My work towards developing “anime/manga studies” as an academic field takes several different forms. I run this site – of course, I continue to develop various resources to support the field – the leading one being the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, earlier this year, I once again organized the Academic Program track at Anime Expo, the largest anime convention in the U.S., and I am always glad to draw on my knowledge and experience to provide research/reference assistance to anyone interested in academic approaches to Japanese animation and Japanese comics. In addition, beyond those essentially “support” activities, I also actively look for opportunities to introduce anime/manga studies directly to interested audiences.
In the past, the Otakon anime convention has offered me several such opportunities. And, Otakon 2016, held once again (and for the final time) in Baltimore, did as well – on Otakon’s first day, Friday, August 12, I presented this year’s version of Introduction to Anime/Manga Studies. For it, I was joined by Lisa Lackney (Ph.D. candidate, History, Vanderbilt University) and Andrew Smith (Ph.D. candidate, English, Indiana University of Pennsylvania). Ms. Lackney also participated in this presentation when I first premiered it two years ago; Andrew Smith has been an active contributor to the AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium and has also spoken at other similar events such as the University of Florida Conference on Comics.
Introduction to Anime and Manga Studies (August 12, 2016)
“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 academici field of – you guessed it – anime and manga studies.”
Although I first developed this presentation two years ago, with input from my co-presenters, this year’s version was an update, changed in some significant ways. In particular, one point I tried to emphasize is that “anime/manga studies” means more than books or book chapters or journal articles on or related to anime/manga. As a field of scholarly interest/academic activity, it also includes teaching and incorporating anime/manga into more general classes, knowledge-sharing via lectures and conference presentations, and potentially, even “informal” or non-scholarly publishing. In addition, I made an effort to present some concrete characteristics of the field – how long have scholars been writing about anime/manga, approximately how many English-language academic publications on these topics are there right now, what are the backgrounds of some of the active participants in the field, what are some of the major recent directions for new research? Once again, the overall goals of the presentation were to simply present a definition of anime/manga studies as both a field and, more broadly, an activity or a “way of thinking”, to provide some basic tips to students who are interested in engaging with anime/manga academically, but simply do not know where or how to start, and, last but not least, to overview the challenges that one can face in making a career out of anime/manga studies.
And, once again, this presentation is simply the 2016 version of an “introduction to anime/manga studies” – if I update it for next year (or if anyone else does), I am certain that it will be similar in some regards, but different in many others. So, of course, maybe it’s also worth asking the question – what kinds of topics would you expect or want to see covered in a presentation of this kind? What kinds of topics do you think I should cover – or for that matter, not bother spending my time on. What points should I make? What resources should I highlight? And, perhaps most importantly, what kinds of questions should I try to answer?