Pt. 2 – Understanding my role and preconceptions
As I write this, I find myself still striving to truly understanding the process of autoethnography. As Wall (2008, pg.39) states “autoethnography offers a way of giving voice to personal experience to advance sociological understanding”, which is why it is so fundamental to my research of the 2015 anthology anime series “Death Parade”. Attempting to form a personal narrative out of my experiences of watching the show is proving much harder than expected. Pritchard (2017, pg 108) explains that the positioning of the author’s relation to the research is crucial in gaining the trust of the reader. So, with this in mind, the purpose of this post will be to determine my role and my preconceptions prior to watching “Death Parade”.
Who am I?
Wall (2008, pg. 39) remarks that autoethnography begins with a personal narrative. In my narrative, I am a 21 year-old French male, who has spent most of his life in English-speaking countries. Prior to “Death Parade”, my only encounters with anime were through the consumption of various Studio Ghibli films, which gained mainstream attention. Although I have has had encounters with individuals who are rooted in the anime culture, I was relatively unfamiliar with the anime culture. My research is my attempt to rectify that and to gain an insight into the world of anime.
Part of the challenge that comes with authoethnographic research, is the way one represents themselves and others. It’s therefore crucial that my preconceptions of the anime culture is written in a way that doesn’t appear as dismissive or ignorant and that I thoroughly analyse my own preconceptions, rather than fall into the trap of being overly-subjective.
My first encounter with anime culture occurred when I was around 6, when Pokemon trading cards were absolutely dominating youth culture. I was living in London at the time, and never fully understood the concept. Having thought about this led me to an epiphany:
My experience with Pokemon partly shaped my preconceived idea that the anime genre was tailored specifically for kids.
This conception simply stems from the fact that I had not been exposed to the adult-oriented anime programmes or films such as ‘Ghost in the Shell’ or ‘Akira’ and furthermore I was much too young to fully comprehend the more sophisticated ideas or themes that can sometimes be explored in children-orientated anime programmes.
Years later, when I was around 18 or 19, a friend of mine told me about an anime that he was watching, that had apparently taken the anime world by storm, called ‘Death Note’. When he described the plot to me, I was taken aback by its incredibly dark and rather strange concept. Of course, it is entirely possible that my cultural upbringing was the reason for such a reaction.
Yet, this led me to another presumption about anime: anything could happen. With that in mind, I’m now off to binge-watch a season of “Death Parade”.
Until next time…
Pritchard, J 2017, ‘A Journey to the Centre of Self: Positioning the Researcher in Autoethnography’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 108-127.
Wall, S 2008, ‘Easier Said than Done: Writing an Autoethnography’, International Journal of Qualitative Methods, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 38-53.