‘Manga/Comics and Translation’ Symposium

The process of translation – and the work of translators – presents manga scholars with a wide range of questions to ask. What is translated? How do translators in different countries approach manga – Peter Howell asks this question in Strategy and style in English and French translations of Japanese comic books, and Martin de la Iglezia does in The task of manga translation: Akira in the West. Heike Jungst’s “Translating manga”, in Federico Zanettin (Ed.), Comics in translation, is a more high-level analysis. Wood-Hung Lee and Yomei Shaw, in “A textual analysis of Japanese and Chinese editions of manga: Translation as cultural hybridiziation” explore the goals and outcomes of translation as a process.

On April 6, Baruch College (City University of New York) will hold the latest in its series of public discussions on manga, with a specific focus on the challenges inherent to translating manga from Japanese and into other languages, the unique issues that comics/sequential art present for translators, and the role that translators play in the manga industry. Continue reading

Call for Papers: AX 2017 Anime and Manga Studies Symposium

axlogo_2017_date_black

As the Executive Producer for the annual AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium, the Academic Program track at Anime Expo, the largest anime convention in the U.S., I am pleased to announce the CALL FOR PAPERS for this year’s Symposium. Please feel free to distribute this to your colleagues, students, friends/acquaintances, or anyone else who you think may be interested.

The Symposium will be held over all four days of AX 2017 (July 1 to July 4), and if you are interested in presenting your research on topics related to anime/manga to AX’s audience, please submit the title of your presentation, a short summary (300 words maximum) and your CV to mkoulikov@gmail.com. The deadline for submissions is May 5.

Since its start in 2011, the Symposium has been a leading site for academic discussion on how anime/manga are created and distributed, their history, the themes and issues they explore, their connections to other Japanese and global media, how fans around the world interact with them. Uniquely, as an integral part of Anime Expo’s programming, it serves to foster relationships and facilitate conversation between academics and the general public while also supporting and promoting the development of anime/manga studies as an academic field. Just some of the speakers who have participated in the Symposium over the years have included:

The Symposium is inter-disciplinary and welcomes approaches from different fields. Early-career academics, graduate students, undergraduates, and independent scholars/industry professionals are especially urged to submit proposals! Continue reading

Researching the Business of Anime – Crunchyroll

In one sense, an academic approach to anime does not require much beyond access to anime – and access to/familiarity with some kind of theoretical framework to base the approach in and validate it. But, this kind of approach is also exactly what Thomas Lamarre has criticized as exemplifying the “the book report or film review model” of writing about anime – useful, but limited and limiting. Anime studies – like film/television studies in general – must be concerned with more than the texts themselves. How are these texts created (in all senses of the term)? By whom? With what money? For whom? How are they distributed? To where? Again, why?

crunchyrollAsking these kinds of questions, in turn, requires a different set of resources and essentially, a different knowledge base. For example, writing about how anime developed in America in the 1980’s and through the 1990’s could require using articles on the work of various “anime entrepreneurs” that appeared in business publications such as Forbes and Fortune, as well as local magazines and newspapers, and interpreting the annual reports that public companies like 4Kids Entertainment and Navarre (for several years, the corporate parent of Funimation) are required to file. And, the recent announcement by anime streaming platform (“the leading global destination and platform for anime and manga”) Crunchyroll, Inc. that it now has over 1,000,000 paying subscribers, and over 20,000,000 total registered users can lead into a great case study on the kinds of materials that are available for research on the “business of anime”. In the decade now that Crunchyroll has existed, how has it been covered in the media – and in scholarly writing?

crunchyroll-oldIn its original form, Crunchyroll was just a central hub for individual users to upload their anime videos – without worrying too much about how legal or illegal this would be – and definitely drew some attention, such as from TechCrunch: Crunchyroll Pushes the Envelope on Video Copyright. So, how did it grow from that to – this?

The first steps of Crunchyroll’s evolution into its present form can be documented in brief notices on specialized websites like PEHub:

CrunchyRoll Inc., a San Francisco-based video sharing site focused on anime, has raised $4.05 million in Series A funding, according to a regulatory filing. Venrock led the round, with partner David Siminoff joining the board of directors.”

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Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies – 2017 Ed.

end-of-cool-japanThe work that I do to promote anime and manga studies as an academic field and facilitate its growth and development includes several different projects – this site, the Anime and Manga Research Circle Mailing List, convention panels, of course, the Academic Program at Anime Expo. But, the one project that I focus on the most is a comprehensive bibliography of English-language academic publications on anime/manga – the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies. Currently, it exists in the form of a set of lists covering such publications going back to 1977 – the year the first article on Japanese comics that I am aware of appeared in an English-language academic journal. My eventual goal is to use these lists to develop a searchable database that would be similar, at least conceptually, to the Bibliography of Asian Studies and the Bonn Online Bibliography for Comics Research – even if significantly more narrow in its scope. But for now, as every new year starts, I begin the process of compiling that year’s annual list.

The tools and techniques that I use remain fairly consistent over the years. On a regular basis, I search general academic databases – Academic One File (Gale), Academic Search Premier (EBSCO), and the ProQuest Research Library, and more specialized ones (some of these include: Bibliography of Asian Studies – already mentioned above, FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals, Film & Television Literature Index, MLA International Bibliography, Performing Arts Periodicals Database, Screen Studies Collection), as well as Google Scholar/Microsoft Academic. I also review the tables of contents of new issues of journals that are likely to publish academic papers on anime/manga, and, not infrequently, have authors alert me to new work that they have published. And, just a few weeks into 2017, I am already able to present this year’s edition of the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies – certainly a work in progress, but a start!

English-language books, book chapters, academic journal articles on anime/manga – 2017

[As I mentioned, the entries in this list are limited to academic publications – books, book chapters and journal articles, on anime/manga and related topics. I specifically do not include blog posts or newspaper/magazine pieces. And of course, the decision whether or not a particular publication qualifies for inclusion is subjective. Finally, the date that “counts” for inclusion is the copyright date that actually appears in a book or the cover date of a particular journal issue, not the actual date when the book or issue became available.

This list will be permanently archived in the Bibliographies section of this site, and I will continue to add new items to it as become aware of them.]

Essay Collections

Freedman, Alisa, & Slade, Toby (Eds.), Introducing Japanese popular culture. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

McLelland, Mark (Ed.). The end of Cool Japan: Ethical, legal, and cultural challenges to Japanese popular culture. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Book Chapters

Buljan, Katharine. Spirituality-struck: Anime and religiou-spiritual devotional practices.
In Carole M. Cusack & Pavol Kosnac, Fiction, invention and hyper-reality: From popular culture to religion (pp. 101-118). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

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Anime/Manga Studies in 2016: The Year in Review

The goal of this site, as I present it, is to “highlight announcements and news, provide commentary on new trends, new issues, and new publications, and develop resources to support the emerging academic field of anime/manga studies”. What this has meant, largely, is that my focus has been on what is happening in anime/manga studies right now – new publications and presentations, new classes and programs – and what will happen in the future. On the other hand, with each year of the retrospective Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, I also looked back at how the field looked liked years ago – all the way back to the 1970’s (when, of course, it could not even be said to be one).

One thing I have not done yet, though, is narrow my focus a bit, and survey recent developments in anime/manga studies – a Year in Review, if you will. Tor.com has an Anime Year in Review feature, so do Shelf Life and AnimeCons TV – and so many other sites and personal blogs – so, maybe it’s high time for one too!

Anime/Manga Studies in 2016: The Year in Review

As I have argued consistently, an academic field can be characterized by several different types of activities, all of which can be thought of broadly as forms of knowledge-sharing: publications, conferences/seminars/workshops, and classes. So, the easiest way to look at developments in anime/manga studies in 2016 is by focusing on each of these types:

1. Academic Publications on Anime/Manga: 2016

Manga and Anime Go to HollywoodEasily one of the highlights of the year was the publication of two different books, both from Bloomsbury, by authors who have been involved with Japanese animation and Japanese comics for quite some time now. There are plenty of differences between the two titles, but, also, a perhaps surprising number of similarities. Manga and Anime Go to Hollywood is much more casual in style than Manga in America: Transnational Book Publishing and the Domestication of Japanese Comics, with its extensive charts and tables, footnotes, and ten pages of references. But the authors of both draw quite heavily on the interview as a research method (and on their personal connections with the subjects of their interviews); more importantly, with both of these books, the emphasis is not as much on analyzing the stories or styles of anime/manga as it is on the ways that anime and manga are being presented to audiences outside Japan, and on the structures that have developed over the years to foster this presentation. Compare this to the two books on anime/manga that appeared this year – The Moral Narratives of Hayao Miyazaki – a straight-forward “analysis of the religious, philosophical and ethical implications” of Miyazaki’s films, and Imitation and Creativity in Japanese Arts: From Kishida Ryusei to Miyazaki Hayao, in which the author “demonstrates the distinct character of Japanese mimesis and its dynamic impact on global culture, showing through several twentieth-century masterpieces the generative and regenerative power of Japanese arts.”

rewriting-historyThe only essay collection specifically on anime/manga published in 2016 was Rewriting History in Manga: Stories for the Nation. As I wrote when highlighting this volume, an important feature of this book is the key question that its editors ask – “Does manga play a significant role in creating, reproducing and disseminating historical memory or is it only a reflective expression of the past in a rather passive and ‘entertaining’ manner?” This is the question that they invite the authors of the eight individual chapters to consider and work with.

Of course, in addition to these, chapters on topics related to anime/manga also appeared in at least 22 other essay collections. Son of Classics and Comics (Oxford University Press) included “Mecha in Olympus: Shirow Masamune’s Appleseed” and another chapter on “Classical allusions in Fullmetal Alchemist”. “Japanese manga and anime on the Asia-Pacific War experience” was one of the chapters in Divided Lenses: Screen Memories of War in East Asia (University of Hawaii Press). The editors of the Cambridge History of Japanese Literature felt it was important for the book to cover “The emergence of girls’ manga and girls’ culture”. And even a specialized volume where one really would not have any reason to come across mentions of anime/manga – Creativity and Community among Autism-Spectrum Youth: Creating Positive Social Updrafts through Play and Performance (Palgrave Macmillan) can be counted among the 22, since one of its chapters is The collaborative online anime community as a positive social updraft.

Finally, there were at least 80 articles on anime/manga published in 2016 in academic journals – as always, this is simply the number of articles that I have located so far, and it may increase. The 80 (including 2 in Japanese and 1 in Spanish with English-language titles and abstracts) were spread across 49 different journals; 11 journals (22%) published at least two articles, but 38 more (78%) only had a single one. In terms of the individual articles, the 11 journals – again, 22% – accounted for 42 articles – 52.5% of articles. Clearly, the standard – or maybe stereotypical 80/20 “rule” does not seem to apply to publication patterns in anime/manga studies the top 20% of journals account for significantly less than 80% of all articles. The implication here is that to get a more through idea of what is being published in English on anime/manga, scholars must be aware of – and must have access to – a wide range of sources.

So, which journals published more than one article on anime/manga in 2016?

The Phoenix Papers: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Fandom and Neomedia Studies: 10 articles
Kritika Kultura: 6 articles, in a Manga Culture and Critique special section
Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal: 4
International Journal of Comic Art: 4
International Journal of Contents Tourism: 3
Journal of Kyoto Seika University: 3
Journal of Popular Culture: 2
Mutual Images: 2
Ekphrasis: Images, Cinema, Theory, Media: 2
Japan Forum: 2
TranscUlturAl: A Journal of Translation and Cultural Studies: 2

It is particularly interesting to note that of these 11 journals, only 3 (Animation, Journal of Popular Culture, and Japan Forum) are “traditional” – that is, published by a major corporate publisher. The others are all published by independent organizations or directly by colleges/universities. 7 are based outside the U.S.

But, what about the other 38 ? Some of them – East Asian Journal of Popular Culture, Journal of Fandom Studies, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship – are perhaps “expected” venues for scholarly writing on Japanese animation and Japanese comics. But, articles on anime/manga and related topics also appeared in journals such as the Asia Pacific Journal of Education, Communication, Culture & Critique, the Journal of Business Strategy, and Society & Animals – really, again, supporting the statement that as a field, anime and manga studies can be characterized as relatively broad, with articles appearing in a wide range of different journals rather than being concentrated in only a few.

[Ed. note: For a full list of articles published in English-language scholarly/academic journals in 2016, organized by journal/publisher, please feel free to contact me directly.]

Of course, one more question to ask here is – how d0 the 2016 figures compare to previous years? Do they fit into any kind of trend – or to the extent that there even is one, deviate from it? The 80 articles are a slight decrease from the previous year’s 90, but the caveat here is that I may simply have missed some that were in fact published in 2016, but will likely add them to the list as I do come across them. Overall, starting in 2005, the number of academic articles on anime/manga published each year has gone up or at least stayed stable – with one exception in 2012, when it decreased by about 25% – though the number rebounded the next year.

Overall, then, at least as far as publications are concerned, 2016 was clearly a strong year for the field!

(One aside here is that 2016 was the first year since 2006 without a new volume in the Mechademia series of annual essay collections on “anime, manga, and the fan arts”. Although there have been some rumors about plans for a “New Series”, I have not seen any concrete information about it.)

2. Academic Events

MechademiaScholars of anime/manga who were interested in presenting their work at conferences throughout 2016 certainly did not lack for options. The International Communication Association’s annual conference, hosted by Waseda University (Tokyo) featured a special pre-conference program entitled Communicating with Cool Japan: New International Perspectives on Japanese Popular Culture, with papers such as “Sexy Mulattas and Amelias: An Intersectional Analysis of Representations of Brazilian Women in Anime”, “Classically J-Pop: When Classical Music and J-Pop Collide in Music for Anime”, and “Moon Prism Power! Censorship as Adaptation in the Case of Sailor Moon”. The Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits event, originally held at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, also returned to Japan, with Conflicts of Interest in Anime, Manga, and Gaming. And Anime Expo, in Los Angeles, again included an Academic Program, which I developed and managed along with Brent Allison.

3. Classes

Just some of the classes specifically on anime/manga that colleges offered in 2016 included:

“Modern Japanese Literature and Manga in Translation” – Carleton College

“Anime and War” – Chapman University

“Girls’ Manga: Gender/Sexuality in Japan through Popular Culture” – Macalester College

“Modern Japanese in Translation” – Queens College

“The Fantastical World of Japanese Anime” – University at Buffalo (SUNY)

“Ecology, Technology and Anime” – University of California, Davis

“Anime” – Ursinus College

Particularly worth noting was Introduction to Anime and Manga Studies (George Mason University) – the first class I have seen to specifically focus on the different ways to approach anime and manga critically, rather than picking a single particular way.

Conclusion: Anime and manga studies is still a very young academic field – and one that is connected inherently and unavoidably to the overall popularity of Japanese comics and animation outside Japan. But, at least so far, it is still very much expanding, and clearly offers a wide range of opportunities to scholars – and really, to anyone who is interested in academic approaches to anime and manga.

College Classes on Anime/Manga: 2016-2017

A few days ago, RocketNews24 (which proclaims that its goal is to “to bring Asia’s own brand of strange to the English-speaking world) announced that a “U.S. university has ‘Reading and Writing About Magical Girls‘ as introductory English course”. Breaking news. Unique. Unprecedented. Worth the breathless – alternating with bemused – write-up. Oh, yeah, based entirely on a Reddit post and the resulting comments.

Susan Napier taught what I believe was the first course on Japanese animation at a U.S. college/university definitely in the fall semester of 2001 (an archived version of the syllabus for it is available via the Internet Archive) Since then, dozens of schools all around the U.S. have offered similar ones. And, one of the things that I try to do is track as many of them as possible. The College Classes on Anime/Manga page, on this site’s Resource section, is the full list. In the fall of 2015, I highlighted several new classes, including one at Harvard University.

That post definitely calls for an update, though. So, if you were a student at a U.S. college/university last year – or will be one this term, and want to take a class on anime/manga, what kinds of options do you have available for you? Continue reading

Self-Publishing on Anime/Manga: A 2016 Update

Almost three years ago, when I first began writing about the mechanics of anime/manga studies as an an area of academic activity, one of the questions I posed was whether “it possible for an author to self-publish a book of criticism/commentary on Japanese animation or Japanese comics”? The short answer was yes, as with Patrick Drazen’s A Gathering of Spirits: Japan’s Ghost Story Tradition from Folklore and Kabuki to Anime and Manga, and Derek Padula’s multi-volume series of books on Dragon Ball.

These books, along with Otaku Journalism: A Guide to Geek Reporting in the Digital Age, by “Otaku Journalist” Lauren Orsini, follow what is the standard or traditional model of self-publishing – use of print-on-demand for producing actual physical books, and a heavy reliance on Amazon for the e-book versions. But, is it the only possible model for self-publishing on anime/manga? Turns out, it’s not. animated-discussionsAnime companies have recently made several attempts at using Kickstarter to fund new releases of anime series in the U.S. – and just last month, a creator successfully ran a Kickstarter campaign, with a goal of $1,000, to fund the publication of Animated Discussions: Collected Writings on Anime – a set of “collected essays on anime, from Akira to Erased, revolutionary girls and EVA pilots to Puella Magi and alchemists, and beyond!”

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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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