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Narrative Reflections: Narratives in Music Videos

Note: This was originally posted in Narrative Reflections as a blog post for an undergraduate honours module, Narrative Structures.

I’m going to examine the narratives in music videos, with a closer look at two music videos by Tohoshinki.

The mv featured two different scenes interspersed with each other: one set in what looks like a church, featuring members of Tohoshinki singing the song; another set in what looks like a dance practice studio. I am only going to focus on the latter, since it seemed that only the latter has a narrative.

The narrative in the dance practice segment begins with a man, likely a ballet dance instructor watching on as ballet dancers practises their moves.The next scene then shows a young girl sitting at a bench in the corner, holding on to a mop as she watches the dancers practise. The instructor is then shown applauding the dancers.We then see the dancers filing out of the studio happily as the young girl watches on and picks up the mop and pail next to her, as if preparing the clean the place. The next scene shows her beginning to mop the place, all alone. We then see her looking up as she is mopping to find a pair of ballet shoes on a stool. She went to where the stool is, picks the shoes up. While we do not see her putting on the shoes, we can see them on her feet as she twirled around in the room. She continues twirling around until we see her turning to where the dance instructor is shown watching her dance. She then turns around and saw the instructor.He is then shown handing what looks like a costume over to her. The next scene then showed her dancing in the costume, happily.

The problem comes when there is a certain disjunct between the two scenes. The song is sung by Koreans in Japanese but they are Asian, nonetheless. The characters featured in the dance studio segment, however, are all caucasians. It is odd that they choose caucasians to feature in a Japanese music video.

Another disjunct comes when there is no direct link between the dance studio segment and the lyrics of the song since the lyrics are not narrating what is going on.

Compare this with the video below:

Doushite Kimi Wo Suki Ni Natte Shimattan Darou? or Why did I fall in love with you? is another song sand by the same boyband. Like the previous video, there is also a two different segments interspersed with one another – again one with the members sing and another with the narrative.

However, as can seen in this video, there is not much of a disjunct between the lyrics of the song and the narrative segment of the mv. Despite the insterspersion of different frames of the narrative in the video (when the two main characters first met, the days they spent together when they were younger, sometime before the wedding, and during the actual wedding), we can see that the lyrics are the thoughts of the main male character in the narrative segment of the video. Although some scenes are seemingly viewed through the eyes of the main male character, and in other scenes we can see his face clearly, I argue that the lyrics reflects his inner thoughts, as though he is a first person narrator narrating his story through the lyrics of the song. This is because there is a match between the scenes an the lyrics.

While there seemed to be less of a disjunct in this mv compared to the previous one, there is still a disjunct since there are five voices singing the inner thoughts of one person! Nevertheless, the disjunct here and the disjunct in the first video can be reconciled since the general message of the lyrics in the first mv corresponds to the general air and storyline of the narrative in the mv, and the lyrics in the second mv directly corresponds to what is shown in the mv.

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Narrative Reflections: Biblical references in Anime – how far can they go?

Note: This was originally posted in Narrative Reflections as a blog post for an undergraduate honours module, Narrative Structures.

As an avid watcher of Animes, I have came across several animes that made use of biblical references or religious reference. While some are relatively harmless, others are can be viewed as rather sacrilegious. While I’m neither Christian nor particularly religious, I’m rather appalled at how such terms are used and wonder how and why people can accept this.

For example, in the anime D Grayman, the Noahs are a family that aims to destroy human by bringing the dead back to live into human-eating monsters or akumas as they are called. This is definitely different from how Noah is perceived in biblical texts! Another example is in the anime, Trinity Blood, where the pope not only has children, but his children can inherit his title!

I find it interesting as to why people would complain about such abuse in live action films but not in animations such as these, and suspect that in animation, people are more willing to suspend their notions of what is sacrilegious since animations are less likely to be viewed as mimetic of real life. On the other hand, live action films or dramas, even if they are fantastic narratives, still have a certain degree of realism to it such that viewers are more critical of them.

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Narrative Reflections: Characterisation in “In Death” series

Note: This was originally posted in Narrative Reflections as a blog post for an undergraduate honours module, Narrative Structures.

The “in death” series by J.D Robb is a romantic suspense series written by J.D Robb, a pseudonym of the popular romance novelist Nora Roberts. There are 45 novels and novellas in the series to date, which began in 1995 and is still ongoing. I find it rather interesting that after so many books, the series remained popular, often becoming the first in the New York Times best selling list. It is also so popular that it has its own Wikipedia page, albeit a poorly written one, and an online community where readers gather to discuss the book. Its popularity, I suspect, can be attributed to the extensive characterisation of the main characters of the series over the course of the novels and not the plot. After all, how many different plots can you find in 45 novels? It will always end with good triumphing over evil, with the main character, a cop catching the bad guy an bringing him to justice. Hence, what keeps readers going is actually the portrayal of the characters.

With this in mind, I will examine how the main character, Eve Dallas, is developed over the course of the series.

Lt. Eve Dallas, is a hardnosed cop belonging to the Homicide Division of the New York Police and Security Department in 2059. In the first book, we are given fairly detailed description of her physical appearance and this allows reader to imagine what she would look like, making her seem more real, more mimetic than an abstract character.

An intriguing backstory is also assigned to Eve Dallas, whose name was not given by her parents, but by a social worker. She was named after Eve, the first woman, and Dallas, the city in which she was found at eight years old, bloody and with no memories. She was brought up by foster system, ran away from it at 18 to join the polic academy. She has no close friends except for her mentor, Captain Ryan Feeney, who trained her when she was a rookie, and Mavis Freestone, an ex-con. However, as the series develops, more details was given about what happened to her before she was eight. Knowing that the author has yet to reveal all of the background of the main character is likely one reason why readers are encouraged to continue reading, to find out what happened to her.

The main character is also not flat, but a round character that has been fleshed out gradually in the first novel, and continues to be fleshed out in each new book.In the first book, she was described as a young brilliant up-and-coming cop in the NYPSD with few close friends, and a uptight hardnosed cop who sticks closely by the book. However, readers can see how she gradually opens up to Roarke, a self-made billionaire who was the prime suspect of the murder cases she was investigating, and falls in love with him. Ass the series progresses, she eventually married him, despite his former criminal connections, though she is still strictly by the book. However, we can see her getting increasingly more willing to use “underhand” methods to solve the case, her husband being a brilliant hacker by virtue of his past criminal activities, who can help her bypass bureaucratic red tape.In fact, She went so far to tamper with official documents to ensure that the criminal justice.Hence, we can see how the character has grown and develop from a flatter character to one who is so self-contradictory and unpredictable that she is mimetic of real people. This is especially since we can see how even as she is increasingly willing to cross lines, or recognise that lines are sometimes blurred, she still struggles with her decisions, making her a very real character.This applies not just to her working ethics, but also her relationships with other people. She starts out as a character with few close ones to one with much more friends, albeit still in a rather tight circle, from all walks of life: a bouncer, a singer, a reporter, a doctor, etc.

With every new trait that is revealed in each group, the character is further developed. It is this that made the character more mimetic, more real and possibly more lovable and this is possibly why the series is so popular.

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Reflections on work

It had been 5 weeks since I officially started teaching, and half a term has passed. I feel like a failure sometimes. I had been reflecting a lot in my head since, but this is the first time I’m actually writing? typing my thoughts down.

One big problem I have is retaining my students’ attention. I had an over-reliance on powerpoint slides and a tendency to type everything I want to say on it even though I know I shouldn’t be doing it. There is a fear that I will forget what I want to say. I have, hopefully, I think, moved away from this dependency on powerpoint slides.

Another problem – lack of scaffolding. Oh, it is not a lack of it because I do build in scaffolding in my lessons. But I need more, especially for my class in the N(A)  stream. I’d been an Express student and had only been exposed to Express classes in all my observations and even during my practicum. It is hard for me to put myself in their shoes. I’ve only truly realised how much more help they needed when I started marking their worksheets – an in-class assignment which I thought I had modeled and scaffolded. It is apparently not enough. As I was marking, I recalled the lessons in NIE – how we should even go through the information and visual stimulus with the weaker students. This was something I neglected in a hurry to complete the lessons on time. I need to remember that the Scheme of Work IS NOT EVERYTHING. I realised that despite the fact that the visual stimulus contain nearly everything the students need, they did not know how to put them into complete sentences. Just providing the information alone is not enough. Everything has to be guided step-by-step.

I apparently also lack awareness of who is in the class and who is not. Even if I had been informed beforehand that there are certain students who will miss lessons because certain school programmes or because they are out for competition, it had never occurred to me that I would need to change plans for teaching to accommodate these students until I heard other teachers talking about it. I also need to track their homework submission – with it, I would be able to discern who was paying attention and who was not.

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Another new beginning

I will officially begin my duties as a trained teacher the next week once school re-opens for the second semester of the year. As this day draws near, I find myself reflecting more and more, both as an individual and on my role as a teacher. While it is not the first time I am writing this, I find myself with an urge to type this out, in case I lose track of my thoughts and musings before I capture them in words, rather than just as thoughts in my mind.

I suppose I am in a particularly reflective mood since this is what I had been doing this past couple of days in school. Two days of induction into the school, and two days of staff seminar put me in this frame of mind. The staff seminar has a focus on CCE lessons, which has been brought into spotlight recently. Frankly, I haven’t exactly given much thoughts to it, except during the Social Context of Education module we did in NIE and the workshops we did during the BTOP. One of the internally conducted workshops I attended talked about the teaching of CCE through dramas. One thing which was mentioned was a lesson on self-worth. It was a lesson which I had observed earlier during my practicum. I had reflected briefly on what my self-worth is after that lesson which I had observed earlier but I guess it wasn’t really enough since I did nothing about it. I guess this shows one thing – mere reflection is not enough to result in any changes or improvements. After reflection, one must take action to improve and commit to it. If not, nothing may change.

I reflected again on my self-worth again after being asked to represent my self-worth through a pose. I knew that all along, I did not have much self-worth in certain areas, yet I can also be egoistic in some other areas. I worry, truly, that I am going to teach students about self-worth when I still lack self-worth in certain areas. How can I teach them to have more self-worth when I am equally crippled, especially in the areas in which they are going to have problems with? As I am writing this, I came to the realisation that my lack of self-worth stems from my own secondary school days, where I was struggling. I was in the TAF club and was never the popular in school. In fact, I was ostracised somewhat, being rather more matured than my peers. While being more matured at the age has helped me made the right choice that lead to who I am today, I sometimes wonder what might have happened if I wasn’t so. I don’t regret it, but wonder when I would ever get over those experiences.

I guess I can share what I have done since my secondary school days. I was determined to start each new journey afresh. I began my JC years with less shyness and being more open to approach other people to make friends.This helped me to make two good, close friends with whom I still frequently meet up to this day. I told myself that I would evolve even further in university after my ‘A’ Levels. I was the one taking the initiative to make friends, more willing to take charge, and more willing to be the centre of attention. By the time I began my teacher training after my undergraduate years, I was totally unrecognisable from my secondary school days. While I may never fully recover my self-worth, it has reached the point that I am no longer crippled by it.

I hope that I will have more time to write on this blog to hone my writing skills. As a language teacher, I sometimes find myself being unable to find the right words to express myself, despite always telling my students that they need to be precise with the use of language. However, I struggle in writing. I’m usually only satisfied with works that have gone through drafts and constant reviewing and revision. Yet my students have to complete their written work within a set period of time, with no time for drafts and revision. I hope that by blogging, I will get a chance to hone my writing skills such that I would be able to write something that I would be satisfied with, without having to go through any revision.

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Swimming after 1-2 years

I have applied for my 2-year complimentary CSC membership simply because I wanted to sign up for the aqua aerobics class. This is the ONLY exercise that I can and is interested in doing since I have sprained my ankle doing step aerobics. Unfortunately, I missed the deadline for signing up and will have to wait for the next round. Nevertheless, I decided to make full use of my membership benefits, which included access to the pool. I haven’t swam for nearly 2 years, I think. Going straight to the lap pool was a BIG mistake, especially since I’m short and haven’t swam or done any exercise for some time. My stamina is at an all time low. This means getting breathless easily; not a comfortable feeling when you are in the water and can keep your entire head above the water easily. I’m only a couple of centimeters taller than the pool depth of 1.5m and sucks at treading in the water. I managed to make it to the other end of the pool but to my horror – the pool has a consistent depth of 1.5m! There is no where I can stand without having only the crown of my head above the water and rest unless I hang on to the ladder! I just drown-proofed at the side of the pool for a long time, frequently going back into the water because I was too tired to keep my head above the water. It’s kinda like taking deep long breaths so I did rest for a while before going for another 7 laps, with plenty of rest between each lap of course! Really, I should have gone for the wading pool first.

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Wisdom Teeth, Shopping, Organisation

Another update on wordpress today. I’ve been meaning to do so but just didn’t manage to work up the energy to do so until now. With a mask on my face. The past two weeks of orientation programme had been really tiring. I have had been really tired out during practicum – all work and no play burns me out. I learned this firsthand maybe two years back when I was working really hard to pull my CAP up after one disastrous sem. After one semester with that as the sole goal, many tuition kids and very little time for leisure, I was completely burned out even after the examinations were over. I could find no interest in anything, not even things I usually enjoy. Not dramas, not books, nothing. It took me quite sometime to recover. Even though I had two weeks of break after practicum, it did not seem sufficient in pulling me out of the funk. Especially since I started the orientation programme nearly immediately. I only managed to recover with Running Man’s episode with Park Jisung – he never fails to cheer me up. :)

I’ve ended the last day of the orientation with a wisdom tooth surgery and an extraction (which came as a surprise to me as well). One of my wisdom tooth (the impacted one) had shown signs of decay since last June but I had been putting it off out of fear. I’ve finally decided to take it out and entered the clinic with trepidation, only to be told that I would have to remove the one above the impacted tooth as well, since it would eventually cause problems. Rather than having to face another visit to the dentist two years down the road, I decided to settle it once and for all. And thus my gums lost two tenants and bemoaned the loss for nearly one week. Especially since the I left them with the dentist – he asked if I wanted them and I said no thanks. Never had any tooth fairy and wasn’t about to start. And doubt that given my age, I can see any. And left me on a liquid diet of Campbell soup, 豆花 and juices.

In the meantime, I had been online shopping (oops) on Gmarket for books, physically shopping at Papermarket for scrapbooking supplies, ebook shopping on Kobo and book shopping on Amazon…(Someone stop me!!!). Having a week MC with few entertainment options is bad. I turn quickly to shopping. Ok, not just shopping. I did something productive in anticipation of having to start work soon. I ORGANISED. Which I hate. And always start, but almost NEVER FINISH. Because I get headaches every time I organise anything and have to stop. Ha. In spite of the migraines, I must say I was fairly productive this time, since I managed to organise the images and documents in my PC, deleted a lot of video files which I had hoarded, threw out a lot of cds (or set them aside for upcycling) and threw out magazines.

I will post something about the upcycling of old cds soon since I have many many plans for them. Seeya then.