ASSIGNMENT 2: Fanfiction + Commentary

Part One: FanFiction

Based on Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

Chapter One  

Branches snap and leaves rustle as a shadow frantically stumbles through a thick maze of dark green and grey hues. The figure abruptly comes to a halt behind the trunk of a large tree. A Shohki mask is revealed. The wearer tries to calm their breathing. A faint buzzing sound can be heard in the distance. 

SNAP! 

Two more shadows bound through the immense forest in unison. They descend upon the Shohki mask wearer. They tower over him and reveal an adolescent boy with familiar brown eyes. 

“You won’t be young and fit forever,” says one of the figures in an authoritative tone.

“You need to think further ahead,” the other adds. 

The buzzing sound is dramatically increasing. All three of them turn their heads towards the sound. They look back at each other.

The first shadow addresses the boy once more, “Remember, staying alive is the most important thing.” 

Both shadow figures leap backwards and blend into the backdrop of the forest. The boy lets out a sigh before following suit.

The three of them reconvene on the desert dunes just outside the edge of the forest. They are greeted by a duo of hitched up horseclaws. The boy is hunched over panting as he unclips his mask. 

Both figures remove their masks as well. Behind one mask is a friendly looking man sporting a bushy grey moustache. Behind the other is a woman with a very warm and pearly smile. They look over at the exhausted boy and exchange a laugh with each other.

“Come on now, no time to rest. We need to put more distance between us and the toxic jungle before nightfall” says the man from behind his large moustache.

The trio pack items into the horseclaw saddles before mounting them and departing. The boy rides in tandem with the woman, while the man’s horseclaw is stockpiled with more supplies and resources. They are heading towards a set of vast mountains just ahead in the distance.

Time passes by as they journey up the mountain trail and the sun begins to set.

Later on that night, the troupe have set up camp at cave entrance some distance up the mountain. There is a small campfire burning with all three members gathered around. The man is sharpening a sword, while the other two gaze up into the starry night sky. The woman turns to speak to the boy.

“You know we still have faith in Dorok,” confided the woman.

“What do you mean?” the boy asks curiously.

“Well we all grew up there, even you did for a little while,” explains the woman.

“So why did we leave then?” the boys questions.

“To find more answers,” responds the woman.

“Answers to what exactly?” ponders the boy.

“Life,” answers the woman.

“Life?” the boys replies, puzzled by her answer.

“Yeah, life… because we all want to live right?”

“Yes,” agreed the boy.

“In peace and harmony, and without war?” the woman continued.

“Sure,” nodded the boy.

“So, if we all want the same thing, why are we still fighting each other?” asked the woman.

SHINKT! 

The man strikes his sword loudly as he sharpens it, interrupting the conversation. The two look over at the man.

“Staying alive is the most important thing. As long as we are alive, we have all the answers we need,” he interjects.

The woman sighs but smiles at the man before turning to the boy. 

She leaned in closer and whispered, “That’s why we teach you these things. So, one day you can live long enough to see a better world than this one.” 

“Time to get some rest. We leave at daybreak,” ordered the man.

The woman put the fire out and the troupe retreat inside the cave entrance to sleep for the night.

SQUUUAAAWK! 

A sudden screech from one of the horseclaws wakes the boy. The muffled sound of a struggle can be heard just outside the cave entrance. 

“SWORD!” bellows the man.

The boy looks around confused. The woman grabs the man’s sword and tosses it to him as he breaks free from a tussle. He partly unsheathes his sword. A bunch of worms scatter away as the masked man draws his sword completely. He’s a worm-handler. 

“Just give us whatever you have in the horseclaw packs,” demands the worm-handler. “No one needs to get hurt”.

The man’s eyes stay fixated on the worm-handler poised to strike despite his sword only being half drawn. 

“It’s not worth it, just let him have it,” advises the woman.

The man glances at the woman briefly. Then, with one swift movement he disarms the worm-handler and knocks him to the ground. The man stands over the worm-handler with his foot pressed on his chest and sword against his throat. Everyone is silent.

THUD! 

The woman drops the horseclaw pack on the ground, narrowly missing the worm-handler’s head. The worm-handler squirms. The man grins.

“You’re right, Leo, it’s time to get going,” the man calmly remarks towards the woman.

The man sheathes his sword and helps the worm-handler to his feet. He gathers the horseclaw pack from the ground and as he shoves it into the worm-handler’s arms he recognises a marking on the worm-handler’s worm canister. He inspects it further. It was just as he had suspected.

“Hey, you tell Zirene; Lupen sends his regards,” declares the man as he stares directly into the worm-handler’s mask.

The worm-handler nods and scurries away with the pack. The boy is still sitting there stunned by the whole interaction. Leo looks over to the boy.

“Come on, Yupa, dear. Quickly pack up your things. It’s time to go,” says Leo with warm affection.

Yupa nods and gathers his things. The trio set off again on horseclaw, scaling up the mountain as daylight begins to break. 

As they rode off towards the sun Yupa whispers to Leo, “why did you just hand over our stuff?”

“Because we’re all just trying to survive out here. They must have needed it more than us right now,” Leo replies diplomatically. “There was probably more of them just around the corner,” she says as she peered over her shoulder, smiling at Yupa, “Don’t worry, we’ll get it back when we need it.”

Yupa sat there pondering about the whole situation. He was beginning to understand what Lupen means when he says staying alive in the most important thing. The troupe continue up the mountain and disappeared beyond a ridge.

Part Two: Commentary

My piece of fanfiction is an extension of the narrative and fictional universe of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984). It is the first chapter, set some thirty years before the events of the anime film and mostly follows the journey of a young Yupa and his life prior to becoming a renowned swordsman. Beyond the first chapter as the main story progresses it diversifies into other characters’ stories from other cities like Dorok and fringe groups like the worm-handlers. They all contribute to understanding the rich context of the world prior to the events of the anime. 

I chose to apply the “Collective Journey Structure” by Gomez (2017) to my fanfiction as I felt it was a better way of exploring some of the themes of the anime as it has “less to do with right and wrong, or good and evil, and more to do with infinite diversity and infinite combinations.” (Gomez, 2017). There is also more creative freedom to use the various elements at different times as opposed to the traditional mythic structure. I will reference a few of the elements I used in my fanfiction below.

One of the elements of the collective journey I incorporated was the ENDLESS UNIVERSE. This characteristic involves the idea that there is a greater story narrative currently in motion, than just what is currently presented in the plot. My fanfiction chapter is really just about survival. Whether it be from the toxic forest or from rogue scavengers like the worm-handlers, staying alive is central to this part of the story. However, the larger narrative alluded to by the character of Leo is trying to find “peace and harmony” for all. Which, Lupen pragmatically thinks is less important than staying alive. The ENDLESS UNIVERSE concept also refers to the greater theme of nature versus mankind, which is central to the Nausicaa anime and underpins my entire fanfiction.

This leads into my next aspect of PATHS WILL CROSS. This element is the idea that in large collective journey narratives, characters will cross paths and intersect at various stages. Although it doesn’t explicitly happen in the first chapter, it sets the scene for these to occur in the future. We see this when Lupen tells the worm-handler to send his regards to a character by the name of “Zirene” implying Lupen has a history with worm-handlers and will cross paths with them again. In this passage, there is also another aspect in play, SIGNS AND IMAGES. Here iconography and symbols help a story’s progression. When Lupen notices the familiar marking on the worm-handler’s canisters, he is further encouraged to release the worm-handler unscathed.

The altercation with the worm-handler is also an example of MULTIPLE SOLUTIONS. This is where there are multiple ways to resolve conflict. At the chapter’s end, Yuba thinks he is beginning to understand what Lupen means when he says staying alive is the most important thing. During the worm-handler altercation it appears that Lupen may justly execute the worm-handler as a means of securing their livelihood and keeping them alive. However, with influence from Leo, Lupen decides to leave the worm-handler alive and even send him off with the goods he was trying to steal. Although, the worm-handler is in the wrong, he still ends up getting what he wants, which confuses Yuba. Leo explains there could have been more of them and that they’ll get the things back when they need them. Yuba then begins to understand that although their actions didn’t make sense to him at first, it was really still done for their own survival. 

References:

Gomez, J. (2017). The hero’s journey is no longer serving us [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBBm0we4sAU&list=LL7iRRnJ6uCdXi5MnORJYobA&index=7&t=0s

Miyazaki, H. (Director). (1984). Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind [Motion picture]. Japan: Topcraft.

Week Twelve: Reality TV

What effects do you think that reality television has on society when programmes such as the Jeremy Kyle Show are labelled as ‘tabloid trash’ and docu-soaps such as Benefits Street are called ‘poverty porn’?

The effects of reality television (RTV) on society can be identified through RTV shows such as The Jeremy Kyle Show (2005-2019) and Benefits Street (2014-2015). While RTV has allowed ‘ordinary’ people to appear on screens, it has also come at a price. The voyeuristic appeal of RTV allows viewers to see into the lives of others and pass judgement without ever having to interact with them personally. This allows the people RTV to become representative of all those in similar situations, which is concerning if the portrayal is largely negative. This can be seen by the audience reaction to the ‘poverty porn’ labelled Benefits Street.  Slade, Narro, and Buchanan (2014) acknowledge “society is nosey” in relation to RTV, but to the extent that we allow vulnerable members to be readily presented and further ostracised on national television. This is why exploitation is a constant concern in reality to RTV. This is especially common in shows like The Jeremy Kyle Show which rely heavily on participants being “feckless” and “incontinent” for popularity (Blitvich 2013). RTV can also be seen as accentuating division in society by focussing on right and wrong as opposed to the issue itself.    

Benefits Street is a prime example of a docu-soap RTV show referred to as ‘poverty porn’. The term ‘poverty porn’ is  “understood by the public as ‘reality TV programmes’ that document the daily lives of the unemployed urban poor living on housing estates” (Dahlgreen 2013, as cited in, Lamb 2016). Here the use of the word porn is not to do with anything sexual. It is about viewers being able to distance themselves those on-screen as well as their predicaments but are still consume it as entertainment. This raises concerns over exploitation, especially to already vulnerable members of society. 

It has been argued that a show like Benefits Street was produced as a social awareness device, bringing voiceless or underrepresented people into the mainstream. However, it has received more criticism as a ratings (and profit) motivated enterprise rather than social. This is why the term ‘poverty porn’ has been applied. Lamb (2016) discusses the focus Benefits Street puts on the individual and their daily decision making, while largely ignoring the context that put them there in the first place. This creates what Lamb (2016) calls a ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor binary. The families on Benefits Street are often framed as lazy and irresponsible perpetuating the negative stereotype of those on the benefit. The issue here is that they limit addressing the wider social implications that have created this situation, and instead find and use outrageous characters and personalities to draw in viewers. This does little to bring awareness to wider social implications of state of welfare in Britain, but instead uses beneficiaries as a marketing tool instead. This is why using the ‘poverty porn’ label is quite an accurate depiction as it is simplistic entertainment which fails to address the wider social context of those on welfare while using them to get ratings.

The Jeremy Kyle Show was one of the most popular RTV talk shows on national television and ran for sixteen seasons. The success of the show is undeniable, however, the methods used to garner such popularity are more questionable, leading to it gaining a ‘tabloid trash’ label. Cadwalladr (2008 as cited in Blitvich, 2013) summed up the show from the position that it is “a morbid and depressing display of dysfunctional people whose lives are in turmoil … a form of bear baiting which goes under the guise of entertainment.” (p. 267). The shows reliance on finding extreme or over-dramatic personalities, definitely questions the shows morals, but so does the facilitation of the show. Jeremy, the shows host often employs techniques of spectacular confrontation to draw out drama as well as using lie-detector and DNA tests to create a scenario of truth or lie, right or wrong to which he is an authority on the matter (Blitvich, 2013). This transfers into society by supporting that idea that there is only right and wrong. This removes the opportunity for discussions that lead to more understanding and constructive resolutions. Simplifying a problem down to who was right or wrong doesn’t even guarantee the matter is resolved. This is the issue with shows like The Jeremy Kyle Show being labeled as ‘tabloid trash’. It draws influences audiences and society to pay more attention to who is right and who is wrong, rather than addressing the root of the problem.

References:

Blitvich, P. G. (2013). Real talk : Reality television and discourse analysis in action. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Lamb, B. (2016). Cathy Come Off Benefits: A comparative ideological analysis of Cathy Come Home and Benefits Street. Journalism and Discourse Studies, (2).

Slade, A. F., Narro, A. J., & Buchanan, B. P. (Eds.). (2014). Reality television : Oddities of culture. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Week Eleven: Reality TV

In what ways has the genre of  reality television been lost through the hybridisation and diversification of programmes?

In order to analyse the ways the genre of Reality TV (RTV) has been lost due to hybridisation and diversification, we must first look at it how it began and how it was originally defined. 

RTV’s inception was largely influenced by the documentary genre of film. The term documentary was coined and defined by John Grier in 1926, as “the creative treatment of actuality”. As a genre attempting to portray itself as authentically ‘real’, RTV creators have borrowed various techniques from documentary in order to strengthen the ‘real-ness’ of their shows. This includes elements such as hand-held cameras, interviews or confessions and voice-over narration. Although being heavily influenced stylistically by documentary, the RTV genre has been defined as genre that “gets its name not for being true to everyday conditions, but for the fact that it uses real people, albeit in exceptional situations, and focuses on their personalities and individual dramas” (Kavka, 2012, p. 233). From this definition we can understand RTV as a genre that incorporates real people as the fundamental element. However, as more and more types of RTV have been created over the years through hybridisation and  diversification, the genre has become somewhat lost in amongst the staggering variety of RTV programmes that currently exist.

RTV shows are perpetually being created and recreated all the time. Hill (2005) sums this up by stating, “The development of reality programming is an example of how television cannibalises itself in order to survive, drawing upon existing genres to create successful hybrid programmes, which in turn generate a new television genre” (p. 23-24). This can be exemplified in an RTV show like Survivor (2005), which is a mixture of tabloid journalism, game show/talk show, soap operas, sports tv, documentary as well as leisure and instructional programming. From the perspective of Hill (2005) we can identify RTV as a permanently changing genre underpinned by its hybridisation of other genres. By combining so many elements from other genres, it makes it difficult to accurately define RTV as a genre on its own. As a result it is more easily described as a fluid variant of many other genres, rather than an outright genre.

The diversification of RTV has also impacted the ability to understand it as its own genre. Kavka (2012) expresses the idea that there are so many types of RTV, that a “generic haziness” has been created. The issue here is that while all these shows fall under the category of RTV, the shows themselves can vary wildly in terms of the subject matter, how they are produced, who the audience is and so on. Evidently, subgenres are created that more accurately define an RTV show, but the constant widening of the RTV umbrella has diluted its definition as a genre. Types of RTV include doco-soaps, game shows, hidden camera, talk shows, emergency services, cooking, medical, makeover and the list is always growing. Examples that demonstrate the broadness of RTV, even just in New Zealand include, Gone Fishin’, First Dates NZ, Police 10-7, Celebrity Treasure Island, My Kitchen Rules and Grand Designs NZ. Lorenzo-Dus and Blitvich (2013) sum up the rampantly growing nature of RTV genre by stating “It started out as a genre, but it has certainly evolved into a discourse” (p. 11).

The hybridisation and diversification of RTV programming has played a definitive role in the genre’s rapid expansion. At the same time they have also made it difficult to settle on the definition of RTV as a genre, as new subgenres are constantly being created. Subsequently RTV as an overarching genre has lost meaning as subgenres and newer variations provide more accurate representations of RTV programming.     

References:

Hill, A. (2005). Reality TV: Audiences and Popular Factual Television. London: Routledge.

Kavka, M. (2012). Reality TV. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University

Press.Lorenzo-Dus, N & Blitvich, P. (2013). Real Talk – Reality television and Discourse Analysis in Action. Basingstoke, UK:  Palgrave Macmillan.

Week Ten: Alternate history & Sci-Fi doubles

How does Mountfort (2018) argue that the technological doppelganger differs from its Romantic precursors?

Traditionally, the use of doppelgangers and doubles  was often associated with fairy tales, myths and gothic literature (literary devices, n.d.). However, their frequency in recent science fiction texts highlights the societal shift in our beliefs. We tend to favour science and technology as a credible source of doppelganger creation over a supernatural occurrence. Mountfort (2018) supports this claim as he states, “contemporary science fiction television (SFTV) is riddled with doppelgangers that function as harbingers of rampant technological change” (p. 60). As a result of our attitude towards the ‘technological’ doppelgangers, there has been an increase in their visibility within the SFTV world. However, the reconfiguring of elements from the ‘romantic’ into updated categories, means they are still relevant today. The ‘romantic’, the ‘technological’ and how they relate will be discussed below.     

The ‘romantic’ doppelganger is the traditional, supernatural occurrence of doppelgangers. This version of doppelganger has declined in textual popularity as society has tended to believe less in the supernatural. However, Marcus (2013, as cited in Mountfort, 2018) argues that elements of the ‘romantic’  have persisted into modern variations doppelgangers. He continues by saying that they stem from basic categories of human thought and science including identity, similarity, difference and opposition (Marcus, 2013 as cited in Mountford, 2018, p. 60). Marcus’ five modern doppelganger categories are:

Coincidental double – A rejection of the “natural and supernatural” occurrence. Instead it is the result of a “very implausible coincidence” with a lack of “causal connection”.

Pseudo-double -The “protagonist believes that he has a double” but all other relevant textual information contradicts this belief.

Biological double – Such as twin or half-sibling, and makes “the natural explanation of the external similarity between them seem plausible”

Empathetic double – Where an “emotional affinity and similar experiences” create the double.

Useful double – The “original” desires a “double or doubles in order to take control of his life.”

Alternatively, and more prevalent in modern media is the ‘technological’ doppelganger. This version uses science and technology as the fundamental basis for a doppelganger. The concepts and scenarios in which these doppelgangers are created can be broken down into the following: quantum doubles, synchronic doubles, synthetic doubles and genetic doubles.

Quantum double

This uses quantum mechanics and theory to propose the idea of parallel universes. As a result, when an alternate version of a character crosses into a parallel universe, a doppelganger is created. This concept is popularised by shows like Fringe (2008-2013).

Synchronic (time travel) double

In this doppelganger variant is created as a result of theorising time as a continuum. If time travel is possible, a person traveling forward and backward in time would create a copy, or doppelganger if they travel to a time where they already exist. This type of doppelganger features in shows like Misfits (2009-2013).

Synthetic (robotic) double

This doppelganger is the result of advances in technology. Robotic doubles are synthesized in society with artificial intelligence and are essentially clones of the original. This type of doppelganger is at the core of the Swedish series, Real Humans (2012-2014) as well as the English-language remake Humans (2015-2018).

Genetic double

This version of doppelganger also involves the creation of doubles. In this instance, genes are harvested and/or manipulated in order to create copies of an original. The series Orphan Black (2013-2017) uses this version of doppelganger as one of its fundamental elements. 

Marcus’ (2013 as cited in Mountford, 2018) reconfiguring of elements from the ‘romantic’ in to updated categories, make them relevant to and applicable to the aforementioned ‘technological’ doppelgangers. For example, quantum doubles can also be categorised as coincidental doubles, as they exist without a causal connection. Additionally, synthetic doubles could also be considered useful doubles as they are created as copy to fulfil a purpose for the original. However, the ‘technological’ doppelgangers still have more relevance to contemporary SFTV as categories like synchronic doubles, which could almost be considered a coincidental double is accurately summed up by term. 

References:

Abrams, J. J., Kurtzman, A., & Orci, R. (Producers). (2008). Fringe [Television series]. Ontario, Canada: Fox.

Baron, S., & Widman, H. (Producers). (2012). Real Humans [Television series]. Sweden: Sveriges Television.

Crowe, K., Strevens, M., & Pitt, N. (Producers). (2009). Misfits [Television series]. London, UK: E4.

Fawcett, J. (Director). (2013). Orphan Black [Television series]. Toronto, Canada: Space.

Fry, C. (Producer). (2015). Humans [Television series]. London, UK: Channel 4.

Literary Devices. (n.d.). Doppelganger. Retrieved October 23, 2019 from https://literarydevices.net/doppelganger/

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelgänger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture, 1(1), 59-75. doi:10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1

Week Nine: Cosplay

What different kinds of cosplay type (that is, by genre or genera, rather than just specific sources) does Mountfort (2019) identify in the Armageddon photo-essay?

Cosplay is defined as a performance medium that “conscripts and subverts existing media materials, both inherently and in some very particular ways, such as mashups and other forms of parody” (Mountfort, Peirson-Smith & Geczy, 2019, p. 47). This definition represents the complexities and layers of cosplay better  than simplifying the term to a combination of the words “costume” and “play” (Winge, 2006 as cited in Winge, 2018). In the Armageddon photo-essay (Mountfort et al., 2019) various cosplay types are identified  that help develop the meaning and understanding of cosplay. Five of these will be identified and discussed below.

Cosplay as a traditional character

This is the most recognisable type of cosplay as cosplayers try to replicate a source media’s character as accurately as possible. Cosplayers are judged on not only how closely they look like the character they are portraying but also on how well perform or act as that character. This cosplay type is more common when referencing long-running movie or anime series where characters maintain the same look across multiple movies or seasons (Mountfort et al., 2019). Example: Naruto, the titular character from the anime Naruto (2002-2007) and Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Carribean series (2003-).

Example: Naruto, the titular character from the anime Naruto (2002) and Jack Sparrow, main character from the Pirates of the Carribean series (2003-).

Naruto cosplay at Armageddon Expo, 2013
Jack Sparrow cosplay at Armageddon Expo, 2016

Cosplay as a specific iteration

This cosplay type draws inspiration from a specific version or iteration of a character. This is most common after a movie or other media release, where the most recent iteration of a character will experience heightened visibility and popularity because it is new (Mountfort et al., 2019). Source material is always up for interpretation, particularly in large franchises with long histories such as Marvel and DC. Therefore, rather than having only one standard character version, various iterations allow cosplayers to choose one that resonates more with them and their preferences. Example: Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight (2008).

Health Ledger as the Joker,
from The Dark Knight (2008)
Heath Ledger’s Joker, Armageddon, 2012


Cosplay as a crossover or mashup

Crossover cosplay involves adapting a character of a different gender to your own, while mashups combine different characters and/or universes to create new ones. According to Mountfort et al., (2019) this cosplay type is “more common at larger cons with more established player communities who have the confidence to push cosplaying boundaries.” (p. 95). This is because recognisability is a big part of cosplaying. However, this type of cosplay permits users to incorporate their own creativity while still paying homage to the source media. Example: San crossover, from Princess Mononoke (1997).

Crossover cosplay of San from Princess Mononoke, Armgeddon 2016
San from Princess Mononoke

Cosplay as a generic type or style

Some cosplayers choose to use a generic character type or fashion style rather than an already defined character. Common Western character types include vampires, zombies and other genera of the undead, while styles can include Lolita or steampunk fashion. Mountfort et al., 2019, p. 95). This type of cosplay is also characterised as a lifestyle rather than just fashion as it is just as concerned about creating an authentic persona as well as looking the part. Examples: 

Steampunk Cosplayer (right), Armageddon 2013

Cosplay as a meme

Memes are now commonly identified as forms of viral media circulated throughout the internet (Stegner, 2018). However, it is not as common as some of the other forms of cosplay as it is still “hard to identify for those not in on the joke” and as a result do not tend to last long in the cosplay sphere (Mountfort et al., 2019, p. 106). Cosplaying as a meme relies heavily on the recency and virality of the meme to be effective in terms of recognisability and even humour. However, the simplicity of memes often make them cost-efficient to make or buy, allowing them to retain some popularity and impact in the cosplay world. Example: “Horse head” masks.

“Horse mask” meme, Armageddon, 2014

References:

Date, H. (Director). (2002-2007). Naruto [Television series]. Tokyo, Japan: TV Tokyo.

Marshall, R. (Director). (2011). Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides [Motion picture]. Burbank: Walt Disney Studios.

Miyazaki, H. (Director). (1997). Princess Mononoke [Motion picture]. Japan: Studio Ghibli.

Mountfort, P., Peirson-Smith, A., & Geczy, A. (2018). Planet Cosplay: Costume Play, Identity and Global Fandom. Intellect Books.

Mountfort, P., Peirson-Smith, A. & Geczy, A. (2019). Cosplay at Armageddon Expo. Retrieved from: https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4925188-dt-content-rid-10439194_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Mountfort%202019_Cosplay%20at%20Armageddon%20Expo.pdf

Nolan, C. (Director). (2008). The Dark Knight [Motion picture]. New York: Warner Brothers.

Stegner, B. (2019). What is a Meme? 10 Meme Examples. Retrieved from https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/what-is-a-meme-examples/

Verbinski, G. (Director). (2003). Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl [Motion picture]. Burbank: Walt Disney Studios.

Verbinski, G. (Director). (2006). Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest [Motion picture]. Burbank: Walt Disney Studios.

Verbinski, G. (Director). (2007). Pirates of the Caribbean: At the World’s End [Motion picture]. Burnbank: Walt Disney Studios.Winge, T. (2018).Costuming Cosplay: Dressing the Imagination[DX Reader Version]. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/aut/reader.action?docID=5557324

WEEK 8: ANIME

Looking at both Napier and Cavallaro (2006), discuss how these critics suggest anime is culturally ‘located’ – i.e., in the East or West, or somewhere else?

According to Napier (2005) anime is more accepted and valued as an authentic cultural product in Japan than opposed to the West. This is because the West traditionally categorise all animated content as ‘cartoons’ and targeted at child audiences. The West’s unwillingness to consider anime as a serious medium devalues its position in Japanese culture. In Japan anime plays on television at all times of the day, with different genres and themes suited to different audiences. Napier (2005) states that anime is not just for kids in Japan, and that many animators such as Hayao Miyazaki create films with themes that resonate across generations. Miyazaki films such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) and Princess Mononoke (1997) express concern for the environment, showcasing the destructive impact humans can cause. The importance of looking after the environment is a theme relevant to all human beings, regardless of age. In the West, as cartoons are viewed as child media, the themes of Western cartoons are often not as deep or complex. From this perspective, anime can be placed culturally in the East, as it is not fully understood and therefore under-appreciated by Western audiences at first glance.

However, Napier (2005) also discusses the inspiration and influence of Western culture on the creators of anime in recent decades. By the 1990s, Napier (2005) states a “cross-pollination and popular cultural borrowing that complicate[d] and enrich[ed] anime texts occurred” (p. 22). Young Japanese artists had grown up with more exposure to Western culture than previous generations and as a result this affected what types of anime they would create. Anime was still culturally located in the East, but was now drawing inspiration from the West. Interestingly, the West has also been influenced by anime adding more complex themes, characters and plot to Western cartoons. Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005), is a prime example as it is heavily influenced by traditional Japanese and Chinese cultures (Global History of Anime, n.d.). However, in referring to anime, the Western influence could be seen through characters having big eyes, blonde hair and thin lips. Although these characteristics resemble the West more than the East, although Napier (2005) argues that a new culture was being established with Japanese origins and Western influence. This new culture, more accurately described as a stateless culture (Napier, 2005), is shown by creators using pink, green or blue as typical hair colours. Therefore, rather than creating characters who look more like Westerners, these animators were actually ‘de-Japanizing’ the characters so they appeal to a global audience, not just Japan. From this approach, anime could be argued that sits in its own stateless culture rather than belonging to either the East or the West.

Cavallaro (2006) supports the idea that anime belongs more to a global culture in recent times. Miyazaki’s movies are a great example of this as the themes in his movies reach across cultural and geographical boundaries. The settings for various Miyazaki films are in locations which bear no significant features of Japan, and instead present themselves as ambiguously global or belonging to the West. Six out of his first nine features are set in non-Japanese locations, European-looking cities. By using locations that are not distinctly Japanese, the stories being told by Miyazaki take on a global appeal. These settings would suggest anime is therefore culturally situated outside of Japan. However, Cavallaro (2006) argues that the West still views anime as belonging to the East regardless of setting. She uses the examples of the Simpsons (1989) characters to demonstrate this thought process. Despite humans not having a yellow complexion, the Simpsons characters are still perceived as Western. This is the same for anime and manga characters who are viewed as Eastern even when they have big blue or green eyes. This highlights that the Japanese origins of anime are the significant factor in its cultural belonging.

While both Napier (2005) and Cavallaro (2006) acknowledge the Japanese origins of anime, they do not underestimate the influence of the West and global culture. As a result anime occupies the liminal space between the two, where it is simultaneously Japanese and non-Japanese or global. Therefore, it seems more accurate to place anime in its own category. This way the typical themes, style and characteristics of anime represent anime culture, as opposed to Japanese or Western culture.

References:

Brooks, J. L., & Groening, M. (Producers). (1989). The Simpsons [Television series]. United States: Fox.

Cavallaro, D. (2006). The Animé Art of Hayao Miyazaki. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

DiMartino, M. D., & Konietzko, B. (Producers). (2005). Avatar: The Last Airbender [Television series]. United States: Nickelodeon.

Global History of Anime. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.rightstufanime.com/anime-resources-global-history-of-anime

Miyazaki, H. (Director). (1984). Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind [Motion picture]. Japan: Topcraft.

Miyazaki, H. (Director). (1997). Princess Mononoke [Motion picture]. Japan: Studio Ghibli.

Napier, S. J. (2005). Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle, Updated Edition: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation. London, England: Macmillan.

WEEK 7: TINTIN

  1. In what specific ways is Tintin a forerunner of late 20th – 21st century transmedia storytelling franchises?

From its inception in the early 20th century, Hergé’s Tintin has continually stood as a forerunner of transmedia storytelling. This would continue into the later part of the 20th and into the 21st century. 

One other main reasons for this was the artistic style of Hergé. As a comic book, Tintin from the outset is a mixture of visuals and texts. However, more specifically to Hergé’s style is how this mixture was used and applied to storytelling. As quoted by Mountford (2016), Hergé (1945) calls his work films, as there is need for description or narration. The picture itself is important for telling the story. This can be seen through Hergé’s use of panels in ways that replicate the dynamic nature of film. This includes using various angles and shots, as well as using movement, action and scene splicing to tell the story rather than omniscient text. Similar to the cultural elevation of visual media in the early 20th century, the colourization of visual media in the second half of the century established them as a premium products. The was paralleled in Tintin as Hergé had the majority of his black and white albums reworked into colour. The addition of colour also created new aesthetic elements for Hergé to consider. The value of the visual is a key feature of Hergé’s work that generates Tintin’s transmedia success as it allowed for easy adaptation across other forms of media, especially television and film.     

The creation of Studio Hergé in 1950 was a pivotal moment for cementing Tintin as a transmedia forerunner of the century. Prior to the studios creation Tintin had already gone from “From a strip cartoon, to albums, first black and white then color, multiple translations, adaptations, across media, film animation” (Mountford, 2016, p. 44). However, it was the studio’s commercial utilization of a cultural product that more truly pushed Tintin as a global transmedia success. Tintin, which had already undergone many transformations since its creation, allowed it to seamlessly present itself as a commercial product. The artistic style of Tintin also made this transition smoother. Lechner (2009) states the comic series had a “no-frills storytelling style” and that the stories are very “plot-driven adventures”. By having a standardized style Tintin made an ideal commercial product. This also made it easier to rework in order to appeal to new audiences. The studio’s industrial style production and adaptation allowed Tintin to maintain its position in popular culture and generate significant revenue for years to come.

One of the major ways Tintin stood out as a forerunner of transmedia storytelling was  its translation of Tintin into English. This opened Tintin up to a much larger worldwide audience without having to produce an entirely new catalogue. However, the translation to English was not straightforward, especially in order to penetrate the North American method. The United States of America was not a place of equally huge Tintin success. Jokes that are funny to a European audience did not necessarily have the same humourous impact on an American audience, especially involving things like alcohol in a children’s show (Mountford, 2016). Therefore in order to gain access, Tintin as a series needed to accommodate the American point of view on certain things. 

The strategic self-censorship was also applied to the animated television series The Adventures of Tintin created in 1991. Although such edits were made it is revered as one of the most faithful adaptations of the series to date (Mountford, 2016). Two politically charged albums from Hergé’s catalogue, Tintin in the Congo and Tintin in the Land of the Soviets were omitted from the series altogether. Other censor-like adjustments such as removing several scenes of violence as well as gun and opium related scenes. Strategic and specific changes like this, demonstrated the forerunner attitude of Tintin. As a result there have been many attempts to bring other Non-North-American series to the English speaking market. Near the turn of the century many Japanese anime series were dubbed into English by American companies that achieved success such as Pokémon and Dragonball Z. However, similar to Tintin’s North American reworking, shows like Yu-Gi-Oh! had several elements including character motives and word choices changed as well as removing items deemed too adult for North American children (Meza, 2017). 

The style and awareness of Tintin allowed its effective transition into an industrial-like product, as well as its translation and editing into English. This adaptable nature of Tintin has perpetually defined it as a forerunner for transmedia storytelling from its origin as comicstrip through to comic albums and full on television and film. 

References:

Lechner, J. (2009). The Genius of Tintin. Retrieved from http://johnlechner.com/the-genius-of-tintin/

Meza, M. (2017, August 25). Censored: 15 Ways Yu-Gi-Oh Needed To Be Changed Outside Of Japan. Retrieved from https://www.thegamer.com/censored-yu-gi-oh-changed-outside-japan/

Mountfort. (2016). Tintin as Spectacle: The Backstory of a Popular Franchise and Late Capital. Journal of Asia-Pacific Pop Culture, 1(1), 37. doi:10.5325/jasiapacipopcult.1.1.0037