If anime/manga studies is to be thought of as a defined academic field or area, then it should have particular characteristics. And, one of the ways to characterize an academic field is by identifying the kinds of journals that scholars who work in this area turn to when publishing their work.
Building up, as I have, a fairly comprehensive bibliography of academic writing on anime/manga, including journal articles, allows me to comfortably state that papers on Japanese animation or Japanese comics can – and do – appear in a wide range of academic journals. At the same time, I think it is also important to present a set of journals that, in my opinion, have over the years specifically welcomed discussions of Japanese visual culture. Some of these journals have gone as far as to publish dedicated theme issues on anime/manga, others have simply carried a significant number of relevant articles over the years.
Building this kind of set can serve several purposes. At its most basic, it may help an author decide which journals to consider submitting a paper on anime/manga to. Additionally, even though this list is essentially subjective, it can be used as one of the criteria for developing a “core collection” of academic journals to support research on anime/manga – so, an academic librarian charged with developing such a collection may refer to it when determining whether the faculty and students that they are supporting have access to the journals that they are likely to need/want to have access to. Having said that, it is also important to keep in mind that this kind of list is not based on any immediately obvious empirical factors. Moreover, again, it is a list, not a ranking – no journal on it is inherently “better” than any other one, and in fact, nor are any of them better than titles that are not on the list at all.
Regardless, so, what kinds of journals publish academic articles on anime/manga? Or, turning the question around, in what kinds of journals do anime/manga scholars publish their work?
Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga and the Fan Arts
Mechademia, described variously as a journal and a book series (the technical term for a publication of this type is “continuing monograph”) is the only English-language scholarly periodical with a focus on anime/manga that has been appearing on a regular schedule, at a rate of one volume per year. Each volume has been organized around a common theme or topic, such as “Networks of Desire” (v. 2, 2007), “User Enhanced” (v. 6, 2011), and “Origins” (v. 9). One of its particularly unique features is that in addition to original scholarly essays, it has also featured translations of seminal Japanese scholarship (both stand-alone articles and excerpts from longer works), as well as photo essays, comics, interviews, and shorter commentary-style pieces. Ten volumes have been published since it launched in 2006, and the contents of each are listed in the Annual Bibliographies section of this site. However, if I understand correctly, publication has ceased with last year’s Volume 10: World Renewal – although plans are supposedly under way to relaunch it as a “New Series”.
Electronic access to Mechademia is available via the Gale Academic OneFile database, JSTOR, and Project Muse (with free access to Volume 4, 2009, “War/Time”).
Other anime/manga studies journals, by subject:
Each of these groups includes several titles. Many are published by corporate/for-profit publishing houses such as Intellect, Sage, and Taylor & Francis, others by colleges/universities directly or by independent non-profit organizations, and some, essentially by individuals. Several of them have been in existence for decades; others were just launched within the last several years.