Highlighting New Publications – Mechademia: Second Arc

One of the most powerful steps in the development process of a new academic field is the launch of a journal to collect and present new scholarly writing in the field. If nothing else, a journal means that enough scholars are interested in a particular topic area or on a particular subject to support the existence of one – and thus, can signal that the area or subject is supported by an actual community. In this way, publications such as Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, International Journal of Comic Art, and Journal of Fandom Studies help support the idea that animation studies, comics studies – and, recently, fandom studies do, in fact, exist as actual academic fields.

In 2006, the idea of approaching Japanese animation as a subject of academic study was certainly not unheard of. Susan Napier first introduced it in 2001’s Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation – followed by titles such as Roland Kelts’ Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. and Brian Ruh’s Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii. There were at least several classes on Japanese animation and Japanese comics at various colleges/universities around the U.S., and a small but active and growing community of scholars interested in the topic. So, when the University of Minnesota Press announced plans to launch an full-scale ongoing scholarly publication on anime, manga, and related topics, the announcement was seen as exciting and welcome – but not unexpected.

The first volume of Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and the Fan Arts set the tone for the publication with several unique features. Its contents were structured around a common theme – in that case, “Emerging World of Anime and Manga”, and included both original articles with titles such as The Japan Fad in Global Youth Culture and Millennial Capitalism, The Werewolf in the Crested Kimono: The Wolf-Human Dynamic in Anime and Manga, and Assessing Interactivity in Video Game Design, translations of materials that had already previously been published in Japanese, shorter commentary pieces, reviews, interviews, and artwork. Nine more followed, with subtitles such as Limits of the Human (2008), User Enhanced (2011), and Origins (2014). Mechademia consistently attracted submissions from leading academics, but also welcomed work from graduate students and independent scholars, the volumes were easy to access electronically via JSTOR and Project Muse and widely available in academic libraries, and many of the individual essays received frequent citations in subsequent scholarship.

However, following 2015’s Volume 10, World Renewal, Mechademia‘s editorial team made a decision to expand its scope to encompass more broadly “scholarship on media cultures and texts from across Asia”, and thematically, “topics of current interest to scholars of Asian art, animation, literature, film, comics-manga-manwah, video games, merchandise, digital storytelling, and other ever-emerging media”. To underline this change, the journal would be formally retitled Mechademia: Second Arc, and, going forward, would be published twice a year. The call for papers for the initial volume – “Childhood” – was distributed in the summer of 2016. An “extraordinary series of delays on the publication side” followed, but Mechademia: Second Arc – “Childhood”, numbered as Volume 11, Number 1, and with a Fall 2018 cover date, is finally now available, though at this point, only online, through JSTOR and Project Muse (according to a notice on the University of the Minnesota Press website, the issue “is not in stock and the estimated shipping date is not available at this time”). (more…)

“Where do I start?”: Anime/Manga Studies in Major Multidisciplinary Databases – A Preliminary Study

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from a graduate student asking for suggestions about “an area in the field of anime & manga that deserves more exploration or doesn’t have enough research at the moment”. Not an uncommon question by any means, especially in the middle of a fall semester – and one I would be glad to answer. But once I started actually considering the question and the possible answers to it, I realized that these answers themselves lead to a whole set of further questions. (more…)

Call for Papers: “Against Translation”

It’s difficult, and probably outright impossible, to put together any real numbers, but intuitively, I am confident in saying that the manga titles that are licensed for translation into English and commercial publication outside Japan represent only a small percentage of all manga that is actually published in Japan. In turn, this means that unless Western manga scholars are fluent in Japanese, they will be limited to only studying a relatively small portion of all manga that is potentially available for analysis. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, comics scholars – and the “comics studies” community, still largely do not interact with manga, or, for that matter, other comics that are not immediately available in English.

Comics scholars Dr Harriet Earle (Sheffield Hallam University) and Dr Martin Lund (Linnaeus University) are both acutely aware of this issue. And to approach it, they are proposing a focused edited essay collection in the new Routledge Global Perspectives in Comics Studies series – “Against Translation: Global Comics History and Memory” – “to bring together original scholarship on comics that are potentially not receiving the scholarly attention they deserve due to their lack of English translation or that have been studied in scholarship unavailable to an Anglophone audience.” Although the Call for Papers that they have prepared does not specifically mention manga, Dr Earle has invited me to share it on Anime and Manga Studies. The deadline for submitting a 300-word abstract is December 20, 2019, with full chapter manuscripts of up to 8,000 words due on May 15, 2020, and final submissions after all revisions and corrections on July 17, 2020.

The full Call for Papers is reproduced below, and available for download. All additional questions can be directed to the editors at translation.autographics@gmail.com. (more…)

Call for Interest – Anime and Manga Studies Database

How do you search for academic journal articles about anime? About the work of Hayao Miyazaki? About Sailor Moon, and about magical girls in Japanese comics in general? About the history of anime fansubbing?

Type a couple of words into Google and hope for the best? Type a few words into Google Scholar and hope for the best? Remember what you were taught in whatever “introduction to research” lectures you had? Ask a teacher? Schedule an appointment with a subject librarian?

As it turns out, one of the biggest challenges facing anyone who is interested in approaching anime and manga as the subjects of academic research is actually how to best go about locating the scholarly publications that are at the heart of the research process. Because of the many different ways to refer to Japanese animation and Japanese comics, and the wide range of potential topics and approaches that can fall under the “anime and manga studies” label, neither general interdisciplinary academic databases such as EBSCO Academic Search Premier and Gale Academic OneFile nor more specialized ones (Bibliography of Asian Studies Online, Film & Television Literature Index, Performing Arts Periodicals Database) can offer comprehensive indexing and full-text coverage for the field of anime and manga studies. So while it is certainly possible to use these databases, and other similar ones, to find many scholarly publications on anime/manga, a scholar working with one of these databases, or even with several of them, can never be sure the their search is comprehensive – how many of the available publications they have located, and how many they’ve missed.

This basic issue (of search tool scope and of search recall) is common across all academic fields. And one of the most direct ways it has been addressed is through the development of highly curated research tools such as subject bibliographies, where the items that are actually selected for inclusion are evaluated individually by a specialist, rather than simply returned as the results of a computer search. For as long as I have been interested in the idea of academic approaches to anime and manga, I have also been interested in developing this kind of research tool. The Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, which currently includes which I believe to be over 99% of all scholarly writing on Japanese animation and comics that has been published in English to date , and which I consistently work to maintain and update, is this tool in its present form. But this present form of simple chronological lists is not sufficient to meet the needs of researchers, teachers, students, and anyone else who is interested in this topic.

Accordingly, Animemangastudies.com is issuing a Call for Interest for a developer to cooperate on a project to create a searchable database-driven Anime and Manga Studies Bibliography that would use the entries in the Annual Bibliography for its content. As I envision it, a major feature of the Bibliography would be the use of 3 distinct types of records: “publication”, “author”, and “source”, and the possibility to search across all types, or by type. This is similar to the titles, names, companies, etc. search functionality on imdb.com and the various search options in the Anime News Network Encyclopedia. The actual results would be formatted differently depending on whether the result was a publication (book, book chapter or individual article), an author, or a source (essay collection or journal with many individual articles). This is different from searches in most academic databases, where all results are formatted in only one way.

In this way, searching for “Attack on Titan” would return a list of all English-language academic publications on this manga/anime (i.e., with Attack on Titan specifically mentioned in the title or keywords – such as Colossal bodies: Re-imagining the human anatomy in Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan), and a record for each one, with more information (author, source, date of publication, online availability, etc.). Searching for “Susan Napier” would return a record for Prof. Napier, with basic information about her, such as her current academic position, and a listing of all publications on anime/manga that she has authored, linked to the record for each, and a search for ImageTexT would return a record for this publication, and records for all the articles that have appeared in it.

Once the technical infrastructure for the Bibliography is in place, I can begin work to actually populate the database. But right now, developing the infrastructure is my priority. So, if this is a project you are interested in working on, or know someone who is, please contact me at mik@animemangastudies.com with your ideas, any questions you may have, and/or, if you are interested in working on this project, your proposal!

Looking forward to hearing from some of you, and to seeing where this goes!

Int’l Anime Research Project – 2019 Anime Survey

The primary focus of anime and manga studies as an academic area is on the texts/works of Japanese animation and Japanese comics themselves – their meanings, their interpretations, and how they are perceived by audiences. So a “typical” study in this field is something like The altered shall inherit the Earth: Biopower and the disabled body in Tehxnolyze or  The utopia of suburbia: the unchanging past and limitless future in Doraemon. Another strand of scholarship examines how fans actually interact with anime/manga, and fans’ motivations, activities, and practices – just some examples here include A portrait of Japanese popular culture fans who study Japanese at an Australian university: Motivations and activities beyond the classroom and Fannish masculinities in transition in anime music video fandom. But this type of research, valuable as it may be, is generally based on in-depth interviews with very small numbers of individuals. It does not, and really, by design cannot be extended to broader groups, and to presenting a more comprehensive picture of anime fans – not just who they are in terms of demographics, but how they think, perceive the world, behave, and act.

However, one effort to do precisely this is the International Anime Research Project – “a multidisciplinary team of scientists studying the anime/manga fandom (as well as other fandoms)”. Specifically, the project uses an annual survey to explore “various aspects of how anime fans perceive the fandom, interact with other fans, how the fandom influences the self, along with a variety of other research questions aimed at understanding the connection to anime.” The survey has been conducted since 2014, and the Project’s members have used its results in over 20 publications, primarily in the online journal The Phoenix Papers, reporting on topics such as “motivations of cosplayers to participate in the anime fandom“, “anime genre preferences and paranormal beliefs“, and “prevailing stereotypes of anime fans“.

Now, the Project is inviting participants for the 2019 Anime Survey. This year’s goal will be to “understand your experience of being an anime fan, fantasy, identity formation, education, identity, wellbeing, assessments of other fan groups, and LGBTQ inclusion in fandoms.” The survey will take approximately 30 minutes to complete, and all participants will be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card.

Additional information about the survey process, including its ethics clearance status, is available on the International Anime Research Project website.

‘What is Manga’ British Library Symposium

One of this year’s major cultural events related to Japan has been the Manga exhibition hosted by the British Museum – “the largest exhibition of manga ever to take place outside of Japan.” It opened on May 23, and immediately received significant critical attention. The Economist praised it as a “dynamic, exuberant and ambitious celebration of Japan’s comic-art narrative form”, as did the Financial Times, while responses in The Guardian (“asking us to compare today’s graphic artists with greats of the past is misguided”) and The Telegraph (“is Manga really as significant as Rodin and the Ancient Greeks?”) were not as enthusiastic. In any case, an exhibition of this scale – and at this kind of venue – attracts attention.

And now, following up on the exhibition’s success, and connected to it, the British Library has announced plans to host a special one-day What is Manga academic symposium that will bring together many of the world’s leading scholars of manga specifically and comics/sequential art in general, as well as museum practitioners, and a range of international perspectives for a discussion on manga in a global context and the role of cultural institutions such as the British Museum in preserving, presenting, and promoting manga. The Symposium is open to the public, but tickets must be purchased via the British Library website.

What is Manga – Exploring Japanese Manga and Visual Narratives
[full program – PDF]

Friday, August 23
10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
The British Library
Knowledge Centre Theatre
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB

Schedule:

10:20 a.m.
Opening Remarks
Dr. Eugenia Bogdanova-Kummer (Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures)

10:30 a.m.
Keynote Address
Manga Studies’ “Manga” and the Outsider Perspective: Intercultural Observations
Prof. Jaqueline Berndt (Stockholm University)

Dr. Berndt is one of the world’s leading scholars of Japanese comics. He work has included editing the essay collections Manga’s Cultural Crossroads and Reading Manga: Local and Global Perceptions of Japanese Comics, a number of individual chapters and journal articles that have been fundamental to shaping the field of manga studies (particularly important examples include ‘Historical adventures of a post-historical medium: Japan’s wartime past as represented in manga’, ‘Manga, which manga? Publication formats, genres, users’, and ‘Reconsidering manga discourse: Location, ambiguity, historicity’), and teaching several pioneering classes

11:00 a.m. – 1:20 p.m.
Panel 1: Manga and Comic Theory and Iconography (manga hyōgenron) (more…)

Call for Papers – JAMS no. 1

Several months ago, I was excited to share news about the launch of a new peer-reviewed journal with a specific focus on Japanese animation, comics, and related topics – the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies. And now, JAMS has officially opened the Call for Papers for its first issue, currently on track to be published early next year.

Specifically, the journal welcomes all types of “scholarly analysis of anime” (and manga) and related topics such as cosplay and other fan activities and practices, from all kinds of authors, whether faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, or independent scholars, and is open to different forms of research methods and approaches, from critical readings to quantitative/data-driven studies. The recommended length for submissions is between 4,500 and 7,500 words, but longer or shorter manuscripts may be accepted after a discussion with the journal’s editors, and it is also open to book review submissions.The deadline for submitting a paper for inclusion in the inaugural issue is August 31, 2019.

In addition, JAMS has also updated its website with a full listing of its editorial board. The journal’s editors are a line-up of experienced anime/manga scholars, with varied backgrounds as authors and educators:

Dr. Frenchy Lunning (editor-in-chief, Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and Fan Arts)
Dr. Brent Allison, University of North Georgia (editorial board member, Mechademia)
Dr. Andrea Horbinski (copy editor, Mechademia)
Kay Clopton, The Ohio State University
Dr. Maria Bonn, School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois
Elizabeth Wickes, School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois

The full CFP is reproduced below, and archived on the Call for Papers website hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Department of English.

(more…)

Anime Expo 2019 Academic Program

In a few days, Anime Expo, the largest convention in the U.S. for fans of Japanese popular culture broadly defined will once again return to the Los Angeles Convention Centere, where it will run from July 3 to July 7. AX’s live programming schedule is packed with a line-up of panels and workshops – and, since 2011, has also included a track of academic presentations and panel discusions – the Anime Expo Academic Symposium. Among the Symposium’s goals are to present anime and manga scholars with an opportunity to share their work and knowledge directly with fans, to introduce convention attendees to the methods, tools, and language of academic research, and to foster information-sharing and facilitate the developing of an anime and manga studies community. Over the years, it has featured presentations from scholars from around the world, including many of the most important names in anime and manga studies, and has consistently been one of the most unique features of AX’s overall program. In 2018, the Symposium went on a redevelopment hiatus, and now, it returns for Anime Expo 2019, with a total of 14 presentations and a line-up of returning and brand-new speakers!

[Ed. note: I developed the original idea for the Symposium, and was the producer from 2011 to 2017, but did not work on this year’s program]

AX 2019 Academic Program
“Anime Chronotopes: Nostalgia in Japanese Animation and Comics”

Anime Expo 2019
Los Angeles Convention Center
LACC 411 / AX Live Programming 4
July 4-7

Thursday, July 4

12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Nostalgia/Intertextuality

  • The OG of Black Revolutionary Japanese Anime: Golgo 13
    Dexter Thomas (Cornell University)
  • Wakon (yo)sai – Tracing Japanese Technomodernity Back to 1970s and 1980s Science Fiction Anime
    – Anthony Lee
  • Western Culture’s Influence in Japanese Entertainment: Intertextuality and Metafiction in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
    – Ericka N. Rivera Figuero
  • Feminist Recontextualization of Nostalgia in Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Mine Fujiko
    Yasheng She (University of California, Santa Cruz)

(more…)

Neon Genesis Evangelion: A Bibliography of English Language Scholarship

It’s definitely not every week and not every month that New York Magazine, The New Yorker and Vox pay attention to Japanese animation. But, of course, if there is ever an anime – not directed by Hayao Miyazaki or Mamoru Oshii – that would qualify for coverage in a mainstream English-language publication, Neon Genesis Evangelion, now available for streaming on Netflix, is that anime.

Ever since Evangelion premiered on Japanese television in the fall of 1995, and then made its way to countries around the world via means both official and decidedly unofficial, it has been the subject of intense discussion and reflection. And while it’s essentially impossible to build anything like a comprehensive catalog of “fan” reaction to Eva, what we can do is instead ask – and answer – the question of how have anime scholars responded.

As with any literature review or survey of this type, it is subject to certain restrictions and caveats. The most obvious one is of “scope” – the distinction between just passing mentions of Evangelion, and actual in-depth substantive discussion. But exactly where does this distinction lie? And beyond that, there is also the issue of “recall” – there is no way to ever be sure that a literature search is fully comprehensive. Nonetheless, and with these restrictions in mind, a look at English-language scholarly responses to Neon Genesis Evangelion still adds an important angle to considering and reflecting on Eva’s impact and effect.

Neon Genesis Evangelion Studies, 1996 – present

1996

*** OPEN ACCESS ***
Azuma, Hiroki. Anime or something like it: Neon Genesis Evangelion. InterCommunication, 18.

1997

[ARCHIVED]
Woznicki, Krystian. Towards a cartography of Japanese anime: Anno Hideaki’s “Evangelion”. Blimp Film Magazine, 36, 18-26

1999

Steinberg, Marc. The trajectory of the apocalypse: Pleasure and destruction in Akira and Evangelion. East Asia Forum, 8/9, 1-31.

2000

Routt, William D. Stillness and style in ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’. Animation Journal, 8(1), 28-43.

2002

*** OPEN ACCESS ***
Broderick, Mick. Anime’s apocalypse: Neon Genesis Evangelion as millennarian mecha. Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, 7.

Napier, Susan J. When the machines stop: Fantasy, reality, and terminal identity in “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and “Serial Experiments Lain”. Science Fiction Studies, 29(3), 418-435.

(more…)

Highlighting New Publications – Interpreting Anime

Until recently, the options open to anyone looking for a general text on Japanese animation – one that could serve as a general explanation and summary, and an introduction to more in-depth approaches and readings – have been relatively limited. Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke, first published in 2000 and updated in 2005, certainly played this role at the time of its initial publication, but could it still do so almost twenty years later? The essay collection Cinema Anime: Critical Engagements with Japanese Animation (2006) was similarly important, but it too is now dated in many regards. Thomas Lamarre’s 2009 The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation is a major contribution to anime studies – but it is by no means an introductory text. And somewhat despite its title, even the relatively recent Anime: A Critical Introduction is a more complex book than it may at first seem – as it is in fact an introduction to the critical debates and discussions around and about Japanese animation.

This is precisely why Interpreting Anime (University of Minnesota Press, 2018), is a such a welcome addition to the body of English-language scholarly writing on Japanese animation. The author, Christopher Bolton, is a professor of comparative and Japanese literature at Williams College, with a focus on Japanese science fiction in particular, and has been studying Japanese animation since the early 2000’s. So, what exactly does Interpreting Anime add to the growing list of “books on anime”, and, turning this question around, how it is actually useful, and to whom? (more…)