Int’l Anime Research Project – 2017 Anime Survey

Who exactly are anime fans? What are their demographic profiles, their ethnic/racial/national backgrounds, their income and education levels? How do anime fans view themselves – how are anime fans viewed by non-fans, and by fans of other media or activities? How are anime fans’ personal choices and preferences correlated to their beliefs or behaviors?

Finding concrete answers to these kinds of questions is challenging. Interview-based approaches such as the one Brent Allison uses in his “Interviews with adolescent anime fans” chapter in The Japanification of Children’s Popular Culture: From Godzilla to Miyazaki present some answers, but these probably cannot be generalized in any meaningful way, while the results of any surveys that anime companies may conduct are proprietary and not open to the public. Continue reading

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The Animation Journal – 25 Years of Contribution to Animation Studies

The establishment of one or more focused academic journals is commonly considered to be one of the major features of academic fields – rather than merely “areas of interest”. In this way, the Journal of Asian Studies “has played a defining role in the field of Asian studies for nearly 70 years”, and Japan Forum, Japanese Studies, and the Journal of Japanese Studies have done for that field.

By the time the Animation Journal was founded in 1991, an extensive body of academic writing on animation had existed already. But that journal’s formal launch in the fall of 1992 can be seen as a major point in the development of animation studies as a field – that is now supported by several other journals, a Society for Animation Studies, an Animation subject area at the Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association’s annual conference, and classes on animation commonly offered by film studies departments/programs. Since that first Fall 1992 issue, it has published over 150 articles on animation – including several on Japanese animation specifically.

But, as per an announcement on the AnimationJournal.com website, the 2017 “Special Issue on Italian Animation” is the journal’s final one – “It will be possible to purchase back issues, but no additional essays will be accepted for publication.” Continue reading

Highlighting New Publications – Undergraduate Scholarship on Anime/Manga

“Any [academic] discipline is first and foremost about the people who practice it” – write Gerardo L. Munck and Richard Snyder in Who publishes in comparative politics?: Studying the world from the United States. There are plenty of examples of studies in different areas/disciplines/fields that examine the characteristics of the authors who are actually working in them – some other typical recent examples are International differences in nursing research, 2005-2009, Quantity and authorship of GIS articles in library and information science literature, 1990-2005, and Taking stock of management education: A comparison of three management journals. And, while these kinds of studies often find that the authors of the articles that they examine differ quite widely in terms of their gender, academic rank, university affiliation, and other similar factors, they also generally demonstrate that the authors who publish in a particular field are overwhelmingly affiliated with academic programs in that field. This makes sense – a history professor or graduate student would publish in a history journal; likewise, the most likely author of an article in the Journal of Japanese Studies or a similar publication would be affiliated with an Asian, East Asian, or Japanese Studies program. But, there simply are no academic departments in the U.S. that specifically focus on anime/manga, and scholars who do publish work on Japanese animation or Japanese comics can be based in many different academic departments. A related issue, of course, is whether a person who wants to publish their academic writing has to even be an academic (i.e., employed as a faculty member) to begin with! Here too, the studies find many differences by discipline: 11% of the authors studied in Who publishes in comparative politics are graduate students, as are approximately 9% of those studied in An examination of author characteristics in national and regional criminology journals, 2009-2010, and 5% in Who publishes in top-tier library science journals?

But, even here, a valid question is whether someone who is interested in anime/manga academically and wants to share their work in a formal setting such as a peer-reviewed journal – but is just an undergraduate – is able to do so. Continue reading

I Want to Know More – Books on Anime/Manga: A Guided Tour, Part 2

In a previous post, I highlighted several books that I think are the best to recommend for someone who really knows almost nothing about Japanese animation/Japanese comics, and wants an introduction that is both accessible and reasonably comprehensive. The titles that I profiled – among them Anime: A Critical Introduction, Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga, and Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices – all strive to be just. But, what kinds of books could I recommend to a reader who is interested not in anime/manga “broadly defined”, but in the work of a particular anime director or manga artist/writer?

Books on Anime/Manga, Part 2 – Specific Directors/Creators

Hayao Miyazaki

For many people, Hayao Miyazaki is anime/Japanese animation – and this is not unreasonable. Sales figures, critical recognition, awards – and scholarship – all contribute to this, to the point where, as Jaqueline Bernd notes (in her essay “Considering manga discourse: Location, ambiguity, historicity”, in Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the Worlds of Manga and Anime): “Non-Japanese scholars tend to assume that his movies are typical as a whole because of their mere presence in Japan; they frequently treat these animated movies are mirrors of Japanese culture, assuming the existence of a homogenous audience, and often implicitly comparing them to Disney products, but they rarely locate them within the history and present variety of animation in Japan.” But, again, just as Miyazaki and his films often serve as points of entry into the “worlds of manga anime”, writing on Miyazaki and his films can serve as point of entry to anime scholarship.

Hayao MiyazakiFirst published in 1999, Hayao Miyazaki: Masster of Japanese Animation – Films, Themes, Artistry is likely the first one on Miyazaki that a reader will come across. It is widely available and easy to read, with a straight-forward organizational scheme that consists of an overview of Miyazaki’s “life and work”, chapters on seven of his movies, from Castle of Cagliostro to Princess Mononoke, each divided into identical sections (“Origins”, “Art and technique”, “The characters”, “The story”, “Commentary”), and a concluding one on “The Miyazaki Machine”. Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that it is almost twenty years old now, and so, simply does not cover either the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, Miyazaki’s other subsequent projects, or his role as the conscience – or vocal critic – of the animation industry in Japan. Continue reading

Manga in the New Bloomsbury ‘Comics Studies’ Series

Autobiographical ComicsOver the last several years, the international academic publisher Bloomsbury has actively embraced the emerging academic field of comics studies, with books such as The Visual Language of ComicsTransnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives (with chapters on “manga versions of Spider-Man” and “the cultural crossovers” of the manga-inspired Scott Pilgrim series), Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation (containing a chapter on “the global manga of Felipe Smith, and winner of the 2014 Best Scholarly/Academic Work Eisner Award) , and with specific relevance to manga studies, last year’s Manga in America: Transnational Book Publishing and the Domestication of Japanese Comics and Manga and Anime Go to Hollywood.

Bloomsbury has now announced the launch of Comics Studies – a new series of “reference guides…to the many worlds of comics and graphic novels.” Each guide will contain a general overview of a particular genre or style of comics/graphic novels, the works of a particular creator, or major themes, and a summary of major texts, their contexts, and the critical discussions that have occurred around them.

The first two volumes in the series, due out in the fall, will be Superhero Comics and Autobiographical Comics (with a specific discussion of Kenji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen as a “key text”). And, a volume on manga is already in development, although no further details are available at this time. But, when such a volume does appear, presumably next year, it may very well end up serving as the go-to “introduction” to manga for readers who are not familiar with the ideas and practices of critical commentary. It could then serve as a necessary update to Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga (now more than twenty years old), The Rough Guide to Manga (2009, and out of print), and Understanding Manga and Anime and Mostly Manga: A Genre Guide to Popular Manga, Manhwa, Manhua and Anime – both useful books, but also now rather dated, and both designed primarily for librarians who need to make decisions whether a particular manga title is worth adding to a public library’s collection – and could very well become a standard college text on manga as well, or at least a relatively accessible source for class readings!

Call for Papers: Japan Pop Goes Global

Japan Pop Goes Global

Japan Pop Goes Global: Japanese Pop Culture on Aesthetics and Creativity
Aoyama Gakuin University
Tokyo, Japan
November 25, 2017

The School of Cultural and Creative Studies, Aoyama Gakuin University in collaboration with the Mutual Images Association has announced a Call for Papers for a symposium on the growing influence of Japanese popular culture, including anime/manga, on contemporary visual arts around the word.

Scholars who are interested in participating in the symposium are invited to submit abstracts (250 words maximum) of presentations examining the visual arts, broadly defined, that have been influenced by Japanese popular culture. These can address questions related to comic books, manga, graphic novels, fan art, anime, contemporary art, film, television, fashion, advertising, creative industries, technology, gaming, and storytelling.

The proposals should be sent to mutualimages@gmail.com by September 15, 2017 with “AGU-MI submission” in the subject field. Acceptance notifications will be sent by September 30. The symposium will feature a keynote address by Prof. Northrop Davis (University of South Carolina), author of Manga and Anime Go to Hollywood (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016). Authors may also be invited to develop their presentations into articles to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Mutual Images Journal.

The full CFP for this event follows: Continue reading

Guest Post – The ‘So Far’ of Anime and Manga

From the editor: One of the major activities that Anime and Manga Studies Projects undertakes is promoting the emerging field of anime and manga studies by highlighting new academic writing on Japanese animation and Japanese comics. The ongoing Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies is one aspect of this activity, and pieces I post highlighting new books, book chapters, and journal articles are another. Throughout my work, though, I have always wanted to ask the question of how do authors of new scholarship on anime/manga actually view their own research. How did it come about? What are its connections to other scholarship? Where do the authors draw their inspirations from? What do they hope to accomplish?

And, I am now excited to present a new and unique type of article on anime/manga studies – an emerging anime/manga scholar reflecting on their work.

The ‘So Far’ of Anime and Manga: A Visual Theoretical Depiction of Possibilities

Kathy Nguyen is the author of Wired:: Ghosts in the s[hell] (Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies) and Body upload 2.0: Downloadable cosmetic [re]birth (Ekphrasis: Images, Cinema, Theory, Media). She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in multicultural women’s and gender studies at Texas Woman’s University.

Living in an increasingly rapid digital era, where scrolling, tapping, being wired and plugged in may be the few solitary sources for connectivity – that is, if connectivity will eventually become technologized – problematizes several issues once the world becomes updated. I am especially interested in studying about the philosophies of technology; I continuously go back to Wendy Hui Kyong Chun’s book, Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media. Chun writes: “New [technology] live and die by the update: the end of the update, the end of the object” (2). These updates are interesting because if human bodies, animals, objects, and such are constantly being updated and/or upgraded, what does death look like in the digital age, especially when there are apparatuses such as the E-Tomb, where information of the deceased continues to live on? Perhaps eternally – or at least, if the network maintains its connectivity signals. Continue reading

Call for Papers – Mechademia: Second Arc, Vol. 1 “Childhood”

Back in 2006, the University of Minnesota Press’s launch of Mechademia Volume 1: Emerging Worlds of Anime and Manga – the first in “a series of books…devoted to creative and critical work on anime, manga and the fan arts”, with the goal for the series stated as being “to examine, discuss, theorize and reveal this unique style through its historic Japanese origins and its ubiquitous global presence and manifestation in popular and gallery culture” was rightly seen as a major step in the development of anime/manga studies as a defined academic field.

Mechademia was, of course, not the only place where an author could publish their work on anime/manga, but it quickly became one of the most prominent and accessible – widely distributed to academic and even public libraries, available online via JSTOR and Project Muse, and priced at a point that made it affordable to readers who simply wished to purchase individual volumes. And, this volume, and the nine that followed, each centered around a general theme, among them “Networks of Desire“, “Lines of Sight“, “Tezuka’s Manga Life” and finally, in 2015, “World Renewal” each made a major and significant contribution to the growing field, especially with their unique and distinctive mix of original essays, translations of both recent and and historical Japanese scholarship, short commentary pieces, photo essays, comics/manga, and other types of content far beyond the range of what is normally seen in academic journals and essay collections. Continue reading

AX 2017 Academic Program

axlogo_2017_date_black

Planning on attending next month’s Anime Expo convention? (Los Angeles, California – July 1-4)? Have always been interested in “anime and manga studies” – or just in the idea of approaching anime and manga in the same way that scholars approach film and literature? For that matter, want to see just how scholars from many different fields talk about anime and manga, and would like to participate in this conversation?

Anime Expo 2017 will once again offer an Academic Program (also known as the AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium) – bringing together college/university professors, graduate students, undergraduates, and independent scholars from around the world for four days of lectures, presentations and discussions on a wide range of topics related to anime and manga. The Academic Track will be open to all AX attendees – no particular academic background is required, and all are welcome!

AX 2017 Academic Program
“Teaching Happiness” – Education With and About Anime and Manga

Anime Expo 2017
Los Angeles Convention Center
LACC 411 / AX Live Programming 4
July 1-4

Saturday, July 1:

6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Introduction and Welcome
Mikhail Koulikov (Executive Producer, Anime and Manga Studies Projects)

Keynote Address
Consuming Japan: Popular Culture and the Globalizing of America

mckevitt
Andrew McKevitt
Assistant Professor, History
Louisiana Tech University

Anime fandom in the United States was born at a tense moment in the relationship between the United States and Japan. To many Americans it seemed that, decades after the end of World War II, Japan’s newfound global economic power would challenge the U.S.-dominated international system. Popular publications foretold the “Danger from Japan,” or the “Coming War with Japan.” But a national “Japan Panic” was not the only way Americans encountered Japan in the 1970s and 1980s. Throughout the country, in local places like automobile factories and anime fan clubs, Americans engaged with Japanese culture in new and transformative ways.

Andrew McKevitt teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the history of U.S. foreign relations, the postwar United States, modern Russia, and modern Japan. He received a Ph.D. from Temple University, and previously served as the Hollybush Fellow in Cold War History at Rowan University and as a visiting assistant professor of history at Philadelphia University

Dr. McKevitt’s research focuses on U.S. cultural relations in the postwar era. His book on the history of U.S.-Japan relations in the 1970s and 1980s told through the lens of consumerism in the United States will be published in October. In 2011, he received the Stuart L. Bernath Scholarly Article Prize, awarded by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations for the year’s best article in the field, for his paper “You Are Not Alone!” Anime and the Globalizing of America. Published in the journal Diplomatic History, it examines the local, national, and transnational cultural networks created by fans of Japanese animation in the 1970s and 1980s. Continue reading

Call for Papers – Mechademia Conf. on Asian Popular Cultures 2017

Mechademia ConferenceMechademia 2017: Science Fictions
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Minneapolis, Minnesota
September 22-24, 2017

The organizers of the annual Mechademia conference, hosted at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, are inviting scholars to present their work at this year’s event. Mechademia’s overall goal is to “explore the global innovations and creative and cultural implications of Japanese anime and manga”, and the specific focus of this year’s event is on science fiction, broadly defined. Some potential topics could include discussions of:

• Transnational science fiction forms
• Gender, feminist science fiction
• Emergent genre of “cli-fi”
• Fan Fiction
• Science fiction and environmental justice movements Continue reading