Week 7

“What the Hell Does Kuromukuro Mean?”- Dubs vs Subs Part 2

Jesse Max Muir

Two weeks ago I provided an auto ethnographic account the Netflix original series, Kuromukuro as well as introducing my auto-ethnographic methodology in recording my live responses via Twitter. If you missed either of these links are provided:

Here: https://jessemaxblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/dubs-vs-subs-an-introduction/

And Here: https://storify.com/jessemaxmuir/kuromukuro

Now as much fun as this was, recording my reactions only became half of the exercise. In order to fully comprehend Kuromukuro as a Japanese cultural text, I needed to dig further and research beyond my own cultural understanding. Moreover, I needed to understand why I came to these conclusions, and unpack my own observations to determine how I actually met them.

One of the largest themes I found when reviewing my initial observations was in regards to access as seen through the tweets below:

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What’s the big reveal?


I recently played throughHatoful Boyfriend for the first time. It was completely not what I expected but first I need to explain my decision to engage with this particular aspect of digital Asia. I first found an interest in let’s playing visual novels after a friend showed me PressHeartToContinue and I could not stop laughing at all the funny voices she made. Needless to say my voice does not compare. Please see her fabulousness below.

Dodger conveys her experience of visual novels in an entertaining and compelling manner, something that compelled me enough to try a visual novel for myself.

Back to expectations. So, my channel, GameWreck, is all about me being incredibly shit at games for other people’s entertainment. Generally, I stumble about running around in circles until I literally bump into the thing I need to pick up all by accident.

Apparently visual novels don’t work…

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The biggest fear of all… the fear of being wrong!

What’s that saying…that you can’t see the forest from the trees? and it basically means you don’t realise the problem of the situation you’re in while you’re in it. It’s only when you reflect on it, that you see that you were actually doing the thing that you kept trying not to do. Or something like that.


Well, that’s what I’ve been doing. I realised that while I was frantically trying to express my experience of Japanese horror in a culturally relevant and engaging way, I was actually missing a very crucial point. That is, why was I doing it? the answer is Fear. To be exact the fear of being wrong and getting a fail for this subject was my prime motivator.

By being caught up in trying to create an authentic auto-ethnographic analysis I think I forgot the point completely, which I think is for me to know why I was analysing Japanese horror in the first place, and then to anaylse that. So even though my motives are shallow in that I wasn’t genuinely originally fascinated with Japanese culture only slightly intrigue by its horror movie success, I have, however, through blogging grown to have a much greater appreciation for Japanese culture, and my fear of failure is not a completely unrelated aim to analyse either, because the fear that I have of getting a fail does actually relate to horror movies, in that they are both centered around fear.

So do I go down the deep dark rabbit hole that seeks to find out what aspects of fear are most relevant to my immediate society? well, I think that would take a very long time, but I will peek inside it and look around.


So now I am looking at fear more closely, I want to know what is it in Japanese horror films that I classify as scary? what is it that other people see in them that they think is scary? Fear can touch just about every aspect of our lives, how then are Japanese directors specifically so good at conveying it? What are they doing that makes me actually fear for my safety after viewing a movie?

There is a lot involved in these questions and there is no way I will really discover what fear is, though I know it is multi layered and slightly different for everyone. However, with the help of my tweets that I record while viewing Japanese horror, I should be able to get more or an idea of what stimulates my fears and perhaps this will explains other peoples and then perhaps allude to the reasons why Japanese horror resonates with so many.


I also am vowing to take more care in my next film choice, and hopefully discover one that will frighten me. Then again fear is relative so there is a chance that even if I get several confirmations that the film is scary I could still be left unfazed, it will be interesting anyway seeing what is determined with increased research.

The reason for this is that the last film I blogged and tweeted about I didn’t really have any idea whether it was scary or not (as much as is possible without previously seeing it). I don’t regret watching the last movie I blogged about, the film Kwaidan was beautiful and gave me some important insight into Japanese history. However, I think I should be examining what it is that I actually find culturally engaging in Japanese horror, not just taking direction from an internet top ten list. Even though they are helpful, I think something that I really know is going to be scary would be more appropriate for an auto-enthnographic study, because this is part of the reason why I was intrigued with Japanese culture in the first place, their success in scarying people.

Interview with an Newbie

I’ve been wanting to know how the perceived differences between JRPGs and Western RPGs effect the player experience, it’s actually the main area of my study in this subject. However I am in an awkward position where I already have a large amount of interaction with these games. I have been playing some new games in the genre, but I feel that I already have a grasp on what I expect from both.

Cue a non-gamer. I managed to find a subject who has almost never played games. She has played Fruit Ninja and that’s about it. It was the perfect clean slate. So we sat down and talked while she went about playing some RPGs.

To say that she ragequit the first game would be completely accurate. She is an artist by trade, as well as a feminist, and took issue with almost every aspect of character design with the game. From the scantily cladness of the girls to the wishy washy characterisation in light of what could be an engaging story, it just wasn’t what she wanted. She also felt this was amplified by the fact that for the first section of the game, she was just given narrative and exposition with very little interaction. She just got bored.

This is contrasted to the Western RPG she played, which she was enjoying. The lack of pre-set story dependent on the main character being established let her create the character she wanted to play as which she said was one of the best things about it. The action started quickly with little skirmishes, and the simpler battle screens was easier on her for being a new player.

Speaking from my own reflection on the comments made, I feel that the main consideration of the differences come from a paradigm shift in aims for a game. A JRPG, as we’ve known all along is about the exposition of a story where you ride the wave of the story. Meanwhile a western RPG will focus on creating a richer experience, much more focus on exploratory storytelling and interaction. Neither is better by a concrete definition, it’s just different. I am loathe to make such a clear distinction but in the lead up to my final posts I think finally building a definition of the typical qualities is important for my later analysis.

Another round?

In focusing my efforts on this research task, I decided to get some hands on experience with some arcades. With there being no arcades near my house, that is within twenty minutes travel, I decided to rope some of my friends into a train ride into the centre of Sydney.

Once we got to the arcade it was instantly different to where I normally play games at home. There was less elbow space, there were quite a few people around, it was loud (and I should have expected that one, there’s gaming machines everywhere). That said, I was excited to try out new games. I play lots of games, I like exploring new mechanics so I had a buffet of games to try out. It was going to be fun.

A lot of the games, as we found out, were connected. There were racing machines all connected, there were shooting games that had a shared game space. It let me not only play with my friends, which is nice since all the games look separate, but it let me compete. The different machines kept track of every single action that was done. It’s always fun to compete with your friends, but it’s better when you can lean over and hit them when they’re ahead or they can show you what they’re doing better so that you learn. It was really cool. That’s not something you can do at home.

This closeness, that allowed a higher level of interactivity that wouldn’t happen at home, made it easier to make new friends. I’m not normally that socially adept, but with all these people so close together, it became simple to interact, especially with this common ground together.

Something I did notice about these new friends was, and I mean this in the least racist way possible, they were all Asian. I grew up in pretty much white suburbia. There were two Asian kids in my high school. At this arcade, me and my friends were the minority. It was an unusual feeling, but nobody treated us different avoided us. We all had this common ground in the games we were playing and it was nice.

Now one problem that did arise, and I tried my hardest to not let it be a problem, was that I started to get carried away with the atmosphere of the place. My auto-ethnography really isn’t going to work if I’m not paying attention and trying to record the differences between my life outside the arcade and inside the arcade. More than once in that night I had to remind myself that this was for uni and not just for fun, which is fine because realistically I wouldn’t have gone to an arcade if uni hadn’t motivated me.

Join me next time when I follow the advice on my last post and look into the financial situation that may or may not have caused the rise and fall of arcades.

Auto-Ethnography, what is it?

It’s time to look at what auto-ethongraphic studies are and why they needed to be conducted. Auto-ethnographic studies are needed so we can understand our experiences and helps us study the unknown.  As the human species has evolved so too has our thirst for knowledge and understanding. Auto-ethnography is a really good way to learn about our own experiences looking at something new and exciting. Christiane Kraft Alsop looks at Auto-ethnography in her article Home and Away: Self-Reflexive Auto-Ethnography.  In this article she compares her experiences at home vs being away from home and immersing herself in another culture. At the end of the day that is a key part of Auto-ethnography studies, being able to talk about your experiences immersing yourself in another culture.

That is the overall plan of the final assignment for this class, is to expose myself and immerse myself in the culture that is Dragonball Z. I loved Dragonball Z as a kid and now I am excited to see where the culture has gone since I left it all those years ago. The culture around anime and Dragonball Z has obviously changed for me personally since I was a younger kid, back then I had no idea what cosplay was or any of the stigmas surrounding anime. I was just a kid watching my cartoons of a morning while I waited to go to school. Now I can look at all sorts of different things and draw in from so many other things that surround the cultures to complete my study.

So that’s about it, learning from experiences and understanding the unknown is how I understand Auto-ethnography. To be good at writing Auto-ethnography I feel you need to be good at recounting and talking about your experiences and how you have learned from them. This is what I plan to do to learn about the anime culture using Dragonball Z as the anime example I will use.  I plan to draw on experiences and research outside of the show and see if I can find the comparisons in the show. Let’s just hope there is stuff there that I can draw on.

Female representation in Asian horror goes beyond the surface

Throughout my research on Asian horror, a common theme is the role of women and the shift of gender roles in a genre usually tailored to male dominance. The female role in Asian horror films is representative of a time that contained a great deal of stress and tragedy for women due to the Asiatic economic crisis which impacted Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Singapore and the Philippines (Lee, 2011, p.2). Korean horror films began using female ghosts as a representation of current social problems and as a communicative tool for audiences.

The use of female ghosts to convey economic difficulties and its harsh impact on women gives a strong empowerment to the characters and their motives. I’ve always been a strong promoter of using performance and story telling to communicate global social inequalities whether it be through dramatic text or comedy. A strong element to these story lines that are tailored to women are that of revenge after a horrific attack. The beauty of Asian horror is the human qualities given to the villain. Their context and history are what inform their presence in the performance and as a theatre performer, this is a notion I find extremely valuable to the art.

The characterisation of a ghost within the horror genre as opposed to an overt representation of a dehumanised axe weilding murderer, gives a stronger connection between the audience and the story. The role of women in Asian horror are of humanistic elements and convey to the audience an almost relatable tone due to their history, therefore enabling the audience to connect with the villain rather than the victim. This facet of Asian horror is so rare to find amongst the genre, which is explainable as to the popularity and constant adaptation of it’s cinematic elements.

Asiatic experiences in economic distress found its way to the story lines of its cinemas with the enhanced history of traditional tales. Can the experience of an economic crises within such films encourage discussion on the topic of depression and domestic violence? A common theme amongst the genre along with the supernatural components may be an effective means of communicating social issues to audiences engrained with the horror experience.

My emotions when watching Ju-on (The Grudge) was the sympathy felt for the females distress in an abusive relationship that tragically results in her and her son’s death. My friend watching the film with me automatically brought up how the sad the story really was and that it goes far deeper than what we initially think.

I once again find myself surprised by the exhaustive depths and analysis that is warranted to Asia’s horror cinema.


Lee, H 2011, “Modernity, Gender Politics and the New Asian Female Ghost Films” in International Communication Association, pp.1-20.

Liveblogging and ‘Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep’.

This week I introduced myself to the PSP game ‘Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep‘, and live blogged my experience of starting the game. I’ll admit that due to a rather busy schedule I haven’t had as much time playing the game as I would like. However, this post isn’t just about my actual experience playing the game, it’s also about my experience live blogging.

But first a bit of background about the game. Developed and distributed in 2010 by the Japanese company, Square Enix, the game is the sixth instalment of the ‘Kingdom Hearts’ series. It is a prequel game (something I didn’t know until writing this post) and by the end of 2010 sold a total of 1.27 million copies around the world (Gantayat 2010). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any statistics about the game’s sales in Australia.

Some questions (Sheridan) I am asking myself through my reflection this week include:

  • What was frustrating or boring about this to me?
  • What are my feelings toward the group, and what are the possible reasons for my reactions?
  • Are there unexplainable holes in my general understanding of the people or event?

So last Monday I set up in my room with my PSP and my laptop and got ready to live blog playing KH:BS for the first time. I was excited in the beginning, but this quickly turned to frustration as I had to update my PSP before it would open the game. This took a good half an hour as apparently it didn’t have enough battery.

Mine 5

My first few posts.

The relief I felt when it finally started was quashed by how irritated I was. I did know my irritation was directed at the PSP, not the game itself, but I think it rubbed off on the experience of playing. My patience was miniscule; not at all helped by the fact that there were so many mini movies, and that I often had no idea what was happening.

Although I did know about ‘Kingdom Hearts’ before I played, I didn’t know the story and so felt like I was missing something. I don’t think this had anything to do with the origin of the game, or the fact that some things may have got lost in translation. But at the same time, because I don’t have that knowledge of the previous games, I don’t really know if that’s true.

After trying live blogging I had a look around on the internet to see how other people have done the same thing. It was difficult finding examples, but there were a number on the Tumblr tag ‘Liveblogging video games’.

6 5 4

I am sure that there are plenty of other people out there who live blog their gaming experiences; it’s just a matter of finding them. The live blogging aspect of video game culture isn’t very big. I believe this is because a lot of people get so absorbed in the game they’re playing that they aren’t thinking about sharing what they’re doing. I know I had to consciously think about blogging, and had to write quick so I didn’t miss what was still happening in the game. Also from the examples I did find there were only a couple who were playing handheld consoles.

In the end I think that live blogging is a great way to express your thoughts on a game in the exact moment. It’s very honest and generally uncensored. You get people’s raw thoughts and emotions. And I think that’s something we rarely see.

– Gabi


Gantayat, A 2010, “Square Enix’s Biggest Games Were Dragon Quest and Kane & Lynch”, IGN, website, viewed 17th Sept 2014, found: http://au.ign.com/articles/2010/11/04/square-enixs-biggest-games-were-dragon-quest-and-kane-lynch

Sheridan, R , “Autoethnography: Research as Participant”, viewed 17th Sept 2014, found: http://ricksheridan.netmar.com/auto/

What people think

In order to carry out my research about my family’s personal experiences with anime, I will need to choose 2 possible anime films in which they can watch. I will ask the participants a few questions before they watch the films and then again after, to ultimately gage any differences in perspective or feelings.
The films I will be looking at will be Spirited Away and Akira. I chose these 2 films as they are quite different but also have similarities. As there will be 5 participants in my study, I am expecting that their answers and experiences will be different and varied. I am curious to see the final results to see if anyone will have a similar experience to mine.
Originally, I thought about letting the participants sit down and watch specific parts of the anime films I selected, separately, and after they watched it I would record them talking about their experiences. I was then going to write a short paragraph about each certain video regarding my feelings and experiences in relation to theirs. I decided to change this to a simpler and more effective method, and to turn my findings into a report. This would allow me to compile all of my results altogether and be able to view them altogether.
I read an article online when I was researching, about someone else’s experience with anime. I wanted to read it to understand how other people had experienced anime, as I understand that everyone’s experiences would be different. Some people may have grown up with it and think of it as the norm, whereas some people could be on the complete opposite end of the scale and may have never even heard of it.

A Digital (Paper) Artefact

My digital artefact is going to be an experience for me, an exploration of a community I’ve admired, but have never partook in. I’m going to embark to the other side of the Paper Craft community: designing. It’s what fuels the archive pages, fills the stream with new models, collaborations, and series, by artists from across the world. Designers, like SmileRobinson, are selecting content that they enjoy so much they want to share it with a larger audience. They do this by constructing Paper Craft models of their favourite characters, for fans to experience, build, and discover new content, in a hand-crafted collection. I’m utilising my knowledge of the Paper Craft community to design a facet of a cultural experience, to make a culture familiar for insiders, and represent a culture to outsiders (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011).

I want to design Paper Craft models of Asian content and showcase it online as templates and constructed models. Along side, I will develop a reflection of the process, the story behind the model, and encourage learning about a different culture through design. And these designs will be representations of the research fields the students of DIGC330 have chosen. You, are my subjects that have presented me with connections to unfamiliar content. I will share that knowledge back as foldable paper.

 Digital (Paper) Asia:



*I share no affiliation with ‘Asian Paper: The Global Pulp, Paper and Board Industry.’ Although that’s a pretty cool industry group.