When I Was Six

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Autoethnography requires that we observe ourselves observing, that we interrogate what we think and believe, and that we challenge our own assumptions, asking over and over if we have penetrated as many layers of our own defenses, fears, and insecurities as our project requires. Carolyn Ellis 2013

When I was young, the highlight of the week was to wake up early on Saturday morning and watch the 6:00 AM cartoons. From memory I think Astro Boy was first up and I know Gigantor was shown as well. I think Kimba the white lion was aired after school and that’s about all I can recall. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of other cartoons but these were the three that have endured over time in my memory. I had no notion that these popular cartoons originated in Japan as they were dubbed and I could sing along to the theme music. ‘There you go Astro Boy on your flight into space’, ‘Gigantor-Bigger than big, taller than tall, quicker than quick, stronger than strong’ and Kimba who lives in deepest darkest Africa’. The black and white dubbed version of Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy) was shown in Australia in April 1966 and amazingly only 104 episodes where dubbed and released for International viewing. In 1966 I was six years old and very sickly and subsequently had many days away from school. It is probably because I was at home a lot during this period that these cartoons played such an important role in my life. I remember walking along trying to replicate the sound that Astro Boy made when he walked and calling out “Dr Elefun! Dr Elefun” (Astro Boy’s mentor in the series a.k.a Professor Ochanomizu) although I used to call him Dr Elephant.

Recently I watched Akira and was entranced by the soundtrack and I thought that I would like to learn more about not only anime, but especially the music of anime and how it is used to reflect Asian culture. The question I had in mind was if music was traditionally an important element of anime or had it been  an adaption for the Western market ? But wait! When did the West develop a taste for anime? I think it was much later than 1966. There is so much that I don’t know about anime. It is an almost overwhelming task. For my initial research I will begin by collecting sound samples and collate these into years as well as delving into the production studios for each example. I would like to take a close at the composer of the music. As an example Tatsuo Takai wrote the music for the Astro Boy theme song and Shuntarō Tanigawa wrote the lyrics. From here I would research how this links to the creation of the anime i.e. was it written after the anime was produced, during or after? What are the links? Concurrently I will look at how these productions related contextually within their culture and within my own life. It is important to build a cultural framework which I can then use to create a digital artefact which pulls it all together under one platform. An important aspect of this project is using as Adams, 2008 and Lorde, 1984, describe ‘techniques of “showing”‘( cited in Ellis, Adams, & Bochner 2010) allowing the reader to participate in my experiences, almost living through them. Sarah Wall describes this process of viewer participation when she cites Wolcott, 1999  “every view is a way of seeing, not the way”. An essential element in my project’s creation is that the viewer is transported back to my youth and experiences anime for the first time as I did as a child.

Watching cartoons in the 60s

Originally I thought of creating a timeline of anime music beginning with the 60’s to coincide with my birth year which is 1960 and then relating the years to what was occurring in my life. Looking back at different years and how they impacted on my life could also be related to in an historical sense on a global scale. But wait! Perhaps this is becoming bigger than Ben Hur. It may also be quite difficult to recall specific years as it feels as though there have been quite a few! The other problem I may encounter with this method is the enormity of the task. However, this would relate to my understanding of field sites as archeological digs with the environment of that place being instrumental in how it affects the layers. In this case, anime and the time it was viewed, represents the site where I am ‘digging’ and platforms such as Spotify and YouTube would provide the means of accessing the anime thus enabling the means of collecting the data.The more I think about the idea of a timeline the more interesting it becomes with its potential as an autoethnographic research project.  I need to ensure that the project remains firmly grounded in discovery around anime soundtracks rather than becoming just some vague historical rant. I am also interested in investigating later anime such as Cowboy Bebop which I would be experiencing as a newbie. I think this would be a valuable experience as a comparison to the earlier anime which I viewed as a child. I still haven’t made a firm decision as to the platform for this digital artefact. One suggestion was a Youtube playlist however I am leaning towards a Prezi at this stage.

There were some other ideas which interested me especially extreme online fashion linking this to Kabuki theatre. Fortunately, joy of joys, I am addressing a somewhat related topic, Yami Kawaii albeit a much darker content, in a group project. I will keep you posted!


Jones, SH, Adams, TE & Ellis, C 2013, Handbook of Autoethnography, 2nd Edition, Routledge N.Y.


3 thoughts on “When I Was Six

  1. Hi Michelle,

    This is a great idea for a digital artefact and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your childhood and experiences with Saturday morning 6am cartoons. It took me back to when I was young and would get up at 6ish on a Saturday and watch TV hits, it’s cool to think that music has continued to effectively capture audiences minds throughout generation and I think it will continue to do so.

    I do agree that this task seems MAJOR, but still definitely do-able, I like your idea of making a timeline or playlist. I wonder when you are looking through anime series how many will you look at, perhaps for the timeline benefit 1-2 per 10 year period, that way you won’t have too many different styles to analyse.

    Also after a quick search, I found a super fitting article on the history of anime music! (If you haven’t already checked it out) https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/music/a-short-history-of-anime-music

    Thanks for the great read,


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