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?
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.
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
I Want to Know More: Books on Anime/Manga, Part 3 – Edited Essay Collections
Cinema Anime: Critical Engagements with Japanese Animation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)
By 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
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
In a previous post, I highlighted several books that I think are the best to recommend for someone who really knows almost nothing about Japanese animation/Japanese comics, and wants an introduction that is both accessible and reasonably comprehensive. The titles that I profiled – among them Anime: A Critical Introduction, Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga, and Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices – all strive to be just. But, what kinds of books could I recommend to a reader who is interested not in anime/manga “broadly defined”, but in the work of a particular anime director or manga artist/writer?
Books on Anime/Manga, Part 2 – Specific Directors/Creators
- Helen McCarthy, Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation – Films, Themes, Artistry (1999)
- Susan Napier, Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke (2001)
Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle (2005)
- Colin O’Dell & Michelle Le Blanc, Studio Ghibli: The Films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata (2009, 2015)
- Andrew Osmond, BFI Film Classics: Spirited Away (2008)
For many people, Hayao Miyazaki is anime/Japanese animation – and this is not unreasonable. Sales figures, critical recognition, awards – and scholarship – all contribute to this, to the point where, as Jaqueline Bernd notes (in her essay “Considering manga discourse: Location, ambiguity, historicity”, in Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the Worlds of Manga and Anime): “Non-Japanese scholars tend to assume that his movies are typical as a whole because of their mere presence in Japan; they frequently treat these animated movies are mirrors of Japanese culture, assuming the existence of a homogenous audience, and often implicitly comparing them to Disney products, but they rarely locate them within the history and present variety of animation in Japan.” But, again, just as Miyazaki and his films often serve as points of entry into the “worlds of manga anime”, writing on Miyazaki and his films can serve as point of entry to anime scholarship.
First published in 1999, Hayao Miyazaki: Masster of Japanese Animation – Films, Themes, Artistry is likely the first one on Miyazaki that a reader will come across. It is widely available and easy to read, with a straight-forward organizational scheme that consists of an overview of Miyazaki’s “life and work”, chapters on seven of his movies, from Castle of Cagliostro to Princess Mononoke, each divided into identical sections (“Origins”, “Art and technique”, “The characters”, “The story”, “Commentary”), and a concluding one on “The Miyazaki Machine”. Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that it is almost twenty years old now, and so, simply does not cover either the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, Miyazaki’s other subsequent projects, or his role as the conscience – or vocal critic – of the animation industry in Japan. Continue reading
From the editor: One of the major activities that Anime and Manga Studies Projects undertakes is promoting the emerging field of anime and manga studies by highlighting new academic writing on Japanese animation and Japanese comics. The ongoing Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies is one aspect of this activity, and pieces I post highlighting new books, book chapters, and journal articles are another. Throughout my work, though, I have always wanted to ask the question of how do authors of new scholarship on anime/manga actually view their own research. How did it come about? What are its connections to other scholarship? Where do the authors draw their inspirations from? What do they hope to accomplish?
And, I am now excited to present a new and unique type of article on anime/manga studies – an emerging anime/manga scholar reflecting on their work.
The ‘So Far’ of Anime and Manga: A Visual Theoretical Depiction of Possibilities
Kathy Nguyen is the author of Wired:: Ghosts in the s[hell] (Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies) and Body upload 2.0: Downloadable cosmetic [re]birth (Ekphrasis: Images, Cinema, Theory, Media). She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in multicultural women’s and gender studies at Texas Woman’s University.
Living in an increasingly rapid digital era, where scrolling, tapping, being wired and plugged in may be the few solitary sources for connectivity – that is, if connectivity will eventually become technologized – problematizes several issues once the world becomes updated. I am especially interested in studying about the philosophies of technology; I continuously go back to Wendy Hui Kyong Chun’s book, Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media. Chun writes: “New [technology] live and die by the update: the end of the update, the end of the object” (2). These updates are interesting because if human bodies, animals, objects, and such are constantly being updated and/or upgraded, what does death look like in the digital age, especially when there are apparatuses such as the E-Tomb, where information of the deceased continues to live on? Perhaps eternally – or at least, if the network maintains its connectivity signals. Continue reading
One of the most basic questions that can come up in anime/manga studies is simply – where and how can someone begin learning about anime and manga. Where can a person start if their goal is to find out more about the origins and history of anime, identify the major themes that Japanese animation and Japanese comics feature, evaluate the work of major leading creators and directors, and explore the range of critical responses to anime/manga?
“Look at books on anime/manga” is an easy answer to this question – but, given that there are current more than 100 such books, from Fred Schodt’s 1983 Manga! Manga!: The World of Japanese Comics to the brand-new essay collection The End of Cool Japan: Ethical, Legal and Cultural Challenges to Japanese Popular Culture, it’s a too-easy answer. These books, published over more than 30 years now, and serve different goals (or, in other words, meet different information needs). So, a much more effective approach to the question about resources for learning about anime/manga is to break it down into several parts. What kinds of books are there on Japanese animation and Japanese comics? And what are the best books to consider for particular questions about anime/manga?
I Want to Know More: Books on Anime/Manga, Part 1 – Introductions and Overviews Continue reading
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?
Asking 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?
In 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.”
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
Easily 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.”
The 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
Scholars 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.
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.
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. Anime 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!”