Australia

Slightly Immersive Experience in Kwaidan (1964)

That digital output of Japanese movies is to say the least pretty extensive, so in choosing the horror film from Japan that I was going to view I went straight to an internet list. You might say that was callous, and that if I was serious about trying to find a scary Japanese horror film I would do more research than an internet top ten list. And you would be correct.

The first eye opener on this journey is; if you want to watch a scary movie, get a few more confirmations than an internet list before deciding to deem it scary. OK that being said my live tweeting experience of  the film Kwaidan was enjoyable, but not scary. #Ifellasleep

The main reason I opted straight for Kwaidan is that it was made in 1964 and as you probably know the 60s was a pivotal political period, so I was hoping the film might indicate what Japan was facing politically. Looking over my tweets, which you can see here, from my brief overview of them it seems to me that political tensions concerning gender and possibly more can be found in the films content. However I will be looking into this more deeply for my digital artefact to see where exactly the film stood politically and if there was any social and political controversies that could be noted to add more depth to the picture I have.

Tweeting the experience did feel exciting and it gave me more of an appreciation for the film, the process though was stifling, I didn’t feel that I got fully immersed in the what Kwaidan was trying to convey. I had to stop the film sometimes to tweet what I was seeing/feeling and it felt like a detachment from the event each time.

Not as immersed as I would like to be, it seems from the tweets that I liked the film mainly for its aesthetics and knowledge. The dialogue appears to have particularly burdened me. What I did get though, was a new found interest in Japan’s very rich history. And when I say rich I’m talking thousands of years, compared to little baby Australia’s 300 years or so recorded history, Japan’s is epic, and glorious… samurais, battle scenes, samurai clans, baby emperors, it’s thrilling! which would be an indication as to why their films are so good. My digital Artefact will investigate this theory more.

My main problem though throughout the film was pacing, I had real trouble remaining focused. There were so many beautiful images on screen, they just didn’t seem to be leading to anything quick enough for me. For my digital artefact I want to unpack this, the pacing of films has changed quite a bit over time, I would like to research what experts have commented about this and develop more of a clearer understanding of its social, cultural, and political implications.

Reference

Kwaidan 1964 by Masaki Kobayashi

장애물 (barrier)

Autoethnographers strive to use language and methods of interaction to find themselves in the crosshairs of ‘autobiographic impulse’ and the ‘ethnographic moment’ (Spry 2001), but what if there is no convergence of language and access points, such as may be the case when using social networks in other languages (Sina Weibo). I have experienced this struggle when attempting to derive further external cultural experience from the learning and curiosity which the EYK community and content has fostered within me. It became important to me to reflect on the ‘interactional textures occuring between self, other, and contexts in autoethnographic research’ (Spry 2001). Thus, I ventured out from the protective wings of the EYK community to explore the wider context of their content through consumption of pop music throughout Asia without the lens of EYK and ‘KPop Music Mondays‘ (their weekly KPop review) filtering what I see and like.

The creation of a personal narrative and the ability to recognise the occurrence of reflexive ethnography allows an autoethnographer to identify the cultural baggage which we bring to a personal experience and subsequently reflect on the reflective changes which result from our participatory cultural experiences (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011). In order to examine my cultural baggage in an environment where a detailed personal narrative could develop, I decided to start at home (Australia) with SBS PopAsia. SBS PopAsia is a comprehensive source of Asian pop content from many different countries (particularly South Korea), in the format of a television show screened on SBS 2 and a 24/7 live music stream.

Reflecting on my first impression of the SBS PopAsia television show screened on Sundays, I can see an unfortunate and unexpected mirroring of MTV and the Top 40 countdowns of my childhood, with the hosts standing in front of a cheesy green screen background while introducing slightly 1990s-feeling segments such as ‘what do all these videos have in common’ (this time it was ‘rain’ and ‘mobile phones’). In the first few minutes I notice a complete lack of interaction with artists and fans. Immediately I feel the deprivation of the freedom which digital platforms such as YouTube have given me when exploring new forms of entertainment, as I can’t skip any of the content that I’m not interested in. Similarly, the 24/7 digital radio stream forces the listener to experience the whole song being played, and there was no cultural context offered e.g. country of origin of the music, or information about the band. Ironically, the part of the SBS PopAsia experience which I struggled the most with ended up being related to language barriers (considering it is an Australian program); I expected the music videos to have a subtitle option, particularly in English, to explain why they are so popular amongst their regular viewers, as I have found a barrier to my enjoyment of KPop is that I don’t understand the lyricism or cultural context of the songs. However, there were no subtitles, and very little explanation of each video, so I ended up turning off the television 20 minutes before the show ended. This drove me back to digital platforms.

This time I attempted to involve myself in the weekly Korean show Music Bank. Immediately I was drawn into the show, as there were English subtitles for each KPop act’s song, and I found myself really enjoying the experience of actually seeing major KPop idols dance and sing to a passionate (and very loud) local audience. I hadn’t realised until now what a big fan of KPop I had become until I realised I was ‘fan-girling’ over Taemin and his performance of ‘Danger’. I really loved looking through the comment section and seeing others feel exactly the same; after all, ‘fandom is not just about expressing to the object of your fandom that you love it — it’s also about connecting with other fans (Miller 2014).

Upon reflection, I could see how incredibly important my research of KPop bands and idols and observation of online fan communities had been in fostering a genuine connection within this cultural context. This experience has shown me just how valuable the EYK community is to me and the breaking down of barriers to participation in the wider Korean entertainment context, and how digital platforms allow much more inclusive access to the enjoyment of new experiences, particularly in comparison with traditional media forms.

Manga and Anime in India

Each week, I will be focusing on one countries and looking at Manga and Anime culture in that country. I will look at Manga and Anime fandom, how they interact with each other and also how they receive the content, foe example, is there any television channel that broadcast Anime or how they receive a Manga.

I will be focusing on India this week. After looking at many articles and fan site. I found that Anime and Manga popularity is increasing. However, finding source of Manga and Anime legally is quite hard. Not many store in India sell Manga and finding store that selling Anime is even harder and it is not available in video rental store. Anime become popular after Animax India launch in 2004, with the arrival of Animax and increasing popularity of Anime, many children’s channel had increase their number of Anime.

Manga and Anime fan in India interact with each other through social media, club and event. India have many event that related to Anime and Manga. In 2011, India host it first ever Comic Con and India will host its 5th Comic Con in 2015. Comic Con is not only event, there are many other event such as Anime Con. There are many Manga and Anime club in India, for example, The Bangalore anime and manga fan club have more than 2000 members even though they only have 500 members 2 years ago. Another big club is Mumbai Anime Club, this club host many event and they also have more than 2000 members.

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Picture from Mumbai Anime Club Cosplayers

My experience of reading Manga and Anime is usually through website but I was first experience Anime through TV. My first Anime is probably Digimon and it is still one of my favorite Anime. For Manga, during my high school, many of my friends was reading Manga and I read it when they finish or when I have noting to do at school and thats is when I start to like Manga. Finding Manga and Anime is not too hard in Thailand. There are many store that sell them and many poplar store that sell movies usually have Anime section. Which is a lot easier to find compared to India and Australia (I never see store that sell Manga or Anime).

This song from Digimon Adventure 02 brings back so many childhood memory.

 

This one from Digimon Adventure

After looking at many sites and learning about Manga and Anime culture in India, I think that there are many limitations for it to gain popularity. As finding Manga and Anime in store is hard, many have to go to online source in order to read or watch Anime and Manga. They also have to be able to read Manga or watch Anime in English because finding the source for Manga and Anime is already hard but finding it in Hindi is even harder. Furthermore, one of the best TV channel for Anime (Animax) is not available on most DTH operators now and that result in people have less exposure to Anime. With less Anime, new viewer who never experience Anime before won’t be able to know if Anime is good or not and thats make it so that Anime will only popular in a small circle of people who already experience Anime but Anime and Manga popularity in India is increasing and Animax might be back on DTH operators.

Reference

Pillalamarri, A 2014, ‘Japanese Cultural Influence Grows in India’, The Diplomat, 29 August, accessed 1/09/2014, http://thediplomat.com/2014/08/japanese-cultural-influence-grows-in-india/ 

Tanna, S 2012, A Study of Circulation of Manga and Anime in India, accessed 1/09/2014,http://asiancultureindustries.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/a-study-of-circulation-of-manga-and-anime-in-india-shilpa-tanna.pdf

 

‘Human Tetris’ – Group Digital Artifact

‘Human Tetris’
Keely and Hannah will be exploring and contrasting the original Japanese version of entertainment game show ‘Hole In the Wall’ with spin-off Australian version of the same name.
The fact that the show is so popular in Japan, although failed here within a month of broadcast is a definite point of interest – this can be the basis of the project with questions coming to light that we can look into such as:

• What are the similarities/differences between the two shows, in terms of production, characters, set and aesthetic appearances, air time, costumes, channel aired, industrial factors such as production value; producing companies etc.?
• Comparison and mash-up videos to be included in the Prezi that showcase these similarities and differences – maybe with audio commentary playing over the top to explain the relevance of shown video.
• Delve into the cultural differences between Australian and Japanese culture – could this be a factor when we think of the failure of the Australian version?
• Contrast the differences between technicalities – differences between Japanese-Australian production, set manufacture, collaboration with media companies for promotion etc. Do these factors influence the way in which the show is portrayed to the public?
• Why didn’t Australia just show the Japanese version on our channels? Why did they feel the need to remake the show? – explore concepts of Westernization, cosmopolitanism, cultural appropriation etc.

Diaspora and YouTube

I am a YouTube fanatic, there I said it. I love videos, great editing and the community of those who make videos as well as their audience. There are many examples of Diaspora when it comes to those who post content on YouTube, some that were mentioned in the lecture are some of my favourites. Natalie Tran from Community Channel and Lilly Singh from IISuperWomanII are both excellent examples of the representation of their culture from another part of the world.

A quick google search for some other Asian YouTubers (Mostly those who are living in another country) brought up search results and so many I already knew and was already subscribed to. To name a few that you would find on my subscription feed, Michelle Phan, Lindy Tsang, Its Judys LifeHey Claire and LaurDIY.

This is such an interesting observation, the fact that I had never really connected their heritage and culture to their content and videos struck me as really interesting. Even though these YouTubers would even discuss their culture in some videos, I had never thought of them as a peripheral group. Often they make fun of their culture and play on stereotypes, the reason I can relate to this is it’s often based on family life. From the protective mother to the grandmother who can’t understand technology, this all resonates with me as I’m a 20 year old still living at home. Even if it didn’t resonate with me personally I think the way they present it is interesting and entertaining. In saying that though, I love being able to hear them make fun of themselves, I think that’s having a really great sense of humour.

There are many websites that discuss great Asian YouTubers to watch, so there is clearly a market out there for people who want to connect with a specific cultural group. After some more intense research (Google) There were SO many articles about Asians “taking over” YouTube, some were negative and some were really positive about many different cultures being represented online. You can read some of these articles (HereHere and Here).

My experience with YouTube is a long and winding road, one that will probably never end. The experience I have with diasporic groups on YouTube has been even great, considering I am able to see a PERSONAL view and experience of a specific person, perhaps it has a lot to do with their culture or perhaps its just about being a certain age or gender. Reflecting on my thoughts of stumbling across much of this information is that I shouldn’t really be surprised that there is a market for people seeking anything, really.

 

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The Champion of Justice

If I heard the name Kotono Mitsuishi a week ago I wouldn’t have bat an eyelid. Today, however the name means so much more. For those of you who don’t recognise the name I’ll give a little description. Mitsuishi is a 46-year-old voice actress who lives in Tokyo, Japan and is famous for providing the voice of our favourite crime fighter – Sailor Moon.

Now although I consider myself a long time fan of Sailor Moon I had never watched a Japanese version until recently. The voice I remembered from my childhood was whiny and slightly deeper than the voice Mitsuishi provides. It was also extremely American. After watching the new improved Sailor Moon Crystal (of which Mitsuishi is revisiting the role) I’ve realised that Mitsuishi is Sailor Moon.

To watch Mitsuishi transform into the character is something to behold. In the video above, you see her talking to the crowd normally. She seems courteous and polite. There is even perhaps a hint of shyness to her stance. However as soon as she begins to talk as Sailor Moon her body transforms. She is no longer Kotono Mitsuishi – she is Usagi – champion of justice and fighter of evil.

Now Sailor Moon is not the only character Mitsuishi has voiced – just the most famous. She has provided her voice for over 90 separate characters ranging from guest starring roles to major characters. It’s interesting to note that Mitsuishi has only been involved in one Western created cartoon within television or film. It would be interesting to learn why she chose to have a guest starring role in the Japanese dubbed Adventure Time. It could be that creator Pendleton Ward has mentioned a number of influences – one of which being some of the works of Studio Ghibli.

It seems fitting that the first anime I remember watching is connected with the first anime voice actor I have come to know. I have now watched two episodes of the new Sailor Moon Crystal and am immensely enjoying watching Mitsuishi’s Usagi come to life. I have found myself feeling more connected to the character now than I ever did before and I have Kotono Mitsuishi to thank.

유명인사 (celebrity)

Eat Your Kimchi’s channels have collectively gained them almost 207 million views, generating advertising revenue which has became sufficient to support their transition from teachers on temporary visas, to full-time YouTubers/educators/entertainers on business visas (especially after their Indiegogo funding campaign). Since their transition, they have set up an EYK studio and have just (in the last WEEK!) opened a cafe with a fellow YouTuber (Hyunwoo from Talk To Me In Korean), both in South Korea’s capital city, Seoul.

My EYK tshirt which I bought from their online shop! Came with a hand-written note from Simon and Martina :)

My EYK tshirt which I bought from their online shop! Came with a hand-written note from Simon and Martina 🙂

Despite the fact that EYK ranks among the most popular YouTube channels in South Korea (particularly notable considering the commercial giants that dominate South Korean YouTube popularity), their ‘celebrity status’ does not denote the same ‘arm’s length’ relationship which KPop idols have with their fans. Simon and Martina let their fans into their lives, sharing personal tid-bits through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, actively engaging in discourse with fans on Reddit, playing video games with fans on PSN, and organising fan meetups and dinners whenever they travel. Indeed, Simon and Martina still can’t believe that they have reached the level of notoriety that they have…

“We’re still totally shocked, we act like how we do in real life, so we thought people won’t be interested (in our videos).”

I can believe it though. Simon and Martina provide a valuable bridge between their mostly international (foreign) audience and the quirky, complex culture of South Korea. Their fame seems to work in both directions, despite what you may expect considering that they are an outsider’s conduit into South Korea; they get recognised on the street by both foreigners and native South Koreans. Here there is a key difference between their fame and the celebrity of KPop idols; while Simon and Martina’s fans are “cool and polite”, KPop idols “get mobbed, and hounded for photos and signatures”. They provide valuable experience in the distinction between commercial popularity and what we perceive as ‘internet popularity’:

“People don’t treat idols kindly in public. People are always awesome with us, and we’re really thankful for that.”

Rifling through the depths of Reddit I came across an entire thread seemingly dedicated to both hating on EatYourKimchi/claiming Reddit hates Simon and Martina, and directing attention to a Tumblr called Unpopular EYK Opinions. This website exists purely to criticise EYK for not speaking satisfactory Korean, and to complain about how they run their blog and channel. To me it seems petty and unnecessary, and I think it completely misunderstands the point of EYK, which to me is to express passion for the KPop genre and to help those who don’t live in South Korea understand the culture. This hate doesn’t seem to translate to Simon and Martina’s public/celebrity experience or live chats; they are always embraced with nothing but love and joy when they travel the world to meet with their ‘fans’. This recording is an auditory representation of their fame, recorded on their recent trip to Melbourne, Australia: