Intersections: Fan Studies in Conversation in Japan Symposium

Sophia ICCSunday, December 16
10:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Sophia University Yotsuya Campus – Building no. 2, Room 1702
7-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8554 JAPAN

As an academic field, fan/fandom studies is robust and well-established – with its current state covered by comprehensive surveys such as Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World, 2nd Edition and A Companion to Media Fandom and Fan Studies, new research appearing in the Journal of Fandom Studies, teaching in programs like the Fandom, Cult Studies, and Subculture Studies minor at DePaul University, as well as various individual classes, and the Fan Studies Network connecting scholars around the world. And, as the field evolves and expands, certain conversations develop and certain questions are asked. For example, one of the chapters in A Companion to Media Fandom and Fan Studies is “The Unbearable Whiteness of Fandom and Fan Studies” (although the author acknowledges,  in a note, that “there is work, however, on the practices of media fandom outside of Europe and the United States that focuses on fans who would in the United States be understood as people of color, such as, for example, work on fandoms in Asia” – perhaps largely negating the hyperbolic title). One kind of conversation that is crucial to the continuing development of fan studies is one that acknowledges global perspectives on fans and fandom, and builds connections between scholars in different countries and with different approaches.

And it is to facilitate just these kinds of conversations that the Sophia University Institute of Comparative Culture is hosting a one-day symposium entitled Intersections: Fan Studies in Conversation in Japan. Organized by leading fan studies scholars Lori Morimoto, Nele Noppe, and Patrick W. Galbraith. It will be be free, open to the public, and conducted entirely in English. The Symposium will serve “as a step in the direction of greater contact between scholars based in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, who all focus on media and fan cultures, but in diverse ways. The goal is not only to encourage conversation and collaboration across dividing lines, but also to critically assess some of the assumptions and blind spots in fan studies today.” Several of the talks will directly address anime/manga and anime/manga fans and fandom. Continue reading

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Highlighting New Publications – Princess Mononoke: Understanding Studio Ghibli’s Monster Princess

Princess Mononoke (Bloomsbury)Editor: Rayna Denison
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Table of Contents

When, on October 29, 1999, Princess Mononoke premiered in U.S. theaters, Hayao Miyazaki was not completely unknown to American audiences, but he was still far from being the worldwide-famous director that is now. And neither audiences nor critics really knew what to expect from the film itself, either. Of course, now, it is one of a few films, along with Akira, Ghost in the Shell, and probably My Neighbor Totoro, that often represent the idea of “anime” outside Japan. For that matter, it is also the most “frequently studied” Ghibli film – with, by my count, at least 34 unique “discussions” that have been published so far. And now, Princess Mononoke is the first anime that is the subject of a full edited collection of English-language scholarly essays (the two feature anime that have merited individual book-length studies are Akira and Miyazaki’s Spirited Away – with volumes in Bloomsbury’s BFI Film Classics series). So, what does Understanding Studio Ghibli’s Monster Princess actually add to the literature – what is the reason for this book, and for its specific shape, form, and structure?

The first part of this question is very easy to answer – Rayna Denison, the volume’s editor, does an excellent job of outlining it in the opening chapter, “Introducing Studio Ghibli’s Monster Princess: From Mononokehime to Princess Mononoke“. Mononokehime/Princess Mononoke, Denison notes, “became a ‘monster’ film event” and “marked changes in the Japanese animation industry” – as well as a major shift in the course of Miyazaki’s career, his standing as an animator and director, and his worldwide perception and status. Another factor that presents itself particularly well for analysis is the film’s “lasting global cultural presence”. And overall, its “verdant and varied cultural legacy and history” simply mean that open the possibility for a variety of different scholarly approaches. Continue reading

Anime/Manga Studies Article Publication Trends – A 2018 Update

Two years ago, I examined the “publication trends” in anime/manga studies by tracking the actual number of articles on anime/manga that have appeared in English-language academic journals starting in 1993 and through 2015. At that point, I was able to identify 965 such articles – though of course, the determination of what exactly constitutes an “anime/manga studies” article is ultimately subjective. And, as I continue the work of compiling the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, I am also able to extend this analysis forward to the present.

English-language academic articles on anime/manga, by year, 2015-2018:

2015: 91
2016: 101
2017: 91
2018 (to date): 86

Total: 369 Continue reading

American Anime Fans – An Initial Research Guide

An easy way to approach the presence of anime and manga in the U.S. is to think about “firsts” – the first Japanese animated film to be screened in American movie theaters, the first Japanese cartoon aired on American television, the first anime released on home video, the first published manga, the first anime convention, and so on. And there is certainly a lot of value to identifying these kinds of firsts and establishing the history of anime/manga in the U.S. For anime in particular, for example, Brian Ruh has done excellent work in this area with “Early Japanese animation in the United States: Changing Tetsuwan Atomu to Astro Boy”, in The Japanification of Children’s Popular Culture: From Godzilla to Miyazaki (pp. 209-226) and Transforming U.S. anime in the 1980s: Localization and longevity (Mechademia, v. 5: Fanthropologies, pp. 31-49).

But, what kind of research is out there on the “present” state of anime in the U.S., especially, on the audience for anime in the U.S.? In fact, a few days ago, I came across just such a request for recommended articles or other scholarship specifically on American anime fans. I immediately realized that there are actually very few out there – compared to commentary on particular fan activities and practices, such as anime music videos, cosplay, fan fiction, and fan subs. So, I think it will be useful to list several that I am aware of and can readily recommend.

To begin, for any understanding of American anime fans, a key source are a pair of essays by Lawrence Eng:

Strategies of engagement: Discovering, defining, and describing otaku culture in the United States. (pp. 85-104). Continue reading

Kumoricon 2018 Anime and Manga Studies – Final Schedule

Kumoricon logoFor the first time, the program for this year’s Kumoricon anime convention, which will run from Friday, October 26 to Sunday, October 28 at the Oregon Convention Center is going to include a track of academic panels and lectures under the heading Kumoricon Anime and Manga Studies (KAMS). As described by its organizers, “KAMS is a new series of programming featuring academic panels and lectures, hosted at Kumoricon, with the goal of bringing together anime and manga scholars and fans and exposing the discipline’s insights to a larger audience of enthusiasts. Our 2018 presenters hail from 11 different universities from 3 different countries.”

The Call for Papers for KAMS was distributed starting in April of this year – the resulting program is as follows:

Kumoricon Anime and Manga Studies – Intertextual Anime Continue reading

Academic Hoaxes, “Sokal Squared”, and Anime and Manga Studies

It is rare to see any kind of discussion of academic publishing in mainstream media. Probably predictably, if academic journals are mentioned in general-interest newspapers it is probably because of some kind of controversy. And this is currently the case with the “Sokal Squared” hoax and the responses to it.

The hoax itself, as disclosed in Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship, was a project by three authors to write academic papers that were “outlandish or intentionally broken in significant ways”, including outright fabrication of data, but that allegedly “blend in almost perfectly with others in the disciplines [“loosely known as ‘cultural studies’ or ‘identity studies’ (for example, gender studies) or ‘critical theory'”] under our consideration” and submit these papers to leading journals. They submitted 20 papers; 7 were accepted, and 4 actually published. Since it was disclosed earlier in the month, the hoax has been covered extensively – in The Atlantic, the New York Times, Vox, and other publications. As the authors claim, the goal of the project was to study a “peculiar academic culture”, rather than to make and support any specific arguments beyond the general statement that “in certain fields within the humanities…scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established.”

The question I have to ask, of course, is what lessons, if any, does this latest hoax have for anime and manga studies in general, and for anyone interested in academic publications on anime/manga and related topics? Continue reading

Highlighting new publications – Miyazakiworld

MiyazakiworldTo Western audiences, Japanese animation still largely means the feature films produced by Studio Ghibli and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. And Western animation scholars also focus on Miyazaki and Ghibli extensively – just some recent examples include two of the four volumes published so far in Bloomsbury’s Animation: Key Films/Filmmakers series, the articles in the April 2018 “Introducing Studio Ghibli” issue of the East Asian Journal of Popular Culture, and a chapter on “excess and abnegation in Spirited Away” in the essay collection Devouring Japan: Global perspectives on Japanese culinary identity. And now, one of the world’s most prominent English-language academic publishers is adding to this list.

Napier, Susan. Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Continue reading

Papers on Anime/Manga in New Voices in Japanese Studies

New VoicesAs I’ve mentioned several times already, one of the inevitable challenges that faces anyone who is seeking to publish their research on anime/manga in a peer-reviewed academic journal is simply selecting a journal to submit to – especially given that there is nothing out there, at least right now, like a “Journal of Anime/Manga Studies”. One simple approach is to focus on the obvious and submit to one of the journals that focus on animation and comics, another is to emphasize the “Japan” angle and submit to a Japanese or Asian Studies journal. Of course, it is also possible to approach the content of the anime/manga in question first and foremost – with this approach, that the work itself happens to be a Japanese cartoon or comic is essentially irrelevant; an example of this kind of approach is Algorithmic tyranny: Psycho-Pass, science fiction and the criminological imagination, to be published in an forthcoming issue of Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal.

Nonetheless, all of these approaches call for a familiarity with the ever-growing universe of English-language academic journals. And one journal that I think will be particularly relevant to anyone who is interested in the developing field of anime/manga studies is New Voices in Japanese Studies (originally, New Voices) – “the only journal dedicated to publishing academic research by outstanding graduate-level scholars with a specific focus on Japan.” Continue reading

New Resource – The Core Journals of Anime/Manga Studies

Mechademia 01One of the pages that visitors to this site arrive from consistently is a question posted on anime.stackexchange.com about “any places that regularly publish anime or manga related academic papers?” Almost two years ago, I provided a basic answer to it there. Now, I am happy to announce a new addition to the Anime and Manga Studies site – a guide to the “core” journals of anime/manga studies – that is, the several dozen English-language academic journals, in several different subject areas, that have consistently published papers on anime/manga.

For each title, the guide lists basic details, such as the publisher, and whether the publisher is a for-profit corporate entity or a non-profit, the journal’s publication frequency, how long it has been in existence, its scope, profile, or mission statement, and a selection of the actual articles on anime/manga that have been published in each. In the future, I may work to expand the guide with additional information on the journals’ preferred word counts, citation styles, and other submission guidelines. I will also periodically review this list to add in any new titles that may become important to the field in the future.

Of course, these titles do not represent the entire “universe” of journals that academic articles on anime/manga can appear in. For example, right now, the Journal Articles section of the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies for the current year lists 40 individual articles – published in 26 different journals, and only 8 of these journals show up in the Core list.

Nonetheless, I do hope that going forward, this list will be useful to anyone who is looking to actually publish their research on anime/manga in a peer-reviewed academic journal, to teachers who are working to develop class reading lists, and of course, to students who are looking for publications to draw on to support their own research. As always, any feedback you have – thoughts, comments, suggestions, recommendations, etc. – is very much welcome!

The Core Journals of Anime/Manga Studies

 

Manga at the Comics Studies Society 1st Annual Conference

CSSRegardless of how one thinks about the idea of “manga studies” specifically, the idea of “comics studies” in general as an established academic field is long past being in any way controversial. The field is now covered by major commercial and academic presses – including several with dedicated series such as Bloomsbury Comics Studies, Comics Culture (Rutgers University Press), Palgrave Studies in Comics and Graphic NovelsStudies in Comics and Cartoons (The Ohio State University Press), and World Comics and Graphic Nonfiction (University of Texas Press), as well as number of journals, and regular academic conferences, and several colleges around the U.S. are now offering formal comics studies programs.
Another major feature that characterizes an established academic field is a defined community of scholars who are actually working in it, organized formally in some way. The Comics Studies Society, first organized in 2014, is this community for the field of comics studies broadly defined – as being “open to all who share the goals of promoting the critical study of comics, improving comics teaching, and engaging in open and ongoing conversations about the comics world”, with “comics studies” meaning “the study and critical analysis of comics strips; comic books, papers, and magazines; albums, graphic novels, and other graphic books; webcomics and other electronic formats; single-panel cartoons, including editorial and gag cartoons; caricature; animation; and other related forms and traditions.” Since its launch, the Society has been promoting resources in and for comics studies through its website, developing an annual award program for outstanding new scholarship on comics, and began publication of another new academic journal in the field. But its major area of activity has been the launch of an annual academic conference.

Continue reading