Anime and Manga Studies @ Otakon 2016

OtakonFor what it’s worth, for someone like me, the idea of an academic approach to Japanese animation and Japanese comics – and of an actual academic field of anime/manga studies – is something that I have long now taken for granted. But, for many people who are interested in anime and manga, it is still a curiosity or novelty. With this in mind, I do not limit my own work in promoting anime/manga studies to maintaining this site. And in particular, I take every opportunity I can get to introduce anime/manga studies directly to people such as anime convention attendees.

Otakon, the largest anime convention on the East Coast will – for the last time – return to the Baltimore Convention Center on Friday, August 12 (running until Sunday, Aug. 14). As always, its full schedule will not be unveiled for several more weeks, but the Otakon programming department has already contacted all potential speakers who submitted panel proposals, and informed them of the status of their applications.

I am pleased to announce that at Otakon 2016, I will be presenting 3 separate panels: one that I have hosted many times before, although it will be updated, one that I have only tried once in the past, and one more that will be a premiere.

Introduction to Anime/Manga Studies

Ever wanted to talk about Attack on Titan in class? Write a paper on Naruto? Read a book on Madoka? Guess what – you’re not the only one, and you’re in luck. Join members of the Anime and Manga Research Circle to learn about the academic field of – you guessed it – anime and manga studies.

The goals of this panel are straight-foward: to present both formal and working definitions of anime/manga studies, to show how the field has evolved from the 1970’s until now, to highlight what different types of people who participate in it actually do, and to describe some of the challenges and controversies that arise. In the past, my co-presenters have included tenure-track and tenured faculty, students in Ph.D. and master’s programs, and undergraduates – people like Ada Palmer, Alex Leavitti, and Andrea Horbinski, among others. I also always hope to demonstrate that as as a term or label, anime/manga studies applies to both research/scholarship and teaching (again, at different levels). In fact, if you plan on attending Otakon 2016, are involved in anime/manga studies to any degree or have experience teaching – or taking a class on Japanese animation or Japanese comics – and are interested in sharing your experience and thoughts with the audience, I, in turn, would be interested in inviting you to join the panel

I Want to Know More! – Books on Anime: A Guided Tour

In 1983, Fred Schodt published his ground-breaking Manga! Manga!: The World of Japanese Comics. More than 100 books on anime/manga that have been published since. Join librarian Mikhail Koulikov for a guided tour through many of them – the awesome, the good, the not-so-good, and the just plain odd.

This talk will have my draw on my training in library/information science to evaluate many of these books critically, provide recommendations, share some tips/advice on locating new books on anime/manga, and, overall, try to describe not just individual titles, but a general trajectory or evolution of English-language writing on anime and manga over the last 30+ years.

Japan and the Great Bear: Russia in Anime and Japanese History

Cheburashka. Kirinenko. Port Arthur. These words all have something to do with Russia – a country and culture that is one of Japan’s closest neighbors. How is Russia and Russian culture reflected in anime/manga? And, for that matter, how have anime and manga made their way into Russia?

Giovanni's IslandJapanese-Russian/Russo-Japanese relations in general have, of course, been the subject of plenty of scholarly attention, even in English; recent examples include titles such as Japan and Russia: Three Centuries of Mutual Images, Japan’s National Identity and Foreign Policy: Russia as Japan’s ‘Other’, and Japanese-Soviet/Russian Relations since 1945: Difficult Peace. But, this talk will go beyond merely presenting an overview of the relationship between these two countries; the specific themes that I’d like to touch on will deal with cultural relations more specifically. I will of course start with a history lesson, but from there, move on to examining how this history has been depicted in anime, sometimes seriously, sometimes…entirely not, and to the roles that Russian character play in anime. The talk’s conclusion will build on Yulia Mikhailova’s work (such as her chapter “Images at an impasse: Anime and manga in contemporary Russia“, in the Japan and Russia: Three Centuries of Mutual Images collection, and “Apocalypse in fantasy and reality: Japanese pop culture in contemporary Russia”, in In Godzilla’s Footsteps: Japanese Popular Culture Icons on the Global Stage) – plus various Russian-language materials – plus my own personal experience – to show just how Japanese animation and Japanese comics has made it way into Russia, and what the Russian anime/manga culture looks like.

So, at this point, all that is left for me to do in the approximately two months between now and Otakon is to revise/update the Introduction to Anime/Manga Studies and I Want to Know More! presentations, and to actually develop the Japan and the Great Bear one. As soon as I find out the exact times for all of them, and the names of my co-speakers, I will provide those. In turn, if you have any suggestions for topics I should address in either of the three, any questions you’d like me to answer, any resources you think I should include in my discussions, etc., please let me know – and I will do my best to listen to you!

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2 thoughts on “Anime and Manga Studies @ Otakon 2016

  1. I’ll be sure to try to catch at least one of these panels at Otakon.

    Random side note: The Japan and the Great Bear panel in regards to cultural relations reminds of the work that the late Takamasa Sakurai attempted to do with cultural exchange, and how the seiyuu Uesaka Sumire worked with on this. I say that because Uesaka is a fan of Russia, has performed there before, and studies the Russian language and majored Russian Studies.

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