. Your head racing. What is it?

And again, you hear it. Except this time its getting louder. Closer. That deep burble. That distinct noise. Like a classical music piece, this noise is so distinct, so sweet, it instantly puts a smile on your face.

 You look around. Again nothing.

…MMM, its much louder now. The noise bouncing off the trees – you look up at the roundabout, its go to be just over there. AND IT’S COMING THIS WAY!

Wait for it…

Wait…

Bam! There it is!

As it downshifts, you hear the turbo wiz its own crescendo as the exhaust lets out an aggressive purr. The boost builds as the driver throws it into second; heads right through the roundabout and floors it up the street. 

In a second it flashes by you.

And then it’s gone. Yet you’re still standing there. On the street. Your feet have long stopped walking. Your body fixated on the glint of colour of what was the car that just pasted you. You’ve got a smile from ear to ear.

That’s what happens to me on a daily basis. At uni, around town. It can happen anywhere, anytime. Just when you doing something important and nothing can break your concentration, it happens.

That’s what its like to be a car guy. For this DIGC330 project, I’m super stoked to say this is what I’ll be researching. I want to look into my own passion for cars, and similarly passions shared by car guys around Australia. Particularly, I want to examine Australian car culture, and the direct and indirect relationship it has come to have with the most culturally developed car culture in the world- Japanese car culture.

To be honest, I can’t recall my first experience with Japanese cars. My dad is definitely a lover of cars, so his influence definitely translated itself on to me during my childhood. But what’s different about me and dad is, my love for getting dirty. He loves the look of cars, the hard work that goes into them, the personal craftsmanship an owner leaves on their machine. He loves his Subaru WRX STI, but he loves leaving his mechanic to the do all the dirty work.

That’s where we are different. I love getting stuck in. Breaking things. Throwing things. Making mistakes. Working in the light. Working in the dark. Working in the sun. Working in the rain. Hating my car. Ignoring it for a week. Ignoring it for a week or two. Hating how much I’ll have to work to buy this, or pay for that. Fixing it. Finally getting the courage to jump back in. And falling back in love with it by the time I’ve reached the top of my street all over again.

And that’s what it’s all about. The love of it. That love for everything to do with cars. Magazines, blogs, videos, car games, photos, posters, long drives, track days, drift days, heading to the race track to watch your favourite series, car meets, hangouts, BBQs, car discussions, helping out friends, arguing about which brand you’d buy, why I did this, why’d you do that. That’s what car guys do. 

Most people don’t understand it. “You spent how much on that new steering wheel?” “You went for a drive for no reason? – Why?” “Why is it so loud?” “Why is it so low?” “I swear it spends more time in your garage then actually drivable”

But that’s what makes it so great. It’s a mutual love for machines, shared between mates; shared amongst complete strangers. Not everyone’s tastes are the same. Not everyone’s favourite car is the same. Not everyone’s love for cars is the same. But it’s about that love. That common ground. And it’s something others wont understand. Can’t. 

My research will aim to explore these car cultures and they’re direction relationships with Japanese car culture. At this stage it’ll be a series of digital sources on Prezi and WordPress– feature articles, academic writing, interviews, short videos, documenting car culture within Australia and its links to Japanese car culture. This research may provide others with information to better understand the culture, but primarily aims to create a current documentation of this dynamic culture within Australia. 

LOST IN TRANSLATION

Hearing of Initial D through peers in the drifting community, and seeing it referenced regularly on automotive forums, I became motivated to investigate the show for myself. As is the case for most anime, I knew it was unlikely that I would encounter Initial D on Australian free-to-air television, so I began tracking down torrents containing each ‘Stage’ (the term used to describe each addition to the storyline). As someone who had only encountered English-dubbed anime in the past, I was happy to find the first two ‘Stages’ in their dubbed form, and became instantly enthralled by the faithful recreation of popular vehicles used in drifting and the driver inputs required to make them do so, such as pedal and steering techniques.

After completing the ‘Second Stage’, I found that dubbed versions were no longer available; something I later learnt was due to licensing issues with TOKYOPOP, the series’ North American distributor. Initially hesitant to continue, I pushed through the language barrier and found myself increasingly appreciative of the more faithful textual translation of the Japanese language provided in subtitles. By the time I’d reached the ‘Final Stage’, I realised how important attempts at articulating the nuances of Japanese language were to my understanding of the plot, and begun questioning what I may have missed in dubbed anime I had previously enjoyed.

NOTE: Turn captions on to view subtitles

For this post, I encountered the subtitled version of Initial D’s first episode for the first time. To make any differences obvious, I watched both the subtitled and dubbed version in tandem, flicking back and forth between the two and examining the subtle differences in translation. I noticed that whilst fairly close in simple translation, the dubbed version failed to accurately communicate context, tone and the respect that is central to Japanese language, instead ‘Westernising’ character communication by adding what I can only explain as attempts at accentuating humour that I believe a Japanese audience would find rude. I found that a comparison of the two clips embedded above highlights this particularly well, with the first encounter between the Akina Speed Stars and the Akagi Red Suns taking on two distinctly different meanings.

Analysing my observations, I realise that while falling for the ingrained East-West dichotomy, I am in-fact comparing two different ways for English-speaking individuals to access a niche anime that appeals to drift enthusiasts. Having taken part in the Japanese drift culture, meeting a number of Japanese drifters and experiencing the unbelievably organised street drifting subculture first-hand, I realise that I am not only reading the subtitles for their textual meaning, but also through a lens of my own personal experience and at least a superficial understanding of Japanese culture. It is because of this personal experience that I realise I cannot quite grasp the true meaning of anime without a fluency in Japanese, so that in effect, the more I know about Japanese culture, the less I understand due to losses in translation. Due to my fascination with Japan, however, I do not find this discouraging, instead attempting to further my understanding by accessing Japanese media in forms I can understand. In this way, it may have been a blessing that I first encountered the dubbed version of Initial D, as it suited my understanding of Japan at that time, and if small alterations through translation are required in the pursuit of cultural compatibility, then so be it.