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.