Author: tjleussink

Hi, my name is Todd. I am studying a bachelor of Communication and Media studies at the University of Wollongong. My interests include reading, film, blogging, fashion and music. I’m usually a very approachable person, although I’m a little held-back and shy at first. My favourite colour is orange because it’s not quite revealing; is it red or is it yellow? My favourite animal is monkey because they don’t have a care in the world and my favourite place in the world is the Caribbean although not having travelled there, I’ve always wanted to. That’s basically me!

Exploring The Realm of Anime: Anime Watch — TJLeussink

Exploring the Realm of Anime – Individual Digital Artefact: Anime Watch (Podacst) // DIGC330 Idea: The idea behind my Digital Artefact is to explore the themes in top-rated Anime series on Netflix and compare common themes to that of my social context of living in Australia. I will bring my experiences of what little Anime […]

via Exploring The Realm of Anime: Anime Watch — TJLeussink

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Exploring the Premise of Anime Part II

As mentioned in my previous post  my personal digital artefact will be based around the viewing of traditional Anime and my initial thoughts about the cultural differences and similarities of which I pick up. Given the recent rise of popularity of Anime in western cultures on sites such as Tumblr, Reddit and Twitter, I thought this only fitting given I am not very exposed to the subject itself. Using the definition of autoethnography as defined by Ellis (mentioned in previous post) I will begin to undertake an autoethnographic research methodology to pick apart the many cultural barriers or bridges between a western culture of which I have lived and grown up in, and an Asian culture, one I am not exposed to on a regular basis.

As outlined by Chambers, S (2012), there is still a slight negative image toward Anime from western cultures, given the apparent violence that is not often seen in American cultural settings. In response to this, what about debate having be waged at the moment around the accessibility of guns and gun laws. Doesn’t this warrant a negative stigma also? Chambers undertook a study with a convenience pool of 107 university students to understand the scope of influence Japanese anime had on American people born in the 80’s and 90’s and relying upon secondary research. The study found that anime conveys a negative image associated with violence and fringe culture, but people see anime as more of an art form than tasteless violent film (Chambers, S. 2012).

Given a wave of what I like to call “new age anime’ accessible on Netflix, I will use Chambers (2012) research and knowledge when comparing cultural differences between Japanese and western (American) to understand in a practical sense, whether these themes are still present within recent anime art forms.

Chambers also does a literature review on a term known as Fansubbing, the practice of taking the original Japanese anime and translating it word-for-word in fan-made subtitle, a phenomenon that was practiced by 200,000 fans as found by Luis Pérez Gonzáles  in 2006. This again is a practice of cultural merge that I wish to explore when further researching autoethnography when viewing anime.

I wish to present my findings verbally through a podcast, either by a series or a long unedited version, as mentioned in my previous post. I will aim to conduct a completely autoethnographic research methodology scarce from any bias previous views, except those cultural divides and bridges that I have researched based on the Ellis (2011) definition and Chambers finding in her 2012 research.

Feel free to leave any comments or questions regarding my project or anything you think I can improve on.

Resources

Chambers, Nicole Inez. S. 2012. Anime: From Cult Following to Pop Culture Phenomenon, The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications • Vol. 3, No. 2. Media Arts & Entertainment – Cinema Elon University. Accessed 16/9/2016 > http://www.elon.edu/docs/e-web/academics/communications/research/vol3no2/08chambersejfall12.pdf

 

EXPLORING THE PREMISE OF ANIME

Given the recent rise and popularity of Anime and the discussion of the themes present on online forums such as Tumblr, Reddit and even Twitter, I thought what better way to explore autoethnography in digital Asia cultures then viewing and watching Anime that I have no yet been exposed it. I will aim to give an unique and raw autoethnographic exposé of my findings of the text and the cultural meanings and differences present.

Autoethnography “…is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse [ones] personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis et al. 2011). Using this definition as the basis for my autoethnographic experience and research, based on my original blog post from my initial findings with autoethnography, I’ll explore the Japanese culture that is embedded in Anime and discuss the relative similarities and differences to the cultural that I am used to. I will present my findings in the form of a podcast; depending on how much I have to say, this will either be done through multiple podcast episodes, or one long one.

As a child, I was exposed to many Anime TV series such as that of Naruto, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sailor Moon (film) and Dragon Ball Z, although I wish to expose myself to less-westernised programs and experience unique and raw anime series straight from Japan. Studying Japanese and it’s culture during high school, I have a pretty good understanding of the values and beliefs that could be present in the text, although I am sure there will be elements that I have not been exposed to before that will be culturally different to what I am used to. Travelling to Japan a few years ago, I have experienced the Japanese culture first hand also, although the physical culture experienced compared to the culture displayed on-screen will no-doubt come with similarities and differences.

The 2 possible texts that I would like to look at include Toradora or Kuromukuro as I think they will give me the most authentic form of autoethnographic research that I can possibly have.

If anyone is doing anything similar, leave a comment and let me know how you found it.

T O D D

Revisiting Autoethnography

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Given my thoughts and assumptions in my original post I thought it best I do some research and revisit the concept of autoethnography, just like a distant aunt every year, in relation to Gojira (1954). Upon revisiting my original thoughts, I have realised that there will still be a lot of assumptions that I make given that I don’t actually live in the cultural or historical context of the media text given the co-mingling of reading/texts and the culture itself (Wall, S. 2015). Although in discovering this, I also realised that there is no right or wrong way to undertake autoethnographic research as long as one is immersed enough in the specific cultural experience that is being studied. In relation to my original viewing of Gojira, I don’t believe I undertook the research in a negative light, although I blinded myself to social, cultural and historical context of the text as I didn’t allow myself the fully appreciate the context it was set nor research the era and social contexts of the text before or afterwards.

The first thing I noticed when revisiting the text and my original thoughts was the vast amount of Hollywood cinematic features that appear in the text, although Japanese and American cinema can usually be quite different; the most obvious being the love triangle between Ogata, Serizawa & Emiko. Although the Japanese are very affectionate people, they show it more often towards family members than they do to a significant other, usually in the form of a formal bow, which is traditionally Japanese, instead of a kiss or a hug or loving embrace (Ash, D. 2010). This poses the question as to whether the story was adapted to suit a broader Hollywood audience or whether it existed in other Japanese media. Upon further research, I noticed “Hollywood” love triangle exist in many anime story line such as that of School Rumble (2010)and Skip Beat! (2008).

Another theme that I was first confused about at first and eventually overlooked, was the concern and dangers of nuclear weapons throughout the film. As I began to search good ole Google as to the possible connection with this and the contextual environment surrounding Japan at the time, I realised that it was not longer after the devastating affects of World War II, 9 years in fact (good one, Todd). As autoethnography discusses, this is the very core to autoethnographic research – a personal research method that analyses and describes ones personal experience with a subject, regardless of the way it is presented (Ellis, et al. 2011, so my original findings were not necessarily ethnographic research, but they were definitely autoethnographic in terms of recording my experience with the text. This posts provides the ethnographic concept with further research and an elaboration of my original autoethnographic research experience.

autoethno

Having originally viewed the text in a completely contextually closed mind, I missed vital connections with real world events and social contexts of which had happened or were happening in Japanese culture at the time, and still continue today. Further delving into the context and researching to understand the relevance of many factors in the film, it is easier to understand the important of autoethnographic research and the necessity in order to understand different cultures. Relying upon autoethnographic research alone, though, is a risky task, especially given what I have discussed above and the quite obvious parallel of Godzilla (the monster) representing America in the Second World War and the directors use of displaying Japans lone fight, as was mentioned in many peers posts. Further research in order to develop thoughts further or to support claims and assumptions is essential to understand texts adequately and without completely relying on ones self-research methods (autoethnography).

T O D D 

References:

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095 accessed 12/8/16

Ash, D. 2010. Japanese Style Affection Vs. Western Style Affection, The Japan Guy. Accessed 22/8/2016 > http://www.thejapanguy.com/japanese-style-affection-vs-western-style-affection/

Wall, S. 2015. An Autoethnography on Learning About Autoethnography, International Institute for Qualitative Methodology (IIQM). University of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Accessed 22/8/2016 > http://ijq.sagepub.com/content/5/2/146.full.pdf+html

What The Heck is Autoethnography?

To be honest, other than briefly hearing the word tossed into conversation here and there, I haven’t heard much about autoethnography, so it should come as no surprise when I saw and heard the word and thought: “what the heck is that?”. I’ve never been too fond of big words that usually sound a lot more simple or meaningless than they actually are, and autoethnography isn’t much different, except for the fact that it is a big word with a very simple, yet complex meaning depending on the individuals understanding of it. As Ellis et al. (2011) defines it, autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to both describe and analyse (systematically) personal experience in order to understand ones cultural experience. To me, in short, this means that it is a systematic method used to decipher ones personal cultural experience when exposed to different cultural attributes. As simple as that is, it can actually be harder to understand that I first thought.

My first thought once consuming all that was discussed in the Ellis et al.  (2011) reading was that, whether consciously or subconsciously, we all undertake autoethnographic research (in relative terms) every time we are exposed to a cultural difference compared to that of our own. As discussed by Ellis et al. (2011) in section 5, a common critique of autoethnographic research and work is that it is not rigorous, analytical or theoretical enough and instead too aesthetic, emotional and therapeutic. Although in my understanding of the term, these traits as so often expressed in autoethnographic research, are still analytical and theoretical responses to a subject, regardless of how it is displayed or presented.

Below is a sort of stream-of-consciousness of my experience when viewing Gojira (1954), the first time I have viewed such a culturally different film to what I would usually view.

  • My first thought was, “oh here we go, a black and white film all in Japanese, how am I going to understand this?” – this was a problem for me as I haven’t yet learnt to appreciate black and white film, maybe given the fact I was not exposed to much of it while growing up or taught to appreciate it.
  • I had done some quick background research and having found out that the set was incredibly small so it actually made me appreciate the time and effort that it must have taken to built such a perfect piece.
  • The ability to pick up when Special FX were being so obviously used made me laugh, but also appreciate the production effort of the film in order to provide entertainment to an audience.
  • The Special FX are just an older-version of what we consider CGI nowadays and with the resources they would have had in 1954, they did a sufficient job.
  • The incredible lack of dialogue and a sufficient score (background music) made it quite difficult to stay immersed within the film and quite often had to remind myself to actually watch and take note of what was happening.
  • Having studied Japanese throughout high school, it came to no surprise to me when the use of weapons, especially those of mass destruction, was quite critical.
  •  The over-dramatic emotion displayed by characters came to me as no surprise, maybe this is because of my stereotypical view on most Asian films/media that I should probably forget about when viewing something of this matter.
  • Eventually I grew incredibly bored given the slow-paced nature of the film and the lack of excitement that was displayed unless there was a fight scene.

REFERENCES

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095 accessed 12/8/16

To be honest, other than briefly hearing the word tossed into conversation here and there, I haven’t heard much about autoethnography, so it should come as no surprise when I saw and heard the word and thought: “what the heck is that?”. I’ve never been too fond of big words that usually sound a lot more simple or meaningless than they actually are, and autoethnography isn’t much different, except for the fact that it is a big word with a very simple, yet complex meaning depending on the individuals understanding of it. As Ellis et al. (2011) defines it, autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to both describe and analyse (systematically) personal experience in order to understand ones cultural experience. To me, in short, this means that it is a systematic method used to decipher ones personal cultural experience when exposed to different cultural attributes. As simple as that is, it can actually be harder to understand that I first thought.

My first thought once consuming all that was discussed in the Ellis et al.  (2011) reading was that, whether consciously or subconsciously, we all undertake autoethnographic research (in relative terms) every time we are exposed to a cultural difference compared to that of our own. As discussed by Ellis et al. (2011) in section 5, a common critique of autoethnographic research and work is that it is not rigorous, analytical or theoretical enough and instead too aesthetic, emotional and therapeutic. Although in my understanding of the term, these traits as so often expressed in autoethnographic research, are still analytical and theoretical responses to a subject, regardless of how it is displayed or presented.

godzilla-1954-main-review.jpg

SOURCE

Below is a sort of stream-of-consciousness of my experience when viewing Gojira (1954), the first time I have viewed such a culturally different film to what I would usually view.

  • My first thought was, “oh here we go, a black and white film all in Japanese, how am I going to understand this?” – this was a problem for me as I haven’t yet learnt to appreciate black and white film, maybe given the fact I was not exposed to much of it while growing up or taught to appreciate it.
  • I had done some quick background research and having found out that the set was incredibly small so it actually made me appreciate the time and effort that it must have taken to built such a perfect piece.
  • The ability to pick up when Special FX were being so obviously used made me laugh, but also appreciate the production effort of the film in order to provide entertainment to an audience.
  • The Special FX are just an older-version of what we consider CGI nowadays and with the resources they would have had in 1954, they did a sufficient job.
  • The incredible lack of dialogue and a sufficient score (background music) made it quite difficult to stay immersed within the film and quite often had to remind myself to actually watch and take note of what was happening.
  • Having studied Japanese throughout high school, it came to no surprise to me when the use of weapons, especially those of mass destruction, was quite critical.
  •  The over-dramatic emotion displayed by characters came to me as no surprise, maybe this is because of my stereotypical view on most Asian films/media that I should probably forget about when viewing something of this matter.
  • Eventually I grew incredibly bored given the slow-paced nature of the film and the lack of excitement that was displayed unless there was a fight scene.

REFERENCES

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095 accessed 12/8/16