soju + shoujo

(soju = Korean alcohol, shoujo = Japanese anime)

To say that I’m a foreigner to Asian cultures would be the equivalent of saying that pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza (it does!), as I have Indonesian blood coursing through my veins. If asked where I’m from, it would be so simple to say that my sisters have skin the colour of our ancestors’ sand. But my premature exposure to the Australian culture has manufactured my cultural identity as a ‘whitewashed’ Asian female – yes, I am an Australian citizen but no, I don’t own an Australian birth certificate.

Watching my fellow co-auto-ethnographers burrow into profound analysations of a culture in relation to their own presented to me how cultures were scrutinised by outsiders. Those who admitted unfamiliarity toward Asian cultures may be the parallel adjacent of how the Australian culture was once incongruous to me. 

On the other hand, I’ve also been victim to a Korean culture that used to consume me. K-pop; K-drama. My first taste of alcohol was Soju, my first boy crush was Korean, my first knowledge of fashion was the Korean style, etc. That exchange to South Korea I went on last semester? That was a goal I made for myself at fourteen. 

I’ve even been to almost every country in Asia – Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hongkong, Macao, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea and of course, Indonesia.

Where in the world do I begin to research Asian culture?

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The Japanese culture is globalising and yet, the world is only slowly getting introduced to the concept of live action. My being an asian woman has allowed me to be aware of it’s existence but not stand too close that I’ve revealed all of it’s secrets just yet. The most popular Japanese entertainment reigns to be anime, and somehow, this has bewitched the world to subtly recognise the idea of anime when someone utter’s the word ‘Japan’.

Live action is a prevalent but also rather modern concept that contemporises traditional Japanese anime. It is the transformation of anime into reality, in the impression that the story is now portrayed by humans and real places, rather than cartoon drawings. 

Anime has numerous categories, including (but not limited to): Kodomo, Shonen, Shoujo, Josei and Harem. Shoujo’ is a category specified for young females that examines romantic and personal relationships and often, young love, with characteristics that are utopian in nature. The reveries that young women have of a perfect love; ‘love at first sight’ or ‘love will always be by your side’. Shoujo is notorious for middle or high school romances, often caused by fact that most Soujos are more lighthearted than their friends in other anime categories.

Thus, live actions that are recreated from shoujo animes are very complex yet adorable stories that still present romantic relationships but through more realistic cinematic elements – hitting closer to home.

The notion of physically recreating the plots that exist in shoujo anime provides viewers the approach of seeing what life is truly like in Japan, through the lens of a real world. To see that Japanese culture is both as perfect and imperfect as Western culture. My experience with live action has introduced to me to the (perhaps biased, yet) distinctive relationships between lovers, family and friends, in Japan.

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Ao Haru Ride (Blue Spring Ride) is a lightweight story about a middle-school student, Futaba Yoshioka, and her infatuation on a gentle boy, Kou Tanaka. However, he transferred schools and they ceased communication. When Yoshioka reaches her first year of high-school, she meets Kou Mabuchi – who explicitly resembles Tanaka despite possessing an unfamiliar demeanour.

Anime:

Live action:

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‘Orange’ is another Shoujo that declares friendship more important than romance. It unfolds on the story of a high school student, Naho Takamiya, who receives letters from herself, 10 years in the future. The letters depict that she will fall in love with a transfer student, Kakeru Naruse, who’s mother’s suicide circulates his depression that induces him to kill himself. Takamiya reads the letters and acts accordingly to change the future.

Anime:

Live action:

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Ao Haro Ride was released in 2014, and I can commemorate my fifteen year old self craving a relationship as soft and almost ‘flowery’ as Yoshioka and Tanaka’s. It was quite deviating to recall that I had also viewed Big Hero 6 at the exact same time – the two movies are so disparate and though Big Hero 6’s main protagonist and his family were Japanese, the movie was so whole fully western. Furthermore, the concept that the creator’s of Big Hero 6 immediately thought of having the Asian family be Japanese, rather than any other (Asian) race is quite fascinating in the idea that perhaps people continue to link animation to Japan.

‘Orange’ is, to date, one of my dearest animes as it really decomposed my initial perspective of my friends. The appearance of Takamiya and her friends receiving letters from their future selves in favour of protecting their precious friend and reminding him that he was loved, fashioned me to be more aware of the wellbeing of my friends. It stimulated a very emotional response from me when I realised that they wouldn’t have been further acquainted with Naruse had they never welcomed the letters.

Ironically, shoujo would be nice to watch with some soju.

Start bawling about failed love lives.

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References
Angel, J. (2015). What is Shoujo [Definition, Meaning]. [online] Honey’s Anime. Available at: https://honeysanime.com/what-is-shoujo-definition-meaning/ [Accessed 30 Aug. 2019].
Asianwiki.com. (2019). Orange (Japanese Movie). [online] Available at: http://asianwiki.com/Orange_(Japanese_Movie) [Accessed 29 Aug. 2019].
IMDb. (2019). Blue Spring Ride. [online] Available at: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3592708/ [Accessed 29 Aug. 2019].

SG; script

After finally deciding the plot of ‘Smoking Gun’, I was able to put together a script for the film.

In summary, the story consists of four friends who meet up at a bar and have a general conversation and things start to get tense when the friends point out each-other’s relationship predicaments. Although they are all friends, we then find out that two are victims to domestic abuse while the other two play a role as perpetrators of domestic abuse.

Rhett is in his early twenties and is having trouble finding a job, his girlfriend’s constant attack on his financial situation is not helping him at all. Rhett’s friend, Hussein is also victim to a similar abuse by his girlfriend, who psychologically controls him and stops him from doing what he wants. Hussein’s partner controls what he wears, what he does and whom he sees.

Then we have Raphael, who seems to have a high status and may be quite rich, who is viewed to be as sexually predatory. He demands sexual pleasure from his wife, and reminds her that women only exist to please men. Worse than this, he is also cheating on his wife with his secretary. We also have Mike, who is an alcoholic and is the person who brought everyone to drink at the bar, after his wife tells him to stop drinking and he beats her up out of anger.

what is smoking gun?

Smoking gun as an art piece around the theme of domestic abuse, confirmed.

But what exactly are we going to do, how are we going to approach the concept? Is it going to be a full context video, with storylines? Or just a clip of post domestic abuse? Silent and eerie at the same time?

We have both worked with multiple screen installations and have a variety of special qualities that we can both bring into the collaboration. So it will definitely be a product that is a multi-screen, and presents a coherent storyline about domestic abuse.

Matt and I mucked around with thrashing his place and decided to see if we could create something out of it. We got the influence from Night Owl.

Just experimenting.

JIAJYE YU YAN:

Thailand filmmaker, debuted as an actor in a Pepsi commercial but decided he was better behind the camera.

  • Has an unconventional narrative 
  • Immersive and hypnotic scenes

Night Owls. (2018)

  • Moody and sensual, short and simple video of people who stay awake at night. 
  • Only slight movement and static people.

MEES PEIJNENBURG:

Director based in Amsterdam.

  • Graduated from Netherlands Film academy (2013)
  • Creative and distinct visual style 

Heartbreak Thunder. (2019)

  • Emotional video that shows the vulnerability of a couple without showing directly who they are
  • Dehumans through text and telephone static
  • Long silence to show the emptiness felt after the end of a relationship.
  • “This film captures the vulnerable, daring, brave and electric thrill of all relationships.” – Mees.

We have experimented with various ideas of installation – to use a projector and screens, or have more screens? Below is a sketch of one of our ideas of presentation.

We will also be using a modern device, a raspberry pie, a small screen with a small computer:

After a little research was done and the place was a little bit cleaned, we decided to try another approach for the film.

We acted out as a perpetrator and a victim of physical abuse, however, it reached only as far as possibly… verbal abuse.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/18Hal0CnZdMvmI0q-z9J9HKCwRZq_fQGdEbvD-yW5Glg/edit?usp=sharing

References

International Center of Photography. (2019). Weegee. [online] Available at: https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/weegee?all/all/all/all/0 [Accessed 21 Aug. 2019].

Jiajieyu.com. (2019). ABOUT – Jiajie Yu. [online] Available at: https://jiajieyu.com/ABOUT [Accessed 20 Aug. 2019].

Nowness.com. (2019). LoveSick: Heartbreak Thunder. [online] Available at: https://www.nowness.com/series/lovesick/heartbreak-thunder-mees-peijnenburg [Accessed 21 Aug. 2019].

Peijnenburg, M. (2019). Available at: https://vimeo.com/352468575 [Accessed 21 Aug. 2019].

Yu, J. (2018). NIGHT OWLS. Available at: https://vimeo.com/255395626 [Accessed 20 Aug. 2019].

akira; past and future

Akira’s graphics and story content were very advanced for it’s time!

  1. They predicted that the Olympics would be in Tokyo in the year 2020 (see: link).
  2. The manga was over 2,000 pages long and the story board for the film was 738 pages, yet Otomo managed to condense it into a 2 hour film.
  3. 50 colours were made exclusively for the movie.

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Additionally, Kanye was a huge fan to the point he even added scenes to his music video, ‘Stronger,’ and argues that the topics addressed in the movie continues to be relevant to the world we live in today. (see: music video)

In Akira, there was many things that screamed out familiarity. I’d begin to think that some historical context had influenced Akira, but in truth, Akira also influenced future movies.

  • The street scenes in were evidently similar to Blade Runner, both were  set in 2019 – Blade Runner ‘featured Los Angeles as a sprawling neon-lit metropolis, (while) Akira’s neo-Tokyo is equally dystopian, with a corrupt corporation at the helm of power.’ [Mitra, 2019]
  • Stranger Things’ base storyline also follow government experimenting on children similar to Akira’s Tetsuo and the Espers.
  • Akira and the Matrix feature similar locations of a warfare destroyed city and  alongside children with telekinetic powers – Spoon Boy as an adjacent to Tetsuo.
  • “The strangest damned gang you ever heard of” – 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde 
  • “He rode the fast lane on the road to nowhere” – 1970’s Five Easy Pieces

If only they were able to afford to make it into a live action movie! How cool would that be? Even though in the 1990s, Sony considered it, they scratched off the idea when the budget was thought to reach $300 million.

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I stated that auto-ethnographical research has characteristics of both autobiography and ethnographydownload-1.png. Which meant that I, as an ethnographer, should look into my background while researching a culture to increase understanding of the culture for both insiders and outsiders.

To add on, Anderson (2006) claims that analytic auto-ethnography refers to work where the researcher is: a member of the research group; visible as a member in his/her texts; and commits to a research agenda that improves upon knowledge of bigger social phenomenons. He further argues that the auto-ethnographer should ’emerge not from detached discovery but from engaged dialogue.’ [Anderson, 2006. p. 382]

However, auto-ethnography loses it’s promise if it falls down a dark oblivion of self-absorption. [Anderson, 2006. p. 385]. Ellis et al. (2011) follows onto this by a reminder that ethical issues affiliated with friendship become an important part of the research process and product. From this and reading a fellow co-ethnographers blog post, I realised that our biggest influences on how we view culture is each other.

Thus, I became more involved in the live-tweeting and noticed how everyone was responding to the screenings. I revealed myself as a researcher and remained focused on sharing knowledge through communication.

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REFERENCES:
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1.
Anderson, L. (2006). Analytic Autoethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 35(4), pp.373-395.
Bonander, R. (2019). Akira. [online] AskMen. Available at: https://au.askmen.com/entertainment/special_feature_150/183b_special_feature.html
Lindwasser, A. (2019). Anime Classic ‘Akira’ Is Far More Influential Than You Think. [online] Ranker. Available at: https://www.ranker.com/list/all-the-things-influenced-by-akira/anna-lindwasser
Mittra, A. (2019). 10 Things Even Diehard Fans Don’t Know About Akira. [online] CBR. Available at: https://www.cbr.com/akira-facts-nobody-knows/

 

봉준호의 the host

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There’s always first times;

First time live tweeting and first time watching a Korean monster movie.

So, I’ll reveal why I was interested in this subject- I have just returned from South Korea for an exchange and thought I could compare what actually goes on in Asia and the Western reactions to the Asian culture. And boy, a semester wasn’t enough for me to see the movie with a Korean perspective- I was still looking at it with my whitewashed eyes. So it’s difficult to see if my ‘background/exposures’ effected how I responded to the movie – as I’m an Asian who grew up in a Western context but still knows a lot about the Asian culture. Which half is influencing my view of the movie? Maybe both?

I was very happy that the class wasn’t going to present the genre most connected to South Korea: Korean drama. So yes, even though I’ve experienced 5 years worth of Korean film, this was actually my first time watching a Korean monster movie. It had too much gore for the category of horror that I love even if Joon-ho claimed would only create movies that he would want to watch. Nonetheless, many aspects of it still made it enjoyable, such as the themes of family and anti-authority.

“It’s just – They are toxic chemicals, and the regulations state…”

“Pour them down the drain, Mr Kim.”

“If I pour them in the drain, they’ll run into the Han River.”

After seeing that the fish-mutant came out after someonestop throwing rubbish.png threw rubbish in the river, I realised that the movie also brought in themes of protecting the environment and retold of a past incident in 2000, when a US Forces Korea mortician’s staff dumped 120 liters of embalming fluid down a drain. And now, Korea’s got a new process to recycling (see: link).

I was very ecstatic when things that were happening in the movie reminded me of my time in South Korea:

  • A soju lid reminded me of Korean drinking games (see: link).
  • The father giving his daughter beer even though she was only in middle school made me remember that Korea’s issue with underage drinking (see: link).
  • The main character having blonde tips – a common trend (also I learnt that Joon-ho liked to have it so that the saviours in his movies were lazy and ordinary people rather than the usual scientist or important people).

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Thinking about auto ethnography, I approached Ellis et al. (2011) and they described auto-ethnographical research as characteristics of both autobiography (selectively writing about past experiences) and ethnography- they argue that the author doesn’t live through these experiences but rather they are ‘assembled using hindsight.’ [Ellis et al. 2011]

They claim that auto-ethnography differs in how much emphasis people place on studying others, their own interactions and analysing traditions in order to understand cultural experiences. 

So with the idea that every one of us was viewing the film differently, I realised that all our responses were distinct.

Even as I began figuring out what live-tweeting meant, I was super fascinated by what tweets everyone were coming up with. there would be instances when someone brings up something unique that they’ve experienced (from reading SEO as an acronym, to not liking English conversation in foreign movies, and how many people hadn’t known about the Korean culture but knew about KBBQ), and instances when people would tweet very similar things at close intervals of time.

It’s actually difficult to try to enjoy the movie whilst also: reading the subtitles AND live-tweeting.

Here goes nothing.

Hashtag #bcm320.

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REFERENCES:
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P, 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 12, No. 1