Autoethnography as described by Ellis as a method of both process and product.
Process; It employs principles of both autobiography and ethnography to form a work based on hindsight and personal experience.
Product; It can make a text aesthetic and evocative by using techniques which bring “readers into the scene” (Ellis, 2004, p.142), as well as illustrating new perspectives
In layman’s terms autoethnography uses personal experience to better understand cultural experience and texts using this process should create a product that is able stimulate memories and past experiences.
Now that that’s out of the way, lets apply this method to Akira.
Analysing this work in relation to autoethnography is likely to be relatively different to my peers
I have seen the film a number of times, and as a huge fan of Japanese art and entertainment my past experience of Japanese film is slightly different.
Most locations and settings are different from each other, this work even more so. With its post-apocalyptic timeframe however maintaining the cityscape; Akira creates an interesting world where construction and deconstruction exists simultaneously.
I have seen films, which employ themes of a post-apocalyptic world however very few show fully functions mechanisms of the past.
Akira’s dystopian world still contains many aspects and values firmly embedded our world today.
I noticed a few similarities in their;
- Bureaucracy; what seemed to be politicians, bickering over policies, funding and overall control over the city
- Skyscrapers; still just as tall, still impeccably maintained
- Education; not that the characters seem to realise the value
- Transport; expensive toys to get you from A to B, and also facilitate your spiral into crime
I found it easy to identify with this world, as it appears to be a direct projection into the future. The reference of WWIII, which caused the chaos, and the remnants of a large city accessible today, pulls the film into the audiences reality.
Even the year it is set strikes close to home, the opening credits show the year as 2019 along with the extent of the obliteration to the city.
Although this film is science fiction it strikes some accurate blows to the issues our societies are already facing and may face some time soon.
I feel like the accuracy of this film is what simultaneously thrills and freights me. I posted a tweet about how the credits send give me chills every time I watch Akira, yet it was only after analyzing it did I realized I will always get chills when I watch it, hoping this masterpiece does not become a foreshadow as many science fiction novels have before it
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1