I have always been both a visual and kinaesthetic learner, meaning I learn by either viewing the relationship between information through visuals, or through experience and learnt behaviour. While first learning and reading about autoethnography was able to build a starting point for my understanding of the concept, the weeks following its introduction and my reflection of past experience with similar texts is what really grounded my understanding of the term. Just as Ellis et al. (2011) proposed that autoethnography was qualitative research gathered through personal experiences, and so was my understanding of the concept itself.
During my first post I aimed to distance myself from prior experience with the Asian culture that may hinder my ability to create a fresh analysis of the content, although through (somewhat failing in…) doing so, I was able to uncover more than I thought. After my initial introduction to autoethnography in week 1, I began to realise how integrated it was in my day to day experiences with culture and how it has always played a part in my consumption of digital media especially in regard to Asian culture. Not only was I surprised at how often autoethnography played a role in my understanding of Asian culture through their media, but also how often I could draw similarities between other film and Anime I had experienced, to Ishiro Honda‘s Gojira.
In The Rhetorical Significance of Gojira, Stevens explored the significance of Gojira not only in the film industry but also as a piece of cultural and historical importance. Stevens argued that its too easy for an observer of the film to casually view it as another monster movie, something I myself was guilty of. Even after my first experience with Gojira I did not completely take it the messages being thrown at me, but looking back, every part of the film was laced with subtle hints and reminders of the horror that was Hiroshima. From the destructive power of Gojira himself as he stormed through the city leaving destruction in his wake, to the traces of radiation found in the water, a clear representation of the contaminated barren earth of the now dead city.
Destruction. Fear. Experimentation. All these aspects were explored throughout the film, and as I continued to view films both in class and outside I began to construct a perceived pattern and understanding in regards to the messages I was receiving.
I realised that Anime of the horror, sci-fi and dystopian genre greatly explored these concepts and often build their plotline around them, this itself greatly interested me as I always thought that anime seemed to follow some kind of formula, no I feel as I have just begun to truly scrape past the surface and understand what I was experiencing.
Like in Gojira, the role scientists play in destruction, and the guilt the people feel for bringing wrath upon themselves is explored, along with the fear of that which they do not understand leading them to often more harmful ends then good.
Akira. Drunk on power, fallen victim to psychotic breaks as a result of experimentation and driven to hurt his own kind by his need for vengeance.
Attack on titian. An apocalyptic world, where all nations have come together, all driven behind the walls, their last safe haven. The military bound to protect and defend, only to find those whom they have hated, killed, believed to be monsters where once humans, like they themselves are. For we are and always have been our own worst enemy.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. A dystopian era, humanity almost driven to extinction due to the horrifying creatures known as Kabane. Mumei and Ikoma two Kabaneri, half human half Kabene and the only beings strong enough to withstand the creatures, hunted, hated and feared by the people they strive to protect.
Widespread destruction. Contaminated grounds. The misadventures of science. All these films represented history in more ways than I had originally thought. The ‘monsters’ whether they be Gojila, Titians, or Kabane all seemed to represent the faults of humanity while the protagonist represented our hope, perseverance and ability to wright past wrongs and learn from our mistakes.
After my first viewing I had many questions in regards to the meaning behind Gojira. Was it a message about the horrors of war? Environmental destruction? Suffering and loss? Or science gone mad? But after reviewing my experience I feel this is one of those rare times where all of the above is the correct answer. I have been able to understand not only the messages relayed through their films following the tragic event but also the continuous reminders trickled down through the years.
- Dubs over subs. I feel the dubbed films have always hindered my understanding of the culture, and although they are interpreted for a western audience I could not let go the references that had been replaced (i.e. in the beginning of akira they referred to Jesus, when the Japanese culture has their own deeply rooted system of deities they worship).
- Always believe there is a hidden message, and if you cant see it its probably staring you in the face