BCM320 – Autoethnography and Akira

This week we took a closer look at how to distinguish autoethnography in its variations as well as took a look and live tweeted the 1988 classic anime film Akira. 

“When researchers do autoethnography, they retrospectively and selectively write about epiphanies that stem from, or are made possible by, being part of a culture and/or by possessing a particular cultural identity”

-Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘-

From this weeks reading the most profound element I found within was the importance of the epiphany. This moment of realisation that is like opening a door into a whole new world. That level of understanding, of experiencing something, and then making sense of it in your own experience is an interesting viewpoint in terms of research. Autoethnography, stemming from autobiography and ethnography has already placed itself in some middle ground between an analytical and evocative piece, something we discussed in class. As such, its an interesting medium because the ‘goal’ appears to delve into an area of research completely and come out the other side not only with your findings, but your personal findings, something far more approachable.

“Thus, autoethnography is criticised for either being too artful and not scientific, or too scientific and not sufficiently artful”

-Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘-

It’s easy to see where this criticism comes into play, autoethnography seems to mill about on a scale rather than being a defined practice. And as such, and as such I think it already becomes much more personal and truthful because how you choose to present you research or your epiphanies is already a presentation of you and your experiences.

Akira - 1988

Leaving the reading behind for now, Akira is something I had heard of in passing but never seen, and I was pleasantly surprised. I was not expecting the violence throughout the entire film, and even some of the more grotesque parts, such as the ending and Tetsuo’s body being transformed in this bulbous, painful manner. Perhaps some part of me is still under the illusion that anime is primarily a children’s cartoon style of entertainment. Which is in itself unfair as we have seen the success of adult animations such as Rick and Morty  and The Simpsons, although these are both still underlying a base entertainment and humour. Growing up my only real experience with any kind of anime was Pokemon, something I was a big fan of for a fair amount of my life! Recently, my housemate has been watching anime in our living room including the likes of One Punch Man and Death Note. So it’s safe to say my anime sights are expanding!

I honestly really enjoyed Akira! I mentioned in my tweeting that I’m a big fan of the idea of telekinetic ‘godlike’ kids and the sheer power they hold. I’m a huge fan of Stranger Things and saw so many parallels in Eleven’s storyline in comparison to Tetsuo. Even in how it really begins with this group of biker kids! As much as I enjoyed the storyline though, it’s safe to say I got very lost towards the end, this might have been the result of live tweeting, but I think it is something I would definitely be interested in watching again. The aesthetic of the movie and its themes really won me over. I can understand how the red jacket became so popular in fashion, I saw the film once and found myself wanting one, alongside a bright red motorbike!

A special mention to the animation of the film, the city of Neo-Tokyo was beautiful and vivid and held this life to it and the framing of scenes were well done. Usually when I watch foreign films or tv shows I’m a fan of subtitles over dubbing, but when you have to be tweeting at the same time, you can easily lose what is happening in the plot if you are not fully focused, and it’s in these times that I find dubbing perfectly fine.

Perhaps the reason I felt so connected to this film was its familiarity, not only to other pop culture I’ve consumed, but in its larger themes. A superpowered being against the military, the destruction of the city, a band of misfits fighting the power are so cross-cultural in their appeal that you can’t help but enjoy it!



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

3 thoughts on “BCM320 – Autoethnography and Akira

Add yours

  1. Hi Eliza,

    I enjoyed reading your blog and felt that I could relate too to your reflection on Ellis’s use of the term epiphany and what it meant in terms of research. The only thing I would say in terms of tightening your explanation and understanding of the auto ethnographic process would be to also include or touch on the relational aspect of auto ethnography. This was in a sense, the point of live tweeting, allowing the author/researcher the opportunity to compare their own epiphanies with the epiphanies of others. I enjoyed reading about the epiphanies you experienced relating to Akira and its influence on television (Stranger Things) and fashion. Thanks for a great read and another chance to engage in the second, relational element of auto ethnography.


  2. Hey Eliza, I missed this week due to being sick so I don’t think I’m gonna know a whole lot about what this topic was this week but ill try my best haha.

    I was intrigued to see that your biggest outcome out of the reading was to do with the importance of epiphany, “That level of understanding, of experiencing something, and then making sense of it in your own experience is an interesting viewpoint in terms of research” what you spoke about here really stood out for me was it felt as if you were speaking of a persons Framework. How they perceive experiences and makes sense of them is the definition of putting something into a frame, in saying this it seemed to me the biggest outcome that should have come from this reading is how some of the best research is done by reflecting upon the frames people put in place to create a level of understanding of culture. That it is only our experience and our perception of things that grants us the opportunity to explain how we see things. Just a thought that i had but Autoethnography feels like it’s the researching aspect of advertising.

    I could be completely wrong on the subject Let me know what you think?


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