I Want to Know More: Books on Anime/Manga, Part 3 – Essay Collections

The monograph written by a single author and the article published in a peer-reviewed journal are two of the most common forms or formats of academic writing, and the ones that readers are generally the most intuitively familiar with. But they are not the only possible formats – another major one is a collection of essays, organized by a specific editor around a common theme, with contributions from a number of different authors – potentially from different academic fields, and often, different countries. As Brian Erb notes, in Beyond WorldCat: Accessing scholarly output in books and edited monographs “the importance of the edited book chapter for academic output should not be understated”, but of course, beyond simply academic output, there is also the question of the importance of these kinds of collections to readers – especially to readers who are looking for introductions to particular topics, for general overviews of major themes and issues, or for surveys of a variety of range of approaches.

In previous posts, I described some of what I think are the most useful single general books for anyone who is new to the field, and the major titles on specific creators/directors. Now, I would like to continue with this project, and present an overview of the major academic essay collections on anime/manga

I Want to Know More: Books on Anime/Manga, Part 3 – Edited Essay Collections


Cinema Anime: Critical Engagements with Japanese Animation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

Cinema AnimeBy the mid-2000’s, individual chapters on anime had already appeared in more general essay collections, and in 2001, Susan Napier was the first to publish a monograph with “Anime” in the title. Cinema Anime, bringing together nine leading scholars, builds on them by arguing that the only way to interact with anime critically is to consider that anime encompasses a “diversity of approaches”, styles, and modes of distribution – in short, there is no single or “best” way to examine Japanese animation. At the same time, the essays in it can be organized broadly into three groups: one set broadly examines how anime addresses “the politics of identity”, the next, one of anime’s most consistent themes – post-humanism, and the last set, the relationship between anime and cinema broadly defined.

Sample chapter: “Excuse me, who are you?”: Performance, the gaze, and the female in the works of Kon Satoshi

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Resource Review – Database for Animation Studies

Database for Animation Studies - 01A simple and straight-forward question to ask when conducting any kind of academic research is – where do I start looking for materials on my topic? And, a key concept to understand when thinking about the research process is that there is no such thing as single resource that would be an equally effective starting point for any kind of research.  Subject encyclopedias and specialized subject bibliographies, introductory essay collections (these often carry the specific term “Companion” or “Handbook” in the title – as with the examples of the Cambridge Companion to the Graphic Novel and the Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society) and of course, various general and subject-specific research databases , to say nothing of Google Scholar, may all be useful.

In the past, I have profiled/evaluated one such resource – the Bonn Online Bibliography for Comics Research. And recently, I became aware of another one that – at least initially, looks like it would be perfect for anyone who is looking to begin researching topics related to anime/Japanese animation.

Database for Animation Studies

What does this Database cover? How is it organized? And, most importantly, is it actually useful?

(Note: All of my comments apply to the English version of the Database only)


“Launched in 2013, Database for Animation Studies is a part of the project called Mapping Project for Animation Studies held by Japanese Association of Animation Studies. It collects the information of the books and the articles on Animation Studies and share it. By doing it, this website aims to show the map of the landscape of Animation Studies.” Continue reading

Comics Studies Society – 2017 Prizes

CSSOne of the particular features of working in the academic environment is that individual scholars’ contributions to their fields’ bodies of knowledge are often recognized directly via various kinds of “best publication” awards – usually a combination of an actual cash award, of course recognition, and, perhaps most importantly, a line on the CV!

This practice is common across disciplines and subject areas. In 2011, for example, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations presented its Stuart L. Bernath Scholarly Article Prize – “$1,000…awarded annually to the author of a distinguished article appearing in a scholarly journal or edited book, on any topic in United States foreign relations”, to Andrew McKevitt, for his article “You are not alone!”: Anime and the globalizing of America. Continue reading

College Classes on Anime/Manga: Fall 2017

The Fall 2017 semester is well under way now – and this means that it’s time for another round-up of classes on anime/manga that colleges/universities around the U.S. are offering this term. As with the prior similar updates, it is meant to be illustrative, not comprehensive – for that matter, I don’t think there is a way to compile a comprehensive list of this kind. Nonetheless, the College Classes on Anime/Manga page in the Resources section of this site is cumulative, and the Fall 2017 classes that I was able to locate have been added to it. In fact, as the total number of classes listed there grows, I hope that it may be possible to start identifying certain trends or patterns in the kinds of colleges/universities that are offering classes on anime/manga, and the ways these classes are described in course catalogs and on department websites.

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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

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