Student Spotlight: Oscar King IV ’16

King cropped photo 300x300 - Student Spotlight: Oscar King IV '16As an English major and Asian and Pacific Studies minor, Oscar King IV ’16 has looked closely at European and Japanese fantasy literary traditions, finding surprising parallels between European fairy tales and Japanese anime narratives. As a member of the Loyola Marymount University Honors program, he received a Summer Research Grant and a Materials Grant to pursue this research, and he explores these themes in his creative fiction writing. King has developed his teaching and writing experience at LMU, and has worked as a Teacher’s Assistant for a First Year Seminar “Fairy Tales” course, a Writing Tutor in the Academic Resource Center (ARC), a Writing Contest committee member, and an intern at Tsehai/Marymount Press Institute. He is a member of the Jesuit honor society, Alpha Sigma Nu.

You’re an English major. Why did you decide to add a minor in Asian and Pacific Studies?

I added the minor because I was eligible for the Laffin Foundation Scholarship; I stuck with it because the classes were unique and engaging. While I studied myths and fairy tales in the English department, the ASPA department gave me contrasts with contemporary Japanese anime and classic East Asian literature. LMU loves to emphasize interdisciplinary dialogue, and whatnot, and my studies through the ASPA department helped me experience it beyond core classes. I’ve always been interested in the interactions between mediums, like literature and animation and oral tradition; my ASPA minor combined with my English major was the perfect mix for this study.

Your honors thesis compares Western fairy tales and Japanese anime. What connections have you found between these genres?

Fairy tales often begin “once upon a time,” which means that they are not here, and they are not now. Anime, as an animated medium, is not rooted in our reality; for example, dogs can wear uniforms and attend high school, and giant robots can turn into cute magical girls, and the viewers can easily suspend disbelief and enter these animated realities. I studied this disconnect with reality in modern anime like recently popular Sword Art Online, and I concluded that these animations let viewers leave the real world and vicariously experience their own “once upon a time”.

What other research opportunities have you taken advantage of during your time at LMU?

Through the Honors Program, I have been awarded a Summer Research Fellowship, a Materials Grant, and an Ambassadorial Grant. Before I wrote my thesis, and with the help of the Summer Research Fellowship from the Honors Program, I studied sexual attraction to anime characters. I wanted to understand why Hentai (anime pornography) exists even though the characters are fictional and have no potential for reproduction. My senior thesis, assisted by my Materials Grant, was built on the conclusions about the animated realm that I drew from that first project. Right now, I am taking the study a step farther by researching how existing fairy tale and mythic characters, specifically Monkey from Chinese folklore, function in the animated space.

What are your post-graduation plans?

Ultimately, I plan to teach at the collegiate level, and I plan to write. So, sometime in the future, I will pursue a PhD in either folklore or creative writing. Before that, however, I want to focus on my creative writing. At this point in my life, I want to focus on writing with the goal of becoming a successful fiction writer.