So, I already have plenty of sources and depth on the subject of my project, but I want to add more. I just don’t know if what I want to add is necessary and relevant or I just want to add it because it’s relevant and I like it.
So the question isn’t does or does it not have a place and function if I had all the time in the world to write this, but because I have limited time, I’m at the does this need to be edited out, something else added in, I forgot this or this whole bit needs to be scraped.
Somethings I want to include are LGBTQIA+ in anime, mainly due to the popularity and positive reception of “Yuri on Ice” and it being a potential landmark/gateway in anime when it come to LGBTQIA+ content and addressing emotional health issues, like anxiety, in an accurate, non-stigmatizing light. It also was not based on a light novel or manga as well.
I also want to address interest in Japanese culture outside of the otaku subculture lens through the YouTube channel Abroad in Japan, whose host is a British English as a second langauge or ESL teacher living in Japan (and misses decent cheese). Mostly I really like that this channel crosses over my love of dry British humour (yes the “u” is there on purpose, I couldn’t resist) and Japanese culture in general.
It also relates to myself wanting to be an ESL teacher in Japan and because I want to, uh I don’t think there is an actual title, but basically I want to adapt Japanese and other Asian based entertainment media for western audiences, properly (no more GitS disasters). And expand from there for other difficult to adapt media I’m knowledgeable and passionate about, such as video games, with racial and gender diversity and proper/accurate casting and de-stigmatizing things like emotional and mental health, disabilities and so forth, always at the forefront. And I believe I should know the country (and later countries) I am adapting from first hand experience.
For me it’s why I picked Evergreen. So I could learn about Asian and Asian/American culture and film-making and learn how to be an advocate for disabled, emotional and mental health issues that knows what they’re talking about, what to do and how best to do it. And for me that is through storytelling, both fiction and documentaries, collaborating, and doing it from a place, culture and subject that I am most passionate about.
I call myself otaku, not because I watch heaps of anime and read bookstores of manga. I have very little merchandise and of what I do buy tends to be related to cats or cooking supplies (I cook a lot and it tends to be either very rustic food or Asian). But my passion, knowledge, and respect, of Japanese culture and the art of anime and manga, is not casual. I’m otaku not because I’m obsessed, but because I have a genuine passion to know more about anime and the country that forged it together.
Actually, I’ve wanted to know more about Japan before I was even into anime. I don’t know why either, I like what I like, and I just want to be honest, respectful and sincere about it. It’s why I picked this program and was going to study Japanese as well, but couldn’t afford the two extra credits, so I’m doing self-study as time allows.
But, I also have an “invisible” disability (as they call it) that I have to, not only take into account with everything I do, but also wrestle with a system, that includes Evergreen, that doesn’t understand the nature of disabilities, or trauma for that matter. The Green Dot presentation during orientation, it was nothing more than a pretty public relations stunt.
All of orientation, none of it accounted for including those who have triggers, trauma and experiences related to the book, “Just Mercy”.
I hated reading that book. Not because its message wasn’t strong and true, that the work isn’t needed, that the message it holds needs to be spread.
It does. It very much so does.
But it should not have been at the expense of the students who know those traumas, have been beat up by that broken system and know its pitfalls all too well.
Being told that my only options were to either attend orientation, be subjected to my triggers, hoping I was strong enough to withstand it or be excluded with no alternative ways to participate, to just go run off and hide, to be discriminated against because of my trauma. To deal with ableism. Discrimination against persons with disabilities. It was the exact opposite of justice or mercy.
It is the opposite of what Evergreen is supposed to be working toward, what the author of the book is working toward and the speakers at the events are working toward.
And I wasn’t going to be forced out, so I attended. I attended, with my triggers being hammered on by boulders every day, but I held out, until the Green Dot event.
Unlike all the students who have had the privilege to not see those ugly things we all read about in that book, to not have triggers, not have a disability to deal with. I got to start a new school year, at a new school, in a new city, for the first time on my own, recovering from a massive panic attack, the first one I have had in over two or more years. It had been long enough I couldn’t remember the last one. It had been.
And I still went to class like everyone else. I still did my homework. I still hunted for jobs. I still went to interviews and then hunted for more jobs. I still joined and attended student activity groups. I’m working at starting my own having lost faith in finding a job and seeing and hearing other students losing faith in acquiring much needed jobs so that they can continue to go to school and pursue what they want to do, and I know how to do that.
I know how to be self-employed, a freelancer. I had worked 40+ hours a week in a newsroom and in that pen of bullshit I learned more about working on my own than actually working on my own.
I know how to self-publish, market, create graphics, network, write, edit, draw, fix hardware, troubleshoot for IT issues and solve them, bargain hunt for hardware and other things I needed for writing and photography, trade, barter, cook, cook for specific diets, work on deadlines, work with broken systems like my insurance that for the past three weeks was messed up and messed up everything I had set up so far and I had to fix it all, but I got done. On my own, over and over, I got it done.
And with whatever is in my power, I will always get the job done.
I know that I can be successful, that being disabled doesn’t mean unable, and never will I be unwilling. I don’t let my disability define me, or the stigma it holds.
But that same reason is why I hide it, because I already know too well that others will only see me as the media has shown my disability and suddenly there will be someone better to pick to hire, someone not disabled, without ever giving me a chance to show them what I can do, despite everything I have already done.
And that’s why I want to work in film-making, from a place I am passionate about, to help those who have decks stacked against them. It doesn’t have to just be the disabled. I know what it’s like to not fit in, to be judged and called a foreigner, to be rejected and taken advantage of. I know what that feels like, and if I can help others not have to feel what I’ve felt, and likely will feel again. I will do what I can to work toward that being the norm instead of the current status quo.
The anger, shame, pain, confusion, frustration and helplessness when what little that there is to help you, can’t help you and you don’t know if there are any more options left. I want to create at least one more option and it to be the best that I am able to make it. I don’t think small or impossible or unrealistic either. It’s not easy, I know it’s not, but I figure, and I know, that if things can be broken, things can be fixed. The people who want to make things right and fix what’s broken, are a lot tougher than those who only seek to keep breaking things.
And I think it says a lot about a person, whether they want things to keep breaking down, do nothing and have things stay the same, or actually do something to make things better, however they best can.
I’ve had a deck that’s been stacked and keeps getting stacked against me ever since what caused my first incident of trauma at three years old (I wish it was the only one). But I’m not going to let it stop me, and I want to see all the stigma, the misconceptions, lies, hate, and venom that’s infused in that tall deck, topple over, and I’ll be more than happy to be the one to push it over. To prove it all wrong.
I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain, not just for myself, but for everyone who has a similar deck stacked up against them. Decks they didn’t ask for.
Though even to me that is a tall order, regardless if I’m alone or not. Which is why stories are so important to me. And it just happens that the stories I go back to, the characters in them with that fortitude to push on, are from anime.
That’s one thing I didn’t learn from watching documentaries growing up. That’s one thing I didn’t learn from western animation, books or movies, except for “Star Wars”, which happened to draw from the film 1958 Japanese film “The Hidden Fortress” (隠し砦の三悪人, Kakushi toride no san akunin) by Akira Kurosawa. Actually a few of Kurosawa’s films were inspiration for “Star Wars” for George Lucas.
Kurosawa, whose film “Rashomon” is credited as one of the major films that opened up the Japanese film industry to western audiences with its success winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1951, and an Academy Honorary Award at the 24th Academy Awards among its many awards.
For me it’s odd and kind of funny to think back to myself at seven years old, holding a stick and smacking back overgrown tendrils of blackberry bushes, pretending I was a Jedi like Luke Skywalker. I saw my dad as Darth Vader, someone who had only hurt me, but as Luke taught me to hold out hope and see the good in him. It’s odd because of this:
It’s homemade seafood miso soup. The recipe is from the Japanese restaurant called “Sushi, Sushi”, located in Dubai, whose owner moved there from Japan, and gave my dad the recipe for this soup, twice. The second time because my dad lost it and when he went back there (he is a heavy equipment operator for the military), he asked for it again, just so I could make it. This, I think I can say was the first time I can say my dad was really trying to understand and connect with me, after having no contact with him for, about five years.
Seafood miso soup, this recipe, is his favorite. I don’t remember him liking, or really eating Asian foods before in general growing up, even though it’s always been my favorite. He had never really tried to get to know me in general, I did do origami around him, I had learned how in middle school when I decided I wasn’t going to be another “ignorant, loudmouthed, disrespectful American that could only speak English and knew nothing of other cultures”. That’s what I heard repeated on the news about Americans. That, that was how the world viewed Americans. I wanted to prove that wasn’t always the case, that it wouldn’t be true of me.
I was only, 12, 13 maybe, other students had begun the “where are you from” game with me as they began to learn about race, ethnicity and 9/11. I didn’t know I was Cherokee or Sami, I wasn’t as dark as the other Native students and I wasn’t as light as the rest. I just focused on books, movies, writing, art and hung out with the other nerdy students, boys, now and then who hadn’t gotten caught up in the dating games yet, just early IT stuff. I didn’t know others didn’t see me as Native American or American, just that I looked “foreign” until later.
I studied film making and reading about other countries and their customs on my own and have ever since (there weren’t any classes aside from a few theater classes). I liked learning about Japan the most, probably had to do with watching “The Making of Star Wars” features at the beginning of each Special Edition VHS tape I had of the original trilogy.
Most of the time that was the only part I watched of the tapes after school each day, before watching “The Empire Strikes Back” all the way through. It’s my favorite of all the Star Wars, and also when they introduced various Japanese sword fighting techniques to make the light saber duel between Luke and Vader, more dramatic than the one between Obi Wan and Vader, which was based on the heavy English, King Arthur, Excalibur type duels.
I guess I’m trying to figure out where my passion for Japanese culture, as it is broader than anime and manga, took root. I think the Star Wars documentaries are the most likely and I found a lot of comfort in those movies, a lot of hope, that came back to me in the form of seafood miso soup.
I’m glad Luke was right.