This week, I watched an anime film for the first time. With my only previous experience of Anime being watching Yugioh at a young age, I didn’t approach this screening with much understanding of the Japanese culture or anime genre.
So, live-tweeting greatly enriched my viewing experience. In real-time I was able to learn fun-facts about the movie’s production, its cultural context, and how it has influenced both the Anime genre and Western popular culture. I was able to have discussions about the themes and make memes about what was happening [below].
Autoethnography is both a process and a product (Ellis et al. 2011). It is a study of a:
“…culture’s relational practices, common values and beliefs, shared experiences for the purpose of helping insiders and outsiders better understand the culture”.
Foremost, through participant observation of a shared experience (live tweeting), I gained a better understanding of Japanese culture as an outsider. By taking field notes (tweets) I was able to consider my own cultural framework in reference to others’ and the Japanese culture presented in Akira. I found it fascinating that a 30 year-old film still resonated with current political issues (capitalism, political unrest).
Ellis et al. (2011) also speaks about the significance of epiphanies – “moments perceived to have significant impact” – in autoethnographic studies. For me, a small cluster of epiphanies unfolded throughout the duration of the screening, as it became clearer just how embedded in my culture Akira is.
The most interesting exchange however, was an off-topic thread of conversation [below].
Throughout this exchange, we took a piece of Akira and considered it within the confines of our own cultural framework(s).
Ellis et al. (2011) also considers reflexive observation an integral part of autoethonography, where the “ways a researcher changes as a result of doing fieldwork” are documented. Such documentations would include this blog post, where I am reflecting on the epiphanies that occurred to me as I watched and live-tweeted.
Therefore, through autoethnography we can tell and analyse experiences (Ellis et al. 2011), such as my experience of live-tweeting Akira, and how this impacted my cultural understanding of Japan and the western world. And, upon reflecting on the practices of auto-ethnography, the experience of live-tweeting the screening and my own cultural framework, I was able to identify a tendency within myself and my peers to translate unfamiliar cultural references into our own cultural language in order to understand them.
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095