DA- Max Watches Anime!

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.

Preconceptions

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…

References

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.

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DA- Max Watches Anime! A Blog Series

Pt.1- Introduction (Picking an Anime Series)

For a longtime, in my early days of uni, I was determined to introduce myself to the phenomenon that is anime. Is that okay to say? Phenomenon? Anyway, the problem was I had NO IDEA where to start. Instead of doing further research, I just veered into J-Horror instead (which is fantastic by the way!) Now, a few years have passed, and I have the chance to explore the anime sensation and I get to claim it’s for research (which it is)! But again, the question was: where do I start?

 

Me, browsing the different genres of anime

So I did what anyone would do these days: go to reddit. It was then I realized I was truly spoilt for choice and that maybe reddit may not be the right way to approach this. I finally decided to just pick the anime that looks the most interesting. Which is what I should really have done from the start. The anime, that I have chosen, is the 2015 anthology series “Death Parade”.

Image result for where do i start gif

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, for my digital artifact, I will be writing a series of blog posts that will act as an autoethnographic account of my experience watching “Death Parade”.  By experience, I am not only talking about the act of watching the show, but also my preconceptions of what the show would be and also my interpretation of the show after watching it.

I very much look forward to  delving into my autoethnographic research and also becoming  more familiar with anime. I must leave you now, dear reader, as I embark on my first anime binge.

 

AUTOETHNOGRAPHY: WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

When I first came across the term “autoethnography” I had initially dismissed it as another tedious, research-related term which I would struggle to comprehend and eventually get frustrated by. However, mid-way through reading “Autoethnography: An Overview” (Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011), I had the realisation that the term referred to the method of using personal experiences as a means to subjectively comprehend cultural experiences (Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011, pg.1), with subjectively being the key word. Because, as the article points out, “autoethnography is one of the approaches that acknowledges and accommodates subjectivity, emotionality, and the researcher’s influence on research” (Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011, pg.4).

 

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When I started to think about this form of research, it occurred to me that I have been an autoethnographer since I started university, although for most of the time unknowingly. Through my blog, I have been using personal experiences to gain an understanding of cultural experience. With a huge interest in film, I realized that film-makers too (especially documentarians) are autoethnographers. They reshape their own personal  and cultural experiences and use it to create a narrative which goes on to share a film-maker’s experience. 

With this in mind, I am now beginning to think about how I will use auto ethnography to gain a further understanding on Asian horror films, particularly ‘J-Horror’. As someone who is a massive fan of the 1998 classic “Ringu”, I am incredibly excited to use J-Horror as the basis for my autoethnographic research. In the coming weeks, I will hopefully zone in on the specifics of the research process and through what medium I will present it.

RINGU

Until then…

References:

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol.12, no.1, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095>

‘GOJIRA’: Reaction + Thoughts

Those people who know me well, will (rightly) tell you that I am a massive film geek. So when I found out that we would be watching the 1954 allegorical B-movie ‘Gojira’, I was naturally thrilled. As the film started, I began to think about the differences between the Japanese film industry and the Hollywood film industry.

godjira

As I said in one of my tweets posted during the screening, NO-ONE makes genre films quite like the Japanese. Unlike many (there are exceptions) Hollywood blockbusters, Japanese blockbusters always seem to try to incorporate some  form of social, religious or political context. With this in mind, it was fascinating to watch the way that ‘Gojira’ uses genre (in this case b-grade sci-fi) in order to make a bold allegorical critique of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WW2. Contrastingly, if you look at the 2013 remake ‘Godzilla’ (which I actually kinda liked) you’ll notice that it has none of the original’s political undertones, but is more interested in establishing Godzilla as a major player in the new MonsterVerse (as is now the trend).

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Having said this, it doesn’t mean that all Japanese films are as smart as ‘Gojira’ and that all Hollywood blockbusters are simply disposable pieces of entertainment that exist solely for financial reasons. It just occurred to me, as I watched ‘Gojira’, that very few American film-makers would be make such a ballsy, political blockbuster.

Another difference between the two film industries, which I briefly discussed with my tutor after the screening, is the perception of their audience. By making such a allegorical film, the director of ‘Gojira’, Ishiro Honda, clearly perceives the audience to be clever enough to understand the ideas and messages that the film is trying to convey. Hollywood, however, often believe that a blockbuster has to be ‘dumbed down’, in order to satisfy audiences and are often very reluctant to finance big-budget films with complicated narratives or concepts (although this trend is starting to die down, thankfully).

In the end,  the screening of the 1954 ‘Gojira’ was an eye opening experience which led to a deeper understanding of the way the Japanese film industry works and the differences between them and Hollywood.

Until next time…

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