Author: chloeevics

I am a 3rd-year Undergraduate Communication and Media Studies student Majoring in Digital Media and Minoring in International Communications at the University of Wollongong. I have a bit of a travel bug, so most of my content will encapsulate an international perspective on the world. Enjoy xx

88 shades of red

Akira is a cyber punk animation set in a Japanese future called ‘Neo Tokyo’. It hinges on a dystopian WWIII future in 2019, where the city is experiencing the aftermath of the atomic bomb and there are chaos and corruption everywhere.

After the past 3 weeks of watching Asian films, I was expecting a slow-paced animation with dated special effects. I don’t think I could’ve been more wrong. Within the first 3 minutes, I was hooked! It was fast paced, I could keep up with the narrative even with subtitles (I started watching the film in Japanese at home…), the music was captivating and there were graphic scenes you just couldn’t turn away from. What struck me the most was the use of colour in the film. It used 327 different colours, which is a record for animated films. 50 of those colours were exclusively created for the film. From the neon lights and futuristic stylised city, the animation is cinematically captivating.

Power and control are reoccurring themes within Akira and the ongoing battle between uprising rebel groups such as the bikie gang and the clowns and the corrupt government controlling the city. The colour red is also critical to the film, as I can find clear associations between the properties of the colour and power, destruction, violence colour. Healy (2017) states on the Odyssey online that the colour red is also associated with a few key characters e.g. Keneda He wears the colour red because of his influence on his gang and performance as the gang leader, The colour red had more obvious connotations, as there were multiple graphic scenes of blood loss, fire, red smoke and red light tints over the whole screen. I also saw a lot of the colour green and made connections between a technological age being green. With the colour being produced in a lot of the experimental scenes.

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The catastrophic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with 214,000 deaths in total, is the force behind the narrative. I didn’t know much about the bombings, so I researched and came across the website http://hiroshima.australiandoctor.com.au/ It had personal accounts of victims (see images below), I got shivers just reading it.

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Emotions of grief, devastation, psychological and mental struggles are not culturally isolated. It is part of the human condition and that’s what director Katsuhiro Otomo communicates so well through the animation. This is why Akira is such a classic animation as it explores universal human pain that anyone can resonate with and themes that are cross cultural.

Another aspect of the film I wanted to delve into was the legacy of the sci-fi dystopian genre it created and inspired with other films we regard as the western pop culture. The Themes we see in Akira all stem from this aftermath of tragedy from the bombing. The devastating after-effects – orphaned kids, radiation sickness, a loss of national independence, the destruction of nature – would also influence the genre, giving rise to a unique (and arguably incomparable) form of comics and animated film. It turned into its own genre and left a legacy of incredible films. I noticed elements that The Matrix took (capsule, NEO!?), Hunger Games, Stranger things? Stronger: Kanye West (medical pod being examined), same as Passenger! Blade runner (flickering of lights), Tron: The bikes from Akira, the list goes on… Learning point: there is no ‘originality’ in any cinema, film, or art. There are always borrowed ideas. It is just a matter of re-interpretation. Or how you can remix it in a novel way. 

DIGC330 Week 2: State of Play

“We don’t really play for fun. Mostly, we play for work. 
It’s the same for other jobs where you have to survive in competition. This work just happens to be a game.”

State of Play (2013) takes us on a journey through the lives of South Korean pro gamers, the film sheds a new perspective on a pop culture often overlooked in western media. The director Steven Dhoedt has gone on an autoethnographic journey, creating a new foundation of knowledge surrounding the sport. We can see this through a series of answers he provides on an online Reddit forum 

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He draws attention to the cultural differences which create a trustworthy transparency to his work and notes the experiences he has had with East-Asia, which would develop a framework of knowledge influencing the style of documentary.  We can see how his perspective shifts and he wants to portray these gamers in a raw reliable light.

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Reddit forum

Aslops Journal article delved into The Cultural Psychological Meanings of Home and Away with the emphasis on understanding one’s cultural background, and if that person is placed into a  new cultural setting, we cannot interpret what is presented to us. We lack a historical foundation of experience.  ‘the foreign lacks the inner template home provides’.  (Aslop, 2002)

After watching the film I was very much drawn to the director’s relationship with pro gaming as he is not South Korean but from Belguim. This quote from the reading also resonates with me and I think drives Steven’s work to better understand different aspects of our world, and how international popular culture shapes our society as a whole not just nationally.

” Discovering the unknown environment and unknown parts of our selves makes us feel empowered, empowered by expanding our potential and reinventing ourselves.” 

At the beginning of the documentary I immediately thought the players would be participating in some sort of physical sporting event, the music, voiceover and crowds, alluded to some sort of competition, but due to my learned social characterstics gaming was not even an option. E- sports aligns to a physical professional sport in South Korea, with fans and celebrity status“Enjoying rock star status with hordes of adoring fans, professional gamers are national celebrities in South Korea.”. And the clear focus on the individual journey, s a good way to establish a connection to the sport internationally; State of Play depicts a journey of victory but also of defeat, of hardships but also of friendships.

E-sports challenges traditional South Korean culture, however, the same values are applied as we see in the documentary, these kids are pushed by coaches and parents, and must also excel in school. It is a highly competitive society, and the audience pushing these kids to be the very best pro gamer.

The documentary portrays Korea in this cross roads of traditional culture and technological convergence. There is this tug of war between a traditional South Korean upbringing and new technological career pathway, that is forming our future, the rise of gaming culture and the professional status and passion these players have reinforces the seriousness of the sport, something that is extremely foreign to me. Every aspect of life in South Korea  South Korea is a country that aims high. It’s a country in full development that wants to prove itself on all levels – technologically, economically and politically. (Al Jazeera)

References: 

Gojira vs Godzilla

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My experience with Japanese films is very limited. I watched Spirited Away as a child and was terrified of the unrecognisable animation and cultural differences. Nothing resonated with me and left me feeling quite apprehensive to engage in Japanese pop culture.
I have grown up in Australia for the majority of my life, with no strong ties to any Asian influence. This disconnect to the largest continent in the world that I had now seems absurd. We are a multicultural society that relies on so many aspects of the culture and entertainment that influence our lives here.

I don’t know anything about Japanese Kaiju so my perspective is as an outsider looking into the incredibly successful Japanese genre with nothing but a potentially negative experience as a child. As I have grown up I’ve come to appreciate different cultural films and I’m intrigued to see how my autoethnographic study surrounding the film in class will shape my perspective and research.

Ishirō Honda’s 1954 monster classic ‘Gojira’, has come a very long way from its horrific creation. Hollywood has turned “Godzilla” into a pop culture phenomenon driven by commercial appeal and branding. But we are stripping it back to the original where

however just as Hollywood butchered the original, we tore it to pieces on twitter…
As a class, we were engaging in a live tweet during the screening of the film a reoccurring theme over twitter was humour.Whether or not the humour was a credible generalisation of our feelings, or if it was masked by how we have been conditioned communicate on the platform, it added a more relevant aspect for me personally because it was a bit of a tedious process to get through the whole movie in one sitting.
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However, there was a clear turning point for me in the film, where the black and white became irrelevant, you didn’t need to read the subtitles and the music became silent.
The attention to detail and artistic thought into the metaphor of the H-Bomb in Tokyo that is established throughout the whole film is so frightening and raw.
As the film progressed and we began understood the metaphors and creative layers, the live feed shifted in tone and there almost was a sense of sympathy in the room.
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#DIGC330 Twitter feed

 References:

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1