This year marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of the essay collection Japanese Popular Culture (Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle Co.), which contained what I believe are the first two English-language scholarly essays on Japanese comics. As with the other chapters in the volume, both are actually translations of articles that had already previously appeared in Japanese; nonetheless, they can be treated as marking the “origin” of anime and manga studies.
Now, sixty years later, “anime and manga studies” encompasses numerous publications (such as various recent monographs, essay collections, and the almost 30 individual book chapters and journal articles on anime/manga and related topics that have appeared so far this year), academic conferences, classes at colleges and universities around the U.S., and perhaps even the beginnings of an institutional structure, via the establishment of an Anime Studies Special Interest Group within the Society for Animation Studies.
Nonetheless, one thing that anime and manga studies does not yet have is an actual definition – and I would argue that presenting one is crucial to the further development of the concept – and its evolution into something more – into an actual academic field.
Based on trends and directions in scholarly activity involving anime/manga, I would, then, propose the following definition:
Anime and manga studies is
“the exploration of Japanese animation and comics as creative works, their historical, cultural, sociological and economic dimensions, their production, distribution, global reception, and related topics.” Continue reading