Publication patterns in anime/manga studies, 2010-2014

Over the last year, I have been using this blog to promote, foster and facilitate the developing field of anime/manga studies, and document various new developments in this field. And, I also hope to be able to say that with this blog, I can  demonstrate just what we mean by the term anime and manga studies. One easy way to do this is simply by highlighting the range of academic books, book chapters, journal articles, and other publications on anime/manga – as I do in the Bibliography section. Another is by noting that many of these publications themselves specifically use the terms ‘anime studies’/’manga studies’.

But, pointing out that anime/manga studies is an academic field then raises a direct question – what are some of the characteristics of anime/manga studies as an academic field? What kinds of programs are the scholars writing about anime/manga based in? What form does the “scholarly output” of anime/manga studies take? What is the field’s “citation landscape” – what kinds of publications do anime/manga scholars cite in their work, and are there particular publications (or even particular individual titles) that are cited with such frequency that they should be considered “core” for the field as a whole? Academic fields or areas can also be characterized by their “publication patterns” – that is, the kinds of journals (or the specific journals) that scholarship in these fields tends to appear in. Do anime scholars seek to publish their work primarily in Japanese or Asian studies journals? Film studies/animation studies journals? Other types? An example of a study that examines the publication patterns for a particular academic area is Tomasello, Tami K., Lee, Youngwon, & Baer, April P. (2010) ‘New media’ research publication trends and outlets in communication, 1990-2006, New Media & Society, 12(4), 531-548. Developing a bibliography of scholarly publications on anime and manga as I have done gives me a very good opportunity to put together a similar study, though there will be some notable differences.

Other papers that focus on publication patterns/publication records, such as Rojas, Fabio (2007), One discipline, two tracks: An analysis of the journal publication records of professors in Africana Studies doctoral programs, Journal of Black Studies, 39(1), 57-68, Rupp, Nicholas G., & McKinney, Carl Nicholas Jr., The publication patterns of elite economics departments: 1995-2000Eastern Economic Journal28(2), 523-538, and Talaga, James, & Chia, Swee-Lim, A study of journal publication patterns of marketing facultyMarketing Education Review, 20(3), 215-228 examine specified, defined groups of scholars. Defining a similar group for anime/manga studies is simply not possible – one of the basic features of this academic area is that it is open to contributions from scholars who are based in many different departments and programs.

Another approach could be to search for articles on anime/manga in a major academic database and then examine the results, but this kind of approach will also be limited. Major comprehensive academic databases like Gale Academic Search Premier, EBSCO Academic Source Premier or the MLA International Bibliography simply do not cover the full range of journals that publish scholarship on anime/manga – this limitation is particularly evident with regard to newer, open access journals such as ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies or Transformative Works and Cultures, but even a publication as major as Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal is not included in Academic Search Premier. And of course, the question of how to actually set up an effective search strategy is also worth considering – searching simply for the words anime or manga necessarily returns many false positives, while limiting the search to anime/manga as subject terms significantly undercounts the results.

So, instead, to develop a study of the publication patterns of anime/manga studies, I can draw on the annual bibliographies of anime/manga studies that I have been compiling. The first stage of this study is to examine the bibliographies that I already have available, covering the five years from 2010 to 2014. Although it’s certainly clear that anime/manga scholars publish their research in monographs and in chapters in edited collections as well, for this project, I will only focus on journal articles (to follow the model of the similar studies that I referred to earlier). The goal will be to determine how many articles on anime/manga have been published in academic journals over these five years, as well as in each individual year, and more importantly, what kinds of journals, by subject, have published scholarship on anime/manga during this period.

Journal article publication patterns in anime/manga studies, 2010-2014

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Animation 2 2 2 5 3
Asian/East Asian/Japanese Studies 19 10 13 11 18
Comics 15 28 7 8 3
Film 1 6 4 3 12
Humanities/Languages/Literature 8 9 6 2 3
Other 34 27 29 43 31



Perhaps the most immediate result this analysis reveals is that the journals in animation studies do not play a major role in presenting research on anime. Over the five years, these kinds of journals carried only 14 papers on Japanese animation – just under 4% of the total (365). Journals in comics studies do seem to be significantly more accepting, with 61 articles (16%). Film studies journals are also not a major venue for anime scholarship – 26 articles (7%). In fact, in four of the five years, the “other” subject category accounted for more articles than any other. The only exception was 2011, and the difference there can be explained by the publication of a “Visual Language of Manga” special issue of the journal Image & Narrative, and a “Women’s Manga beyond Japan: Contemporary Comics as Cultural Crossroads in Asia” section in an issue of the International Journal of Comic Art. In turn, although this is not reflected in the table, the “other” category covers a very wide range of journals, with most of them only carrying one article on anime/manga over the sample period. Some of the more obvious or expected subjects or fields in the category include media studies, communication, sociology, and library/information science, but journals in the social sciences and law are also represented to some extent.


So, what can we take away from these results? One immediate implication is that if you are interested in publishing work in anime/manga studies, you should consider a wide range of possible publication venues. In fact, the approaches and methods that you use in your work, and the field or subject area that you situate it in will be a lot more important than its specific subject. On a broader level, based on journal publication patterns, it is clear that anime/manga studies is a multidisciplinary (or interdisciplinary) area that is not dominated by any particular field, subject, or even approach.


Obviously, this is a very simple, purely descriptive/enumerative study, and subject to certain limitations. It is based on a purposive sample of articles, selected purely based on whether, in my opinion, they address anime/manga. For some articles (usually, those that specifically refer to anime/manga in general, or a particular film or series, in the title), making this selection is easy enough, but with others, another researcher would not necessarily include them in the sample. I also did not limit the source journals in my sample to any particular type – it includes established publications like Criticism, the Journal of Asian Studies, and Marvels & Tales, newer titles (many of them open-access), as well as a number that are highly specialized, regional, or meant for a very small audience. In addition, again, going back to the study’s basic design, simple enumeration raises some other valid questions – for example, how many journals are there that focus on animation, including anime (or comics, including manga). And, what is the proportion of anime/manga articles to all articles that are published in these journals. Finally, the “big” question also remains – can we not just describe the results of this study, but explain them?

What next?

This simple, purely descriptive/enumerative study is essentially a proof of concept or an exercise in adapting particular methods to a new area. Clearly, there is an interest out there in thinking about anime/manga studies – and we can see in the writings of Thomas Lamarre, Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano (in her essay “Global and local materialities of anime”, in Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto, Eva Tsai, and JungBong Choi (Eds.), Television, Japan and Globalization, and especially, Jaqueline Berndt, in “Considering manga discourse: Location, ambiguity, historicity”, in Mark MacWilliams (Ed.), Japanese Visual Culture: Essays in the World of Manga and Anime, and in her interview with So, the next step can be to make the methodology of this study more precise, such as by limiting its scope to articles covered in major databases, where anime/manga (or equivalent terms) appear in the title of the article, the abstract, or the list of keywords, And, at least conceptually, this kind of study can then be ready for publication – and ultimately, appear in a peer-reviewed academic journal alongside the other examinations of publication records/trends/patterns of other academic fields.

[Note: As I mentioned, this study draws on the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies lists for the years from 2010 to 2014, available on the Bibliographies page of this blog. If you are interested in seeing the specific lists and category break-downs for any given year, please feel free to contact me.]


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