Anime/Manga Studies in 2016: The Year in Review

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

Manga and Anime Go to HollywoodEasily 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.”

rewriting-historyThe 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

MechademiaScholars 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.

3. Classes

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.

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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

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Communicating with Cool Japan (Int’l Communication Association Pre-Conference)

conf2016A few months ago, I was glad to participate in distributing the Call for Papers for Communicating with Cool Japan: New International Perspectives on Japanese Popular Culture, a one-day mini-conference that would run in Tokyo, at Waseda University, on June 8, just ahead of (and in connection with) the 66th annual conference of the International Communication Association. The preliminary schedule for this event, has now been announced.

As the schedule currently stands, it will consist of a keynote address presented by Prof. Koichi Iwabuchi (Monash University), and a total of 9 sessions, running simultaneously (2/3 at a time), each organized around a common theme.

The themes that the sessions will address are:

  • What We Live For: Women, Expression, and Empowerment in Japanese Fan Cultures
  • Methodologies of Cultural Power
  • Image/Text
  • Audience Studies, Otaku, and Fan Cultures
  • Institutionalization and Nostalgia
  • Discontented Japanization
  • The Living Popular
  • Digital Productions: Distribution, Piracy, and Globalization
  • Localization, Adaptation, and Hybridization

These sessions will feature a total of 39 individual presentations, and speakers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Given the mini-conference’s broad focus on “any area of Japanese popular culture”, not all of them address anime/manga, but, many do:

Session 1.2: Methodologies of Cultural Power
10:20 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Why hasn’t Japan banned child-porn comics?”: An Investigation into the Socio-legal Attitudes towards Yaoi Manga

Simon Turner (Chulalongkorn University)

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Subject Bibliography – Scott Pilgrim

One question that is necessarily central to any kind of academic discussion about manga is, simply, “what do we actually mean by ‘manga’?” How we define or operationalize the term directly influences the scope of any such discussion. And indeed, many of the scholars and other commentators who write about manga do take the time to present their working definitions. Of course, these definitions themselves differ, or emphasize particular aspects and approaches.

Jason Thompson, in the introduction to Manga: The Complete Guide, states simply that “[M]anga is Japanese for ‘comics'” (p. xiii) – and goes on to highlight two features that he considers particularly important. “Manga are stories. Long stories. With endings.” “The artist is more important than the property.” (p. xx). Toni Johnson-Woods, introducing the essay collection Manga: An Anthology of Global and Cultural Perspectives, also does not feel the need to offer anything than more complicated than equating manga and “Japanese comics” – but she too immediately expands the definition, with the argument that “over the past two decades, manga has spread from being a quirky style of comics to being the new comic-book art format.” And, for Katherine Dicey, in “What is Manga?” (in Manga: Introductions, Challenges, and Best Practices, pp. 5-24), the word refers to “long-form stories spanning hundreds or thousands of pages”.

But, many of these same scholars acknowledge that even starting with what seems to be a fairly straight-forward definition of “manga” leads to the problem of how to respond to a situation where “manga and anime are no longer solely the provenance of Japanese artists” (Marc MacWilliams, “Introduction”, in Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime, pp. 3-25), “manga-style comics” are being created outside Japan, and the word itself is being used “to name [the] visual language…loosely conceived of as an ‘aesthetic style'” (Neil Cohn, “Japanese visual language: The Structure of manga”, in Toni Johnson-Woods (Ed.), Manga: An Anthology of Global and Cultural Perspectives, pp. 187-203). And one such way it to expand not just the definition, but the term itself – as Casey Brienza has been doing, first in “Beyond B&W? The Global Manga of Felipe Smith”, in the Eisner-nominated 2013 essay collection Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation, and, last year, in her introduction to Global Manga: “Japanese” Comics Without Japan?.

In fact, these kinds of “global manga” (“Original English Language manga”, “Original global manga”, “Amerimanga” and various similar – progressively more awkward – other terms) have themselves been around for almost as long as actual English-language translations of Japanese comics have been. And, just as with manga studies proper, where a major component of establishing it as an academic field is building an awareness of the depth and breadth of published scholarship on manga, I think it also interesting to highlight how scholars have been approaching “global manga” so far. What kinds of questions are they asking? How are they phrasing both the questions and the answers to them, even what kinds of publications they consider when proposing academic publications on global manga?

Scott PilgrimOne particular approach to take here is to focus on academic writing on what is arguably the single most successful “global manga” title that has been published in English so far – Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim, brought out over six volumes by Oni Press between 2004 and 2010, and since then, translated into multiple languages, and adapted into a major motion picture and a Playstation 3/Xbox 360 video game. The 12 academic publications (chapters in edited essay collections and articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals) on it listed below do indeed represent a variety of ways of dealing with a particular global manga text and emphasizing particular aspects of it – Scott Pilgrim as a Canadian work first and foremost, Scott Pilgrim as a comic, Scott Pilgrim an an example of a multimodal work, or one with transmedia properties. In fact, only one of the essays specifically approaches it in a “global manga” context, while one more compares Scott Pilgrim side-by-side with an actual Japanese comic.

Perhaps the final question to consider with regard to academic writing on “global manga” goes back to the nature of the term. Does it ultimately refer to a type of comics/graphic novels that existed for several years, and then largely disappeared? Or will “global manga” persist as a distinct – and distinctive – category of visual culture that will continue to attract scholarly attention in the same way that both manga and American comics do.

Scott Pilgrim: An Academic Bibliography Continue reading

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

Call for Papers – Communicating with Cool Japan: New Int’l Perspectives on Japanese Popular Culture

Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan)
June 8, 2016

conf2016Scholars at all levels, including graduate students, are invited to submit papers and panel proposals for “Communicating With Cool Japan”, a one-day pre-conference that will be held immediately preceding the 66th annual conference of the International Communication Association. Submissions on any topic related to Japanese popular culture are specifically encouraged.

Some of the potential themes and issues that the Call for Papers highlights include:

  • production processes and/or cultural workers
  • political economy (including the role of the state and markets)
  • media/cultural content (e.g. of anime, manga, fashion, videogames, film, music, television, etc.)
  • the Internet, social/online media, cellular phones, or other technology
  • uses of Japanese popular culture
  • globalization or diaspora
  • cultural policy/diplomacy
  • consumption or media effects
  • identity and the self
  • otaku and fandom

Submissions of up to 200 words for both individual papers and discussion sessions/panels are accepted until January 31, 2016, and speakers will notified of acceptance shortly thereafter.

Communicating with Cool Japan is being organized by Dr. Casey Brienza (City University London) and Dr. Anamik Saha (Goldsmiths, University of London). It will feature a keynote address by Prof. Koichi Iwabuchi (Monash University), the director of the Monash Asia Institute, best known as the author of Recentering Globalization: Popular Culture and Japanese Transnationalism (Duke University Press, 2002)

Dr. Brienza is the editor of the essay collection Global Manga: “Japanese” Comics without Japan? and the author of of the forthcoming monograph Manga in America: Transnational Book Publishing and the Domestication of Japanese Comics, as well as more than twenty book chapters and journal articles on different aspects of the Japanese comics industry and manga’s worldwide impact and reception, such as Books, not comics: Publishing fields, globalization, and Japanese manga in the United States (Publishing Research Quarterly, 2009), Remembering the future: Cartooning alternative life courses in Up and Future Lovers (The Journal of Popular Culture), and Beyond B&W? The global manga of Felipe Smith (in the Eisner Award-winning essay collection Black Comics: The Politics of Race and Representation (Bloomsbury, 2013) as well as several influential papers on emerging trends in scholarly publishing.

Communicating with Cool Japan – full CFP and additional details

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Highlighting New Publications: Global Manga

Global Manga: “Japanese” Comics Without Japan?, the new essay collection, edited by City University London’s Casey Brienza, on the “global cultural phenomenon” of comics that may be presented as manga but are not actually created in Japan, is now available for purchase in hard-cover and e-book formats.

*** Special discount: 50% off (hard-cover only) ***

Dr. Brienza introduces the essays with Manga Without Japan?, an overview of the emergence of “original” (i.e., non-Japanese) manga, largely in response to market pressures and conditions. This essay provides working definitions of both “global manga” and “manga” in general, surveys the current state of “cultural production” of global manga around the world – in the U.S. and Canada, in Europe, and in South America, and approaches the underlying question of how to consider manga/global manga – as styles, as marketing functions or labels, or even as “tools” deployed in support of particular activities. Ultimately, as she points out, just some of the questions this book highlights – and that should be involved in any discussion about manga, whether in Japan or elsewhere, include:

  • What do the fields of cultural production of “global manga” look like?
  • Why and under what sorts of conditions do they arise and flourish?
  • Who gets to decide what counts as “manga,” and who benefits from that decision?
  • What are global manga’s implications for contemporary economies of cultural and creative labor?
  • What does it mean…for manga to be “authentically” Japanese and what, precisely, is at stake?

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Anime and manga in the OA “Comic Book & Graphic Novel Collection”

The trend towards “open access” is probably the single most important recent development in academic/scholarly publishing, across many different subject ares, and disciplines. As I mentioned in an earlier post, much of the discussion of the new issues, as well as the challenges and controversies, of open access publishing focus on the STM (“science, technology, and medicine”) fields. But open access as a model and a practice is by no means limited to those fields, and scholars in the social sciences and the humanities/liberal arts are embracing it as well. So, for example, of the 75 English-language articles on anime/manga published in academic journals last year that I am aware of, 29 (39%) are available in open access. This compares to 37 of 81 (46%) for articles published in 2013 (the slightly larger percentage is due to two special issues on anime/manga and related topics in Transformative Works and Cultures and the Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Culture), and 22 of 64 (34%) for those published in 2012. In fact, the percentage seems to be holding this year too – with 5 open access articles out of the 13 that have been published on anime/manga so far – a ratio of 38%. Continue reading

Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies – 2009 Ed.

Since launching this project over a year ago, a significant portion of my work has gone towards presenting materials – such as lists of recent academic publications on anime/manga, that until now, have not been available anywhere publicly. With the lists now complete going back to 2010 – I can begin moving into the project’s next stage. This will involve going back into my own archives and the legacy Online Bibliography of Anime and Manga Research to extract and present lists of English-language scholarship on anime/manga published prior to 2010 – all the to 1977 – the year that the first such paper that I’m aware of was published. And, right now, I am pleased to be able to present the 2009 edition of the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies.

As with all other editions of the Bibliography, it is also available as a separate page. Any further updates will be reflected on that page only, not in this post.

Introduction

In terms of new publications on anime/manga, 2009 definitely stood out for the relatively large number of books that were published over the course of the year. These included two separate monographs on the life and works of “God of manga” Osamu Tezuka, Thomas Lamarre’s intensely theoretical The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation, with its strong call to shift the focus in anime studies away from an emphasis on either textual or anthropological/sociological readings, and towards an analysis that builds on the unique qualities of animation as an art form and a way of representation, two separate personal testimonials by anime industry professionals, and even a pair of titles on anime/manga in the Rough Guides series of popular reference handbooks. In addition, the year saw over 20 individual chapters on anime in various essay collections, and some 70 individual peer-reviewed articles, once again in a wide range of journals in fields including animation studies, comics studies, Asian/East Asian/Japanese studies, film studies, education, literature, media studies, and other areas of the humanities and social sciences. Continue reading

Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies – 2015 Ed.

Over the more than 10 years now that I have been tracking the development of anime/manga studies as an academic area in general, and new academic publications on anime/manga more specifically, I have presented my work in several different formats. A single fixed list or table was adequate when there were only a few dozen books, book chapters, and journal articles to highlight. But it would not be able an adequate way to present several hundred records. For a while, I was able to add new items to a database presented online using the DabbleDB platform. Since it was discontinued four years ago, I have compiled annual lists of new publications on anime/manga, and announced them at the end of each year. These lists for the years from 2010 to 2014 are now archived in the Bibliographies section of this site, and I plan to continue this work and present similar lists for the years prior to 2010 as well – in fact, the one for 2009 will be up in the next few days. At the same time, this blog now also makes it possible for me to maintain a running list of new publications on anime/manga – so, rather than assembling the list continuously but only releasing it in December or even next year, I can instead make the list of academic publications on anime/manga published this year available to the public right now, and update it continuously as new materials are published.

Annual Bibliography of Anime/Manga Studies, 2015 Ed.

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