As an enthusiast of Japan and Japanese culture I study and critique various aspects of the country and its culture. This has been one of my main interests for over ten years and in that time I have developed a particular interest in anime, manga, games and Japanese music.
I was first introduced to this interest through the Official Nintendo Magazine forum and in particular former ONM games editor Chris Scullion; who posted a song on social media by Japanese girl group HINOIチーム which I instantly fell in love with. This led me to discovering more music, then branching out into anime and manga as I discovered more Japanese media.
I initially expanded my exposure to Japanese culture through reading magazines like NEO, and watching anime and other programmes on Sky TV through NHK World, Anime Central and Anime Network. When I got into university I joined the Japanese culture, Animation & Comics Society and met like-minded people and I began to explore and expand my understanding of Japanese culture. I was society president during my final year at Northumbria.
While I still love Japanese culture today, I have a greater awareness of where Japan sits in the world and the fact that is is just like any other country with its good points and bad points.
I have now been to Japan four times so far, in August 2013, September 2015, August 2017 and February 2018. I’ve also attended Japanese culture events such as Sunnycon, Scotland Loves Anime and Hyper Japan in the UK and Tokyo Games Show in Japan.
I am heavily involved in the wider Japanese culture community in the UK, and I have listed some of the work and projects I am or have been involved in below.
Japan-Related Work & Projects
Reviewer, Anime UK News
August 2018 – Present; Journalism, Copy-writing
I came on board as a new addition to the Anime UK News Team as a reviewer on the 25th August 2018. This role involves writing reviews of anime and other Japanese media, working with the review editor to produce content for the Anime UK News website.
Guest/Co-Host, Neko Desu Radio
I occasionally appear as a guest/co-host on Neko Desu, the UK’s only anime music radio show broadcasting on FM over at The Cat. I’ve joined host Peter Shillito on broadcasts from Edinburgh, London and Tokyo on special “Neko Desu on Tour” episodes where the show has taken place during an event. Shows I have been on include
- 14th July 2018, Live from London for Hyper Japan
- 24th February 2018, Live from Tokyo
- 21st October 2017, Live from Edinburgh for Scotland Loves Anime
Owner & Editor, Genki Cupboard
December 2013 – Present; Journalism, Copy-writing, Podcasts
After moving on from Northumbria University, I was still very much interested in providing a service for fans of Japanese culture, particularly for those in the North East of England. To that end I established Genki Cupboard, a website that provides reviews of anime and Japanese video games, and features on Japanese music and other aspects of Japanese popular culture.
Along with the website, I maintain the former Genki Up North radio show as a monthly podcast, broadcasting Japanese music and my opinions on Japanese culture to the world.
The site has been going since December 2013 and can be viewed here: http://genkicupboard.co.uk
Presenter, Genki Up North
October 2012 – February 2013; Radio Presenting, DJ, Audio Editing, Podcasts
Thanks to my interest in Japanese music and the partnership between Northumbria Student’s Union and Newcastle Student Radio, I hosted this Japanese music radio show between October 2012 and February 2013. Many hours of work went into planning the content and track list for each show, and I used my contacts within the UK Japanese culture fandom to help advertise it.
It was a success in bringing in a different range of Japanese music from what was offered on radio at the time, and attracted a small, dedicated listener base. I also developed good connections with Peter Shillito, who presents Neko Desu; and Peff Soulsby, who presented We Must Warn Tokyo, both well-respected Japanese music radio shows within the UK.
Along with the radio show, I expanded into hosting a cosplay clubnight, where Japanese culture fans could attend dressed as their favourite characters and experience a great social atmosphere with some great Japanese music. The event was part of Northumbria Students’ Union’s Japanese culture, Animation and Comics Society’s activities, having been a major society event since 2010.
Archived shows can be found through the links on Genki Cupboard.
President, Northumbria Students’ Union’s Japanese Animation & Culture Society
1st June 2012 – 31st May 2013; Leadership, Community, Volunteering, Video Editing, Advertising
I began to assist with the running of Northumbria Students’ Union’s Japanese culture, Animation and Comics Society in January 2012, when the pressures of the final year were proving too much for the set to graduate committee. After helping run the meetings, I was elected president in May 2012, stepping into office on the 1st June.
From there it was full steam ahead in preparing for the beginning of the next academic year and the upcoming society fair held in fresher’s week, creating a brand new website and forum as well as setting up promotional material such as videos, leaflets and banners.
Despite a bad position at the fair, we managed to bring in around 20 new members which saw us getting around 12 – 15 regulars over the year. As a small, niche society this was right on the expectations.
Particular highlights of the year include setting up the radio show (see above), the Christmas meal and karaoke night, the cosplay clubnight, anime from our screening nights, such as MM! and Puella Magi Madoka Magica, as well as other events and presentations.
So that’s what we put on but there’s a lot of stuff that went on behind the scenes from planning meetings, managing communication with members, meetings with our assigned member of the societies leadership committee, managing finances and applying for grants for the big events and buying resources for the society.
It was hard work and good fun, and I got to use my head and muscles in leadership, management, teamwork, decision making, event planning and staging, and public speaking and kept developing in areas like finance and managing the online community.
While there were no awards for the society during my time on the committee, I believe that success isn’t measured in the physical but in member satisfaction, and our members were more than happy with what we put on during the year. I myself have a volunteering award that was presented for volunteering for over 30 hours with the Students’ Union and submitting a report on how I’d fulfilled certain criteria. The award is credited as an additional achievement on my Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR).
I additionally acted as an adviser for around two years after graduating, offering help and advice on running meetings and events where necessary.
I do still attend meetings but I do not take an active role in running the society.
I have been to Japan four times in the past five years, exploring not just Tokyo but going further afield as well.
I’ve been studying Japanese on and off for quite some time now and have undertaken taught courses at both Northumbria University and Newcastle’s Language Centre.