An Auto-ethnographic Approach: ‘Akira’ 1954

No Frills Neil

This week of Digital Asia, we screened the Japanese animated film ‘Akira’ 1988.  I will say that I have heard of the film and the reputation it has built up, but I have never seen it until this week. Also part of this week we endeavoured into the concept of auto ethnography, so as part of this I took the initiative in understanding Akira as a cultural text through an auto ethnographic approach.

“Auto ethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis, et al, 2011). Being Filipino-Australian, I hold both an Asian and Western cultural context that stem from my upbringing and the clash of both my cultural backgrounds. In the case of the film ‘Akira’, through my personal experience, I am familiar with most aspects of the film. I can draw the similarities…

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“keep your insides to yourself pls” – a story by me

Life of Cassie

It has been three weeks of the new semester and I can most definitely say that I’ve been introduced to multiple levels of the Japanese culture that I never really knew existed before. “Akira” a Japanese anime film set in 1988, showed me the explicit content behind the scenes of the aftermath of the Nuclear attack.


I felt extremely overwhelmed by the film. I am extremely used to watching American film, your romantic comedy, adventure or light hearted action movies. I learnt about the atomic bombings of World War II from the United States perspective, so my views and knowledge until today were completely one-sided. Akira opened my eyes to what i had completely missed studying the war back in high school. I must say after reflecting back on the film I am rather disappointed in myself for blocking myself off from the impact that this had on…

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Akira & Autoethnography

The Fish Pond

akira-1096384-1280x0.jpeg Image Source (x)

This week was one of my first real experience with any sort of Japanese anime. Besides screening the 1995 Ghost in the Shell anime film last semester, the only other experience I had with any form of Japanese anime was the years I spent watching the Pokémon anime. That said, it did take me far too long to realise that the anime I had spent years watching growing up, was in fact created in Japan, and that the version I was watching had to be dubbed in English. Clearly, I wasn’t the most cultured child.

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Akira’s Influence on Westernised Popular Culture


A shady governmental agency experimenting on kids who then develop incredibly powerful telekinetic powers.

Sound familiar?

I’m not referring to the Netflix hit Stranger Things with this introduction, however I will touch on that later, but I am talking about Akira – the 1988 animecyberpunk classic.

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Ultra-violence and techno-masculinity in Akira

Some Spilt Ink

*CONTENT WARNING: discussions about sexual violence*

Hyper-masculinity is tangible and immediately apparent within the first 15 minutes of Akira (1988). A shockingly abrupt sexual assault scene, and the subsequent dismissal of the victim by the male characters around her, deems the woman absent in Akira. We are faced with what Gottesman (2016) calls “techno-masculinity”, whereby the feminine has been replaced by technology and commodification. He comments on how the motorcycles used by male characters are signifiers of their masculinity and strength, reminiscent of the dangerous and out-of control Bōsōzoku biker gangs of the 80’s.


I would argue that the shocking normalisation of rape is a deliberate technique used by the film makers to solidify the audience’s dislike for Tetsuo, who is more interested in asserting his own masculine dominance over other male characters, than helping his girlfriend Kaori after she is attacked. Tetsuo is easily more worried about the…

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My Neighbour Akira

I’ve always been quite familiar with the title of ‘Akira‘. Thanks to the few movie posters I had seen online, I was able to gauge that the film was an anime and that it featured motorcycles – but there ends my knowledge. Based on this information, I immediately assumed that the film was just another typical racing story, much like Speed Raceror Pixar’sCars. When I finally came around to watching the film in my BCM320, Digital Asia class however, I’d soon come to realise…

I was completely wrong. 

images-1 The minimalistic poster I’d come across time and time again. (x)

Not only had Akira absolutely shattered my pre-conceived idea of what the film was all about, but it also introduced me to a whole new genre of anime I’d never seen or experienced before.

hayao-miyazaki.jpg Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli productions…

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Autoethnographic Amoebas

Not Spelt With a K

When trying to systematically analyse my personal frameworks when making sense of Akira (1988), a clear pattern emerges. Akira is a cult classic film I hadn’t previously seen – but I already had an informed opinion of. I knew that the film is regarded as one of the greatest animated films of all time – but it is labelled as long, bloody, and somewhat overwhelming.

With these preconceived notions in mind, I had already prepared myself to be in for a ride – and that I also possibly wouldn’t be able to understand the film to its full capacity for the aforementioned reasons.

Screen Shot 2018-08-09 at 9.56.45 pm The truth

‘Crisis of confidence’ is a term that I will temporarily hijack (Ellis et al 2011). Because I already had semi-informed thoughts and opinions on Akira, I didn’t know how I could approach the film in an unbiased way, which is an element…

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“Neo-Tokyo is about to E X P L O D E”

Diversity, Communication & Culture

(And man, did it ever!!)

Akira 1988

Where to start! What a film. Firstly, reflecting back on our live-tweeting, I can see that I was firstly impacted by the sheer beauty and detail of the anime!

I’m a huge anime fan, but my scope is still pretty limited in terms of having watched anime and Japanese films, so my favourites thus far include; One-Punch Man (2012), The Full Metal Alchemist (2003/4), Ponyo (2008), Spirited Away (2001), My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004).

Of course, the common consensus amongst the #BCM320 thread was initial and intense confusion, and looking for familiar themes/features/aesthetics –

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On ‘Akira’ (1988)—The Beginning of the End

The Specs

The 1988 anime Akira has officially topped my list of hardest-to-watch films, packing millions of details in both the graphics and the content of each sequence, in the span of more than two hours. Admittedly, I yawned rather widely during the middle part, since it started to drag on and became too slippery (plus excessively violent) for my attention to grab on.

bcm320 Akira (1988)Akira (1988) (illustration by me)

Yet when the credits rolled, the familiar empty feeling after finishing a series or flipping the last page of a fiction book crept on me. The world in Akira—that of Neo-Tokyo in 2019—came alive immediately thanks to the elaborate illustrations of the background in every scene, glowing in its cyberpunk vibes and so reminiscent of San Fransokyo…

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Gojira 1954: Behind the Kaiju


There is a saying by the infamous Roger Ebert that keeps flashing through my mind in every film screening:

Art is the closest we can come to understanding how a stranger really feels


I’ve always carried an absolute belief that art captures history, appreciating art allows humans to depart from their temporal presence. For a person whose childhood resided with binge-watching Doraemon, I thank art for realising the insane time-travel dream without tucking myself in the drawer.

And because of that, watching Gojira has been quite an experience for many reasons. Never have I been a hardcore fan of Godzilla nor a fan of monster movies in general. I grew up watching tons of Super Sentai episodes and I pride myself in having a tape collection of it. Then I spent my teenage life going crazy about Western pop culture. Thus on making sense of Gojira, a part of me…

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