An Update

It has been a while, people.

No, I am not announcing my intentions to quit or take a break from blogging. In fact my drafts is still stuffed to the brim with stuff I’m working on, and I’ve got a couple of interview translations in the release pipe as well. This is just a little sit-down chat/therapy session for me, as I near the end of the first leg of my final year in university (whether I continue into postgrad/masters will be up to future me to decide). Also I feel like I owe at least a little to my readers, for having not putting anything out for more than a month.

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Post-Disaster ‘Cool Japan’ | Kimi no Na wa: Cultural Identity, Modernity & Restorative Nostalgia

The slogan ‘Cool Japan’ was first used by the Japanese government in reference to its nation-branding projects back in 2005. Since then, the Cool Japan phenomenon has become a site of intensive focus for scholars in Japanese studies, particularly from the points of view of popular culture and creative industries (e.g. Sugiyama 2006, Dinnie 2009, Fujita 2011) and nationalism and nation-building (e.g. Iwabuchi 2007, 2008) (Valaskivi, 2013). Indeed, such saturated focus on this phenomenon has covered extensive and ripe ground from relatively regional frameworks, which examined its impact within Japan, as well as Japan’s influence within the East Asia sphere. In turn, Katja Valaskivi proposed to extend its study paradigms by contextualising Cool Japan through the transnationally circulating practice of nation branding. And thus with this essay, I will approach the study of the Cool Japan branding project by extending upon Valaskivi’s frameworks in her paper ‘Cool Japan and the social imaginary of the branded nation’; and by extension Taylor’s concept of the social imaginary (Taylor, 2002), through their integration into a semiotic and cinematic analysis of director Makoto Shinkai’s 2016 anime film ‘Kimi no Na wa’ (will be referred to as ‘Your Name’ from now on), which I argue will introduce unique observations that may ground Cool Japan’s main circulating features; namely 1) nation branding, 2) the concept of ‘Cool’ and 3) the idea of ‘essential Japanese values’, within a diverse collection of symbols, message streams and candid imagery that can be better appreciated and more readily understood.

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Terrace House: Visualising ‘Asian Modernity’

Social television and by extension, popular media, forms a central reflective lens through which one can observe and debate the general assumptions of cosmopolitanism in the contemporary Global Internet age. The frameworks of argument presented by Youna Kim in her exploration of the Korean Wave (with a particular focus on TV dramas) are grounded within understanding the discursive construction of an ‘East Asian Popular Culture’ (Chua, 2004), as well as exploring the shifting of the cultural export tides, as global awareness and appreciation for Asian media expands.

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Inner Life of Character | Helen Garner’s ‘Postcards from Surfers’

A self-invented definition for ‘character’ I always liked is ‘a personality, an expressive potential’ that can be harnessed through prose. A character’s effectiveness in narrative is defined by their expression of inner dimension. The layering of character would thus draw one’s attention to how a personality is molded through prose.

The inner life of a character.

And it is precisely this potential of personified liveliness that helps the story develop alongside the organic expansion of the character’s crafted persona. There is after all, a very favourable difference between an authentic character and a vehicle of plot that has lines of dialogue and scripts of action already predetermined within a story, at least according to Noah Lukeman when he wrote about characterisation. Lukeman stressed that the internal sense of self an author crafts for a character should act as the catalyst for the story. Their instinctual, compulsions and internal thought processes are just some ingredients that guides a character’s distinct liveliness.

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Ghibli in the Cinemas: Totoro Premiere & The Story of the Hoarder

I’m actually not sure how I should tell this story for you. Is this just a collection of conventional thoughts on films, or am I supposed to frame this more as another one of my Tale Time entries? (Haven’t done one those in a while huh…)

Going to the cinema and watching a film works in conjunction when it comes to me recalling experiences for a blog post. Experiences never exist in voids, they meld and influence each other. Perhaps this is why I find it so difficult to write straight up film or TV series reviews, whether I watched it alone at home, or with a group of people. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that half the fun of watching a Summer blockbuster copy-and-paste explosion fest is the environment of a filled-out cinema, with some 400 people reacting to the same things you are.

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Artistry of Translation | Accenting Localisations (& A ‘Loveless’ Language?)

To properly articulate translation, is to essentially define it as a genre of artistry.

‘Artistry’ implies subjectivity. It confirms uncertainty, the lack of objectivity and exact science in translation as a craft and process. But translation as a craft also evokes a desire to understand; to render the unfamiliar so it may become familiar, if one were to paraphrase Hayden White (1978). This relationship of translation certainly reads like a process of linkage; a transportation railway that delivers meaning from one isolated frame of context (could be as vast as a country, or as mundane as an imperial/metric system transfer) to another. However, as I will be discussing here, such a reading on the art of translation would utterly erase the accents of such processes which give the newly translated entity its unique existence. Nothing exists as merely a ‘substitute’ for another.

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agraph (Kensuke Ushio) Interview | ‘the shader’ & Electronic Melancholy

Kensuke Ushio is on the verge of becoming a household name in the western anime fandom, thanks to his exhilarating and sensitive contributions to numerous modern anime classics’ original soundtracks, namely Space Dandy (as part of LAMA), Ping Pong, A Silent Voice and the recently released Devilman: Crybaby.

However, Ushio already had a decade-old alter ego of sorts in his stage name agraph, which he adorns when producing and releasing his own solo albums, exploring the pure, unadulterated creative impulse within him. ‘the shader‘ is his third solo electronica album release.

The following is a translation of the interview conducted with the artist by Natalie Music.

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Ori and the Will of the Wisps Trailer: A Short Note on Affect

Like it or not, trailers are an art form. And like any art form, the contested validity of their societal worth is often the only framework of discussion that floats among the mainstream. Contemporary culture’s love for ‘what comes next’, makes for a very horrible environment for any sort of expressive ‘fad’ to gain recognition, especially when such a culture is sandwiched with the famed slots of the ‘timeless few’, which have already been filled with the likes of Star Wars, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter and Tolkien.

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ATMA & Funomena is now on Patreon!

Greetings, fellow readers.

Just a quick note, in regards to this new development. 2017 was a relatively spotty year for this blog: while my upload frequency has somewhat dropped, the quality and diversity of coverage I was able to afford has expanded. I’ve published and co-commissioned interviews and transcripts, extended essays, in addition to my usual collection of thought pieces, summaries and capsule reviews.

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For the Love of Art: Nicolas Couldry’s Media Rituals | Its Validity and Influence in Modern Society

In considering the ever-changing landscape of the multi-medium phenomenon that is Media, it is imperative that an overarching, theoretical concept, can strike a delicate balance between concrete, set-in-stone statements that roots all sub-concepts, and a malleable nature that allows new modern concepts to be safely slotted in and expand along with time, without much friction with the universal personality of the overarching theories; theories and concepts that concerns themselves with explaining the media and its relationship with human society. In this essay, I analyse Nicolas Couldry’s concept of ‘media rituals’, and consider what it achieves in explaining media’s role in society, how it performs in contemporary society and what has being done in refining this concept.Read More »

Ghost in the Shell & The Post-World Human | Identity & Self in a Cyber-Network

Duality: a simple but demonstratively cardinal term. The expressionistic properties of ‘duality’ alone can already form the metaphorical backbone of the most impressionable citings of physics, philosophy, mythology and visual arts in human history. Balance in its purest form constitutes two opposing beings; physical or otherwise, keeping each other in check. Gravity and mass, good and evil, light and dark. Man and machine.

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Tsuki ga Kirei Episodes 5 – 8 | The Pastel Distinctiveness of Character

I never intended to write another post on Tsuki ga Kirei. My analysis of episodes 1-4 felt pretty definitive in regards to unpacking my very positive impressions of the show overall. At the time of publication, at least. For the most part, I felt I have no more to say about it.

Instead, the show decided to up its ante with each passing episode, all the while making me realise, just how much detail I’ve missed from the episodes I thought I’ve covered quite thoroughly. Sigh…*

Oh well. Shall we venture onwards?

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Tsuki ga Kirei Episodes 1 – 4: Portraits | Depicting Moments & The Awkward, Adorable Young Love

Akane carries around a tiny mascot doll as a lucky charm. She instinctively rubs it when she gets nervous.

Kotarou is self-conscious about his writing. He gets into a boxing match with the lamp cord when he gets anxious.

It is a delicate task, trying to depict the awkwardness of the adolescence. How does one depict such a confusing part of life, when those who are currently experiencing it are too moody and self-absorbed to bother understanding it, and those who have already experienced it can no longer provide the organic, first hand accounts?

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A Reflection: End of 2016 | Crescendoing on a High

In my first EVER paycheck this month, I earned more than Mum if we both worked the same number of hours that week. Most people would leave this milestone behind as something to be proud of: after all, Mum now has another source of pride for her son.

However, in an eventual spiral of emotions ranging from pride, eagerness to spend everything I just earned, and bittersweetness; since this milestone means another step towards total independence…I eventually arrived at that familiar door of guilt again. Remember my stories from last month?

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