Xiaowen’s Cantanta


Xiaowen's Cantanta

Hey everybody! Before everyone goes off to relax for the rest of the session, here is my final project for the class: a graphic novel!

Inspired by the comics we read in class, I decided to pickup Photoshop and my Wacom tablet again to put together a comic of my own. It tells the story of a young Asian boy and the challenge he faces in balancing his Asian parents’ expectations and his classmates’ stereotypical views. Click below for a PDF you can read on your own.

Click to access XiaowensCantanta.pdf

Pacific Rim (2013)

Anyone had the chance to see Pacific Rim yet? If you need that big-summer-action-movie itch scratched, I highly recommend it. But while watching the film, I also noticed some tropes that we discussed in class these past few weeks. While much of the film is set in Hong Kong, meaning that the Asian influence is to be expected, one of the central characters, Mako Mori (played by Rinko Kikuchi), seemed to play by the book when it came to Asian stereotypes. Without spoiling too much of the film, let’s just say that Guillermo Del Toro managed to fit both the timid Asian girl and the fiery kung-fu mistress into the same character. These tropes don’t feel forced though, and given the setting, the choice to cast Kikuchi in her role feels completely natural. As the film progressed, we do see Kikuchi paired up with the “ideal white male protagonist,” perhaps necessary to appeal to the majority. The film was well-received by most viewers, and seeing the white hero stand triumphant after his fellow ethnically diverse comrades fall probably contributed.


All in all, seeing Pacific Rim was an enjoyable experience. If you want to see giant robots beating up giant monsters over the Asian coast, it’s probably the best film for years.

And props to Del Toro for actually casting a Japanese actress to play a Japanese character.


Hello everybody! My name is Kai Henry, and I am entering my fourth year as a Chemical Engineer. My mom’s family comes from Taiwan, while my dad’s ancestors hail from Europe with a splash of Native American blood. Since, then, I am half Chinese, I consider my Chinese heritage to be my most pervasive. My interests jump around between drawing, listening to electronic music, and playing video games. Naturally, my favorite example of Asian American popular culture is its prevalence in the global video gaming market. Companies like Nintendo, Square Enix, Nintendo, and SEGA all can trace their origins to Asia, but have become global giants in the industry. E3 just ended a few weeks ago, and one could make a case that Sony was the most successful company at this year’s event.

Popular culture is a ideal, tradition, fad, or phenomenon that is accepted, displayed, or consumed by the majority of the population. By definition, it is seen by huge numbers of people. Thus, it is important to study popular culture because understanding it can lead to a greater understanding of people as a whole. Asian American popular culture is particularly significant because it is a hybrid of Asian and American cultures–both of which are huge global powers and both of which are themselves eclectic mixes of many cultures. How Asian American culture manages to create its own identity in the world is very interesting. By studying this culture, one can start to understand how popular ideas transform and develop as they are adopted by ever increasing numbers.