AX 2017 Academic Program

axlogo_2017_date_black

Planning on attending next month’s Anime Expo convention? (Los Angeles, California – July 1-4)? Have always been interested in “anime and manga studies” – or just in the idea of approaching anime and manga in the same way that scholars approach film and literature? For that matter, want to see just how scholars from many different fields talk about anime and manga, and would like to participate in this conversation?

Anime Expo 2017 will once again offer an Academic Program (also known as the AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium) – bringing together college/university professors, graduate students, undergraduates, and independent scholars from around the world for four days of lectures, presentations and discussions on a wide range of topics related to anime and manga. The Academic Track will be open to all AX attendees – no particular academic background is required, and all are welcome!

AX 2017 Academic Program
“Teaching Happiness” – Education With and About Anime and Manga

Anime Expo 2017
Los Angeles Convention Center
LACC 411 / AX Live Programming 4
July 1-4

Saturday, July 1:

6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Introduction and Welcome
Mikhail Koulikov (Executive Producer, Anime and Manga Studies Projects)

Keynote Address
Consuming Japan: Popular Culture and the Globalizing of America

mckevitt
Andrew McKevitt
Assistant Professor, History
Louisiana Tech University

Anime fandom in the United States was born at a tense moment in the relationship between the United States and Japan. To many Americans it seemed that, decades after the end of World War II, Japan’s newfound global economic power would challenge the U.S.-dominated international system. Popular publications foretold the “Danger from Japan,” or the “Coming War with Japan.” But a national “Japan Panic” was not the only way Americans encountered Japan in the 1970s and 1980s. Throughout the country, in local places like automobile factories and anime fan clubs, Americans engaged with Japanese culture in new and transformative ways.

Andrew McKevitt teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the history of U.S. foreign relations, the postwar United States, modern Russia, and modern Japan. He received a Ph.D. from Temple University, and previously served as the Hollybush Fellow in Cold War History at Rowan University and as a visiting assistant professor of history at Philadelphia University

Dr. McKevitt’s research focuses on U.S. cultural relations in the postwar era. His book on the history of U.S.-Japan relations in the 1970s and 1980s told through the lens of consumerism in the United States will be published in October. In 2011, he received the Stuart L. Bernath Scholarly Article Prize, awarded by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations for the year’s best article in the field, for his paper “You Are Not Alone!” Anime and the Globalizing of America. Published in the journal Diplomatic History, it examines the local, national, and transnational cultural networks created by fans of Japanese animation in the 1970s and 1980s. Continue reading

Advertisements

Call for Papers – Princess Mononoke, 20th Anniversary

Princess MononokeFor many people in the U.S, their first experience with Japanese animation took place in 1999, when Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke played in some 130 theaters around the country. Since then, it has become one of the most recognizable examples of anime, and film programs and classes on Japanese cinema in general and on anime in particular include it pretty much as a matter of course. Scholars have also been paying attention to it pretty much from right after its release – with Susan Napier’s 2001 Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation, and more than a dozen essays in various journals and edited collections – some of these include Between the worlds: Liminality and self-sacrifice in Princess Mononoke (Journal of Religion and Film), Animating child activism: Environmentalism and class politics in Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke (1997) and Fox’s Fern Gully (1992) (Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies) and National identity (re)construction in Japanese and American animated film: Self and other representation in Pocahontas and Princess Mononoke (Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies). A full list of these is available in the Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli Bibliography that I also maintain/edit.

Continue reading

Finding and accessing dissertations and theses on anime/manga

Academic writing on anime/manga can exist in several different formats. Most of these are intuitively familiar to readers – the book written by a single author, the edited collection of essays by several, the individual chapter in a collection, the article in a scholarly journal. But, one format that many readers may not be as familiar with is the Ph.D. dissertation or master’s thesis.

In the Western academic tradition (which, granted, has largely been adopted by academic institutions all over the world), the culmination of a graduate program, whether at the doctoral or master’s level, is a major piece of original scholarly writing that can conceivably be published as a stand-alone book. Doctoral programs always or virtually always require one, in addition to coursework and an oral examination, and many master’s programs (though by no means all) do as well. In its The Doctor of Philosophy Degree: A Policy Statement, the Council of Graduate Schools states that the dissertation both “makes an original contribution to knowledge”, and serves as a significant training experience for an academic career. And, as Paul D. Isaac emphasizes, in Faculty perceptions of the doctoral dissertation, it also plays significant “cultural, informal, and historical academic roles” such as providing a common experience for all Ph.D. recipients, regardless of their specific personal backgrounds, disciplines, or schools/programs.

Continue reading

“Anime in the US: The Entrepreneurial Dimensions of Globalized Culture” – What Could Have Been

In my critique of the Pacific Affairs article Anime in the U.S.: The entrepreneurial dimensions of globalized culture, I argued that one of the most frustrating things about this essay is that it actually contains the basic shape of a vastly article on the role that individual entrepreneurs played in introducing Japanese animation to American audiences. So, how would this much stronger paper actually look like?

Astro BoyThe most logical way to open it would be with a discussion of how Japanese animated television programs were first brought into the U.S. Much of this story is already described in Astro Boy and Anime Come to the Americas: An Insider’s View of a Pop Culture Phenomenon (McFarland, 2008). Brian Ruh provides additional details in “Early Japanese animation in the United States: Changing Tetsuwan Atomu to Astro Boy“, in The Japanification of Children’s Popular Culture: From Godzilla to Miyazaki (pp. 209-226). This process could then be traced forward to the present. Aspects of it, in particular, the kinds of changes that anime films and TV episodes were subjected to as they were prepared for theatrical releases, television broadcasts, and distribution on VHS/DVD in the West are discussed in Rieko Okuhara’s “The censorship of Japanese anime in America: Do American children need to be protected from Dragon Ball” (in the same book, pp. 199-208), Rayna Denison’s “The global markets for anime: Miyazaki Hayao’s Spirited Away (2001)” (in Japanese Cinema: Texts and Contexts, pp. 308-321), Ruh’s Transforming U.S. anime in the 1980’s: Localization and longevity (Mechademia, v. 5: Fanthropologies, pp. 31-49), and especially, in his Ph.D. dissertation, Adapting Anime: Transnational Media Between Japan and the United States.

It could then be contrasted with how “anime entrepreneurs” approached Japanese animation. Perhaps precisely because they were not coming from the entertainment industry, and perhaps because they also operated at much smaller scales, with much more modest goals in mind, these entrepreneurs – people like John Ledford, Gen Fukunaga, and Gene Field – did not feel any particular need to subject the anime that they were presenting to American audiences to any major changes; in fact, its non-American nature was a selling point. Academic writing on these entrepreneurial activities is still fairly limited, though two examples are Jonathan Clements’ “The mechanics of the US anime and manga industry”, in Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, 64, 32-44 (1995), and Laurie Cubbison’s Anime fans, DVDs, and the authentic text (The Velvet Light Trap56, 45-57), but there are plenty of articles in various general-interest publications – such as:

A great way to conclude the piece would be with a case study of Crunchyroll. Launched originally as a Youtube-like website focused on streaming Japanese anime episodes and films, many of them subtitled by fans without authorization – but also without seeking any profit for themselves (the site itself would, of course, receive income from ads), it has since reoriented itself entirely and now works directly with Japanese production companies to license anime series for online distribution to Western audiences. In 2013, The Chernin Group, a media investment company, acquired majority control in a deal valued close to US$100 million; Hollywood Reporter recently ranked it as the 8th-largest video streaming app (by revenue), and according to a Japan Times article, earlier this year, it had “the fifth largest streaming subscription base in the United States“.

This article could still reach the same conclusion as the original paper – that entrepreneurs and their activities are key to the “transnational penetration, distribution, reproduction and consumption of cultural commodities” – but the examples it would draw on would actually support the conclusion vastly more effectively than what Anime in the U.S. is able to present.

Highlighting New Publications – Anime: A Critical Introduction

The goals of the first books on Japanese animation published in English – Antonia Levi’s Samurai From Outer Space: Understanding Japanese Animation (1996), Susan Napier’s Anime From Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation (2001), and Patrick Drazen’s Anime Explosion! The What? Why? & Wow! of Japanese Animation (2002) – were fairly modest, and limited simply to describing the major features and themes that are present throughout anime. The books that individual authors have published on anime since then have been more elaborate, with focuses on themes such as “fan communities” and the “anime media mix”, and in-depth theoretical approaches as with Thomas Lamarre’s The Anime Machine. The exceptions have been 2009’s The Rough Guide to Anime and the 2013 Kamera Books handbook Anime (essentially, a listing of major directors.creators and major films/series). But, no such thing as a current/contemporary critical overview of Japanese animation, from an academic expert but aimed at a general audience, existed – until now.

Anime - DenisonAnime: A Critical Introduction is a new entry in Bloomsbury Publishing‘s “Film Genres” series that also includes volumes on “Fantasy Film”, “Teen Film”, “Science Fiction Film”, and “Historical Film”. Fittingly, the approach that it takes emphasizes the genres within Japanese animation, such as science fiction, horror, shone and shojo, and the separate and unique “Ghibli Genre”, while acknowledging that genres, as concepts and categories are constructed by both creators, audiences, and third parties such as the media, and are subject to change/evolution over time. In its discussion of anime as a particular “cultural phenomenon” and a “globally significant category of animation”, the author also makes sure to introduce a historical perspective that places “anime” as we usually think of it into the broader context of “Japanese animation”, and to engage with the work of both English-language and Japanese anime scholars, including the ones mentioned above.

Continue reading