2020 Eisner Awards – Manga Studies Nominee

The organizers of the San Diego Comic Convention / Comic-Con International have announced the titles and individuals nominated for the 2020 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards in various categories, including Best Scholarly/Academic Work. And, for the second time since the category was first introduced in 2012, one of the books nominated in it specifically deals with Japanese comics. The nominated book is Women’s Manga in Asia and Beyond: Uniting Different Cultures and Identities (Palgrave Macmillan).

Women’s Manga in Asia and Beyond offers a variety of perspectives on women’s manga and the nature, scope, and significance of the relationship between women and comics/manga, both globally as well as locally…The edited volume elucidates social and historical aspects of the Asian wave of manga from ever-broader perspectives of transnationalization and glocalization. With a specific focus on women’s direct roles in manga creation, it illustrates how the globalization of manga has united different cultures and identities, focusing on networks of women creators and readerships.

Taking an Asian regional approach combined with investigations of non-Asian cultures which have felt manga’s impact, the book details manga’s shift to a global medium, developing, uniting, and involving increasing numbers of participants worldwide. Unveiling diverse Asian identities and showing ways to unite them, the contributors to this volume recognize the overlaps and unique trends that emerge as a result.”

Edited by Fusami Ogi (Chigushi Jogakuen University), Rebecca Suter (The University of Sydney), Kazumi Nagaike (Center for International Education and Research, Oita University), and John A. Lent, this volume is based on the work of the Women’s MANGA Research Project, with the individual chapters largely expanding on talks and papers that their authors have presented at conferences organized by the Project since it launched in 2009. The key concept around which it is organized is the idea that manga is “a global medium” – with roots in Japan, but no longer limited to Japan. This means that while it certainly includes several studies of “women’s manga in Japan” (such as Matsumoto Katsuji: Modern Tomboys and Early Shōjo Manga and Hailing the Subject: Visual Progression and Queer Reading in Nananan’s Blue), much of the book’s content specifically pushes the borders of its scope. In this way, the introduction to its first section presents the argument that “the term ‘women’ in the title…does not just refer to biological women but includes other non-masculine subjects, as well.” Later, “manga” is expanded to also include “manga-based cultural products and activities, such as cosplay.” 

“the term ‘women’ in the title…does not just refer to biological women but includes other non-masculine subjects, as well.” 

Similarly, “women’s manga” or “shojo manga” can encompass topics like the representation of Asia broadly and Australia narrowly in Japanese girls’ comics. And the book’s final section, “Asian Women Comics Artists and Their Careers”, with both critical studies of the work of several artists in Japan, China, and Hong Kong, and personal reflections essentially takes Women’s Manga outside “just” manga studies, and really into comics studies much more broadly defined! 

Ed. note: The only review for this book that has been published so far is by Jonathan Clements, in AlltheAnime. In Clements’ assessment, this volume is “a compendium of all the left-overs from the last decade of conferencing”, and “a random collection of essays, less of a book and more like a one-issue journal with a vague pop-culture focus and no style-guide”, although several of the individual essays are quite strong.

Ed. note 2: The previous manga-related book to get a nomination was Boys Love Manga and Beyond: History, Culture, and Community in Japan (2015, University Press of Mississippi – nominated in 2016). Prof. Nagaike was one of that volume’s editors as well.

Highlighting New Publications – Japanese Manga in Translation and American Graphic Novels in Academic Libraries

Do academic libraries include comics broadly defined, including graphic novels and manga, in their collections? The basic idea that they can – and should – is long past being controversial to any extent. In 2006, the co-authors of Graphic novels in academic libraries: From Maus to manga and beyond were able to highlight both the benefits of including graphic novels in academic library collections and some of the conceptual/theoretical and practical challenges of doing so, from convincing faculty, staff, and students of the appropriateness and value of such a collection to simply deciding how to best approach cataloging a graphic novel. 2010’s Japanese manga in translation and American graphic novels: A preliminary examination in 44 academic libraries presented an actual survey of how specifically academic libraries collect graphic novels/manga, or rather, which particular titles they collect.

And now, Japanese manga in translation and American graphic novels: A re-examination of the collections in 36 academic libraries ten years later updates that survey’s results.

Abstract:

Ten years ago, this journal published an article comparing the collection rates of Japanese manga in English translation and American graphic novels (“American” defined as graphic novels published in North America and originally written in English) in 44 American academic libraries in 2007 and 2008 (Masuchika & Boldt, 2010). The results showed that American graphic novels were being added to American academic libraries at a faster pace than translated Japanese manga. With the growing popularity of both manga and graphic novels, it was time to revisit this phenomenon and see if any changes had occurred in collection rates within the last ten years. This study revealed that while graphic novels were being added at a significantly faster pace, manga showed no increase in the rates they were being added ten years ago.

Author:

Glenn Masuchika is an Information Literary Librarian at Penn State University Libraries, where his responsibilities include serving as an “advisor to selectors in the field of graphic novels and comics”. In addition to the original Japanese manga in translation and American graphic novels paper, he is also the author of Japanese cartoons, virtual child pornography, academic libraries, and the law (Reference & User Services Quarterly, 2015), and, earlier this year, Considerations for collecting anime for academic libraries (Collection & Curation).

Summary:

The approach the author of the survey uses is fairly straightforward – it is based on developing a “checklist” of graphic novels and manga, and searching for the titles on the list in the library catalogs of a selection of major academic library systems. But, in any given year, there are now easily several hundred graphic novels and manga published in the U.S. – so actually selecting the titles to search for becomes key. Here, the author decides to focus only on titles included on various Best Of lists (such as Amazon’s, Booklist’s and Entertainment Weekly’s for graphic novels, and Anime News Network’s, ICv2.com’s and Comicbeat.com’s for manga, and select only those titles that appeared on at least 3 lists of graphic novels and at least 2 for manga. Equally key is the second part of the survey design – the academic libraries whose holdings would be searched. Here, a key factor, as in the original 2010 study, would be “major groupings based on geographical locations” – as with 12 major Midwestern universities, 12 in the Western states, and beyond that, 12 with prominent Asian, Asian American, and Japanese Studies programs, to see whether it would be possible to determine any relationship between the existence of these programs, and the libraries’ collection development practices. The graphic novels Best Of lists generated a total of 14 unique titles; the manga ones accounted for 17. (more…)

Highlighting New Resources – Japanese Media and Popular Culture

If a student – or even a professor – is interested in a broad and general overview of “Japanese popular culture”, what kinds of basic starting points can they use to begin familiarizing themselves with what the concept actually encompasses? One such starting point is the recent A History of Popular Culture in Japan: From the Seventeenth Century to the Present (E. Taylor Atkins, Bloomsbury Academic), another, though slightly older now, is the Japanese Popular Culture and Globalization volume in the series of short “Key Issues in Asian Studies” handbooks published by the Association for Asian Studies. An excellent one is Introducing Japanese Popular Culture (Alisa Freedman and Toby Slade, Routledge), especially with its design specifically as both a textbook, a “go-to handbook for interested readers”, and a guide to the field’s most important sources and leading scholars.

And now, the University of Tokyo has launched a new resource of this type – the fully online Japanese Media and Popular Culture – An Open-Access Digital Initiative – “a reference work and alphabetical series of essays on important key concepts”. The “key concepts” cover a range of topics both in media, communication, and cultural studies in general, and in Japanese Studies in particular – as specific as “2.5-dimensional” and “fansubbing“, and as general as “cuteness“, “male gaze“, and “participatory culture“. Each “keyword” short essay is then directly connected to a “celebrity or “character” entry. Some of these connections include Mangaesque to Fullmetal Alchemist, Otaku to Okuda Toshio, Yuri to Hanedara Keisuke, and Database to Mimiketto – and, as explained in the site’s How to Use section, “celebrity or character” is actually expanded to mean “star, celebrity, talent, creator, or character from Japanese popular culture”. (more…)

Highlighting New Publications – Considerations for Collecting Japanese Anime for Academic Libraries

Masuchika, Glenn. Considerations for collecting Japanese anime for academic librariesCollection and Curation, 39(2), 53-56.

The idea that academic libraries can include Japanese animation in their collections of films and television series is neither new nor controversial. The purpose of an academic library is to serve its user community, and to facilitate effective teaching and research – and providing access to Japanese animation, such as, for example, to support the students enrolled in a class like “Anime: Masterworks of Japanese Animation” (Middlebury College, Fall 2018) or “Anime Cinema” (University of North Florida, Spring 2019) absolutely fits into this purpose. But, with literally thousands of anime films and series available for purchase, how can an academic librarian actually go about selecting particular anime to add to a particular collection? (more…)

Guest Essay: Towards A New Posthuman Ontology – The Anti-Anthropocentrism of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

From the editor: So far, the primary purpose of this site has been to serve as a “central point of information about anime and manga studies”, and a collection of resources that would be useful to the anime and manga studies community. However, I also gladly welcome new material, such as actual original commentary on anime/manga. If you would like to contribute an essay on any topic related to anime/manga, whether commentary or original research, please feel free to contact me.

The first such essay that I am happy to feature is “Towards a New Posthuman Ontology – The Anti-Anthropocentrism of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence“.

Yalun Li is the Co-founder of Dunes Workshop, an inter-disciplinary research and design organization. She is a candidate of Master of Architecture at Harvard University GSD and holds a Bachelor degree of Architecture at Syracuse University with a Philosophy minor. Her research interests include topics on Postmodernism theories in relation to media studies.

Abstract

This essay is an attempt to understand Mamoru Oshii’s films of Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence as philosophical propositions. Oshii’s films offered a refreshing insight on the role of film where it can purpose, construct and present new theories instead of being only a representational accessory of philosophical thoughts. I am amazed by the sincerity of the films in constructing a genuine decentralized “posthuman” world. The complex system Oshii created and curated through the characters and the references resonates with Deleuze’s Rhizome and Hayles’s “Cognisphere.” Moreover, the films created a poetic and aesthetics atmosphere that made it more powerful than many philosophy texts. (more…)

Comics Studies Society 2019 Prizes – Nominations Open

The Comics Studies Society, has announced the launch of the Comics Studies Society Prizes 2020, its program to formally recognize academic research and other scholarly activities on and related to comics – broadly defined – that took place in the previous year. This will be the third time the Society will award the prizes, and awards will be presented in five categories, a new one. The categories are the Charles Hatfield Book Prize (for a full-length scholarly monograph), the CSS Article Prize (for a journal article or a chapter in an edited essay collection), the Hilary Chute Award for Best Graduate Student Paper Presentation, the Gilbert Seldes Prize for Public Scholarship (for non-academic writing), and the new CSS Edited Book Prize (for an essay collection as a whole).

Nominations for the awards are accepted both from peers and from authors directly. Eligibility for this year’s awards is established by the copyright or presentation date of the original presentation – i.e., only those books or articles that were published or presentations at conferences that were held last year. All winners will receive a cash award of $300 and a plaque. The e-mail address for submitting nominations is awards@comicssociety.org, and the CSS Awards Coordinator, Biz Nidjdam, can be contacted with any questions at the same address. The deadline for submitting nominations is March 15, 2020.

Although none of the awards that have been awarded so far have honored work on a Japanese comics/manga, last year’s awards also included three Best Graduate Student Conference Presentation honorable mentions – one of them to Andrea Horbinski, for “Something Postmodern Going On: The Queering of the Manga Sphere in the 1970s”. But, with the sheer number and variety of books, book chapters, and journal articles on manga that were published last year, I hope to see the CSS recognize one or more of them! Just some possible candidates could include:

For the CSS Book Prize:

Women’s manga in Asia and beyond: Uniting different cultures and identities. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Lessons drawn: Essays on the pedagogy of comics and graphic novels. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.
Representing acts of violence in comics. New York: Routledge.

For the CSS Article Prize:

Atkinson, Rosalind. A Japanese Blake: Embodied visions in William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790) and Tezuka Osamu’s Phoenix (1967-88).
Cohn, Neil, et al. The cultural pages of comics: Cross-cultural variation in page layouts.
Denison, Rayna. Adaptation in Japanese media mix franchising: Usagi Drop from page to screens.
Junid, Iman, & Yamato, Eriko. Manga influences and local narratives: Ambiguous identification in comics production.
Kakihara, Satoko. Priestess of sake: Woman as producer in Natsuko’s Sake.
Lo, Bradley, et al. Librarians’ perceptions of educational values of comic books: A comparative study between Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Schroff, Simone. An alternative universe? Authors as copyright holders – the case of the Japanese manga industry

So, if you read any of these, or any other book or book chapter or journal article on manga that was published last year, or attended a conference presentation – or wrote one – or presented one – and think it deserves to be recognized with a Comics Studies Society Prize – I very strongly urge you to nominate it for one!

And, to all the nominees, good luck!

Call for Papers: “Anime and Manga Fandom Before 2000”

Japanese animation came to the U.S. in the early 1960’s, with the first television broadcasts of Astro Boy. But it took several dozen years for anime fandom to develop outside Japan, and actual descriptions of how anime/manga fandom around the world developed between the 1960’s and the 1990’s are still few and far between. How did non-Japanese viewers actually perceive Japanese animation during these years? How did fan communities form? At the most basic level, what did anime fans actually do – where were anime clubs formed, when did anime conventions start, how were they organized? What technological or social affordances did fans benefit from? How did anime fans interact with broader fan circles, and engage with broader social structures. How difficult were these interactions or engagements? Answering these kinds of questions is crucial for learning about how anime fandom actually came to take the form that it it has now, as well as for establishing a historical record.

An early, and immediately controversial attempt is Annalee Newitz’s Anime otaku: Japanese animation fans outside Japan (archived version), published in a 1994 issue of Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life, and since then, cited widely in scholarly writing on fandom and on other, more general topics. Another, much more recent, is From vulnerable lives to cosmpolitan affects: Child fans of anime in the 1960s-1980s (Sandra Annett, Mechademia: Second Arc, 11). But one of the challenges of writing on early anime and manga fans and fandom is that so much of the sources to use in writing about this topic is ephemeral, such as pieces in local, and college newspapers and high school newspapers, and documents that in library science are referred to as “grey literature” – convention programs, enthusiast magazines and fan club newsletters – the kinds of materials that are often hard to locate and access, and generally, not likely to be preserved in library collections.

It is with these challenges in mind, as well as with the inevitable challenge presented by the aging of many of the “creators” of anime fandom outside Japan – in their thirties and forties (if not already older) 30 and 40 years ago, so approaching or past retirement age now, that a group of scholars, including several who themselves have been leaders in the field of anime and manga studies around the world, have issued a call for papers for an essay collection on “archival research in anime and manga fandom before the year 2000”. One of the collection’s co-editor will be Helen McCarthy, whose own writing, such as The anime! movie guide: Movie-by-movie guide to Japanese animation (1997) and Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation: Films, Themes, Artistry (1999), as well as numerous magazine articles, have been instrumental to the formation of the English language anime fan community.

Raiders of the Lost Archives: Anime and Manga Fandom Before the Year 2000 (more…)

Publication Trends in Anime and Manga Studies – 2019

Let’s say, you are someone who wants to take the next step, beyond just thinking about anime, and beyond writing about anime for a personal blog or a fan website, and would like to actually publish your writing about anime (or manga, or a related topic) an academic journal, the kind that college professors would read and would assign to their students to read, the kind that would be included in journal databases, the kind that could potentially be referred to in other scholarly articles and even in books! So, where do you go with your writing? Is there such a thing as a “Journal of Anime Studies” – or something similar? 

As it turns out, “sort of”: the first issue of a Journal of Anime and Manga Studies is set to be published this spring. But, another way to approach this same topic is by thinking about the “publication trends” of anime and manga studies more broadly. In general, what journals does scholarly writing on Japanese animation and Japanese comics actually appear in? It is also useful to consider whether are there any particular titles that dominate the field. The actual usefulness of asking these questions is not hard to understand. The answers to them are useful for anyone who is interested in learning about opportunities to publish their research on anime/manga, as well as to scholars who would like to identify specific journals to be aware of to learn about new trends and directions in research. And in a more abstract sense, it is also possible to use the journals that support anime and manga studies as an academic field to get a sense of the field’s overall identity.

Previously, I examined “publication trends in anime/manga studies” for the years from 1993 to 2015 (identifying a total of at least 965 articles), and from 2015 to 2018 (369 articles). For both periods, I also listed the ten journals that carried the largest number of articles. And now, with the list of English-language journal articles and other scholarly publications on anime/manga that appeared in 2019 largely complete, I can extend the analysis to one more year.

Publication Trends in Anime and Manga Studies – 2019 (more…)

New Special Issue – Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance

A key feature of Japanese visual popular culture, and especially anime and manga, is the extent to which creative works exist in different forms or formats. A work can – and frequently does – first appear as a manga, and may then serve as the basis of an anime series, a novel, video games, and the driver behind a wide range of merchandise and consumer goods. And even manga and anime are often based on other sources, such as non-Japanese novels. This process has already attracted significant scholarly attention, such as Anime’s Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan (Marc Steinberg, University of Minnesota Press, 2012), as well as more specific studies (“Animating the fantastic: Hayao Miyazaki’s adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle“, “Manga, anime, adaptation: Economic strategies, aesthetic specificities, social issues”, The essence of 2.5-dimensional musicals? Sakura Wars and theater adaptations of anime).

Now, the Journal of Adaptation in Film & Performance has published a full special issue with the theme of “Adaptation in/and Japan“, based on papers originally presented at the Adaptation, or How Media Relate in Contemporary Japan symposium that was held at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Culture in June of 2018. The issue’s editor, Prof. Amanda Kennell (University at Buffalo, The State University of New York), who also organized the original symposium, has herself studied the process and practice of adaptation extensively, with a particular focus on how Alice in Wonderland has been adapted in different contexts in Japan. The majority of the articles in the issue deal with anime/manga – although each of them approaches what exactly can be meant by “adaptation” in a different way.

Nobuko Anan, in Theatrical realism in manga: Performativity of gender in Minako Narita’s Alien Street, highlights “different conceptions of realism in theatre and manga” through a close reading of a classic manga about a “male actor who plays female roles”. Adaptation in Japanese media mix franchising: Usagi Drop from page to screens is Rayna Denison’s effort to shift the focus in studies of Japanese popular culture studies away from centering on anime films and major franchises, and to consider how the adaptation and media mix process plays out with regard to lesser known – but far more common – works. With this, Prof. Denison is able to address directly Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano’s call for scholarship on the kind of “domestic and mass-produced anime TV series” that actually constitute the overwhelming majority of what is meant by “anime”. This article also expands the approaches to the concept of the “media mix” to consider a full range of “media texts”, including manga and live-action films. Kouno Fumiyo’s Hi no Tori (‘Bird of the Sun’) series as documentary manga: Memory and 3.11 analyzes another aspect of adaptation – the way that elements such as “drawings, prose, poetry, statistical data, maps and commentary by the artist” can be integrated into a fictional text and into the medium of comics/manga. Interpretive negotiation with gender norms in shojo manga: Adaptations of The Changelings is a comparative study, addressing the ways in which adaptations of the same source text – even into the same format, but made in different years differ from each other. And closing the issue, Prof. Kennell draws on her major research interests for a study of adaptations of Alice in Wonderland in the work of Japanese “avant-garde sculptor, painter and novelist” Yayoi Kusama.

Taken together, as Kennell notes in the editorial that opens the issue, the five articles stand as a “superb introduction to the diverse media ecology of contemporary Japan and the implications of contemporary Japanese media production for the wider world.” And, beyond that, they really can also easily be seen as cutting edge of anime and manga studies, and a great example of the diversity and wide scope of this emerging field. 

“What do we study?”: A content analysis of recent anime and manga studies

In “Global and Local Materialiaties of Anime”, her contribution to the essay collection Television, Japan, and Globalization (Center for Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan, 2010), Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano presented what I still think is one of the sharpest criticisms of “anime studies” as it comes together as an academic field:

With anime studies as a forming discipline, discussions often center on the visually more complex anime “films”, but not on the domestic and mass-produced anime TV series. Big budget anime films such as MetropolisPrincess MononokeGhost in the Shell, and Akira are frequently discussed, along with their contemporary critical themes of technological alienatation, environmental issues, cyborg feminism, and postmodernity, while the majority of TV anime series have been neglected, since an analysis would require an examination of anime’s connections with local audiences and the complex popular culture of Japan.”

Global and Local Materialities of Anime, p. 245

But, does this statement – made in 2010 – still hold today, in 2019? That is, as scholars are making their contributions to anime (and manga) studies right now, what films and TV series and comics are they actually discussing? The same ones over and over again, or new and different titles?

A comprehensive list of English-language scholarly publications on anime/manga that have appeared this year so far would be able to provide at least some of the answers to these kinds of questions. And the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, 2019 is just such a list! (more…)