Anime/Manga Studies in 2016: The Year in Review

The goal of this site, as I present it, is to “highlight announcements and news, provide commentary on new trends, new issues, and new publications, and develop resources to support the emerging academic field of anime/manga studies”. What this has meant, largely, is that my focus has been on what is happening in anime/manga studies right now – new publications and presentations, new classes and programs – and what will happen in the future. On the other hand, with each year of the retrospective Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, I also looked back at how the field looked liked years ago – all the way back to the 1970’s (when, of course, it could not even be said to be one).

One thing I have not done yet, though, is narrow my focus a bit, and survey recent developments in anime/manga studies – a Year in Review, if you will. Tor.com has an Anime Year in Review feature, so do Shelf Life and AnimeCons TV – and so many other sites and personal blogs – so, maybe it’s high time for one too!

Anime/Manga Studies in 2016: The Year in Review

As I have argued consistently, an academic field can be characterized by several different types of activities, all of which can be thought of broadly as forms of knowledge-sharing: publications, conferences/seminars/workshops, and classes. So, the easiest way to look at developments in anime/manga studies in 2016 is by focusing on each of these types:

1. Academic Publications on Anime/Manga: 2016

Manga and Anime Go to HollywoodEasily one of the highlights of the year was the publication of two different books, both from Bloomsbury, by authors who have been involved with Japanese animation and Japanese comics for quite some time now. There are plenty of differences between the two titles, but, also, a perhaps surprising number of similarities. Manga and Anime Go to Hollywood is much more casual in style than Manga in America: Transnational Book Publishing and the Domestication of Japanese Comics, with its extensive charts and tables, footnotes, and ten pages of references. But the authors of both draw quite heavily on the interview as a research method (and on their personal connections with the subjects of their interviews); more importantly, with both of these books, the emphasis is not as much on analyzing the stories or styles of anime/manga as it is on the ways that anime and manga are being presented to audiences outside Japan, and on the structures that have developed over the years to foster this presentation. Compare this to the two books on anime/manga that appeared this year – The Moral Narratives of Hayao Miyazaki – a straight-forward “analysis of the religious, philosophical and ethical implications” of Miyazaki’s films, and Imitation and Creativity in Japanese Arts: From Kishida Ryusei to Miyazaki Hayao, in which the author “demonstrates the distinct character of Japanese mimesis and its dynamic impact on global culture, showing through several twentieth-century masterpieces the generative and regenerative power of Japanese arts.”

rewriting-historyThe only essay collection specifically on anime/manga published in 2016 was Rewriting History in Manga: Stories for the Nation. As I wrote when highlighting this volume, an important feature of this book is the key question that its editors ask – “Does manga play a significant role in creating, reproducing and disseminating historical memory or is it only a reflective expression of the past in a rather passive and ‘entertaining’ manner?” This is the question that they invite the authors of the eight individual chapters to consider and work with.

Of course, in addition to these, chapters on topics related to anime/manga also appeared in at least 22 other essay collections. Son of Classics and Comics (Oxford University Press) included “Mecha in Olympus: Shirow Masamune’s Appleseed” and another chapter on “Classical allusions in Fullmetal Alchemist”. “Japanese manga and anime on the Asia-Pacific War experience” was one of the chapters in Divided Lenses: Screen Memories of War in East Asia (University of Hawaii Press). The editors of the Cambridge History of Japanese Literature felt it was important for the book to cover “The emergence of girls’ manga and girls’ culture”. And even a specialized volume where one really would not have any reason to come across mentions of anime/manga – Creativity and Community among Autism-Spectrum Youth: Creating Positive Social Updrafts through Play and Performance (Palgrave Macmillan) can be counted among the 22, since one of its chapters is The collaborative online anime community as a positive social updraft.

Finally, there were at least 80 articles on anime/manga published in 2016 in academic journals – as always, this is simply the number of articles that I have located so far, and it may increase. The 80 (including 2 in Japanese and 1 in Spanish with English-language titles and abstracts) were spread across 49 different journals; 11 journals (22%) published at least two articles, but 38 more (78%) only had a single one. In terms of the individual articles, the 11 journals – again, 22% – accounted for 42 articles – 52.5% of articles. Clearly, the standard – or maybe stereotypical 80/20 “rule” does not seem to apply to publication patterns in anime/manga studies the top 20% of journals account for significantly less than 80% of all articles. The implication here is that to get a more through idea of what is being published in English on anime/manga, scholars must be aware of – and must have access to – a wide range of sources.

So, which journals published more than one article on anime/manga in 2016?

The Phoenix Papers: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Fandom and Neomedia Studies: 10 articles
Kritika Kultura: 6 articles, in a Manga Culture and Critique special section
Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal: 4
International Journal of Comic Art: 4
International Journal of Contents Tourism: 3
Journal of Kyoto Seika University: 3
Journal of Popular Culture: 2
Mutual Images: 2
Ekphrasis: Images, Cinema, Theory, Media: 2
Japan Forum: 2
TranscUlturAl: A Journal of Translation and Cultural Studies: 2

It is particularly interesting to note that of these 11 journals, only 3 (Animation, Journal of Popular Culture, and Japan Forum) are “traditional” – that is, published by a major corporate publisher. The others are all published by independent organizations or directly by colleges/universities. 7 are based outside the U.S.

But, what about the other 38 ? Some of them – East Asian Journal of Popular Culture, Journal of Fandom Studies, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship – are perhaps “expected” venues for scholarly writing on Japanese animation and Japanese comics. But, articles on anime/manga and related topics also appeared in journals such as the Asia Pacific Journal of Education, Communication, Culture & Critique, the Journal of Business Strategy, and Society & Animals – really, again, supporting the statement that as a field, anime and manga studies can be characterized as relatively broad, with articles appearing in a wide range of different journals rather than being concentrated in only a few.

[Ed. note: For a full list of articles published in English-language scholarly/academic journals in 2016, organized by journal/publisher, please feel free to contact me directly.]

Of course, one more question to ask here is – how d0 the 2016 figures compare to previous years? Do they fit into any kind of trend – or to the extent that there even is one, deviate from it? The 80 articles are a slight decrease from the previous year’s 90, but the caveat here is that I may simply have missed some that were in fact published in 2016, but will likely add them to the list as I do come across them. Overall, starting in 2005, the number of academic articles on anime/manga published each year has gone up or at least stayed stable – with one exception in 2012, when it decreased by about 25% – though the number rebounded the next year.

Overall, then, at least as far as publications are concerned, 2016 was clearly a strong year for the field!

(One aside here is that 2016 was the first year since 2006 without a new volume in the Mechademia series of annual essay collections on “anime, manga, and the fan arts”. Although there have been some rumors about plans for a “New Series”, I have not seen any concrete information about it.)

2. Academic Events

MechademiaScholars of anime/manga who were interested in presenting their work at conferences throughout 2016 certainly did not lack for options. The International Communication Association’s annual conference, hosted by Waseda University (Tokyo) featured a special pre-conference program entitled Communicating with Cool Japan: New International Perspectives on Japanese Popular Culture, with papers such as “Sexy Mulattas and Amelias: An Intersectional Analysis of Representations of Brazilian Women in Anime”, “Classically J-Pop: When Classical Music and J-Pop Collide in Music for Anime”, and “Moon Prism Power! Censorship as Adaptation in the Case of Sailor Moon”. The Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits event, originally held at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, also returned to Japan, with Conflicts of Interest in Anime, Manga, and Gaming. And Anime Expo, in Los Angeles, again included an Academic Program, which I developed and managed along with Brent Allison.

3. Classes

Just some of the classes specifically on anime/manga that colleges offered in 2016 included:

“Modern Japanese Literature and Manga in Translation” – Carleton College

“Anime and War” – Chapman University

“Girls’ Manga: Gender/Sexuality in Japan through Popular Culture” – Macalester College

“Modern Japanese in Translation” – Queens College

“The Fantastical World of Japanese Anime” – University at Buffalo (SUNY)

“Ecology, Technology and Anime” – University of California, Davis

“Anime” – Ursinus College

Particularly worth noting was Introduction to Anime and Manga Studies (George Mason University) – the first class I have seen to specifically focus on the different ways to approach anime and manga critically, rather than picking a single particular way.

Conclusion: Anime and manga studies is still a very young academic field – and one that is connected inherently and unavoidably to the overall popularity of Japanese comics and animation outside Japan. But, at least so far, it is still very much expanding, and clearly offers a wide range of opportunities to scholars – and really, to anyone who is interested in academic approaches to anime and manga.

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College Courses on Anime – Introduction to Anime and Manga Studies

https://www2.gmu.edu/sites/all/modules/features/feature_core_theme/templates/resources/images/mason-logo.pngScholarly writing on anime and manga is, of course, a major component of “anime/manga studies”, but not the only component – and classes that focus on Japanese animation and Japanese comics are an equally important part of the field. But, while the first English-language academic publications on Japanese comics appeared in the late 1970’s, and the first such paper on anime that I am aware of was published in 1993, it wasn’t until the late 1990’s/early 2000’s that colleges began offering such classes, with Susan Napier’s The World of Japanese Animation: Aesthetics, Commerce, Culture, at the University of Texas at Austin being if not the first, then certainly among the first.

Since Prof. Napier (who has since moved to Tufts University) first taught it, these kinds of classes have expanded to a wide range of schools – the Ivy League, other major research universities, both public and private, and smaller regional and liberal arts institutions. Just some recent examples include Anime as Global Popular Culture (Harvard University), Critical Analysis of Anime (Rice University), Anime in Text and Film (Stevenson University), and Explore Japanese Manga and Anime (Union College). Generally, they have taken an introductory approach, and the course description of the one at California State University, Long Beach is typical: “Students examine, analyze, and discuss selected topics in Japanese culture and modern society by analyzing Japanese animation (anime) and printed cartoons (manga)”. But, again, with anime and manga studies as a field now firmly established, clearly, it’s about time for ways of dealing with anime/manga in the post-secondary classroom setting that go beyond the introductory.

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Communicating with Cool Japan (Int’l Communication Association Pre-Conference)

conf2016A few months ago, I was glad to participate in distributing the Call for Papers for Communicating with Cool Japan: New International Perspectives on Japanese Popular Culture, a one-day mini-conference that would run in Tokyo, at Waseda University, on June 8, just ahead of (and in connection with) the 66th annual conference of the International Communication Association. The preliminary schedule for this event, has now been announced.

As the schedule currently stands, it will consist of a keynote address presented by Prof. Koichi Iwabuchi (Monash University), and a total of 9 sessions, running simultaneously (2/3 at a time), each organized around a common theme.

The themes that the sessions will address are:

  • What We Live For: Women, Expression, and Empowerment in Japanese Fan Cultures
  • Methodologies of Cultural Power
  • Image/Text
  • Audience Studies, Otaku, and Fan Cultures
  • Institutionalization and Nostalgia
  • Discontented Japanization
  • The Living Popular
  • Digital Productions: Distribution, Piracy, and Globalization
  • Localization, Adaptation, and Hybridization

These sessions will feature a total of 39 individual presentations, and speakers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Given the mini-conference’s broad focus on “any area of Japanese popular culture”, not all of them address anime/manga, but, many do:

Session 1.2: Methodologies of Cultural Power
10:20 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Why hasn’t Japan banned child-porn comics?”: An Investigation into the Socio-legal Attitudes towards Yaoi Manga

Simon Turner (Chulalongkorn University)

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Resource Review – Dissertation Reviews

DRIn a previous post, I asked whether graduate students write Ph.D dissertations/master’s theses on anime and manga – the answer being very much yes. In the same post, I also discussed several ways of locating and accessing these kinds of dissertations, including using Google Scholar, institutional repositories, and the subscription-only ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database, and listed a number of recent dissertations/theses authored by graduate students in colleges/universities both in the U.S. and in other English-speaking countries.

But, just as with published scholarship, simply being able to locate and access dissertations on a particular topic does not necessarily serve to fill an end user’s information needs. Books receive reviews, whether in academic journals, in popular magazines, or on blogs. Until recently, I was not aware of any similar resource for reviews of dissertations.

As it turns out, the appropriately titled Dissertation Reviews website serves exactly this purpose – of providing “overviews of recently defended, unpublished doctoral dissertations in a wide variety of disciplines across the Humanities and Social Sciences”. Its main goal is to highlight, rather than critique/criticize, so in a way, if a title is selected to be reviewed, that in of itself can be treated as an endorsement and a positive appraisal of its value and contribution to scholarship.

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Introduction to Anime & Manga Studies @ Waku Waku +NYC

Waku-Waku-LogoWaku Waku +NYC, the new “Japanese pop culture festival”, will be held this weekend (August 29-30) in New York City, in various locations in Brooklyn. More than just an anime convention, it will include screenings, talks, performances, a fashion show, interactive events, and concerts spread out several locations in Brooklyn.

I am delighted to be able to contribute to this festival by presenting the session “Introduction to anime and manga studies”. This will run on Sunday, August 30, at 11:30 a.m., at the Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Avenue).

Introduction to Anime and Manga Studies

Mikhail Koulikov
Prof. Kathryn Hemmann
Prof. Shige (CJ) Suzuki

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AX 2015 Anime and Manga Studies Symposium – Final Schedule

The full schedule for this year’s AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium, the Academic Program track at Anime Expo, the largest anime/manga convention in North America, has now been finalized. This year’s Symposium consists of four plenary addresses, a special roundtable discussion, and 12 individual presentations on various topics related to anime/manga, with a total of 18 speakers from colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada, Austria, Belgium/France, and Japan. The sessions will be spread out over all four days of Anime Expo 2015, and will all be held in the Theater (Room 411) of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The 2015 Anime and Manga Studies Symposium program is also available as a separate page.
Download – Word
Download – PDF

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AX 2015 Academic Program / AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium

Anime Expo 2015
Los Angeles Convention Center (Room 411 / AX Live Programming 4)
Los Angeles, California
July 2-5

Thursday, July 2

5:15 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Introduction: Anime and Manga Studies at AX and in 2015
Mikhail Koulikov

5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.
Panel Session
Critical Approaches to Japanese Animation and Comics

  • The Beautiful End of the World: Eschatologies of the Bishojo

Many of the most iconic characters in anime/manga are young women directly associated with apocalyptic and posthuman themes. Cultural critics have highlighted the parallels between these bishojo and motifs related to freedom, flight, hope, and healing, so it is interesting that often, they are also closely connected to themes of human extinction. I argue that, through the regenerative capacity of such characters, whose emerging sexuality is not yet tainted by masculine bodies and masculinist ideologies such as nationalism, militarism, and scientific rationalism, anime/manga present the “end of the world” as positive event that promises ecological balance and emotional serenity.

Kathryn Hemmann (George Mason University)

  • Stories in Shades of Black and White: Use of Color in CLAMP’s Manga

Many Western comics depend on color, shading, and delicate variations in inking techniques to tell their stories, Japanese manga must create a visually compelling narrative with only black and white. Yet, many manga use significantly fewer inking techniques than standard Western comics. I compare techniques described by famed inker Klaus Janson for Western comics with those in three works by CLAMP in markedly different styles and targeted at different audiences By creating their aesthetic based on the tone and message of a specific work, CLAMP creates synergy between the narrative and visuals, integrating the disparate elements of the page, and transmitting a sense of depth in a manner entirely distinct from Western comics.

Mia Lewis (Stanford University) Continue reading

AX 2015 Anime and Manga Studies Symposium – Speakers and Talk Titles

I am pleased to announce the final program for the 2015 AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium, the Anime Expo 2015 Academic Program. AX 2015 will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center (Los Angeles, California), from July 2 to July 5, and the Symposium will be spread out over all four days.

The Symposium will feature a keynote address by a leading scholar and teacher, three special guest lectures/presentations, 13 individual talks on a wide range of topics related to Japanese animation and comics, organized into several topical panels, and a roundtable discussion on major issues in teaching about Japanese popular culture and using anime and manga in the classroom. Its main goal remains to highlight new critical approaches to Japanese popular visual culture, but the Symposium also serves a major educational function. It introduces AX’s attendees to the ideas and practices of the academic study of anime and manga, while giving speakers a unique opportunity to present their work to a general audience.

Keynote Address: The Importance of Anime at Film School: Tales from USC

Ellen SeiterEllen Seiter
Professor of Critical Studies
Stephen K. Nenno Chair of Television Studies
University of Southern California

Prof. Seiter teaches courses on television and new media history, theory and criticism, as well as the new new Japanese Anime class, in the in the Critical Studies Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Books she has written include The Creative Artist’s Legal Guide:Copyright, Trademark and Contracts in Film and Digital Media Production (2012), The Internet Playground: Children’s Access, Entertainment and Mis-Education (2005), Television and New Media Audiences (1999), Sold Separately: Children and Parents in Consumer Culture (1993) and Remote Control; Television, Audiences and Cultural Power (1989). Continue reading

‘Globalized Manga Culture and Fandom’ Mini-Symposium

Globalized Manga CultureThis month, Baruch College (New York) will host the art exhibition “World of Shojo Manga: Mirrors of Girls’ Desires”. In conjunction with the exhibition, the college will also present a one-day “mini-symposium” on certain aspects of Japanese comics and their worldwide reception.

Globalized Manga Culture and Fandom

Thursday, February 19, 12:40 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.

Baruch College Vertical Campus

55 Lexington Avenue, 5th Floor, Room 165

Speakers:

  • Masami Toku (Professor, Art and Art History, California State University, Chico)

The focus of Prof. Toku’s research is on the effect of popular visual culture, including manga, on children’s art artistic development, and the potential for the use of manga in art education. She is also one of the organizers of the touring exhibition series Shojo Manga! Girls’ Power! (2005-2006) which was presented at various locations around the U.S. and Canada, including the University of New Mexico, Columbia College Chicago, Pratt Institute, the Japanese Canadian National Museum (Burnaby, British Columbia, and the Japan Exhibition and Culture Center at the Embassy of Japan (Washington, DC).

  • Kathryn Hemmann (Assistant Professor, Modern and Classical Languages, George Mason University)

Prof. Hemmann teaches Japanese culture and Japanese literature, and has presented on topics related to Japanese comics extensively, including at the AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium, where she has spoken on the concept of the “female gaze” in contemporary Japanese anime and manga. She is also the author of the blog Contemporary Japanese Literature, and is currently working on a book-length project to be entitled “Writing Women Readers: The Female Gaze in Contemporary Japanese Narrative Media”.

Vertical, Inc., based in New York City, is a leading publisher of English translations of contemporary Japanese literature, including non-fiction (The Toyota Leaders: An Executive Guide, Nintendo Magic: Winning the Videogame Wars), novels (Parasite Eve, The Summer of the Ubume), and manga (Chi’s Sweet Home, Paradise Kiss, Sakuran, Twin Spica).

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Manga Futures – 6th Int’l Scholarly Conference

Manga FuturesThe University of Wollongong and the International Manga Research Center (Kyoto Seika University) have unveiled the full schedule for this year’s Manga Futures: Institutional and Fan Approaches in Japan and Beyond academic conference. This event will be held at the University of Wollongong, Australia, from October 31 to November 2. It will bring together leading scholars of Japanese comics from around the world for an intensive schedule of keynote and plenary addresses, interviews, and individual presentations arranged in several topical streams, with the broad goal of examining the full scope of “manga culture” and the production, distribution and consumption of Japanese comics. Some of the specific themes the conference’s Call for Papers highlighted included:

• Fan appropriations of and contributions to manga culture in Japan and beyond
• Commonalities and differences in fandom-based creation and criticism between Japan and other countries
• Ethical and legal challenges in the production and consumption of manga (copyright, representations of violent and sexual content, potential fictional “child abuse” images etc.)
• Institutional support for or criticism of manga culture
• The use of manga in Japan studies and Japan language pedagogy
• The future of “manga studies” – theory and methods

Manga Futures 2014 – Schedule Continue reading

Anime and Manga Symposium Archives – 2014

In its fourth year, the Symposium featured an excellent mix of first-time and returning speakers, and a great balance, with presenters from colleges and universities around the U.S., as well as Canada and the U.K. Unlike typical scholarly conferences, the speakers included professors, graduate students, undergraduates, and non-academics, who were all able to draw on their knowledge and share their expertise with an appreciative audience. A particular highlight was the special guest lecture presented by Eiji Otsuka, one of Japan’s most well-known critics of comics and animation.

AX 2014 Anime and Manga Studies Symposium – Schedule Continue reading