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Digital Asia

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Tell me something I don’t know

The final part in this three-part experiment is researching Hatoful Boyfriend. I’ll tell you some basics. It’s a dating sim/visual novel based on an alternate reality where birds are sentient. The protagonist is the only human at St Pigeonational’s trying to navigate her way through a bumbling best friend, pompous transfer student, narcoleptic maths teacher and extremely shy freshman among a whole host of other crazy birds.

First problem when it came to researching this further: what’s the difference between a visual novel and a dating sim? (more…)

#10kcranes !!!

Asian Crafternoons does a tutorial on how to fold an origami crane for #‎10kcranes‬ project. Check it out and have a go! If you fold a crane please snap a pic and tag it on instagram – we will regram it on our page 🙂

What’s the big reveal?

I recently played through Hatoful Boyfriend for the first time. It was completely not what I expected but first I need to explain my decision to engage with this particular aspect of digital Asia. I first found an interest in let’s playing visual novels after a friend showed me PressHeartToContinue and I could not stop laughing at all the funny voices she made. Needless to say my voice does not compare. Please see her fabulousness below.

Dodger conveys her experience of visual novels in an entertaining and compelling manner, something that compelled me enough to try a visual novel for myself.

Back to expectations. So, my channel, GameWreck, is all about me being incredibly shit at games for other people’s entertainment. Generally, I stumble about running around in circles until I literally bump into the thing I need to pick up all by accident.

Apparently visual novels don’t work that way. They have an extremely minimal amount of gameplay. Your gameplay is essentially boiled down to a series of choices you make.

Surely most games are about choices? (more…)

Gojira might be the reason for Japan’s technological brilliance…

Last week, I wrote about symbolism in Japanese art and how Gojira reflected Japan’s fear of nuclear power, something they also contributed to the creation of. The destruction and devastation of Nagasaki and Hiroshima haunts this nation yet they continued nuclear testing to the detriment of fishing boats such as Lucky Dragon 5. Brophy mentioned the Japanese propensity for technological fortification, which fuelled a new direction for my research.

It’s common knowledge Japan is the cornucopia of technological advancement. Richard J Samuels posits their emphasis on technology as “a fundamental element in national security, that it must be indigenized, diffused, and nurtured in order to make a nation rich and strong.” This is something seen very much as a part of Japan’s culture: the emphasis on technological development, education on its purposes and uses, and thorough understanding within its people. It’s probably a direct response to the outcomes of World War II and the subsequent US occupation. I think it’s inspiring to see a nation so unified in its search of security and confidence. As a citizen of an island nation, I can relate to the special vulnerabilities inherent but I can’t help but wonder why Australia does not have a similar push towards technology as compensation. I believe Japan’s situation is strongly indicative of their political representation.

As Japan has risen to a point of singular technological advancement, this confidence allows them to “pursue a ‘proactive contribution to peace and stability’ throughout the Indo-Pacific region” according to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as conveyed by John Lee. Due to the symbolism in Gojira and the subsequent franchise, Japan was able to perceive and reflect the results of technological pursuits and form a strong relationship to technology while remaining mindful of its past and potential for great terror. I think this is characterised by the cultural values that influence what films can be made and shown.

Godzilla’s success in the West is for different reasons than in the East. The East valued the symbolism for what it was; the West embraced the concept of the monster for its superficial values. In my own viewing of Gojira, I could not shake these values. I was looking for a level of realism afforded in present day films by computer-generated images. It wasn’t until Brophy reminded me the intention was never to portray a real monster that I was able to look at something deeper within the text. The typical Japanese symbolism and what it stands for in their culture and society. I’m glad to finally appreciate this film when it has such a strong global following and grateful to know more about Japan as a nation. If only Australia was able to unite in such a way.


References:

Brophy, P 2000 ‘Monster Island: Godzilla and Japanese sci-fi/horror/fantasy’ in Postcolonial Studies, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 39-42.

Lee, J 2015, ‘Tokyo Ascending: Abe’s New Defense Strategy’ in World Affairs, vol. 178, no. 2, pp. 66-73.

Samuels, RJ 1996, Rich Nation, Strong Army: National Security and the Technological Transformation of Japan, Cornell University Press, Cornell

Pretence is a fool’s game

There was never any pretence.

As I was researching Japanese filmmaking in the 1950s, I found Philip Brophy’s postcolonial article on the Godzilla franchise. He makes the argument, “As puppet, doll and prop on a stage of special effects, his theatricalised unreality is never hidden.” As silly as it sounds, during my whole time watching Gojira it never occurred to me they never meant the monster to be realistic. The reality of a human-in-a-suit is in fact meant to be indicative of the cultural story that Gojira represents. Since humans meddling with nuclear testing caused the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, why would a 50 foot nuclear lizard destroying Tokyo be any different?

For some reason, discovering the monster is intentionally false legitimises Gojira in my mind. I suppose the experience is like trying to analyse literature and realising the metaphor was never meant to be believed in its entirety.

Brophy’s realisations about Godzilla stem from the experience of visiting the Toho pool that acted as the shrunken down version of Tokyo Bay in the films. Comprehending the scale of the falsehoods lead to his further understanding about Japan on a cultural level and the inherent vulnerability that comes with being an island nation. Brophy observes Japan as having a “technologically compensated concept of fortification”. This is reflected in the Toho pool’s edges being lined with “giant gas tanks” and “electrical power stations”, as though cocooning themselves in a shell of technology will protect them from the forthcoming threat of Gojira. The irony inherent in that technology will protect from other technology boils down to the fear of human against human. This is something I can relate much better to than a giant lizard monster.

By breaking down the film to a metaphor about postcolonial struggle, Gojira makes a lot more sense to me. I suppose in this instance, the technological limitations of the time were a benefit in order to have the discussion about the regret of human intrigue and inquiry into technology we do not understand. If the monster were believe to be a simple monster this discussion would never take place.

I’m just kicking myself because this should have been common knowledge after all the anime I watch. Japanese story-telling has always been symbolic.


References:

Brophy, P 2000 ‘Monster Island: Godzilla and Japanese sci-fi/horror/fantasy’ in Postcolonial Studies, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 39-42.