Dubs vs Subs- an Introduction

Being born in 1996 and growing up through the early noughties had many impacts on my upbringing; I was given a PS2 for my tenth birthday which influenced my gaming habits, heelies were a thing (which sadly has fallen out of fashion), and most importantly, I got to witness the golden era of morning television that was Cheez TV. Now, what’s so important about Cheez TV you ask? Well my friends, here is a short list:

  • Pokémon
  • Beyblades
  • One Piece
  • Dragon Ball Z
  • Sonic X
  • Digimon
  • Yu Gi Oh!
  • Sailor Moon

As you can see through these shows, Anime formed a large portion of my childhood and has even influenced my viewing habits to this day. In the past year, I’ve managed to binge watch five seasons of the original Dragon Ball Z, five Seasons of One Piece, with Naruto is slowly catching up. Studying Japanese in high school further served to influence these viewing habits, reviewing numerous studio Ghibli films and fostering a massive interest in Japanese culture. However, in completing my Japanese studies in 2011, my interest dropped off only to be reignited in the past year.  This reanimation occurred through the use of various streaming services allowing me to revisit my childhood and re-watch much of the anime I once enjoyed. Interestingly, however, I was continuously drawn to the anime of the early 2000s era, with only brief encounters with shows such as Attack on Titan and One Punch Man (both excellent shows by the way). This is where I intend to establish my autoethnographic field site, drawing upon my previous relationships and encounters with original anime and applying this in a modern context. Specifically, I will utilise the 2016 show Kuromukuro (which I am still triple checking my spelling of).

In terms of my autoethnographic approach I will continue to draw upon the works of both Ellis et al (2011) and Denzin (2003),  following the definition of autoethnography as

“an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis et al, 2011).


As the essential combination of auto-biography and ethnography, I will attempt to record my initial reactions to Kuromukuro through live tweeting, then to be placed within a Storify feed. Following this, additional research will be conducted following the initial reactions in order to analyse my assumptions in an in-depth manner. This approach will appeal to Ellis et al’s (2011) notions of the personal epiphanies as well as Denzin’s (2004) ideas towards ethnographers being public intellectuals who produce engage in meaningful cultural criticism. With the literal study site of Kuromukuro occurring on Netflix, attention will also be paid as to how this content is accessed. Furthermore, in my final project, I will attempt to revisit this notion of access and document my experience in attempting to procure physical copies of Japanese anime (although Kuromukuro is specifically a Netflix exclusive). This step in studying the access of content will also draw upon Denzin’s (2004) thoughts of the autoethnographer as the flâneur, one who observes society through exploration. Finally, I will attempt to link my previous experiences to Anime as a media form, towards my individual epiphanies regarding Japanese culture.

Kuromukuro was chosen specifically due to its modern nature, and the fact that it was an entirely new experience. When first suggested in class I was told it was essentially a mashup of almost every anime ever, with robots, samurai, and Japanese high school girls. This formed the entire contextual background before diving into the first two episodes of the series, my reactions to which are recorded below (click through for full story)


What the Storify feed above demonstrates are numerous observations in regards to access of anime content, the use of subtitles, massive references to technology, and even comparisons to shows such as Transformers and  Dragon Ball Z. Another very important comment (which I failed to record in this Storify feed) was the treatment of anime as a media form in Australia. Considered as a sub-cultural activity in Australia, anime is quite often associated with being uncool and nerdy, even often being classified as an activity for children. In acknowledging these observations, Kuromukuro has provided a rich environment for autoethnographic study. What this will allow for is in-depth analysis of my own cultural assumptions towards the Japanese text, determining how I reached these epiphanies and studying them through external research.

-Jesse Max


Denzin, Norman K 2003, Performing [Auto] Ethnography Politically,The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 25:257–278.

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1



4 thoughts on “Dubs vs Subs- an Introduction

  1. I’m no expert on autoethnography (far from it) but it seems to me like you have nailed the concept here. Your reference to Cheez TV is both nostalgic and interesting. I assume that Cheez TV provided a gateway into anime for many Australians born in the 90’s and until reading this blog I had not noticed the correlation between it and Japanese media. Cheez TV is actually a great illustration of Japanese media content being appropriated for an Australian audience. Your project sounds interesting in general. I especially look forward to seeing how Japanese media has shaped your thoughts on Japanese culture.


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