Members: Sonny Nguyen and Kayla Forsyth
As evident by a sheer number of articles and videos on the Internet, Westernised countries have interpreted Japanese game shows as “crazy” and “weird”. This is commonly due to the audience recognising the producer forcing the contestants to do strange things for the benefit of the audience. Before first-hand participating in watching a Japanese game show many of us would have agreed that this stereotype is an accurate depiction of Japanese culture.
Generally speaking Westernised game shows consist of contestants testing their knowledge, skill and ability with rewards being prizes of currency and various objects, and whilst this is true in Japanese game shows, they often add a comedic element to the shows, whilst still focusing on the ability of the contestants as they undertake various tasks that are usually painful or painfully funny for the audience.
Game shows were first broadcasted in Japan in the 1950s before becoming well-known as “strange, off-the-wall, and at times a bit brutal, but always hilarious and entertaining.”
‘King of Chairs’ was first broadcasted in July 2010 on the TBS network. Its motif is a twist on the classical children’s game, musical chairs. In each episode, ten comedians/idols are released into a large environment where 1000 chairs are scattered and hidden throughout with the King of Chair logo. Out of these, there is only 3 winning chairs, with dozens of traps and surprises that are difficult to avoid as the contestants can only find out if the chair is a winner by sitting on it for 3 seconds. If the sensor on the chair sets off a winning bell, they win one of three spots in the episode’s finale.
The similarities of the Australian children’s game ‘musical chairs’ are present as players compete over chairs. However, it differentiates itself from this as it commonly takes place at parities where players compete for a decreasing number of chairs, with losers in successive rounds being those unable to find a chair to sit on when the music stops.
From what can only be described as a strange remake of the children’s game ‘musical chairs’, King of Chair seemed like a good place to start our groups authethnographical research of a Japanese game show. We started off by watching the video together and recording our initial reactions through a range of social media platforms. With the typical stereotype of Japanese game shows being strange and weird and consisting of the contestants doing odd things for the audiences benefits, we didn’t know what to expect! Yet to our surprise, this show was rather tame, it was only weird because none of us fully understood what was going on.
We were able to pick up the main theme of the show, several people competing for winning chairs and having strange and scary things happening to them as a result of sitting on an incorrect chair. The theme of the show was an easy one and little interpretation was needed to understand what was going on, further making it a good choice for us to watch. This has helped to open our view and perceptions into asian game show culture and prove that not all games are gross, weird and strange.
At the beginning of ‘King of Chairs’ we noticed the girl wearing a sailor costume and automatically began comparing it to a previous cultural experience of encountering Japanese anime at a young age stating, “Sailor Moon – is that you?” and “I like the dress ups. One is wearing rafting gear and the other is Sailor Moon”. However, when further researching into this contestants of the game all appear in uniform. The men are required to wear a school-like uniform or blazer and the women are required to wear sailor-like attire of a blazer, with a helmet. When we look at this from the perspective of Australian culture, we are able to recognise that many game shows do not have a dress code and contestant tend to dress more for comfort.
The main thing that really stood out to us through this collaborative autoethnographic investigation was the large part language plays in one’s comprehension of what is going on in one’s environment. Without dubs or subs, it was really tricky to get the gist of exactly what was going on. It took the entire 45 minute episode for the group to really get a grasp on what exactly it was we were watching, which was really interesting. I We also thought that the use of dubs and subs could further change the way we interpret the show, in a negative way. These translations are never quite perfect, so having this added into the show, would have changed our experience immensely.
For example after watching the show, we took to Reddit and found out what people were saying around the King of Chair. We found out that the participants in the show were actually celebrities in Japan, comedians in , models, actorJapans etc.. So because we missed all of what the participants were actually saying I am sure we all missed a large portion of the humour behind the show. The trap chairs were funny for us to watch visually, however we really missed out on a significant element to the show due to not knowing Japanese.
Another general comment in regards to the autoethnographic process, is that I noticed how critical we was were when we are looking at something with fresh eyes. Perhaps the autoethnographic process just makes you notice something that is always happening naturally, but we did I am automatically comparing it to something else, like an experience I have already had within the context of my culture. Perhaps that was the autoethnographic process shining through??
I was having a good experience on a gameshow called “The King of Chair”. Other group mates were having different experiences because of subs or dubs. The video does not have any English subs which is challenging for them, and also provides a different environment within a language barrier. I personally study Japanese now so I partly understand the structure and the flow of the game, which I have a different experience from the gameshow.
To me, the rules of the game is quite tricky and different from the original game. Those contestants, who are mixed with comedians, idols, actors/actresses, and even athletes, are chasing for what they called “real chair” to win the game out of 1000 chairs. It just blown my mind that how creative Japanese people are and how they make the show become intense and exciting by using different items or shenanigans to trick players, and using pop-out Japanese wording to show the excitement or anger when players do not find the real chair.
Somehow, I found some of the players were overreacting. I don’t know if they did that purposely or for humour, when they fell down from a fake chair, they just kept yelled “Itai,itai, itai”, which means it hurts. The facial expression of different players are different. Seems like comedians were trying to be “Funny”, even they know the chair is shenanigan, they just sit down and get tricked. The characters of Japanese people are quite obvious, such idols need to be like an “idol”, pretty, lovely image, while actor and actress try to gain more fame by being brave in the show. The industry of tv show in Japan seems to be “Funny or Brave to win”.
Following on from my blog posts about the Buddhist Sand Mandala I bring a Prezi that encompasses the thought process and transition from researching the Buddhist Sand Mandala to having a Mandala tattooed on me. Enjoy.
My digital artifact is a Prezi which provides an overview and introduction to my individual research project investigating the Bitcoin phenomenon in China.
You can check it out here:
I’ve loved this subject. It’s done everything to me that I think could happen, even when I didn’t want it to, it changed my perceptions and preferences. Personal exposition aside, I’ve been able to use this subject to build a set of obscure definitions that only make sense in my head for how I, metrically, determine if a text is a JRPG. And in the pursuit of these definitions, I’ve been forced to go back and look at what I knew about media produced outside of Asia. Not only as a contrast, but to find the things that exist outside any sort of geographical or racial barrier.
Never before have I felt the need to be so critical when looking at texts. Sure I basically got an excuse to sit and play games for hours on end, but after every session I’d have to sit down for a good half an hour and actually think about what I’d been playing and what it could teach me that I wanted to know. I remember sitting in a train carriage playing a visual novel for the fifth time to see the types of exposition it used in different arcs, when I realised what is actually meant that I was skipping as quickly as I could through the screens of initial exposition. I wan interacting with the characteristics drawn from the JRPG influences on the writers. It was a simply wonderful experience to truly examine what was really going on while I played.
So thanks Chris, had the time of my life. Might see you next year.
And you know, the Final Boss in a JRPG is never the strongest enemy. It’s never even close.
So as I wrap up my investigation of Chinese social media and my autoethnographic experience of having a Sina Weibo account, I think it’s important to discuss the usability of the site and my response to this in light of my research. To reflect on the experience, I felt it would be beneficial to explore how I went about responding to the features of the platform and how it was used by those in China, and compare this to my Australian experience of social media platforms, namely Twitter and Facebook.
Initially I found the entire experience of using Sina Weibo disorientating and frustrating due to my severe lack of understanding of Mandarin, however once I looked past the language barrier I began to find aspects of the site familiar to Facebook and Twitter. As noted by Chao, the creator, he aimed to make Weibo’s interface more closely related to Facebook’s to increase its “stickiness”, meaning users would be more likely to stay on the site longer than if he decided to replicate Twitter’s interface (Epstien 2011). In my own experience, I find that I definitely spend longer on Facebook than Twitter and choose to access Twitter through the Tweetdeck app rather than the site because I feel that’s how I can get full functionality out of the platform. I felt that the functionality of Sina Weibo was much more similar to Facebook due to its sidebar, top bar, private chat feature and comment system, however I found the way people chose to use it was more closely related to my use of Twitter.
Gao et al (2012) conducted a comparative study of the users’ of Sina Weibo and Twitter providing some insight into these differences between usage, however I could not find any comparison between Sina Weibo and Facebook usage despite the common description of Sina Weibo as being a hybrid version of Facebook and Twitter. One significant point of difference in usage was the time in which users of the site were most active. Gao et al found that Sina Weibo users posted 19% more messages per day on the weekend, whilst Twitter users posted 11% less messages during the weekend, which I believe aligns with my own use of Twitter and is reflective of each country’s differing lifestyles (p. 98, 2012).
In terms of actual usability of the platform and its technical features, it is once again more closely related to Twitter (see Breaking The Barrier). The use of hashtags, I found on Sina Weibo to be quite annoying, however later I found out that the platform had the ability to perform ‘double hashtags’, which enables hashtags to integrate better with the text and in hindsight I now see that (Ghedin 2013).
Overall, I feel like I have achieved my aim, which was to investigate Chinese social media using the methodology of creating a Sina Weibo account. Through investigating the sign up process, governance, technology and usability of Sina Weibo through an autoethnographic perspective, I feel I have learnt quite a lot about the social media use in China and am able to inform an Australian audience about this topic through a research report.
Epstien, G, 2011, ‘Sina Weibo’, Forbes, 3 March, viewed 12/10/14, < http://www.forbes.com/global/2011/0314/features-charles-chao-twitter-fanfou-china-sina-weibo.html>
Ghedin, G, 2013, Understanding Sina Weibo: Hashtags, VIP Hastags and More, Digital In The Round, article, 4 July, viewed 6/10/14, http://www.digitalintheround.com/sina-weibo-hashtags-vips/
Gao, Q, Abel, F, Houben, G.J & Yu, Y 2012, ‘A Comparative Study of Users’ Microblogging Behavior on SIna Weibo And Twitter’, Unknown, pp.88-101.
Ouran High School Host Club was probably the 4th or 5th anime series I ever watched and is vastly different from the rest. The first episode I tried to watch the English dubbed version and it just didn’t sound right to me, I could tell a lot of the lines just didn’t exactly match up so I switched to English subtitles. The story line is kind of hard to explain, the plot summary on IMDB says “At the ultra prestigious Ouran High School, Haruhi Fujioka looks for a quiet place to read and walks into an unused music room, and accidentally stumbles across the notorious Ouran High School Host Club, a group of boys who entertain the girls of the school for profit. When Haruhi accidentally breaks an expensive vase belonging to the wacky Host Club, she is made to serve under them until her debt is paid off. Haruhi is soon made a Host, but in order to pay off what she owes, she must continue to allow the Host Club’s customers to believe she is a boy.”
I definitely started watching it because it was fun, silly, colourful and a little bit ridiculous. But I continued watching because of the intelligent use of satire as well as Haruhi who is such a strong female lead character who is constantly rolling her eyes at these boys who are just so ridiculous and foreign to her. It’s so refreshing to see the teenage boys being viewed as the crazy ridiculous characters, that being said there are plenty of strange and silly girls in the show too.
After watching the first few episodes I had to do some research to find out what Host Clubs were and if they actually existed, so that I could understand the show better considering Host Clubs are a foreign concept to me. They do in fact exist but from the personal experiences I read online they aren’t nearly as fun and glamorous as Ouran High School Host Club might lead you to believe.
For my digital artefact I have chosen to do character profiles to highlight the different characteristics of anime that are used and parodied in the show. These character profiles will be formatted in to a tumblr because tumblr is a platform used by lots of fans for sharing photos, gifs, thoughts, fanfictions. I think because it’s such a widely used platform for fans it’s the most appropriate place to profile characters.
The tumblr is obviously not finished yet but when it is it can be found here… The Faces of Ouran High School Host Club.