Highlighting New Publications – Origin and Ownership from Ballet to Anime

One of the inevitable challenges of attempting an academic approach to anime/manga is the simple question of selecting particular works to examine – out of hundreds. In a way, it is this challenge that leads many scholars to limit their discussion of anime to discussions of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated films – if nothing else, this kind of limitation allows them to easily connect such new to the significant amount of scholarship on these films that exist already. Similarly, as Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano points out, scholars who write on anime all too frequently limit their studies to straight-forward textual analysis – this leads to a “marginalization” of anime series that air on television – and, maybe, are just not that interesting from a pure textual analysis point of view.

This is precisely why examples of new contributions to anime studies that do go beyond Miyazaki and a handful of other directors are always worth paying attention to. And one such example appears in the February 2016 issue of the Journal of Popular Culture . The full issue is currently available in open access on its publisher’s website.

Kennell, Amanda. Origin and ownership from ballet to anime. Journal of Popular Culture, 49(1), 10-28.

Princess Tutu“‘Long ago and far away…’ begins each episode of Princess Tutu. An anime steeped in century-old ballets – themselves steeped in older folklore, opera, history, and fairytales – Princess Tutu does not quite fit into an easily recognizable mold. It features a magical girl, or mahō shōjo, but she seems to take a back seat to other characters, and the reward waiting for her at the end of the series is a quiet life as a single duck, rather than as the partner of a handsome prince. The story revolves around a battle between a beloved prince and an evil raven, but the prince first lacks interest in battle and then eventually allies himself with the raven. A young man trying to become a valiant knight plays an important role, yet he becomes most important when he throws away his sword and absents himself from the climactic fight, allowing a wimpy bookworm to defend him valiantly against attack. Finally, a young woman falls in love with the prince, but she is dating him before the series begins and they ride off into the sunset at the end with little change in their relationship. Not a mahō shōjo-type coming-of-age story; not a love story; not, really, the story of a battle between good and evil, Princess Tutu emerges from a frothy ocean of stories without really belonging to any of them. Yet, an in-depth examination of the relationship between Princess Tutu and one of its sources, the ballet Swan Lake, reveals that Princess Tutu is representative of a process of creation common to classic ballets.”

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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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Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies – 1998 Ed.

Words of Japanese Popular Culture1998 saw a slight increase in the number of chapters on anime/manga published in edited essay collections – 7 compared to the previous year’s 5. Three of the seven appeared in the first English-language books on Japanese popular culture in general, alongside other chapters on topics such as sumo, karaoke, women’s magazines, live-action television series. The 11 articles on anime/manga that were published in 1998 issues of academic journals were a decrease from the 20 that appeared the year before, but once again, it was clear that major journals such as the Journal of Japanese Studies and the Journal of Popular Culture had accepted the idea that anime and manga were valid subjects of in-depth academic study.

As always, the following list will be permanently archived in the Bibliographies section of this site. If I identify any new publications, they will be added to the permanent list only, not to this post.

English-Language Academic Writing on Anime/Manga, 1998

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The Early Years of Anime/Manga Studies: 1990-1995

KaboomLooking 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

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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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Call for Papers – ‘Asian Popular Culture’

Journal of Popular CultureThe Journal of Popular Culture, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal that is an official publication of the Popular Culture Association is currently accepting papers for an upcoming special issue on Asian popular culture. The CFP notes that “‘Asian popular culture’ has become synonymous with the ideas, images, and phenomena of East Asia and specifically with Japanese animation and Chinese martial arts cinema”, and aims to expand the scope of the special issue very broadly in terms of both geography (East, Southeast, and South Asia) and topics, such as film, television, music, literature, sports, videogames, youth culture, and fan activities in general.

The Journal of Popular Culture has been published since 1967. Over the years, it has consistently welcomed scholarship on anime/manga. Just some of the articles that have appeared in it include Adams, Kenneth Alan & Hill, Lester, Protest and rebellion: Fantasy themes in Japanese comics (1991); Grigsby, Mary, Sailormoon: Manga (comics) and anime (cartoon) superheroine meets Barbie: Global entertainment commodity comes to the United States (1998), Ito, Kinko, A history of manga in the context of Japanese culture and society (2005), Madeley, June M., Transnational transformations: A gender analysis of Japanese manga featuring unexpected bodily transformations, and, just earlier this year, Maser, Verena, Nuclear disasters and the political possibilities of shōjo (girls’) manga (comics): A case study of works by Yamagishi Ryōko and Hagio Moto. Because of its history and status, it can comfortably be considered one of the highest-profile and most prestigious venues for English-language academic writing on Japanese animation/Japanese comics.

The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2015, and papers must be between 5,000 and 7,500 words. Continue reading