Asst. A&E Editor
At 5’1 (and 3 quarters), you may not see Kim Tsuyuki running around making sure something — if not everything — is in order, but she is definitely always on the go. Being both an English major, with an emphasis on Creative Writing, and a Film Studies minor, Kim Tsuyuki is busy with not only school work, but also by participating in many other things that go unseen, but definitely not unnoticed. When she is not working on articles, making sure everything is running smoothly for the Arts & Entertainment at the Quaker Campus, being a deputy editor for this year’s edition of The Greenleaf Review, and finishing her senior project, you can find her crocheting, writing poetry (a few of which you can find in this year’s Greenleaf Review!), or supporting her friends in their endeavors.
Kim Tsuyuki has had a very successful college career, but that is not with a lack of any challenges or obstacles. Some of these challenges include time management, overthinking, self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Her greatest challenge, she believes, was coming to terms with her identity as a fourth-generation Japanese American. Being fourth-gen, she has felt very far removed. She became very interested in exploring this part of her identity, especially during the pandemic. Her short film, critical procedures, and her senior project were about accepting and understanding her own identity, and explored what being Asian American really means. Her projects cover the concept of being “too Asian for America, but considered too American(ized) for Japan.” For Tsuyuki, there has always been this tense tug and pull that she has found even more difficult when wrestling with assignments comes into the mix.
She is used these challenges to accomplish creating amazing works of art. Over the module system she created a short film, called “Post Modern Misery”, in the span of only seven weeks for Professor McCarthy’s Into to Video Production course. A short film in which she expanded upon for her Senior Seminar course, she now has the first act of the script finished. The title for the film is actually an anagram for imposter syndrome, her crowning achievement in terms of titles. For the short film, Tsuyuki was the writer, director and actor of the film (talk about always doing multiple things at once). The film is about a college student named Amanda Ikuyo-Lee, who wants to become a writer. Her professor encourages her to enter a writing contest, which she does only to have an identity crisis over whether or not to keep her entire name while submitting. This manifests as her dark double who tells her to only keep Lee when submitting. For her expansion of the script, Tsuyuki says she wanted to add more characters and character depth, specifically for the main character’s mother and friend Maggie, include more and bigger settings, as well as have Amanda Ikuyo-Lee going to therapy, all of which Tsuyuki did not have enough time to include the first time around.
Tsuyuki’s Critical Procedures presentation was also on identity. She wrote a paper called “How Miyazaki’s Spirited Away Reflects Asian American Identity Tensions and Attempts to Resolve Them” The paper looked at Spirited Away through the lens of Asian American identity tensions and looked at the similarities between those tensions and the movie itself. In the paper, which was written in sections, Tsuyuki first discussed Asian American as a political term, how this identity was created in America and how the term has evolved, breaking it down into specifics and then coming back to the umbrella term. She also discusses the ways in which the term is always shifting and what it has meant each time the term has shifted. After this she discussed liminality used within the film. She explained that the identity itself is a liminal space, in that there is this tension in feeling that you [have to] belong to one but not the other. She connects this to Chihiro trying to figure her way of being not quite a child but also not quite a teenager and trying to reclaim her identity. She then discusses how the West plays a part in the film, stating that Miyazaki tries to show that while the west can definitely be greedy and materialistic it is not always this way, and that there can be a happy medium if you embrace it. She concludes by stating that it is difficult to resolve and reclaim an identity that is not and never was stable.
When you go to a small college like Whittier, everyone seems to want to know why you chose it. Tsuyuki, like many of us, came to Whittier College mostly due to the financial aid they had offered. But to find out the deeper reasoning of how she really got here, we have to go back. Before she ever wanted to become a screenwriter, she wanted to become an actress. At eight years old Tsuyuki was taking acting classes and had the opportunity to go to Vegas to do auditions but her agent never truly worked to get her any roles. She later found out that was due to her being Asian. Looking back on this she realized that is something that planted the seed for what she wants to do now. Another event that shaped her path was her dad passing away when she was nine years old. She really began writing (especially films) to process and grieve his passing.
Kim Tsuyuki wrote her first full novel length story at twelve years old which was a fanfiction based on Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland mashed up with Wreck it Ralph (the most reasonable mash-up). This mashup was also likely due to her past obsession with Vanellope from Wreck it Ralph, whom she cosplayed as at twelve years old. She hunted down a mint green hoodie, painted her leggings and made Vanellope’s iconic hair candies from clay. Tsuyuki believes her short lived cosplaying was birthed from her mother’s love from Halloween, and that cosplaying was part of where her love for creating came from. She says she would not have been an English major without her mother and her high school senior year English teacher. During her junior and senior years Kim Tsuyuki had a crisis and was pretty unsure of what to do, like many of us, her first thought was she would just, “go to community college to figure [herself] out”. On separate occasions, however, both her English teacher and her mother reminded her of what a great writer she is, and told her that they could really envision her with a career in writing.
Kim says her mom has always been a supporting influence in her life. And actually considers both her mother and her partner Adam her biggest supporters. Of her mother, Tsuyuki says they would always come up with silly stories. Her mother thought Tsuyuki’s first book would be a kids book called, “The Grumpy Noodle” which was based on one of those little stories. Kim Tsuyuki and her mother were cooking pasta when one of the noodles completely missed the pot altogether. So they came up with a story about a grumpy noodle who did not fit in with his other noodle friends. Tsuyuki herself says it was, “a funny little story about acceptance and individuality.” I think we could all agree with her mother that this is a story that needs to be published as soon as possible. Of her partner Adam, she says that he is equally extremely supportive of her, and has even read everything Kim has written (which is a lot). He was also Assistant Arts and Entertainment editor for a few months before he graduated, to help her transition into that position herself. She is also extremely grateful she took Professor Donelly’s short fiction class during the pandemic, because she is not sure if she would have met Adam in any other circumstances. Adam has also helped Kim through many breakdowns, she recalls, as he has told her many times, “you can [do this], you have to” and “You’re great and you have the ability.”
Kim Tsuyuki has many many other people that she is appreciative of in being such big parts of her journey and being supporters during her college career. One of those being her advisor Sean Morris, who upon taking her first class with him, really liked his energy and noticed how he gets really excited about the things he was really passionate about. That was enough for Tsuyuki to choose him to be her advisor. When she became his advisee she quickly bonded over their shared interest in screenwriting. Another professor she is grateful for is professor dAvid pAddy, whose courses she has taken almost each semester. She says of pAddy that he loves his high energy, and that he teaches in a way that helps her to understand and grasp the material better. She also thanks him for making her a more efficient writer, as he would often tell her “Kim, it doesn’t look like you edited this,” and since then Tsuyuki has been taking more time when it comes to drafting her writing. She also says she would not have been able to do her critical procedures class with any other professor. Another professor Tsuyuki has had almost every single class offered by the professor, was professor Patti McCarthy. Tsuyuki says of McCarthy that she loves the ways in which McCarthy teaches film, specifically about the steps in how to actually write, create and produce a film. Joe Donnelly is another professor that has helped Tsuyuki in her many accomplishments at Whittier College. She says that Donnelly has been extremely supportive throughout her time here, and that he is always there when she needs to talk about articles or just life in general. She also gives him props for helping her become a better journalist. Lastly Tsuyuki says everyone at the Quaker Campus has been a huge influence on her.
How did Kim Tsuyuki become Arts and Entertainment Editor at the Quaker Campus? Well she blames Kristi Weyand. Of course by blame I mean recognizes Weyand as being a huge part of how she got there. Tsuyuki first started with an Opinions article on the “financial aid fiasco” during her sophomore year, in which everyone’s financial aid packets came extremely late. Then when she went to see Little Shop of Horrors in Pasadena, Kristi asked her to write a review on it because the original writer bailed on them. Tsuyuki was working in the woodshop for the theater department at the time when the pandemic hit, but could no longer work there since on campus jobs were no longer available. Tsuyuki went to Weyand to ask if the Quaker Campus was working remotely, who told her to just come to the meetings and they would get her somewhere. Kim Tsuyuki quickly climbed from staff writer to Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor to heading the Arts & Entertainment section.
Her favorite memories of the Quaker Campus were when she was actually in the office, working on print issues with everyone. She loved the chaotic environment with everyone running around and screaming. Most recently, she recalled her co-workers Harmony Albarran and Emu Devine discussing murders and Devine saying, “I didn’t know literacy was a pre-requisite for serial killers.” Of her overall time at Whittier College, Tsuyuki also really values all the times she has worked in the Shannon Center for the theater department, and belting out musical theater numbers in the woodshop.
As for advice, Tsuyuki said, “I know everything seems like it’s coming at you all at once and trust me as someone who feels that all the time and is currently feeling that now, I promise it’s not as bad as you make it seem in your head” She claims to be the type of person to take the smallest things and blow them out of proportion. She continues her advice by stating, “Take a deep breath, go on a short little walk.” She also touched on the social aspect of a Whittier College education: “You’re probably going to have to work with a lot of people — be patient. Nothing helps if you just start yelling at people, so just be patient and understanding; it’ll get done.”
Aside from advice you may be wondering what a future screenwriter’s movie recommendations are, so here are some of Kim Tsuyuki’s favorite movies. According to her mother she had a weird array of movies she liked to watch as a child, two of which being Road to El Dorado and Chicken Run. Both of which she watched nonstop, she remembers watching Chicken Run recently and said, “it’s just British chickens,” and is extremely excited for the Netflix sequel to the film. She loves all of the Wallace and Gromit movies, even the were-rabbit one that scared her as a kid, because her mother loved them and showed them to her. She says those movies will always have a special place in her heart because of that. Some other favorites are Tangled — a comfort movie of hers; Big Hero 6 — which she believes handles grief wonderfully (plus, who does not love Baymax?); and La La Land — because of the cinematography, soundtrack, and aesthetic which all make for a beautiful movie according to Tsuyuki. As a big Marvel fan her favorite Marvel movies are Spiderman Homecoming, Thor Ragnorak, and Age of Ultron ( before you ask, yes she is excited for Thor: Love and Thunder and Doctor Strange Multiverse of Madness). She has titled herself as a Wanda Maximoff Apologist and says, in reference to Doctor Strange, “PSA: If you don’t want to become sorcerer supreme, don’t drink and drive.” Her favorite Marvel shows are WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Moon Knight. If she could have written any film however, she wishes it could have been Crazy Rich Asians. She believes the film does a beautiful job in highlighting Asian culture, while also being an amazing rom-coms, rom-coms being one of her favorite genres. She is also a huge fan of musicals, which is probably why she loves Disney movies so much, and is getting more into horror which is more new for her, as it was not something she originally watched because she would get scared easily.
In regards to life after college, Tsuyuki is applying to Production Assistant and Journalism positions, anticipating working in the film industry. It is clear to anyone who has met the intelligent and hardworking Tsuyuki that she could truly do anything she applies herself to, but ultimately she dreams of becoming a screenwriter, since movies have always been an escape for her. She aspires to write films for other little Japanese girls to see themselves represented, since Kim herself never had that experience growing up.
Featured Image: Kim Tsuyuki / Quaker Campus