I Want to Know More – Books on Anime/Manga: A Guided Tour, Part 2

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

Hayao Miyazaki

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.

Hayao MiyazakiFirst 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

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Manga in the New Bloomsbury ‘Comics Studies’ Series

Autobiographical ComicsOver the last several years, the international academic publisher Bloomsbury has actively embraced the emerging academic field of comics studies, with books such as The Visual Language of ComicsTransnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives (with chapters on “manga versions of Spider-Man” and “the cultural crossovers” of the manga-inspired Scott Pilgrim series), Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation (containing a chapter on “the global manga of Felipe Smith, and winner of the 2014 Best Scholarly/Academic Work Eisner Award) , and with specific relevance to manga studies, last year’s Manga in America: Transnational Book Publishing and the Domestication of Japanese Comics and Manga and Anime Go to Hollywood.

Bloomsbury has now announced the launch of Comics Studies – a new series of “reference guides…to the many worlds of comics and graphic novels.” Each guide will contain a general overview of a particular genre or style of comics/graphic novels, the works of a particular creator, or major themes, and a summary of major texts, their contexts, and the critical discussions that have occurred around them.

The first two volumes in the series, due out in the fall, will be Superhero Comics and Autobiographical Comics (with a specific discussion of Kenji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen as a “key text”). And, a volume on manga is already in development, although no further details are available at this time. But, when such a volume does appear, presumably next year, it may very well end up serving as the go-to “introduction” to manga for readers who are not familiar with the ideas and practices of critical commentary. It could then serve as a necessary update to Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga (now more than twenty years old), The Rough Guide to Manga (2009, and out of print), and Understanding Manga and Anime and Mostly Manga: A Genre Guide to Popular Manga, Manhwa, Manhua and Anime – both useful books, but also now rather dated, and both designed primarily for librarians who need to make decisions whether a particular manga title is worth adding to a public library’s collection – and could very well become a standard college text on manga as well, or at least a relatively accessible source for class readings!

I Want to Know More – Books on Anime/Manga: A Guided Tour, Part 1

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

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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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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Anime and Manga Studies @ Otakon 2016

OtakonFor what it’s worth, for someone like me, the idea of an academic approach to Japanese animation and Japanese comics – and of an actual academic field of anime/manga studies – is something that I have long now taken for granted. But, for many people who are interested in anime and manga, it is still a curiosity or novelty. With this in mind, I do not limit my own work in promoting anime/manga studies to maintaining this site. And in particular, I take every opportunity I can get to introduce anime/manga studies directly to people such as anime convention attendees.

Otakon, the largest anime convention on the East Coast will – for the last time – return to the Baltimore Convention Center on Friday, August 12 (running until Sunday, Aug. 14). As always, its full schedule will not be unveiled for several more weeks, but the Otakon programming department has already contacted all potential speakers who submitted panel proposals, and informed them of the status of their applications.

I am pleased to announce that at Otakon 2016, I will be presenting 3 separate panels: one that I have hosted many times before, although it will be updated, one that I have only tried once in the past, and one more that will be a premiere.

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Citation patterns in anime/manga studies – an initial study

When we bring up the term “anime and manga studies”, or even just the concept, being asked to define what we mean by it is inevitable. In trying to present a definition, we are certainly not alone –  just some recent examples of scholarship describing and defining particular academic areas, fields, and disciplines include Building a new academic field – the case of services marketing (Journal of Retailing), The emerging academic discipline of knowledge management (Journal of Information Systems Education), and, perhaps with the most application to anime and manga studies in particular, Animation studies, disciplinarity, and discursivity (Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture) and the essays Why comics studies and “What’s in a name?”: The academic study of comics and the “graphic novel”, published in an issue of the Cinema Journal, in an “In Focus: Comics Studies Fifty Years After Film Studies” special section.

As Catherine Labio, author of “What’s in a  name?” notes, “defining our object of study…is a fraught yet obligatory first step in the process of academic disciplinary formation”. And, certainly, scholars writing in English about Japanese comics and Japanese animation have made it a point to present several working definitions – two such efforts are Craig Norris’s Manga, anime, and visual art culture chapter in the Cambridge Companion to Modern Japanese Culture (pp. 236-260), and Susan Napier’s “Manga and anime: Entertainment, big business, and art in Japan” in the Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society (pp. 226-237). But, all that a working definition of this kind does is establish an area of inquiry or a field of study – something more is necessary.

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The First Years of Anime/Manga Studies: 1970’s-1980’s

Manga! Manga!Today, the idea of an article in a major academic journal that deals with some aspect of Japanese animation or Japanese comics, the global distribution networks for anime/manga, the activities and practices of anime fans, and other related topics is really nothing particularly out of the ordinary – just this year so far, I have already identified about a dozen such articles. But, “anime/manga studies”, or simply the idea of treating anime and manga as subjects of commentary and academic study, had to start somewhere. And, the latest update to the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies covers these first years of writing on anime and manga – the period from 1977 (the first article on Japanese comics to appear in an English-language academic journal that I have been able to identify) and through the 1980’s.

Unsurprisingly, the actual list is fairly brief – seven articles (or eight, if you count one that appeared in two different journals), a book chapter, and two books (one of them not directly on anime, but with plenty of relevant discussion). From what I have been able to tell, the articles passed by largely unnoticed when they were first published – and have remained largely unnoticed since, even as anime/manga studies began to develop as an academic area. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to note right away that two of the seven articles appeared in the Journal of Popular Culture, the leading English-language academic journal on “material culture, popular music, movies, architecture, comics and all other forms of popular art and culture” – and one that has continued welcoming scholarly publications on anime/manga ever since – Nuclear disasters and the political possibilities of shojo (girls’) manga (comics): A case study of works by Yamagishi Ryoko and Hagio Moto appeared in one of last year’s issues, and this past February’s includes Origin and ownership from ballet to anime. The essays themselves, Salaryman comics in Japan: Images of self-perception and Female gender role patterns in Japanese comic magazines, are good examples of relatively straight-forward surveys of particular themes as presented in particular genres of manga.

One other article, Copyright protection of fictional characters in Japan, is also worth highlighting. At first glance, this paper does not appear to have any direct relevance to anime/manga. But, as it turns out, it presents a summary and analysis of a seminal Japanese copyright infringement case – that did, in fact, involve the unauthorized use of characters from the classic manga Sazae-san by a tour bus company. Of course, in terms of its style, format, methodology, and even “genre”, it’s very different from the kinds of more expected “anime/manga studies” papers that would appear in Asian Studies Review, Japanese Studies, the Journal of Popular Culture or the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. Nonetheless, its subject matter makes it valid for including in a list of publications that deal with anime/manga broadly defined.

Finally, it is plain-out impossible to talk about the “first days of anime/manga studies” without mentioning the work of Frederik L. Schodt. Manga! Manga!: The World of Japanese Comics, published by Kodansha International in 1983 really was the book that introduced American readers to thinking about Japanese comics critically – and, through its several dozen pages of excerpts from Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenis, Leiji Matsumoto’s Ghost Warrior, Riyodo Ikeda’s The Rose of Versailles, and Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen, to the comics themselves. Since then, Manga! Manga! has been updated and reprinted three times, and although it is now inevitably dated, surprisingly, it still serves as an essential introduction to Japanese comics overall – and as a great survey of Japanese comics in the 1980’s. In fact, one of the most surprising things about this book is that since it was published, there has been only one other attempt to present a general, wide-ranging overview of manga has a whole that would be aimed to a general, non-specialist audience – the same author’s 1996 Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga.

English-language books, book chapters, and journal articles on anime/manga – 1970’s and 1980’s

As with all updates to the Bibliographies, this list is also archived as a separate page. Any additions or corrections are always welcome – but will be reflected on that page only.

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Highlighting New Publications – Manga in America

Manga in AmericaEnglish-language scholarship on Japanese comics/manga goes back almost 40 years – at least to Mary Sanches’ Contemporary Japanese youth: Mass media communication, published in 1977 in Youth & Society (8:4, 389-416) – an analysis of “the information presented to young readers in one issue of each of two typical Japanese publications [manga magazines]”, with an emphasis on “the differences in the kinds of information aimed at female and male readers.” And in the years since that essay’s publication, the majority of such writing has focused on manga as literature or as a form of Japanese visual culture. Fred Schodt takes this approach in both Manga! Manga: The World of Japanese Comics and Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga, as do the editors of the essay collections Manga and Philosophy: Fullmetal Metaphysician and Manga and the Representation of Japanese History, and the authors of articles such as Layers of the ethereal: A cultural investigation of beauty, girlhood, and ballet in Japanese shojo manga. (Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, 18:3, 251-296), Transgression of taboos: Eroticising the master-servant relationship in Blue Morning. (Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 6:4, 382-397), and Visualizing the self in comedic pathos: Japanese autobiographical manga at the limit of multiculturalism (East Asian Journal of Popular Culture, 1:2, 239-253). But, stories and themes do not simply appear. They are created by authors, developed by editors, published and distributed by for-profit companies, sold by retailers. And, manga scholars need to also be aware of all of those steps and processes, recognize their importance and pay attention to them. Continue reading

Creator Bibliography – Osamu Tezuka (Part 2: 1997-2009)

Earlier this year, I compiled a list of English-language academic/scholarly publications on Osamu Tezuka and his works since 2010. At that point, I noted that it would be the first part of a comprehensive specialized bibliography of academic writing on Tezuka – and I am now pleased to present its second part, covering book, book chapters, and journal articles that were published before 2010.

God of ComicsThe sources for the list are the individual annual bibliographies of English-language academic publications on anime/manga. These are based on searches in various general and subject-specific academic databases, as well as resources such as Google Scholar and Google Books, Microsoft Academic Search, and the Directory of Open Access Journals, major library catalogs, reviews of the bibliographies/notes/works cited sections of items that were already identified for inclusion, and direct contributions by authors. As with any enumerative bibliography, its scope is necessarily limited to only certain types of publications – books, chapters in essay collections and articles in academic/scholarly journals, but not book reviews or articles in newspapers/general-interest magazines. In addition, while I of course acknowledge that plenty of other academic publications mention Tezuka and his works, I make a conscious decision to also limit this bibliography’s scope to publications that deal with Tezuka extensively or significantly. Therefore, this bibliography does not cover broader essays on Japanese comics/animation, such as, for example, Kinko Ito’s A history of manga in the context of Japanese culture and society, or papers on general topics that mention one of Tezuka’s works in passing – such as The frenzy of the visible in comic book worlds (Angela Ndalianis, Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal).

Creator Bibliography – Osamu Tezuka
Part 2 – 1997-2009

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