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

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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Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies: 1997 Ed.

One common way to characterize any academic field is by its publication patterns and trends. In what formats is research in this field published? What kinds of topics does it cover? If the majority of the research is published in the form of journal articles, is it concentrated in a small group of journals, or spread out among many?

Developing the annual bibliographies of English-language academic publications on anime and manga is an important step towards coming up with this kind of characterization for anime/manga studies as an academic field. But, each annual list is only a single snapshot. A more thorough understanding of how exactly this field looks like would require comparing the publication patterns of anime/manga studies in different years. For example, the lists of books, book chapters, and journal articles on anime/manga published last year, and three years ago are actually fairly similar. But, of course, the question comes up – how different would the list look if we expand the range more than just a few years? To answer it, I decided to jump back a bit, and also compile the same list for 1997. And, the differences between what is published on anime/manga now and what was published then are immediate and obvious.

The full list of 1997 English-language publications of all types on anime/manga consists of a total of 28 items: 3 books, 5 chapters in edited collections, and twenty articles. This compares, for example to last year’s 8, over 20 chapters, and more than 80 individual journal articles – or to the around 40 articles that have been published this year so far.

All three of the books are “popular”, rather than scholarly; two of them are essentially guidebooks, and the third, a collection of interviews. It is also curious that two of the five chapters deal with the same topic – vampires in Japanese visual culture – and even discuss the same titles. One particularly interesting point to notice regarding the journal articles is that almost every one of them that was published in a a major academic journal is currently available online, either through the journal’s website, or through another database. This is even true for one paper (Transcultural orgasm as apocalypse: Urutsukidoji: The Legend of the Overfiend) that appeared in a journal which ceased publication in 1999. Three more are available in open access – two through their journals’ websites, and one through an institutional repository. So, in fact, it is easier to access and read these articles now than it was when they were first published! And, it’s really interesting to see names on this list – like Helen McCarthy, Anne Cooper-Chen, and Antonia Levi – that should be familiar to anyone with an interest in how Western critics have responded to Japanese popular culture.

Considering all of these publications together, yes, there is the just the curiosity factor of comparing them to to the kind of writing on anime/manga that is published now. But, it is also important to remember that several of these publications are essentially foundational to how anime/manga studies has developed as a field. Through being cited and included in class reading lists, they have influenced how we approach Japanese animation and Japanese comics academically – what general topics and specific works we look at, what kinds of questions we ask, and really, even, what kinds of answers we hope to get…

English-language books, book chapters, and academic articles on anime/manga: 1997

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