New Special Issue – The Journal of Popular Culture

Fred Schodt’s 1983 Manga! Manga!: The World of Japanese Comics is rightly recognized as the first in-depth English-language survey of its subject. But, already, Western scholars were also paying attention to Japanese comics – first, in 1977, with “Contemporary Japanese youth: Mass media communication” (in Youth & Society, 8:4), and then, two years later, with Salaryman comics in Japan: Images of self-perception, in the Journal of Popular Culture. And, in the more than thirty years now that have passed since that article appeared – and as anime and manga studies has developed into a defined academic field, this journal has continued welcoming articles on Japanese animation and Japanese comics. At least 14 more have appeared in it through the end of last year, with one more (which I already discussed) in February. And now, the journal’s latest issue has a specific focus on “Asian popular culture” – which, as the issue’s editors note, is “an umbrella term for the study of various facets of culture (such as film, television, literature, music, animation, social media, digital media, advertising) across Asia using a range of methodologies and approaches”.

[Ed. note: Here, it would be interesting to also consider how other editors have presented the same term. The editors of Asian Popular Culture: New, Hybrid, and Alternate Media (Lexington Books, 2013) do not see any need to it to be any more complicated than simply referring to “popular culture practices in Asia”. On the other hand, in the introduction to Asian Popular Culture: The Global (Dis)continutity (Routledge, 2013), Anthony Y.H. Fung states that “this book does not present a definition of Asian popular culture – which may practically be unfeasible owing to the diversity of Asian cultural products – but presents the readers cases of highly popular Asian pop imaginaries that can be connected to the discourse of globalization and under the theme of the global (dis)continuity of the political economy.]

Anime/manga and Chinese cinema are certainly the two components of it that are the most prominent in “popular and critical imagination”, but, again, studying Asian popular culture needs to consider not only particular types/modes/facets of popular culture, but also factors and features such as adaptations from one to another – and the ways popular culture moves both within Asian, and from Asia to the rest of the world. Two of the essays in the issue deal with aspects of these issues specifically with regard to anime/manga.

Karatsu, Rie. Female voice and Occidentalism in Mika Nakagawa’s Helter Skelter (2012): Adapting Kyoko Akazaki to the screen. The Journal of Popular Culture, 49(5), 967-983.

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