A Trip Down Mythology Lane

Coming up with an idea for my individual autoethnographic study was a long and frustrating process. There were more ideas than I could make sense of and I may have strayed off the autoethnographic path more than once. So I decided to start from scratch.

Ellis (2011), describes Autoethnography as an approach to research that seeks to describe and systematically analyse one’s personal experience in order to understand a new cultural experience – therefore I needed to find common ground.

I decided to first look into my own culture. As a first generation Australian born Greek I have grown up in a hybrid of modern and traditional teachings, and have always had a strong fascination in regards to ancient history and more specifically mythology due to the strong role it plays in ancient Greek societies. As deities such as the well known Olympic gods are not exactly taught in any Greek household (as their worship is no longer practiced or reasonable not to mention are morally and humanely unacceptable – animal rights activists make it very hard to perform animal sacrifices these days) my first exposure to them was through films such as a childhood favourite of mine, Disney’s Hercules.

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After further education on ancient Greek mythologies during high school I realised that the way mythological figures and stories are portrayed in films, although informative and a great starting point, were very much romanticised. While films provide a demonstration of the deities powers, purpose and brief history it is far from what was perceived to be truth. This got me wondering how Asian mythology was portrayed and communicated through Asian film. Was it as romanticised as western mythology is? Were they portrayed through physical form? Were rituals and offerings explored?

Mythology (from the Greek word ‘mythos’ for story of the people, and ‘logos’ meaning word or speech – the spoken story of people) is the study and interpretation of sacred tales or legends of a culture known as ‘myths’ or the collection of stories, commonly dealing with the human condition, good and evil, origins, life and death, the afterlife, and the gods. Myths express the beliefs and values about these subjects held by a certain culture.
Through my past experience with Japanese films (mostly anime to be honest) I have a vague idea of some of the characters I will encounter although I am curious to further discover what they may represent in terms of their cultural significance.

I decided that to start off I would hunt down some Japanese films with Mythological and spiritual themes. These films included:

  • Mononoke
  • Fruits baskets
  • Spirited away
  • Hoozuki no reitetsu

The Encounter

Mononoke  – episode 1 & 2

Screen Shot 2016-09-20 at 2.20.45 PM.png

notes for Mononoke were taken using mind maps

  • Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 8.21.45 PM.pngThe style used in the animation is very traditional like, reminds me of origami paper
  • Styling also reminds me of feudal japan what with all the samurai, kimono, and traditional architecture
  • Genres of the anime states it’s a historical supernatural anime…by episode 2 it feels like a damn horror movie
  • 2 episodes and I still don’t know the not-merchants name
  • Ok what exactly is Mononoko is it a category of spirits? Do they have categories? Is it how there’s different kinds of ghosts like poltergeists?
  • I’ve seen them used in other shows but I’ve never really understood talismans what purpose do they serve?
  • The political plotline is an interesting twist (not as much as the cause of the spirits of course)
  • I can’t help but wonder if the whole kings sending assassins after concubines (coz pregnant) is true, wouldn’t be surprised but still.
  • Always a weapon of questionable origins…
  • Why is it that children’s laughter is always creepy?

Hoozuki no Reitetsu episode 1 & 2

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-8-39-46-pm

  • screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-2-46-14-pmuses traditional art elements
  • main characters sing the intro…I LOVE IT!
  • Really upbeat and happy even tho the intro clip keeps flipping between meetings, goldfish and torture
  • despite it being hell its rather colourful and energetic – kind of reminds me of a resort…a bipolar resort might me more accurate.
  • so hell runs as a government? And Hozuki (although others state he is the highest ranking demon-youkai) he considers himself the state secretary? Sure why not
  • Shangri-la, am I right to assume this is heaven? Asian version of heaven?
  • Asian version of heaven means Asian version of hell yes? Are they different from the biblical hell?
  • I find it hilarious to think that hell runs on a budget
  • Light hearted in comparison to the other text I watched
  • Flower goldfish? Please tell me this is an actual part of mythology
  • Different version/ levels of hell with the underworld?
  • Satan paying a visit to Japanese hell as a way for the European hell to invade and takeover – very subtle
  • Japanese hell is so efficient in the way they run their business its terrifying and heartless in comparison to western hell apparently

I will be viewing my chosen films through free online streaming site for my autoethnographic research, along with other means of online research, including research papers and vlogs to further understand the mythology and folklore. I believe that due to the nature of my project, text will be n important element more so than images, as such I will be presenting my projects as a visual report.  The use of epiphanies through the duration of this project will assist in developing the foundation of my research and contribute to my understanding of the significance of mythology in Japanese film.

 

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2 thoughts on “A Trip Down Mythology Lane

  1. Dan says:

    I loved that you took something that applied to your own historical culture and applied it to analysis of how you would react to the representation of asian mythos in the media. you have a clear theory and your methodologies seem well set. As i was reading, I was trying to find points where you could improve your autethnographic writing and the only thing i could find was that more time than I would have expected was spent analysing the actual media as opposed to how you experienced the shows. It’s a hard concept to write about but I think it could really push the piece to the next level. Keen to see what comes of the study 🙂

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