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Self-Portrait through Anime and Cartoons

Info: 1908 words (8 pages) Essay
Published: 7th Jun 2021 in Media

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Part 1: Self Portrait Description

 I have taken my self-portrait in the form of a Toy Gashapon machine. Toy Gashapon machine was an extremely popular toy vending machine among Hong Kong teenagers where it includes different types of toys capsules and cards in it. Each of the Gashapon machine contains capsules of different anime or cartoon characters where teenagers will select their favourite machine to attempt to collect them. I have chosen this as my self-portrait simply because it represents as my childhood memories where I was a constant seeker into collecting these toys capsules from convenience store vending machine. Even though it does not require any skills and mainly just depends on luck, collecting them is one of the achievement every children and teenagers are wishing for every day.

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 For my self-portrait, I have created a total of six toy capsules in my Toy Gashapon machine where it includes six different shows that consists different influence when I was growing up. The first show will be Super power puff girl, an American superhero anime series, this cartoon has taught me a lot when I was growing up as it is normal to face obstacles in life and what matters the most is to ensure myself to be ready to fight back when these obstacles arise and be tough and do not back down from any of the problems. Moreover, the second show that have poses great influence will be a Japanese cartoon series which is Doraemon, this cartoon series is about a Japanese teenage boy being assist by a future robot cat that has different technology gadgets and toys. The main character Nobita constantly got poor grades and also faces lot of different obstacles and Doraemon is being sent by his future grandson to improve his life. This cartoon is extremely popular and important towards many teenagers and children because of how it shows that we should not stressed about the problem we have and there are always many alternative ways that we can utilize to solve the problems. It also taught us that we should not worry about the situation as there are always someone that will show up and assist us.

 According to O’Brien and Szeman, “Improvement in communications technology, in conjunction with American economic and cultural expansionism, granted the products of the American culture industry unprecedented access to the rest of the world” (O’Brien, Szeman, 2004, p.19). The exposure of American culture begins when my older brother and sister started to attend high school, they have then started to introduce me to shows such as Glee, Mr.Bean and also Fresh off the Boat. Mr.Bean is a famous British comedy, the show consists minimal dialog since it relies mainly on the actor Rowan Atkinson funny and exaggerated body language which allows viewers to understand the plot more easily. Glee and Fresh off the boat on the other hand is an American TV series show casing the struggle of high school students and also the life of a new immigrant family. All of these shows has allowed me to learn English speaking and listening skills and also encourage me to speak more English. Being in an Asian family, it prepared me for some much needed social capital and language skills where it benefits me when I first attend high school in Canada, the English skills I learn from the show has allowed me to adapt to the school more quickly and also being able to speak English to my classmates comfortably.

 Once I have started to attend high school, I have lost interested into those girly movies and shows as Youtube videos have then started to attract me. One of the channel I have constantly follow is “LazyDazzy”, her channel is mainly about the current make up trends and also the alternative options of some expensive brand name make up products where it allows people that are not rich can still experience the make-up effect brand name has. This channel has allowed me to understand the idea of not needing to purchase everything with brand name as there are many other alternatives that we can attempt to test out and still be able to impressed others. In the past few years, Youtube videos have become the main platform for different content sharing as it is extremely easy to use and it also allows teenagers to have more interactions with the channel creator as they will also upload daily vlogs to uncover their daily lives where most teenagers like it that way because it is fun and interesting to watch and it also creates a special relationships between viewers and creators.

Part 2: Social and Cultural Capital

 Through the consumption of media , we are able to gained social and cultural capital since media can act as symbolic elements including taste, skills and manners. Shows such as Super power puff girl and Doraemon have slowly influence me daily and planted an idea in me that is changing my habitus without me realising. Both of the cartoon series have promoted an idea that we can rely on others to solve our obstacles, Doraemon even promotes the idea that we may utilize magic gadgets and short cuts to get through every problem. In addition, it made me believed that I can just wait for others to assist me with my problems or I can just laugh it out and do not care about it. On the other hand, due to the popularity Doraemon and Super power puff girl has gain, there are lots of different products being made based on these cartoon series. In addition, I am able to gain social capital in school and with friends through exchanging commodities such as toy capsules or limited edition cards since these are the biggest asset in a children world and higher social status will be gained when children are in hold of limited edition toys and cards.

 Bordieu mentions that “the form and the content of a discourse depend on the relation between a habitus and a market defined by a level of tension which is more or less heightened, hence by the severity of the sanctions it inflicts on those who pay insufficient attention to “correctness” and to “the imposition of form” which formal usage presupposes” (Bourdieu, 1991, p.79). Growing up in Hong Kong, we learn proper and formal style of English in school and mainly focusing on reading comprehension and essay writing. In such, the lack of authentic English communication has made us fear to communicate with others since people do not communication with formal English style. Through viewing shows such as Mr.Bean, Glee and Fresh off the boat, I am able to learn different type of English and also “Slang”, hence, providing me the opportunity to speak and learn more daily English skills. In addition, when I immigrant from Hong Kong, I am able to adapt to the new school and quickly developed a relationship with other students since I have been exposed towards American program in an early age which allows me to engage in conversation or discussions smoothly with them since I know certain songs from Glee and also scenes from Mr.Bean and Fresh off the boat.

 Apart from that, Youtube is also one of the way for us to gain cultural and social capital. The social and cultural capital on Youtube is different than other types of media platform, people tend to follow a certain Youtube channels because of their unique content. In addition Youtuber will be able to develop a special relationships with their viewers since viewers can directly comment and message them on social media which viewers cannot normally do with celebrities. In such, creating a different connection and bonding for the viewers. Moreover, Youtuber will also host different events and meet ups for viewers to meet and connect with them. I have met “LazyDazzy” in an event hosted by herself where she discussed a lot about the make-up trend and also shared the story of her Youtube career. This demonstrated that I am able to gain social and cultural capital by following his channel since I am able to have personal connections with her.

Part 3: Conclusion

 We often believed that cartoon and anime are providing joy and laughter for children and teenagers where it also provides an example for them not to hide away from any obstacles. However, Adorno and Horkheimer have suggested otherwise, they mentioned that “conciliatory laughter is heard as the echo of an escape of power; the wrong kind overcomes fear by capitulating to the forces which are to be feared” (Adorno, Horkheimer, 2005, p.61). They believed that these cartoon series may be doing the opposite as they are providing examples for children and teenagers of an irresponsible way of handling problems and if children adapt this habitus, it could affect them in the long term.

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 Based on my own consumption in media, I believed that many of the shows I have watched have definitely provide influence for me when I grow up and also on how I construct my own habitus, social and cultural capital. Super Power puff girl and Doraemon has only provide me with good laughing times and also the spirit of not giving up and not how other suggested that it is encouraging teenagers and children to take short cuts and run away from problems. Unlike these cartoon series, I believed some other shows such as Disney film may present as a bad influence for children growing up as Giroux suggested that Disney film contains dark and inappropriate message and when children watch the film, it may be able to twist their point of view of the world (Giroux, 1999, p.87). Although many people suggested that children will not understand the dark message that Disney have sent on ideology, politics and power. I believed it is still dangerous for teenagers or children to be expose to message like that since many children is more premature nowadays and they may be able to piece up all the message and also understanding the meaning which can deflect their entire worldview and also their actions on solving obstacles.

 In conclusion, I believed cartoon and anime series are supposed to provide joy and laughter for children and teenagers only, a little bit of information to assist them to construct their own habitus and worldview is certainly important, it is not the first priority that cartoon producers need to care for. In addition, I believed it is important for cartoon and anime producers to carefully select out the message they want to send to children and teenagers.


  • Adorno & Horkheimer, (2005). The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception. In Cultural Subjects, Gedalof, Boulter, Faflak, McFarlane (Eds.), Thompson Nelson. pp. 52-63
  • Bourdieu, P. (1991). Prince Formation and the Anticipation of Profits. Language & symbolic power, MA: Harvard University Press, pp.66-72 & 77-93.
  • Giroux, H. (1999). Children’s culture and Disney’s Animated films. In the mouse that roared. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. pp. 83-114
  • O’Brien, S. & Szeman, I. (2004). Introducing Popular Culture. In Popular Culture, A Users Guide. Toronto: Nelson, pp. 1-12.

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