Resource Review – Reviews of Peer-Reviewed Journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences

The end goal of “academic writing” is not just producing a piece of writing that follows a particular format and style. Rather, the end goal – at least once you as the author are no longer writing simply to fulfill a class requirement – is a piece of writing that can then be published in the form of a book, a chapter in an edited essay collection, or, most likely, an article in an academic journal. But this kind of end goal implies an immediate and obvious question – how do you, as an author of a potential journal article, first go about deciding which journals to submit your paper to?

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English-Language Scholarship on Studio Ghibli Films: Looking at the Numbers

One of the paradoxes of scholarship in the humanities is that often, some questions that seem straightforward do not actually have simple answers. In fact, even coming up with an answer to some questions may be difficult, if not impossible. For example, it is relatively easy to demonstrate that a particular book or comic or movie is popular – the sales figures and box office numbers may not be immediately accessible, but the numbers do exist. But it is much harder to claim that a particular author – or a particular film – is “the most studied of all time” or something similar. Claims of this kind, applied to many different authors and many different films, are not uncommon – but the casual statements I have often seen, such as that “among the most studied films of the last few decades are those that descend from the mid-century fiction of Philip Dick and his contemporaries“, tend not to be supported in any way. Comparing authors or works based on the amount of critical attention they have received is equally challenging, though not unheard of – see, for example, Powrie, Phil, Thirty years of doctoral theses on French cinema, Studies in French Cinema, 3(3), 199-203, noting, among other things, “the most popular directors studied”. And, of course, studying the relative importance or prominence of actual scholarship is a well-established practice – and identifying the “most frequently cited works” and the “most frequently cited scholars” in particular fields is at the core of formal citation analysis.

Nonetheless, again, while providing an answer to the question of what is the most frequently studied anime ever – or the most frequently studied anime director ever – is impossible, narrowing the scope of the question can lead to interesting, and potentially insightful, results. The role that Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have played in introducing Japanese animation to audiences and critics outside Japan, and in legitimizing academic approaches to anime, is easy to acknowledge. And, as it turns out, now that we are looking at something more narrow in scope than “all anime that has ever been written about critically”, we can, in fact, survey and quantify English-language scholarly writing on Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. The end result, then, can be an actual illustration to the general discussion on how non-Japanese scholars have approached Miyazaki and his films.

English-Language Scholarship on Studio Ghibli Films: Examining the Numbers

Purpose: To compile and present specific figures on English-language research on the anime feature films of Studio Ghibli.

Scope: These figures are based on materials included in the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies – books, chapters in edited essay collections, and articles in peer-reviewed journals and professional magazines. Articles in newspapers and general-interest magazines/websites, as well as blog posts and personal essays are not included, nor are dissertations/theses/papers written for class, or conference presentations, unless specifically published in Proceedings. The materials were identified using keyword searches in library catalogs, major and subject-specific academic databases, and Google Scholar, direct review of the bibliographies/works cited sections of many previously identified works, and in many cases, direct submissions by authors. All of the entries are listed separately in Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli: A Bibliography.

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Call for Papers – Kumoricon Anime and Manga Studies

Kumoricon logoKumoricon Anime and Manga Studies – ‘Intertextual Anime’
Kumoricon 2018
Portland, OR
October 26-28

When, in 2012, I first reached out to the organizers of Anime Expo – then and still the largest anime convention in the U.S. – with a proposal to introduce a track of formal academic lectures, presentations, and panel discussions into the convention’s program, such an idea was not unprecedented, but it was still unusual. San Diego Comic-Con (now known officially as Comic-Con International: San Diego)’s program had already included a Comics Arts Conference panel track, and anime conventions frequently featured talks by academic speakers. And now, six years later, I am excited – and pleased – to see this  initiative growing outside AX. And I am happy to share with you a message from this program’s organizer, explaining its goals and plans:

“I’m Trace Cabot, the organizer for Kumoricon Anime and Manga Studies, a new series of lectures and panels that will be held at Kumoricon, Oregon’s largest anime convention. As an academic conference built into the convention, KAMS will bring anime and manga scholars and fans together to share some of the most fascinating insights into Japanese comics and animation from a number of different fields and perspectives.

I’ve had the opportunity to see the enormous energy and enthusiasm this sort of exchange between scholars and the fan community encourages firsthand as a participant in Anime Expo’s Anime and Manga Studies Symposium, and I look forward to bringing this model up to the Pacific Northwest. The opportunity to share research with a receptive and excited crowd is both thrilling and productive, often illuminating new angles and approaches to both established projects and new material. The chance to spread new ideas among an audience united by their common love of the material can truly be inspirational, and I hope we’ll be able to offer new critical perspectives and ways of thinking through anime and manga to the fan community. I look forward to reviewing your submissions and hope to see you in Portland.”

KAMS invites submissions on all topics related to anime and manga, encouraging both submissions pertaining to intertextual and genre elements and general topics related to the mediums and their attending practices. Both panels and individual submissions are welcome. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Codifications and subversions of genres conventions
  • The roles of intertextual frames in anime and manga (homage, critique, parody, etc.)
  • Case studies on the development of manga in relation to films, television, and other forms of popular culture

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Isao Takahata: A Bibliography of English-Language Scholarship

As several sources have reported, Isao Takahata, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli and the director of five Ghibli feature films films, passed away earlier today. Takahata’s output as a creator has always been second to Miyazaki’s. Nonetheless, his work, and in particular, Grave of the Fireflies, also received a significant amount of English-language scholarly attention. And, of course, Takahata’s work has been addressed extensively throughout the more general academic writing on the work of Hayao Miyazaki on on Studio Ghibli.

Isao Takahata (1935-2018): A Bibliography of English-Language Scholarship

Books

Colin Odell & Michelle Le Blanc.
Studio Ghibli: The films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.
Harpenden, UK: Kamera Books (1st ed.: 2009; Revised & Updated Ed.: 2015)

Book Chapters and Journal Articles

“Within Japanese popular culture, manga and anime have played a significant role in mediating responses to the outcome of the Pacific War. Miyazaki Hayao’s (possibly) final feature-length film, The Wind Rises, has been an important addition to the preceding body of popular media ‘texts’ that raise such themes. This article aims to address the question of how far cinematic animation can reasonably be obliged to follow the kinds of historiographical concerns that inevitably arise when engaging with Japan’s militarist past. To answer this question, considerable space is devoted to examining the historical context of what others have done in the post-war period and integrate that commentary into an analysis of how the works of Takahata Isao and Miyazaki Hayao fit amongst a succession of creative works that have been co-opted in the reshaping of historical perceptions of the Japanese at war amongst the Japanese themselves. This will also require some incidental discussion of methodological issues that arise when dealing with such cases as vehicles for understanding transformations in historical consciousness. Ultimately it is argued that Miyazaki does indeed make an important contribution to the commentary on the Japanese war experience, although it must, perhaps unavoidably, be on highly personal terms so far as The Wind Rises is concerned.”

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I Want to Know More: Books on Anime/Manga, Part 3 – Essay Collections

The monograph written by a single author and the article published in a peer-reviewed journal are two of the most common forms or formats of academic writing, and the ones that readers are generally the most intuitively familiar with. But they are not the only possible formats – another major one is a collection of essays, organized by a specific editor around a common theme, with contributions from a number of different authors – potentially from different academic fields, and often, different countries. As Brian Erb notes, in Beyond WorldCat: Accessing scholarly output in books and edited monographs “the importance of the edited book chapter for academic output should not be understated”, but of course, beyond simply academic output, there is also the question of the importance of these kinds of collections to readers – especially to readers who are looking for introductions to particular topics, for general overviews of major themes and issues, or for surveys of a variety of range of approaches.

In previous posts, I described some of what I think are the most useful single general books for anyone who is new to the field, and the major titles on specific creators/directors. Now, I would like to continue with this project, and present an overview of the major academic essay collections on anime/manga

Books on Anime/Manga, Part 1: Introductions and Overviews

Books on Anime/Manga, Part 2: Specific Directors/Creators

Books on Anime/Manga, Part 3 – Edited Essay Collections

Cinema Anime: Critical Engagements with Japanese Animation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

Cinema AnimeBy the mid-2000’s, individual chapters on anime had already appeared in more general essay collections, and in 2001, Susan Napier was the first to publish a monograph with “Anime” in the title. Cinema Anime, bringing together nine leading scholars, builds on them by arguing that the only way to interact with anime critically is to consider that anime encompasses a “diversity of approaches”, styles, and modes of distribution – in short, there is no single or “best” way to examine Japanese animation. At the same time, the essays in it can be organized broadly into three groups: one set broadly examines how anime addresses “the politics of identity”, the next, one of anime’s most consistent themes – post-humanism, and the last set, the relationship between anime and cinema broadly defined.

Sample chapter: “Excuse me, who are you?”: Performance, the gaze, and the female in the works of Kon Satoshi

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Resource Review – Database for Animation Studies

Database for Animation Studies - 01A simple and straight-forward question to ask when conducting any kind of academic research is – where do I start looking for materials on my topic? And, a key concept to understand when thinking about the research process is that there is no such thing as single resource that would be an equally effective starting point for any kind of research.  Subject encyclopedias and specialized subject bibliographies, introductory essay collections (these often carry the specific term “Companion” or “Handbook” in the title – as with the examples of the Cambridge Companion to the Graphic Novel and the Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society) and of course, various general and subject-specific research databases , to say nothing of Google Scholar, may all be useful.

In the past, I have profiled/evaluated one such resource – the Bonn Online Bibliography for Comics Research. And recently, I became aware of another one that – at least initially, looks like it would be perfect for anyone who is looking to begin researching topics related to anime/Japanese animation.

Database for Animation Studies

What does this Database cover? How is it organized? And, most importantly, is it actually useful?

(Note: All of my comments apply to the English version of the Database only)

Profile:

“Launched in 2013, Database for Animation Studies is a part of the project called Mapping Project for Animation Studies held by Japanese Association of Animation Studies. It collects the information of the books and the articles on Animation Studies and share it. By doing it, this website aims to show the map of the landscape of Animation Studies.” Continue reading

Comics Studies Society – 2017 Prizes

CSSOne of the particular features of working in the academic environment is that individual scholars’ contributions to their fields’ bodies of knowledge are often recognized directly via various kinds of “best publication” awards – usually a combination of an actual cash award, of course recognition, and, perhaps most importantly, a line on the CV!

This practice is common across disciplines and subject areas. In 2011, for example, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations presented its Stuart L. Bernath Scholarly Article Prize – “$1,000…awarded annually to the author of a distinguished article appearing in a scholarly journal or edited book, on any topic in United States foreign relations”, to Andrew McKevitt, for his article “You are not alone!”: Anime and the globalizing of America. Continue reading

College Classes on Anime/Manga: Fall 2017

The Fall 2017 semester is well under way now – and this means that it’s time for another round-up of classes on anime/manga that colleges/universities around the U.S. are offering this term. As with the prior similar updates, it is meant to be illustrative, not comprehensive – for that matter, I don’t think there is a way to compile a comprehensive list of this kind. Nonetheless, the College Classes on Anime/Manga page in the Resources section of this site is cumulative, and the Fall 2017 classes that I was able to locate have been added to it. In fact, as the total number of classes listed there grows, I hope that it may be possible to start identifying certain trends or patterns in the kinds of colleges/universities that are offering classes on anime/manga, and the ways these classes are described in course catalogs and on department websites.

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Int’l Anime Research Project – 2017 Anime Survey

Who exactly are anime fans? What are their demographic profiles, their ethnic/racial/national backgrounds, their income and education levels? How do anime fans view themselves – how are anime fans viewed by non-fans, and by fans of other media or activities? How are anime fans’ personal choices and preferences correlated to their beliefs or behaviors?

Finding concrete answers to these kinds of questions is challenging. Interview-based approaches such as the one Brent Allison uses in his “Interviews with adolescent anime fans” chapter in The Japanification of Children’s Popular Culture: From Godzilla to Miyazaki present some answers, but these probably cannot be generalized in any meaningful way, while the results of any surveys that anime companies may conduct are proprietary and not open to the public. Continue reading

The Animation Journal – 25 Years of Contribution to Animation Studies

The establishment of one or more focused academic journals is commonly considered to be one of the major features of academic fields – rather than merely “areas of interest”. In this way, the Journal of Asian Studies “has played a defining role in the field of Asian studies for nearly 70 years”, and Japan Forum, Japanese Studies, and the Journal of Japanese Studies have done for that field.

By the time the Animation Journal was founded in 1991, an extensive body of academic writing on animation had existed already. But that journal’s formal launch in the fall of 1992 can be seen as a major point in the development of animation studies as a field – that is now supported by several other journals, a Society for Animation Studies, an Animation subject area at the Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association’s annual conference, and classes on animation commonly offered by film studies departments/programs. Since that first Fall 1992 issue, it has published over 150 articles on animation – including several on Japanese animation specifically.

But, as per an announcement on the AnimationJournal.com website, the 2017 “Special Issue on Italian Animation” is the journal’s final one – “It will be possible to purchase back issues, but no additional essays will be accepted for publication.” Continue reading