Looking back more than twenty years, to the five years from 1991 to 1995, is actually a very good way to see how academics first began to approach Japanese animation. This period includes what is considered to be the first paper on anime in a major English-language academic journal (Susan Napier’s Panic sites: The Japanese imagination of disaster from Godzilla to Akira, published in a 1993 issue of The Journal of Japanese Studies), as well as Annelee Newitz’s Anime otaku: Japanese animation fans outside Japan (in Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life). Because this essay was immediately available in open access (though I don’t think the term had even come into use at that point), for many people, it became their introduction to academic writing on anime and anime fans – and even to the concepts of otaku, the communities, structures, and practices of anime fans, while also demonstrating how writing of this kind can be critical and harsh.
With only 22 total items on this list (one book, an essay collection with four chapters on anime, as well as profiles of several leading creators/directors, including Osamu Tezuka, Hayao Miyazaki, Katsuhiro Otomo, and Rumiko Takahashi, and interviews with several of them, 4 chapters in other edited essay collections, and 13 articles), there simply is not a lot available to analyze for the types of journals that published writing on anime/manga over these years. But, there are a couple of points that are worth making. One is that right away, major journals such as Film Quarterly, The Journal of Japanese Studies, and the Journal of Popular Culture were very much open to publishing research on anime and related topics. Another is that right away, it’s possible to trace several academic approaches to anime that would become common later on – comparisons of animated and live-action films (as in “Panic sites”), studies of particular themes in several different anime (as in “War and peace in Japanese science fiction animation”), and examinations of how anime is received outside Japan – and the different parties – creators, distributors/intermediaries, and fans – that participate in this process. It is interesting, too, to note that of the 13 articles, records and abstracts for 7 are currently available online through their publishers (and so, presumably, also in various general and specialized academic databases, potentially with access to the full texts), and one more can be accessed directly and free of charge.
English-Language Academic Writing on Anime/Manga, 1990-1995