New Special Issue – TranscUlturAl: A J. of Translation and Cultural Studies

As I’ve noted a number of times, some academic journals certainly seem to be “more welcoming” to publications on anime/manga than others. 78 articles on anime/manga that have been published since 1993 appeared in the International Journal of Comic Art, 22 in Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 19 in Japan Forum, 15 in the Journal of Popular Culture, and so on. But, overall, more than 460 individual journals have now published an article on anime/manga – and a majority of them only published one or two. This means that as I track publication trends in anime/manga studies, I am constantly discovering not just new articles, but new journals that I have never come across before.

One such journal is open-access TranscUlturAl: A Journal of Translation and Cultural Studies, which publishes “essays, translations and creative pieces that explore interrelationships between translations and cultures, past and present, in global and local contexts.” Its latest issue focuses specifically on “translation and comics”, and contains two articles on manga – as follows, with my thoughts/comments.

Fabbretti, Matteo. The use of translation notes in manga scanlation. TranscUlturAl: A Journal of Translation and Cultural Studies, 8(2), 86-104.

Abstract:

“This article investigates the use of translation notes to deal with translation problems. In Translation Studies, the presence of translation notes in a translation is considered particularly significant because they clearly indicate what features of the source text the translator considered important for the comprehension of the text and therefore necessary to retain or explain. In the field of comics in translation, the use of T/N is rather uncommon, and can be considered the main translation strategy that distinguishes scanlation from other types of translations.

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Book Review – Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices

Manga - IntroductionEditor: Melinda Beasi
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukee, OR)
ISBN: 1616552786 / 9781616552787

U.S. comics companies first began publishing translated versions of Japanese comics (manga) in the late 1980’s. Since then, the manga market has evolved, reached amazing heights (in the spring of 2007, a volume of Fruits Basket rose to the no. 15 spot on the weekly USA Today list of the nation’s top 150 best-selling books), contracted – and, for the last several years, has been on an upswing again. Manga volumes hold five places in the latest ranking of the top twenty graphic novels of all types sold in the U.S., as compiled by Nielsen BookScan and reported by ICv2.com. When, earlier this year, the Young Adult Library Services Association announced its annual Great Graphic Novels for Teens list, manga – Japanese comics –  accounted for 15 titles on the list, out of a total of 112. And, as Danielle Rich demonstrates in The institutionalization of Japanese comics in US public libraries (2000-2010), and Glenn Masuchika and Gail Boldt do in Japanese manga in translation and American graphic novels: A preliminary examination of the collections in 44 academic libraries, both public and academic libraries have very much embraced manga.

Of course, while many librarians are already familiar with manga, many are still not. So, what kinds of sources can they draw on to get a basic understanding of what exactly the term encompasses, what are some of its particular features, and how manga differ from American comics. At the height of the “manga boom” – ten years ago now, the specialized publisher Libraries Unlimited met this information need with Graphic Novels: A Genre Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More and Understanding Manga and Anime, a pair of fairly comprehensive reference volumes designed specifically for librarians. But, while certainly useful, both are now rather dated. Plus of course, both of them may simply cover more ground than a librarian interested only in manga would need. Another option is to consider any one of the edited essay collections on manga that have appeared in recent years, such as Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime, Mangatopia: Essays on Manga and Anme in the Modern World, and Manga: An Anthology of Global and Cultural Perspectives. Again, though, an academic essay that is a close reading of the work of a particular manga artist or a study of particular themes across several manga may not really be of any use to a reference librarian or to one working in collection development. Finally, librarians who work with manga have published quite a few case studies in professional magazines, but as with any case study, these focus on activities that took place in particular, specific environments, and may not necessarily yield themselves to replication in other settings.

So, what may be useful for librarians – in addition to all of these kinds of materials – is a relatively concise introduction to Japanese comics that would also be written specifically for a librarian audience. And, as it turns out, Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices, published by Dark Horse Comics, itself a leading English-language publisher of Japanese comics, with financial support provided by the Comics Book Legal Defense Fund, “a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of the comics medium”, and drawing on the expertise of a group of journalists, librarians, and manga industry professionals, is exactly this kind of book.

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New Special Issue – The Journal of Popular Culture

Fred Schodt’s 1983 Manga! Manga!: The World of Japanese Comics is rightly recognized as the first in-depth English-language survey of its subject. But, already, Western scholars were also paying attention to Japanese comics – first, in 1977, with “Contemporary Japanese youth: Mass media communication” (in Youth & Society, 8:4), and then, two years later, with Salaryman comics in Japan: Images of self-perception, in the Journal of Popular Culture. And, in the more than thirty years now that have passed since that article appeared – and as anime and manga studies has developed into a defined academic field, this journal has continued welcoming articles on Japanese animation and Japanese comics. At least 14 more have appeared in it through the end of last year, with one more (which I already discussed) in February. And now, the journal’s latest issue has a specific focus on “Asian popular culture” – which, as the issue’s editors note, is “an umbrella term for the study of various facets of culture (such as film, television, literature, music, animation, social media, digital media, advertising) across Asia using a range of methodologies and approaches”.

[Ed. note: Here, it would be interesting to also consider how other editors have presented the same term. The editors of Asian Popular Culture: New, Hybrid, and Alternate Media (Lexington Books, 2013) do not see any need to it to be any more complicated than simply referring to “popular culture practices in Asia”. On the other hand, in the introduction to Asian Popular Culture: The Global (Dis)continutity (Routledge, 2013), Anthony Y.H. Fung states that “this book does not present a definition of Asian popular culture – which may practically be unfeasible owing to the diversity of Asian cultural products – but presents the readers cases of highly popular Asian pop imaginaries that can be connected to the discourse of globalization and under the theme of the global (dis)continuity of the political economy.]

Anime/manga and Chinese cinema are certainly the two components of it that are the most prominent in “popular and critical imagination”, but, again, studying Asian popular culture needs to consider not only particular types/modes/facets of popular culture, but also factors and features such as adaptations from one to another – and the ways popular culture moves both within Asian, and from Asia to the rest of the world. Two of the essays in the issue deal with aspects of these issues specifically with regard to anime/manga.

Karatsu, Rie. Female voice and Occidentalism in Mika Nakagawa’s Helter Skelter (2012): Adapting Kyoko Akazaki to the screen. The Journal of Popular Culture, 49(5), 967-983.

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New Issue – Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal

In describing any academic field, one important factor to consider is where the scholars who participate in that field actually publish their work. Are there only a few journals that account for the majority of published scholarship? Or do articles appear in many different ones? For that matter, is it possible to define a list of “core” journals for a given field/area?

With regards to anime/manga studies, this “where do we publish” question can be approached both subjectively – as I have done by highlighting a number of journals that, in my opinion/experience, have been particularly welcoming to articles on Japanese animation and Japanese comics, and objectively, by identifying nearly 1,000 individual articles on anime/manga that were published in various English-language journals between 1993 and 2015 and recording the specific journals that these articles appeared in. As I found, these articles appeared in more than 450 individual journals; with approximately 8% of the total in the International Journal of Comic Art, and a total of approximately 25% in the top ten journals.

The academic/scholarly journal with the next-highest number of articles on Japanese animation is Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Probably the most high-profile academic journal on animation and related topics, over its 11 years of publication, it has already published 24 individual articles on anime. And, two much appear in its latest November 2016 issue. I would argue that these articles – because of the journal that they appear in, and the backgrounds and institutional affiliations of their authors – can be presented as the epitome of how scholars writing in English currently approach Japanese animation.

Roquet, Paul. From animation to augmentation: Denno Coil and the authentic self. Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 11(3), 228-245.

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Anime/Manga Studies Article Publication Trends – Details

A couple of months ago, I presented a fairly straight-forward question – when we talk about anime/manga studies (and even just academic writing on anime/manga in general), how many publications are we actually talking about? A few dozen? Several hundred? More?

This led me to draw on the work that I do in compiling the annual editions of the Bibliography of Anime/Manga Studies and extract some specific numbers from them to put together a broader picture of “publishing trends” in anime/manga studies. This goes towards answering the overall ‘how many?’ question, but also shows how the numbers have changed over the years, what journals have been particularly welcoming to scholarly writing on anime/manga, and who the publishers of those journals are.

In extracting the numbers, though, I had to make various somewhat arbitrary choices. And now, I hope I can at least explain the reasoning behind them.

A Preliminary Study of Anime/Manga Studies Article Publication Trends, 1993-2015 – Methodology

Based on my research, from 1993 to 2015, academic journals published at least 981 English-language articles on anime/manga and related topics. The overall results, by year, can be seen in this chart:

academic-artices-1993-2015

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Using Subject Headings in Anime/Manga Research

How does someone go about locating scholarly publications (books, book chapters, journal articles) on topics related to Japanese animation and Japanese comics? Plugging keywords into Google or Bing, the specialized Google Scholar and Bing Academic Search, or scholarly database such as Academic OneFile, Academic Search Premier, or the Film & Television Literature Index can be a good first step. So, they may be good places either to begin the research – without any intention of wading through all of the thousands of results that a simple keyword search will return, or to search for materials that fit very specific criteria such such an an article published in a peer-reviewed journal that, in its own title, uses the title of a particular anime or manga. It is also absolutely important to remember that these kinds of research tools are not always able to search the actual full texts of the publications that they cover, so just because some publications do not come up in either very broad or very specialized searches, it does not mean that these publications do not exist at all.

So, what kinds of advanced search techniques can a researcher use? One that I emphasize – and rely on myself – is to think beyond keywords, and to understand the idea of “subject headings”.

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Faculty Position Announcement – East Asian Visual Media/Popular Culture

bu-master-logo“The Department of World Languages & Literatures at Boston University invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in East Asian Visual Media and Popular Culture, to begin July 1, 2017. Relevant expertise includes research in film, television, animation, graphic novels, or new media. Strong preference for transnational research reflecting the increasingly globalized sphere of popular culture across East Asia and potentially including South Asia. PhD is required at time of appointment, as is proficiency in an East Asian language.A robust research and publication agenda is essential.”

When talking about “anime/manga studies” as an actual academic field, rather than simply the idea of academic approaches to Japanese animation/comics, one point I always try to make is that while this field certainly already has some formal characteristics, it is still missing some others. Yes, authors are certainly writing books and book chapters and journal articles on anime/manga, and there are plenty of classes on anime/manga at colleges and universities around the U.S. But, at this point, it is not possible for a student to receive a degree in “anime studies” – then again, to the best of my understanding, only one university in the U.S. offers an actual undergraduate minor in comics and cartoon studies. For that matter, while plenty of college/university faculty members list anime or manga among their academic interests, there is no such thing as a “professor of anime studies” in the way that “professor of film studies” can be a title.

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Highlighting New Publications – Rewriting History in Manga

rewriting-historyPopular culture works across different languages and different media – literature, film, television, and comics – frequently draw on historical events for their subjects. In turn, how popular culture uses history is a frequent topic of scholarship in its own right – just some recent examples include American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film, Gone With the Glory: The Civil War in Cinema, and Screening the Past: Film and the Representation of History. And Japanese popular culture is not an exception here – anime and manga also often depict historical incidents and events. These depictions range from the fairly realistic to the unapologetically fanciful – and, again, present obvious “points of entry” for scholars. Jaqueline Berndt’s approach, in “Historical adventures of a post-historical medium: Japan’s wartime past as represented in manga”, is straight-forward. Wendy Hardenberg’s, in Transcending the victim’s history: Takahata Isao’s Grave of the Fireflies, focuses on how “history” is created and the different types or forms of “history”. Andrea Horbinski, in “Record of dying days: The alternate history of Ooku” (in Mechademia, vol. 10), highlights the ways that manga has explored “alternate history”. In fact, just three years ago, Routledge published a full collection of essays on “manga and the representation of Japanese history”. And now, another major publisher, Palgrave Macmillan, is exploring this topic again with Rewriting History in Manga: Stories for the Nation.

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Upcoming Exhibition – Cool Japan: A Worldwide Fascination in Focus

VolkenkundeNext year, starting in April, Museum Volkenkunde / The National Museum of Ethnology (Leiden, The Netherlands) will host “Cool Japan: A Worldwide Fascination in Focus“, an exhibition which will use original artwork, physical objects (manga, figures, costumes, video games, etc.), installations, displays and screenings to “examine the popularity of the Japanese visual popculture, explore the ways in it travels the globe and trace its historical roots.” One of the exhibition’s specific goals will be to highlight the actual work/labor behind anime and manga, and to emphasize the physicality of these forms of visual culture. To this end, the exhibit’s organizers hope to include in it drawings by actual creators/directors. And, they are actively looking to reach out to anime/manga art collectors who may be interested in contributing items from their own collections to this project.

As an announcement that was recently posted to the Anime and Manga Research Circle Mailing List:

“At this moment, I am searching for collectors who have original drawings and/or cels from the great masters, like Hayao Miyazaki, Osamu Tezuka, Hideaki Anno, Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Katsuhiro Ôtomo. Do any of you know any collectors? Or do you perhaps know of museums that have original works in the collection? Our museum is used to take care of the most rare, old and fragile objects so any items that would be put on loan are in care of professionals.”

If you think you can assist with this, know anyone who may be able to, or simply have comments or questions that you would like to pass on to the organizers, please let me know!

Factsheet – Cool Japan: A Worldwide Fascination in Focus
Museum Volkenkunde (Leiden, The Netherlands)
April 13 – August 28, 2017

New Issue – Resilience: A Journal of the Ecocritical Humanities

ResilienceMore than a year and a half ago, early in 2015, the editors of Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities announced a Call for Papers for a special Media Review section in an upcoming issue of the journal, that would be dedicated to “apply[ing] ecocritical and Green cultural studies approaches to the field of Japanese animation.”

The CFP provided additional background for the section, and listed the specific titles that the editors were hoping to attract reviews of.

“2014 was a watershed year for Studio Ghibli, arguably the leading anime studio, because it marked the retirement of the founding directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. who issued their swan-songs The Wind Rises and Princess Kaguya. To honor this moment and attract more critical attention to anime, we are soliciting reviews of the following:

  • Miyazaki’s films, especially Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Ponyo.
  • Takahata’s Ken the Wolf Boy, Heidi: Girl of the Alps, Pom Poko aka “Tanuki Wars,” Grave of the Fireflies, and Princess Kaguya.
  • We are also interested in work inspired by or intertextually related to Studio Ghibli, such as Disney’s Lilo and Stitch; Irish director Tomm Moore’s The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea; and the animated version of Avatar: The Last Airbender (including its sequel, The Legend of Korra, which is a gold mine for feminist, post-colonial, eco-cosmopolitan, and queer ecocriticism, just sayin’).
  • Reviews of other anime films, TV series, and manga unrelated to Ghibli will also be considered.”

For a while after the call for papers went out, I had not heard anything about this project – and in fact, it does not appear that the journal’s website has not been updated in more than two years either. But, as it turns out, electronic versions of it are available in both JSTOR and Project Muse, and, Ecocritical Reviews to Studio Ghibli was in fact published as the Media Cluster section of Resilience‘s Fall 2015 issue (Volume 2, No. 3).

Looking at the articles that actually appeared in the section, a few things  come to mind right away. The “spread” of films that the authors who responded to the CFP addressed is definitely fairly expansive – though not quite comprehensive – with separate essays on Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Pom Poko, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, the non-Ghibli anime Mushishi, and the arguably “inspired by Studio Ghibli” The Secret of Kells, as well as two more that discuss broader topics as expressed in more than one film. And, the list of authors is fairly wide-ranging as well – although most are based at American colleges/universities, others are affiliated with institutions in Australia, Germany, and the U.K. At the same time, the question also stands – Miyazaki’s work and influence has already been the subject of literally dozens of journal articles, and at least two journal special issues. Is another one really necessary? And, does it then merely emphasize Jacqueline Berndt’s argument that Miyazaki exerts an undue influence on the shape of anime studies as a field, and that this outside influence leads to a tendency to treat Miyazaki’s films as “typical of anime as a whole”, and largely ignore anime that doesn’t neatly fit this image or stereotype?

Regardless, the actual contents of this Special Section are as follows:

Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities
Special Section – Ecocritical Approaches to Studio Ghibli

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