kawaii

A Flying Axe Covered in Glitter and Bubblegum

 

Tayla Bosley

5050583

DIGC330

Digital Artefact:

Autoethnographic Essay:

Autoethnography, as stated by Ellis (2011) is “an autobiographical genre of writing that displays multiple layers of consciousness, connecting the personal to the cultural.”

I think this is the absolute best way to summarise autoethnography, and I think I have achieved this in my project. By relaying through self-reflexivity, the multiple accounts of my personal experience with kawaii metal, then critically analysing those experiences and subsequent epiphanies. I hope to have brought a critical understanding of the genre to those that have read my posts, and listened to my podcasts.

As I stated in my blog post ‘Narrative Truth’, my goal has been to walk that knife’s edge “…between rigorous, theoretical, analytical science, and therapeutic, personal, and social experience-writing.” Therefore connecting my personal experience to the culture of kawaii metal, and enabling those who engage with my work to gain a deeper understanding of kawaii metal.

However, I also agree with Foley (2002) in his criticism of the practise of autoethnography. Foley advocated for a more reflexive epistemological and narrative approach to the research methodology. He believes that by doing this, creating more of a story than a research paper, it would make autoethnographies more engaging and a more common genre of research. Which could contribute to bridging the gap between researchers and ordinary people.

I must agree with Foley, I think that the more engaging, and story-like an autoethnographic account is, the more people will understand and relate to it. This alternative method has a higher chance of achieving the goal of autoethnography; relating the personal to the cultural.

Which is why my autoethnographic podcast is filled with anecdotal stories, creative opinion pieces, and the unending stream of kawaii metal songs under my words. I wanted to give the listener every possible narrative understanding of kawaii metal.

Of course this story-like format that I champion comes with its own limitations. For one, as Mendez states, autoethnography in all its forms require honesty, and a willingness to self-disclose from the researcher.

This is especially important for researchers like me, who desire a more story-like experience, as it can be all too easy to slip from story-like into fairy-tale.

As Anderson (2006) fears, “Autoethnography loses its sociological promise when it devolves into self-absorption.” What I’ve learnt is that this is what makes autoethnography so interesting, and yet so difficult. It is again walking that knife’s edge, between relaying your experience of the culture, and relaying yourself to the reader. While each autoethnographic account is through the researcher’s eyes, the focus should never stray from the culture itself.

There are also ethical considerations that must be addressed when using the autoethnographic research method. Many research topics centre around sensitive issues or beliefs in regards to the researcher themselves or the people around them. Due to this, explicit and early consent, and special consideration must be taken into account by the researcher, so as to not offend or impinge upon the privacy of their research volunteers (Wall, 2008, Mendez 2013).

It is also important to note Ellis’ own point about autoethnography, ‘No researcher is an island.’ We all come with our own experiences, our own cultural view point, our biases, and our own understanding. Thus autoethnographic researchers must disclose each aspects of themselves, least their research becomes tainted, and the reader unaware.

Overall though, the autoethnographic method is like any other research tool; it depends on how you use it, and what you want to achieve with it.

Whether it is a clinical recount of events, or your experience of a culture in its entirety. “What matters is the way in which the story enables the reader to enter the subjective world of the teller -to see the world from her or his point of view, even if this world does not ‘match reality’. Another advantage of writing autoethnographically is that it allows the researcher to write first person accounts which enable his or her voice to be heard, and thus provide him or her with a transition from being an outsider to an insider in the research.” (Hitchcock and Hughes, 1995).

Again, it is this need to bring the outsider inside, which drives the autoethnographic research process. It is making the stranger a friend, and making the alien, home, for both researcher, and reader.

As Ellis said, “On the whole, autoethnographers don’t want you to sit back as spectators; they want readers to feel and care and desire”. And I think this is mostly true of those researchers that use this methodology; their main focus is empathy. When using the autoethnographic method the researcher wants you to feel empathy, as they do while in the research process itself. As it is empathy that incites action (Barkhuizen and Wette 2008)

The entire point, limitations and all, of autoethnography, is to make the reader feel like they are already a part of the culture they are reading about. To make them understand all aspects of the culture through meticulous research, and make them feel like they’ve lived with the culture, through poignant storytelling.

It is this ‘lived in’ feeling that makes autoethnography so powerful for both readers and researchers, and I hope that, in my own reflexive narrative, I have created a story that is filled with the knowledge of kawaii metal, as well as the experience of being a cute girl headbanging to thrash metal music.

References

Songs In Podcast

Aldious: Dominator

BABYMETAL: Doki Doki Morning

BABYMETAL: Gimme chocolate!!

BABYMETAL: Iine!

BABYMETAL: Ijime, Dame, Zettai

BABYMETAL: Karate

BABYMETAL: Megitsune

BABYMETAL: Only the fox god knows audio

Band-Maid: Choose Me

Band-Maid: Real Existence

Band-Maid: Thrill

Bridear: Light in the Dark

Doll$boxx: Loud Twin Stars

Doll$boxx: Take My Chance

Ladybaby: Age Age Money

Ladybaby: Nippon Manju

Websites

Chaisson, J. (2017). This Is A Thing: Kawaii Metal. [online] Geeklyinc.com. Available at: https://geeklyinc.com/this-is-a-thing-kawaii-metal/ [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Crook, L. and Ransom, D. (2014). Babymetal’s fusion of Japanese teen pop and death metal is the greatest thing you’ll see today. [online] The Daily Dot. Available at: https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/babymetal-metal-japanese-pop/ [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Grace, K. (2016). BABYMETAL. [online] Digital Asia. Available at: https://digc330.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/babymetal/ [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Grace, K. (2016). Baby who?. [online] Digital Asia. Available at: https://digc330.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/baby-who/ [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Grace, K. (2014). BABYMETAL- the return. [online] Digital Asia. Available at: https://digc330.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/babymetal-the-return/ [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Articles

Barbier, E. (2017). A beginner’s guide to Kawaii metal – The Concordian. [online] The Concordian. Available at: http://theconcordian.com/2017/03/a-beginners-guide-to-kawaii-metal/ [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Burns, M. (2015). A New Sub-genre of Music Is Growing in Japan. [online] Anitay.kinja.com. Available at: http://anitay.kinja.com/a-new-sub-genre-of-music-is-growing-in-japan-1678920805 [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Nash, R. (2016). BabyMetal: Japan’s heavy metal girl-band sensation. [online] The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/good-weekend/babymetal-japans-heavy-metal-girl-band-sensation-20160526-gp4pl2.html [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Threads/Youtube

BABYMETAL. (2017). BABYMETAL. [online] Available at: http://www.babymetal.com/biography/ [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Kluseba (2017). Kawaii metal thread. [online] Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives. Available at: https://www.metal-archives.com/board/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=119301 [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Hoshiya, Y. (2015). Inside the world of “Kawaii metal”. [online] Kawaii-B. Available at: http://kawaiibuk.blogspot.com.au/2015/12/inside-world-of-kawaii-metal.html [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). BABYMETALofficial. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/user/BABYMETALofficial [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). LADYBABY. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKlfTlx0oY6BiCH7Qvabrhg [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). BANDMAID. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/user/BANDMAID [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Kikuchi, D. (2016). Spotify finally launches in Japan, a nation where other music streaming services have struggled | The Japan Times. [online] The Japan Times. Available at: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/29/business/tech/spotify-launches-japan-nation-streamers-struggled/#.We07G2iCzIU [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Definitions

Oxford Dictionaries | English. (2017). cute | Definition of cute in English by Oxford Dictionaries. [online] Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/cute [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

En.wikipedia.org. (2017). Cuteness. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuteness [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

En.wikipedia.org. (2017). Kawaii. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kawaii#History

Journal Articles

Anderson, L. (2006). Analytic autoethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 35,373-395.

Barkhuizen, G., & Wette, R. (2008). Narrative frames for investigating the experiences of language teachers. System, 36, 372-387.

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095 [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Foley, D. (2002). Critical ethnography: The reflexive turn. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 15(4), pp.469-490.

Hitchcock, G., & Hughes, D. (1995). Research and the teacher. (2 ed.) London: Routledge.

Méndez, M. (2014). Autoethnography as a research method: Advantages, limitations and criticisms. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 15(2), p.279.

Wall, S. (2008). Easier said than done: Writing an autoethnography. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 7, 38-53.

 

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Analysing Kawaii Metal

Introduction

In this post I will use the autoethnographic methodology to analyse my experience of Kawaii Metal, as related in the week 5 podcast ‘Discovering Kawaii Metal’.

The main methodology used will be personal narrative, which will be accompanied with further research on the topic of Kawaii Metal. Using this research, I will critically analyse my experience, in terms of my own personal context, and how the experience changed myself, or led me to any epiphanies.

Definition of Kawaii Metal

One definition of kawaii metal (cute metal), is a genre which blends elements of heavy metal and J-Pop. This is done by combining the music of heavy metal, such as heavy electric guitar, and a powerful drum beat with J-Pop melodies, and a Japanese idol aesthetic.

A Japanese idol usually refers to the young stars of J-Pop, that are marketed specifically for their cuteness, good public image, and role model ability.

Nothing that relates to grungy, drinking and smoking, tattoos and violence that is often associated with metal, heavy metal, or death metal music, either in Asia or elsewhere.

The ‘cuteness’ of the main singers often lead their lyrics to be less hostile or depressing as those of other heavy metal genres.

Background Research of Kawaii Metal

Babymetal are credited with the invention of the kawaii metal genre. This is something that I was entirely unaware of until this research. Perhaps if I had known that my first engagement with kawaii metal was with the inventors of it, it would have shaped my perception of the experience differently.

Their first album was only released in Feburary 2014, so this is a genre that is still barely getting started, one that only began in my last year of high school even.

But since then the genre has grown to include bands such as Aldious, BiS, Deadlift Lolita, Doll$Boxx and Ladybaby.

Which is especially interesting as I did not listen to any of these artists’ songs. The YouTube mix that I chose was clearly off a bit, but going off what I do know about the genre, I will continue with the belief that what I did listen to was ‘kawaii metal’, especially Band-Maid.

My Cultural Background

My cultural background is about as Australia as you can get. My family goes back 4 or 5 generations of Australians before I can trace back to being most likely, England and other European countries.

I have been overseas only once, and it was only 2 months ago, and I only went to European countries. So I have never been to Asia, or specifically Japan, although I do wish to go.

Before this experience I had only listened to Babymetal’s Karate on Triple J a handful of times. I have never heard any other J-Pop or other Japanese music, although I am familiar with K-Pop.

My taste in music focuses on alternative rock, with a specific focus on 90s- mid 2000s rock, mainly Australian, American, and British.

This means I went into this experience with almost no understanding of the genre, or knowledge of what I would be hearing.

Obviously a lot of people are also unfamiliar with the genre.

Analysis

It is clear from the podcast that I was not expecting the diversity of the genre of kawaii metal. With such limited experience with it, I was expecting a recreation of the one song I had heard of the genre.

This was obviously a failed assumption.

I was also not prepared, and thus confused, for how much a few of the songs sounded like the early 2000s rock that I enjoy listening to so much already.

This connection to my own personal past and understanding was quite shocking, and has definitely led to my new perception of the genre.

Upon reflection, as I had narrowed down the scope of music possible I was not expecting to enjoy the music that much. I am now aware of how edgy, rocky, punky, and gothy the genre can be, all the while still firmly being kawaii metal.

But since it brought up so many connections to my own favourite genres, my initial assumption was proven wrong, and as you can hear throughout the podcast, I quite thoroughly enjoy listening to the music presented to me.

Epiphanies

The only real epiphany I can attest to in this experience, was an epiphany of my own limited assumptions. I discovered the diversity of kawaii metal, and more importantly, I discovered that it was something that I liked listening to, despite not understanding the words or context.

Thus I am set further to investigate this genre, and discover exactly what it means, and what it can offer.

Conclusion

Overall I would consider my experience a success. The only thing I would change would be researching specific kawaii metal bands first, then listening to their songs, rather than the YouTube mix. Also I hope to find further secondary research on the genre, but as it is so new, I am not particularly hopeful.

 

Discovering Kawaii Metal

This is my podcast narrative of my first real discovery of kawaii metal (cute metal music).

Note: The reason that I pause the video and then talk is because the program wouldn’t turn down the music when I spoke.

Also the video version was removed due to copyright.

Funny Anecodote: After an hour of rerecording this due to the dodgy program, I got in my car only to hear BabyMetal’s Karate on Triple J, after months of not hearing it play, seems that the gods of Kawaii metal enjoyed my experience too.

I also noticed, after hearing this song in my car, that I had forgotten that it also has a badass female vocalist, and fairly punk clothing, yet another expectation that I had gotten wrong.

Okashi

I have to start by saying that any assessment where I get to integrate food is always going to be a good one, especially ‘okashi’, which is the Japanese word for treats and snacks. For my individual autoethnographic research, I decided to purchase a basket full of treats from Wan Long Supermarket Wollongong. This is the closest location to where I live to gain access to Asian groceries without physically having to go to an Asian country. With the guidance of my partner Jon, who has previously lived in Japan, we filled a basket full of primarily Japanese based treats. All of the items chosen were a new taste, not ever having tried them before. I filmed the whole experience of the first taste test which made it very easy to watch over and reflect.

img_5689

(Source: Cubit, A 2016)

Firstly, it is worth noting the initial selection process of the Japanese based candy at the supermarket. I struggled to identify the difference of Chinese based packaging to Japanese. Most products did have English translated words, such as “strawberry flavour”. However, without the guidance of Jon, I would have got a largely mixed bag of candy and drinks from all over the Asian region. This brings to light the major barrier that language has on interpreting what it is you are buying. Without English translations that are available on imported goods, or the further guidance of Jon who has tried those foods, speaks Japanese and lived in Japan for over a year, I would have not been able to have had the experience that I did, of trying Japanese candy in Australia.

Similarly, it was evident throughout the whole 20 minutes of taste testing, I was critically referencing what I was trying, back to an Australian based taste. For example, “this biscuit reminds me of tiny teddies”. This could mean one of two things. The first is that it could be me trying to understand Japanese culture through my Australian context. For me to grasp and take in what It was I was trying, I was searching for the Australian equivalent. Similarly, it could also have meant that I understood that the video was going to be watched by an Australian audience, thus I could have been referring to the Australian context, to ensure my audience could connect with the foods I was trying.

Moreover, the packaging was something that really stood out to me. The colours were all very bright and most included images of the flavour for example. The candy also largely had a cartoon character of some sort, which I believe was to connect the target market of children, with the product. A cross-cultural study on the affects of advertising in US, Japanese and English families outlined how “Japanese children have a significantly lower level of television viewing that the US and British children” (Robertson et al., 1989). Perhaps this is why the packaging is so bold and colourful, as marketers are focusing on the need to gain attention of children in-store as television advertising targeted towards children is absent or minimal in Japan? Such packaging also could fit with the Kawaii or “cute” culture in Japan.

Screen Shot 2016-09-25 at 6.35.59 PM.png

 

(Source: Dreamstime.com)

The reoccurring theme in my above deconstruction of my initial post is how my Australian context not only forms my opinion of product selection, tastes, and packaging, it also informed my method of recording as well as the factors I chose to analyse. Living in metropolitan Australia, I am lucky enough to have access to a range of groceries from Asia, with the closest Asian grocer only 5 minutes away. This is a central factor to my research as I was able to gain access to the treats quite easily. It wasn’t a huge event in tracking down such foods. Thus making my experience of accessing Japanese culture and foods straight forward, even though I am almost 8000km away from Japan.

Sources:

Dreamstime, 2016, Kawaii Foods, retrieved from <https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/cute-kawaii-dessert-cake-macaroon-ice-cream-icons-vector-set-food-isolated-white-54668595.jpg.&gt;

Free Map Tools, 2016, Tokyo to Sydney, retrieved from < https://www.freemaptools.com/how-far-is-it-between-sydney_-australia-and-tokyo_-japan.htm>

Robertson, T, Ward, S, Gatignon, H, & Klees, D 1989, ‘Advertising and Children: A Cross-Cultural Study’,Communication Research, 16, 4, p. 459, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 25 September 2016.

Japanese Treats direct from the Gong

This assessment has taken a few turns, from ordering a Kawaii Box to changing my mind and instead going for Tokyo Treats. I then realised the package would arrive too late from Japan so I would have to think of something else. So the assessment changed again into collecting a basket full of sweet food from the local Asian Grocer. I have finally been able to kick on with my autoethnographic research, so I hope you enjoy my videos. The first video outlines the scope of my project and the second is me opening and trying all sorts of treats including, chips, chocolate, candy and drinks collected from Wan Long Supermarket Wollongong. I tried to stick to only purchasing primarily Japanese treats.

IMG_5689.JPG

“Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience. This approach challenges canonical ways of doing research and representing others and treats research as a political, socially-just and socially-conscious act” (Ellis et al. 2011).


Though there are many ways to comprehend autoethnographic research, I have come to understand the research method as a form of self reflection. Through this research method, I get to consider my own cultural bias that may be forming my opinion. Having never been to Japan, or tried any of the items in this research project, it was very much taste testing and forming an opinion as an outsider.

The autoethnographic research method will form my investigation around my perspectives on Japanese sweets, imported to Australia and purchased locally here in Wollongong. Never having tried any of these products, it is very much a fresh perspective. However how will my Australian cultural context effect my opinion on things like taste, packaging or branding? These questions are exactly what I will analyse in my next post later this week.

Source:
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1.

My Experience of Dark Water “Honogurai mizu no soko kara”

vlcsnap-2012-11-18-17h20m23s83

Last Friday I was invited to go and experience my friends’ new home theatre room. Armed with a six-pack of James Boags, an armful of Thai food and my bright yellow fox onesie, I was ready for a long night of thrilling theatre. 
Descending the stairs to their once creepy basement, now beautifully carpeted theatre room, the group was presented with our choice of films for the evening.
Amongst our selection was; ‘Hansel and Gretel and the 420 witch’, ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ and ‘Dark Water’.
Being aware of the potential for Japanese horror to mentally scar us, we opted to watch Dark Water first and then sooth ourselves with the other two movies afterwards.

Settling down into the dark theatre room, I began to devour a healthy serving of fried rice with chicken & cashews as my friend proceeded to put the movie onto the big screen. Beginning to feel the flow of alcohol, we joked and carried on throughout the beginning of the film, trying to keep up with the introductions of the characters and the general basis for the story

In brief, the movie follows a mother and her young daughter who have recently moved into an old apartment block after the breakup of their family. The apartment has problems with water leaking from the ceiling (Dark water), and the mother starts seeing a ghostly figure of a small girl around the apartment. As the story unfolds we began to learn that this ghost child used to live in the apartment block and had gone through a very similar situation to the real child, facing the possibility of being neglected and forgotten during her parents’ divorce.

As it turns out, this ghost child was referred to as ‘Kawaii’ throughout the movie. I assume that was her actual name, but as slightly inebriated children of the internet generation we could not stop making jokes about how cute ‘Kawaii’ was in all of the jump scares and ‘frightening’ scenes of the film. While these scenes were definitely well directed and horrifying, as a group we laughed our way through the terror, yelling at the screen and enthusiastically enjoying the film.

Interestingly our collective understanding (or Misunderstanding) of the Japanese term ‘Kawaii’ shaped our experience of the film, regardless of how insignificant its use seemed to the overall story.
As I understand it, the term ‘Kawaii’ means adorable or cute and has been attributed to a section of Japanese popular culture that embody these qualities. In the context of this film, it seemed odd to name the ghostly apparition that was depicted as threatening and horrifying, after a term that was used to describe things that were cute and innocent.
Looking back at the ending of the film and the motivations given for the ghostly girl, the name Kawaii seems slightly more apt to the character and was probably a conscious decision by the film makers.

-Nathan Smith

GROUP WORK: Beauty or the Beast?

Group Members

Amy Hutchesson
Renee Stewart
Gemma Jamison

As a group, we have decided to research the culture of beauty and obsession with image throughout Asia, specifically concerning image-related subcultures throughout Japan, Korea and China e.g. harajuku, kawaii, aegyo cultures. We intend to research this culture primarily through platforms such as Tumblr, Instagram and blogs.


The reason why we have chosen this topic is because we all have a fascination with this field. Image is an interesting and vast topic and everyone in the world is involved with it. It is the way in which we choose to present ourselves to the world and can dictate and change so much of our lives.
With our studies of Asia, this topic seemed appropriate as image and beauty is such a large part of these cultures.

 

Week 2: Kawaii and Cute

I first stumbled across J-Pop through a friend from China. I enjoy music, both listening and exploring the online communities dedicated to finding new artists and sounds possibly a little too much and was fascinated by a new wave of producers from the UK who were making infectious hyper-real pop music, a collective called PC Music and an anonymous artist named SOPHIE. I was playing him some of this music (available to listen to below) when he told me that it sounded like J-Pop, more specifically a genre (I think!) called kawaii.

This prompted me to explore J-Pop, which I had never heard before and it struck me how similar the music sounded to this “new” wave of British producers. In my searching I stumbled across this article which highlighted the fact that there was an acknowledged connection between the producers and kawaii going so far as the producer’s labeling the genre of music that they were creating “cute” which is the rough English translation of kawaii. This connection echoes the renaming of Pokémon in America as mentioned in the lecture today, attempts at westernising the content. I feel as though there is more than just a simple translation from kawaii to cute as the primary reason that I was not too suspicious of the music was the fact that I could source more local inspirations for the music, as mentioned in the article. More investigation is needed but another primary aspect that may differentiate the music further from J-Pop is the fact that for the music with no lyrics, and even some with, there is no “drop” in the tracks, which leave you with an opportunity to enjoy them in any situation and accentuating the ambiguity in their creation.

A potential topic for further discussion that comes to mind is similar to that had by the YouTube clip we watched in the lecture discussing J-RPG’s, if the game is made by other people than in Japan is it still a J-RPG or is it simply a genre? On immediate reflection to me it seems as if this issue is different because those original J-RPG games seem to be the primary source of inspiration for the new wave of “J-RPG” games. This is in comparison to as discussed previously a music genre that initially seemed to simply derive from producers around them. The question then is however did the cross pollination of musical ideas happen at an earlier point for the transition to be so seamless?