New Issue – Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal

In describing any academic field, one important factor to consider is where the scholars who participate in that field actually publish their work. Are there only a few journals that account for the majority of published scholarship? Or do articles appear in many different ones? For that matter, is it possible to define a list of “core” journals for a given field/area?

With regards to anime/manga studies, this “where do we publish” question can be approached both subjectively – as I have done by highlighting a number of journals that, in my opinion/experience, have been particularly welcoming to articles on Japanese animation and Japanese comics, and objectively, by identifying nearly 1,000 individual articles on anime/manga that were published in various English-language journals between 1993 and 2015 and recording the specific journals that these articles appeared in. As I found, these articles appeared in more than 450 individual journals; with approximately 8% of the total in the International Journal of Comic Art, and a total of approximately 25% in the top ten journals.

The academic/scholarly journal with the next-highest number of articles on Japanese animation is Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Probably the most high-profile academic journal on animation and related topics, over its 11 years of publication, it has already published 24 individual articles on anime. And, two much appear in its latest November 2016 issue. I would argue that these articles – because of the journal that they appear in, and the backgrounds and institutional affiliations of their authors – can be presented as the epitome of how scholars writing in English currently approach Japanese animation.

Roquet, Paul. From animation to augmentation: Denno Coil and the authentic self. Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 11(3), 228-245.

Continue reading

Anime/Manga Studies Article Publication Trends – Details

A couple of months ago, I presented a fairly straight-forward question – when we talk about anime/manga studies (and even just academic writing on anime/manga in general), how many publications are we actually talking about? A few dozen? Several hundred? More?

This led me to draw on the work that I do in compiling the annual editions of the Bibliography of Anime/Manga Studies and extract some specific numbers from them to put together a broader picture of “publishing trends” in anime/manga studies. This goes towards answering the overall ‘how many?’ question, but also shows how the numbers have changed over the years, what journals have been particularly welcoming to scholarly writing on anime/manga, and who the publishers of those journals are.

In extracting the numbers, though, I had to make various somewhat arbitrary choices. And now, I hope I can at least explain the reasoning behind them.

A Preliminary Study of Anime/Manga Studies Article Publication Trends, 1993-2015 – Methodology

Based on my research, from 1993 to 2015, academic journals published at least 981 English-language articles on anime/manga and related topics. The overall results, by year, can be seen in this chart:

academic-artices-1993-2015

Continue reading

Using Subject Headings in Anime/Manga Research

How does someone go about locating scholarly publications (books, book chapters, journal articles) on topics related to Japanese animation and Japanese comics? Plugging keywords into Google or Bing, the specialized Google Scholar and Bing Academic Search, or scholarly database such as Academic OneFile, Academic Search Premier, or the Film & Television Literature Index can be a good first step. So, they may be good places either to begin the research – without any intention of wading through all of the thousands of results that a simple keyword search will return, or to search for materials that fit very specific criteria such such an an article published in a peer-reviewed journal that, in its own title, uses the title of a particular anime or manga. It is also absolutely important to remember that these kinds of research tools are not always able to search the actual full texts of the publications that they cover, so just because some publications do not come up in either very broad or very specialized searches, it does not mean that these publications do not exist at all.

So, what kinds of advanced search techniques can a researcher use? One that I emphasize – and rely on myself – is to think beyond keywords, and to understand the idea of “subject headings”.

Continue reading

Faculty Position Announcement – East Asian Visual Media/Popular Culture

bu-master-logo“The Department of World Languages & Literatures at Boston University invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in East Asian Visual Media and Popular Culture, to begin July 1, 2017. Relevant expertise includes research in film, television, animation, graphic novels, or new media. Strong preference for transnational research reflecting the increasingly globalized sphere of popular culture across East Asia and potentially including South Asia. PhD is required at time of appointment, as is proficiency in an East Asian language.A robust research and publication agenda is essential.”

When talking about “anime/manga studies” as an actual academic field, rather than simply the idea of academic approaches to Japanese animation/comics, one point I always try to make is that while this field certainly already has some formal characteristics, it is still missing some others. Yes, authors are certainly writing books and book chapters and journal articles on anime/manga, and there are plenty of classes on anime/manga at colleges and universities around the U.S. But, at this point, it is not possible for a student to receive a degree in “anime studies” – then again, to the best of my understanding, only one university in the U.S. offers an actual undergraduate minor in comics and cartoon studies. For that matter, while plenty of college/university faculty members list anime or manga among their academic interests, there is no such thing as a “professor of anime studies” in the way that “professor of film studies” can be a title.

Continue reading

Highlighting New Publications – Rewriting History in Manga

rewriting-historyPopular culture works across different languages and different media – literature, film, television, and comics – frequently draw on historical events for their subjects. In turn, how popular culture uses history is a frequent topic of scholarship in its own right – just some recent examples include American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film, Gone With the Glory: The Civil War in Cinema, and Screening the Past: Film and the Representation of History. And Japanese popular culture is not an exception here – anime and manga also often depict historical incidents and events. These depictions range from the fairly realistic to the unapologetically fanciful – and, again, present obvious “points of entry” for scholars. Jaqueline Berndt’s approach, in “Historical adventures of a post-historical medium: Japan’s wartime past as represented in manga”, is straight-forward. Wendy Hardenberg’s, in Transcending the victim’s history: Takahata Isao’s Grave of the Fireflies, focuses on how “history” is created and the different types or forms of “history”. Andrea Horbinski, in “Record of dying days: The alternate history of Ooku” (in Mechademia, vol. 10), highlights the ways that manga has explored “alternate history”. In fact, just three years ago, Routledge published a full collection of essays on “manga and the representation of Japanese history”. And now, another major publisher, Palgrave Macmillan, is exploring this topic again with Rewriting History in Manga: Stories for the Nation.

Continue reading

Upcoming Exhibition – Cool Japan: A Worldwide Fascination in Focus

VolkenkundeNext year, starting in April, Museum Volkenkunde / The National Museum of Ethnology (Leiden, The Netherlands) will host “Cool Japan: A Worldwide Fascination in Focus“, an exhibition which will use original artwork, physical objects (manga, figures, costumes, video games, etc.), installations, displays and screenings to “examine the popularity of the Japanese visual popculture, explore the ways in it travels the globe and trace its historical roots.” One of the exhibition’s specific goals will be to highlight the actual work/labor behind anime and manga, and to emphasize the physicality of these forms of visual culture. To this end, the exhibit’s organizers hope to include in it drawings by actual creators/directors. And, they are actively looking to reach out to anime/manga art collectors who may be interested in contributing items from their own collections to this project.

As an announcement that was recently posted to the Anime and Manga Research Circle Mailing List:

“At this moment, I am searching for collectors who have original drawings and/or cels from the great masters, like Hayao Miyazaki, Osamu Tezuka, Hideaki Anno, Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Katsuhiro Ôtomo. Do any of you know any collectors? Or do you perhaps know of museums that have original works in the collection? Our museum is used to take care of the most rare, old and fragile objects so any items that would be put on loan are in care of professionals.”

If you think you can assist with this, know anyone who may be able to, or simply have comments or questions that you would like to pass on to the organizers, please let me know!

Factsheet – Cool Japan: A Worldwide Fascination in Focus
Museum Volkenkunde (Leiden, The Netherlands)
April 13 – August 28, 2017

New Issue – Resilience: A Journal of the Ecocritical Humanities

ResilienceMore than a year and a half ago, early in 2015, the editors of Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities announced a Call for Papers for a special Media Review section in an upcoming issue of the journal, that would be dedicated to “apply[ing] ecocritical and Green cultural studies approaches to the field of Japanese animation.”

The CFP provided additional background for the section, and listed the specific titles that the editors were hoping to attract reviews of.

“2014 was a watershed year for Studio Ghibli, arguably the leading anime studio, because it marked the retirement of the founding directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. who issued their swan-songs The Wind Rises and Princess Kaguya. To honor this moment and attract more critical attention to anime, we are soliciting reviews of the following:

  • Miyazaki’s films, especially Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Ponyo.
  • Takahata’s Ken the Wolf Boy, Heidi: Girl of the Alps, Pom Poko aka “Tanuki Wars,” Grave of the Fireflies, and Princess Kaguya.
  • We are also interested in work inspired by or intertextually related to Studio Ghibli, such as Disney’s Lilo and Stitch; Irish director Tomm Moore’s The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea; and the animated version of Avatar: The Last Airbender (including its sequel, The Legend of Korra, which is a gold mine for feminist, post-colonial, eco-cosmopolitan, and queer ecocriticism, just sayin’).
  • Reviews of other anime films, TV series, and manga unrelated to Ghibli will also be considered.”

For a while after the call for papers went out, I had not heard anything about this project – and in fact, it does not appear that the journal’s website has not been updated in more than two years either. But, as it turns out, electronic versions of it are available in both JSTOR and Project Muse, and, Ecocritical Reviews to Studio Ghibli was in fact published as the Media Cluster section of Resilience‘s Fall 2015 issue (Volume 2, No. 3).

Looking at the articles that actually appeared in the section, a few things  come to mind right away. The “spread” of films that the authors who responded to the CFP addressed is definitely fairly expansive – though not quite comprehensive – with separate essays on Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Pom Poko, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, the non-Ghibli anime Mushishi, and the arguably “inspired by Studio Ghibli” The Secret of Kells, as well as two more that discuss broader topics as expressed in more than one film. And, the list of authors is fairly wide-ranging as well – although most are based at American colleges/universities, others are affiliated with institutions in Australia, Germany, and the U.K. At the same time, the question also stands – Miyazaki’s work and influence has already been the subject of literally dozens of journal articles, and at least two journal special issues. Is another one really necessary? And, does it then merely emphasize Jacqueline Berndt’s argument that Miyazaki exerts an undue influence on the shape of anime studies as a field, and that this outside influence leads to a tendency to treat Miyazaki’s films as “typical of anime as a whole”, and largely ignore anime that doesn’t neatly fit this image or stereotype?

Regardless, the actual contents of this Special Section are as follows:

Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities
Special Section – Ecocritical Approaches to Studio Ghibli

Continue reading

Introduction to Anime/Manga Studies – Otakon 2016 Version

Otakon 2016My 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.”

Continue reading

College Courses on Anime – Introduction to Anime and Manga Studies

https://www2.gmu.edu/sites/all/modules/features/feature_core_theme/templates/resources/images/mason-logo.pngScholarly writing on anime and manga is, of course, a major component of “anime/manga studies”, but not the only component – and classes that focus on Japanese animation and Japanese comics are an equally important part of the field. But, while the first English-language academic publications on Japanese comics appeared in the late 1970’s, and the first such paper on anime that I am aware of was published in 1993, it wasn’t until the late 1990’s/early 2000’s that colleges began offering such classes, with Susan Napier’s The World of Japanese Animation: Aesthetics, Commerce, Culture, at the University of Texas at Austin being if not the first, then certainly among the first.

Since Prof. Napier (who has since moved to Tufts University) first taught it, these kinds of classes have expanded to a wide range of schools – the Ivy League, other major research universities, both public and private, and smaller regional and liberal arts institutions. Just some recent examples include Anime as Global Popular Culture (Harvard University), Critical Analysis of Anime (Rice University), Anime in Text and Film (Stevenson University), and Explore Japanese Manga and Anime (Union College). Generally, they have taken an introductory approach, and the course description of the one at California State University, Long Beach is typical: “Students examine, analyze, and discuss selected topics in Japanese culture and modern society by analyzing Japanese animation (anime) and printed cartoons (manga)”. But, again, with anime and manga studies as a field now firmly established, clearly, it’s about time for ways of dealing with anime/manga in the post-secondary classroom setting that go beyond the introductory.

Continue reading

Highlighting New Publications: Urutsokidoji and the Transcultural Reception and Regulation of Anime

Japanese animation is, of course, animation created in Japan (even if, increasingly, a significant percentage of the actual “animation” work is out-sourced to other Asian countries), by Japanese creators – and designed primarily for distribution to Japanese audiences. But, since at least the early 1960’s, Japanese animation – first feature films, then television series – has been presented to audiences around the world.

And, each of these presentations has involved taking the original film or television series, and modifying it in some way. At the very least, this modification can be a translation of the script into another language – that, as any translation, can be more or less accurate. The script can also be rewritten entirely, so the end product is only tangentially related to the original. The characters’ voices will most likely need to be provided by different actors. And, some parts of a particular film or television series can be left off entirely.

These different kinds of modification practices present an obvious opportunity for anime scholars. How exactly is a particular anime modified for distribution outside Japan? Why? And, how do these modification practices differ from each other – across both time, and across space. For example, one of the most well-known examples of this kind of “modification” is the way that Osamu Tezuka’s Kimba the While Lion series was changed for distribution in the U.S. – a process Fred Patten examines in “Simba versus Kimba: The pride of lions” (in The Illusion of Life II: More Essays on Animation). Similarly, Brian Ruh examines the changes that Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind underwent before it could be released in the U.S. as Warriors of the Wind in Transforming U.S. anime in the 1980’s: Localization and longevity (in Mechademia v. 5: Fanthropologies). These kinds of studies are not limited to releases of anime in the U.S., either – consider Cobus van Staden’s Moomin/Mumin/Moemin: Apartheid-era dubbing and Japanese animation, or Ilaria Parini’s Censorship of anime in Italian distribution.

And now, in the new issue of the Journal of British Cinema and Television, Emma Pett (University of East Anglia) expand on these, with a case study of how anime has been presented to audiences in the U.K. – and the way that British authorities responded to this presentation.

Pett, Emma. ‘Blood, guts, and Bambi eyes’: Urutsokidoji and the transcultural reception and regulation of anime. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 13(3), 390-408.

Overfiend“The regulation and reception of anime in Britain has, historically, been fraught with difficulty. In 1992, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) rejected the first instalment of Urotsukidoji, a controversial series of erotic anime, on the grounds of its sexually explicit content; this decision set a precedent for the way in which they would continue to censor anime for the following two decades. Nearly twenty years later, in 2009, Clause 62 of the Coroners and Justice Act, also colloquially known as the ‘Dangerous Cartoons Act’, made it a criminal offence to possess non-photographic pornographic images of children, including CGI, cartoons, manga images and drawings. Through an examination of the BBFC’s archival materials on Urotsukidoji – Legend of the Overfiend, supplemented by references to a small number of newspaper articles published during this period, this article offers a range of insights into the historical context in which the current series of debates surrounding the ‘Dangerous Cartoons Act’ can be situated and assessed. These are used to consider the transcultural flow of genres across national borders, and the difficulties that a regulator from one culture encounters when dealing with controversial material originating from another, such as Japan, that has a substantially different set of social values and artistic conventions. Furthermore, this case highlights the important role played by distribution companies in shaping the production and evolution of genres within the transcultural marketplace.”

Continue reading