Hi Score girl – Japanese video game culture anime viewed by a ‘pc gamer’ & Judoka


Hi Score Girl a tv series on mini 15-20 minute episode I was not expecting to like but ended up watching the full first season of. Really this autoethnographic experience became more about Japanese video games culture then Japanese culture in general. This anime follow Haruo Yaguchi as he goes through school trying to play as many video games as possible with as few negative consequences as possible. Haruo is very good at street fighter and quite often is obvious to other things:

This is Haruo talking to Hidaka after she had been clearly changing her plans multiple times to be hanging out with Haruo

The fact that the show had been dubbed into English but the subtitles had been done directly from the Japanese and were not a word for word reflection of the the dubbed words made for some interesting discrepancies.


This is definitely something worth noticing as part of the experience, but something that shouldn’t detract from the study of culture through this show as most of the cultural indicators are non verbal especially when you don’t understand the original language. Also worth noting in this regard the main female becoming love interest Akira Ono is entirely non verbal for all of the show I have watched.

This show generally consists of Haruos internal monologue and sounds and conversations he participates in. Each episode generally covers a school break period or a large portion of a school year. The shows explain time progressions with significant gaming events and sometimes US political announcements changes. The shows demonstrates a wide variety of games that the characters dabble in but the core story line is following the fighting game scene and character progression and prowess in each of these games.


While I have played thousands of hours of games on my computer and not all that much on consoles due to controllers being not so great to use with 7 fingers and arcades not really being the thing to do with my friends growing up I don’t have all that much street fighter experience.

My own personal experience of Japanese culture is very disciplined meticulously routined training and education (eg Monday training session identical training program every Monday) with little room for error while coaches/teachers are watch and the kid of mucking around and jokes you can expect from any teenager when their is no authoritative figures around. This show takes a look at entirely different element of Japanese culture I have not explored really only knowing people and having experience Japanese judo culture. There are definitely crossovers to what I had expected in the school scene but it was interesting seeing new elements of Japanese culture.


The fact that schools had people roaming around to ensure students weren’t participating in ‘unsavoury activities’ which included playing video games was interesting and added almost another level to what I had seen before. However in spite of this we see Haruo continually willing to push boundaries to play the games he wants to is much as possible just like I did as a kid. What’s probably less different then I thought as a kid who was always reasonably academically smart my grades didn’t suffer for my lack of care so my parents didn’t mind me playing games as long as I continued to stay up to date.

The largest cultural difference I observe looking back on it is how free the kids are to do their own thing , with the general exception of Akira all the other characters in the holidays and breaks at ~11 years old where wandering around and organising their own gatherings and activities wherever they wanted to go. I am unsure however if this is just to facilitate the nostalgia element of the show. The show is clearly aimed at people who nostalgic to the games showcased throughout the show, even without looking at the show its rating is a good indicator its not meant for people the same age as these fast ageing and phasing characters as they experience games culture and ignore 90% of the rest of these kids lives. Like Haruos best friend clearly being Kotaro but we have no background as to how that happened really just that the go to the same school and hang out together at the gaming arcades.


In this show the only time Haruo gives up games is when he studies his brains out trying to get into the same high school as Akira, ultimately falling short but still making it into his backup school with Kotaro. This allows the show to explain the cultural phenomena of being disconnected and how quickly the Japanese fighting game culture moved from one game to the next as now Haruo’s skills were greatly deteriorated and he is basically relearning everything he has forgotten showcasing what I would mostly have expected as core to the Japanese culture of working hard to achieve your goals and if you stop working you will fall behind. As lots of people through judo Japanese and not understand there’s always someone else working hard and if you don’t strive to work harder you will fall behind as Haruo does here both in school and games after his split focus.


The only other thing I have to add from this experience is how it was cool to see Akira having just as much of an impact as anyone else in the show and normally more than everyone else on Haruo without ever speaking a word. It makes me wonder if it is common for someone people to not speak much and this has been exaggerated here to emphasis the fact they can still say heaps without saying a word.

Overall it was interesting to see a new less disciplined traditionally disciplined side to a Japanese culture but also still see those elements as characters commit themselves to things whether it is bettering themselves at schoolwork of gaming they find every way to optimise themselves and become their own biggest critics which I think really resonates my past experience of high performing Japanese athletes. However maybe that’s me putting my ideas onto these characters but I think it really is just a new application of many of the typically Japanese routines I have seen and experienced in the past through Judo.

Cake – A Pakistani family drama movie

This week we watched the movie Cake which is a 2018 Pakistani movie. This movie had lots of family drama but also felt like not much happened in its just over 2 hour runtime. The movie follow a very wealth family and their happening starting with the hospitalisation of their father and his at Home care and ultimately ends with the deaths of their mother, uncovering family secrets and to me what seems to be everyone having more unresolved issues than at the start.


This is really the first movie I’m not 100% sure what’s going on in for most of the time. I think it has to do with the massive increase in dialogue over the last two week and potentially the importance of the music seemingly through this movie. Music that I cannot understand unless it is the only thing happening meaning it is subtitled. There was also an interesting mix of English almost randomly throughout this movie.

My first cultural observance of not was Romeo was wearing a cross which I speculated was the reason for him being unable to have a relationship with Zareen. I think this was due to my own christian faith an upbringing it was easily noticeable any attributed due to hearing stories of this being reasons for Vietnamese people being kick out of families


However it just appears that Romeo was seen as less than Zareen because she came from money and he was a poor guy and one who even went to prison for her sister which she didn’t know about. so this basically tells me my initial reaction about the cultural represented in this movie were not on point.

Next my expectations were again subverted as the Title of the movie ‘Cake’ seemed to be far less significant than I have come to expect from western movies.


This may be because I missed some deeper cultural meaning of cake being some kind of representation for the mix of all the people coming together to eventually make something good but I can’t seem to find any cultural link there and the end of the movie wasn’t exactly a happy resolved ending.


I really think I missed a lot of the cultural and subtle hints about what was happening in this movie throughout due to most of the songs not being subtitled. When the songs were subtitled the words were always very relevant to what was happening on screen in a lyrical sense and I think I missed out on some of the cues a Vietnamese person may have not even noticed they were picking up on throughout the movie.

Honestly I don’t think I took much apart for that. I don’t understand what is going on at all in Pakistani culture from this movie. It had an element of rich people can avoid anything even the law if their money pays. Rich people still have family problems. Death is unexpected. Hiding something from someone for their own good never really works well. Lying to family causes issues. But these all just seem to be me trying to make sense of what I have seen through my own cultural sense and not seeing what is culturally unique and different coming through in this movie.

Furie – Australian Judoka views Vietnamese Martial Arts Movie

Week two of auto ethnographic studies. This week we watched a type of movie I would probably describe as something I could stumble upon and watch on Netflix. This movie is about a mother who has what seems to be a mob related past who’s daughter is kidnapped and she takes down everyone in her way to rescue her daughter.


Hai Phuong is the main character we follow through this story. She is the mother of Mai who is abducted after a brief introduction to all the characters when she angrily wonders away from her mother after an argument in the crowded markets. the rest of the movie Hai is hot on Mai’s trail and even comes across her brother who shuns he for leaving the family 10 years ago, despite this she finds Mai just to be beaten up by the head gangsta. She then cons her way out of hospital and gets some police assistance at the very end of the movie to finish of the gangstas saving Mai and all the other children they were trying to traffic out of Vietnam.

Interestingly the movie in Vietnam appears to be named after the main character as below:


this means even before watching this movie it has been adapted to potential attract a larger audience outside of Vietnam. Considering the entire movie was subtitled and not dubbed I do assume this is the only change to the movie from Vietnam to reach a global audience.

Initially I expected to be most intrigued by the way this movie did its fighting scenes both choreography and camerawork wise. This was interesting and well done however basically was just well choreographed fighting (Excluding the clearly not breaking arms breaking -I dislocated my left elbow at the start of the year I can confidently identify what would actually damage an arm and what is normal range of motion based on direction of hand/arm) with smooth good continuous camera shots not what some movies do with a million cuts to distract from bad choreography. But really that’s not a cultural things anyone can do that well and some western movies do it just swell if not better.

What really interested me is these busy places basically touching were crime was happening. Criminal behaviour wasn’t happening down a few back alleys in the corner but in offices right above crowded streets and trains paced with people. This was a very different representation of the reality of criminal behaviour then is represented in Hollywood movies.


This combined with the start of the movie where it is made very obvious that a group of bystanders had of seen were Mai was taken from a boat across the road infant of them to a minivan you see her in driving past Hai.


Why was this odd for me?

What I bring to understanding this movie:

  • Western kidnapping movies eg: Taken
  • growing up in Wollongong without fear of being kidnapped really being a thing
  • Judo training understanding what would actually throw\injure someone, what wouldn’t and generally just feeling quite safe wherever I go

In movies and culture that I was brought up in crime is really just when you travel risk and w only have minor or community acceptable crime (drugs) happening here which is nothing to really bother the average citizen. This is shown through taken:


In Taken the risk is overseas away from the safety of the US the great safe country producing the movie. To even add another step of obstruction the villains aren’t even local to the country the daughter is traveling to.

The fact that a movie produced in Vietnam was acknowledging the potential for crime of human trafficking can be happening just out of site is interesting and challenges why we ourself don’t look into the real state of crimes locally. It appears in Vietnam movies are a way people can express their opinions or maybe just the reality of crime lucky so close to the surface of Vietnamese culture. While this is shown it was interesting that the brother despite the obvious changes Hai has made to her life is unwilling to help or acknowledge the effect crime has had on Hai despite her trying to distance herself from crime for Mai. Her brother is still more concerned with family, duty and why she wasn’t there for him when he wanted her but is unwilling to be there for her.

in summary the movie seemed to be showing me the cultural norm for crime to be ever present, people to be more scared of criminals then helping and then a more what a would see as Chinese in the past values of family and you bringing dishonour/being cast out of the family if you ever stray from the past to not be let back in.

Indonesian movie meets Australian young adult

This week I watch Love for Sale and live-tweeted the experience with my fellow peers of BCM320. Love for Sale is an Indonesia Romantic Comedy that follows Richard’s life for a couple of months. Richard is a middle-aged, single, family business owner that is trying to get a date for the upcoming wedding he is attending. First I thought fair enough he is getting a bit old and wants to show some life progress off and present a big image of himself. While this may be true then he received this voice mail:

Netflix screenshot Love for Sale ~ 31 minutes

A message telling him the wedding was soon and he better show up to the date and my brain was just shocked straight away and fired of this tweet

Immediately this was my first real culture shock from the film as I have been to a few other Asian countries where Indonesia was looking to match my expectations from those experiences.

This was completely different from my frame of viewing the world and seemed outrageous to me. I am looking at this from the position of last year being a groomsman at my brother’s wedding where only 1 of the 4 groomsmen was even in a relationship. While I have a small slice of experience with Indonesian weddings with my cousin had married someone from Indonesia and not even a hint of this idea was brought up, this made me think maybe this was just an outlier case. but there was not an Indonesian wedding due to the health of his wife’s mother and it would be particularly odd to enforce these values on an Australian wedding. Most of the people there were not Indonesian and in a situation like that, you are unlikely to say to someone’s face you should be disgraced by not having a date especially to a 21-year-old vs a 41-year-old.

Thinking about the shame/honor culture to the family name and yourself it makes a lot more sense especially that a middle-age man could be a disgrace if he had not met the societal expectations for him at that age. And I don’t think in either culture the image below represents the ideal successful man.

IMDB Love for Sale (2018)

Richard is portrayed as lonely, only having one friend and being a strict boss with no real redeeming cultures which is far from the archetypal successful man.

where was I coming from being shocked about having his dignity on the line to get a date?

In the cultural frame, I bring to watching this movie especially when I myself have no plan of dating any time soon. To continue furthering my options in the judo competition realm and traveling where’d that takes me. So for my perspective, if someone tried to tell that to me I would not be having any of it. But from a different cultural perspective of someone raised in Indonesia, it would make a lot more sense for that type of statement to be made.

so basically it is very clear here I was having an emotive response based on what would happen if someone said that to me. However, this seems much more regular and appropriate for this Indonesian culture.