Highlighting Upcoming Publications – “Essential Anime”

What kinds of formats does writing on Japanese animation appear in? Full-length books, essays on a common theme, individual chapters in edited collections, and articles in peer-reviewed journals all represent the more “scholarly” type of writing on anime, while plenty of blogs still present individual writers’ individual perspectives. The mainstream press does pay attention to anime occasionally, but that attention is awkward at best, and often leads to controversy and accusations of hopeless misunderstanding. At the same time, the “enthusiast” media that focuses on anime and the anime fan community around the world is very much thriving, with sites such as Anime News Network now embracing feature articles, and Anime Feminist establishing itself as an unapologetically ideological outlet for commentary from a particular and very specific point of view.

Each of these formats welcomes a particular style or genre of writing. But other styles of writing on anime can exist as well – and may be best served by other formats. One such style can probably be best described as “creative nonfiction” – short pieces that are still very much personal and subjective, but longer and perhaps even a bit more elaborate than blog posts, but definitely not written in formal academic language or following any kind of style that would require notes, citations, and references. An example of writing in this style is Anime Impact: The Movies and Shows that Changed Japanese Animation (Mango Publishing, 2018) – several dozen short pieces, each only two or three pages, on a “major” (or Important, or Significant, or simply Meaningful) anime film or series. Probably this book’s biggest claim to fame, and certainly the kind of thing that got it noticed, was that one of the contributors was Ernest Cline, the author of the best-selling novel Ready Player One.

And now, it appears that Crunchyroll wants to follow the same model with Essential Anime: Fan Favorites, Memorable Masterpieces, and Cult Classics – currently set to be published next April by the Running Press imprint of Hachette Book Group. At this point, the book’s full scope is not yet clear, though according to descriptions that have been released so far, it will cover “50 influential and unforgettable anime series and films” – from Astro Boy to Demon Slayer, with pretty much all of the “expected” titles, especially those released over the last 40 or so years, included.

It is important to emphasize that it’s not meant to compete with or even complement the scholarly monographs and edited essay collections. Essential Anime is, unapologetically, casual reading, the kind of thing that is meant to catch your eye in a bookstore before you have too much time to really think about it. But this kind of book can actually serve a useful function – it’s great for someone who is curious about Japanese animation, may even have heard a few different titles and names, but wants to choose from a range of different movies and series without relying on either on one hand, or simply what just happens to be available and right there front and center on Netflix on the other. And it’s equally as encouraging simply to see that the two writers in charge of this project (both of whom are experienced anime journalists) have faith in its viability, and have convinced Crunchyroll, right now the flagship venue for streaming English-subtitled Japanese animation to Western audiences, to commit to publishing this book under the Crunchyroll brand!

English-Language Scholarship on Osamu Tezuka – Looking at the Numbers

If Japanese popular culture studies (and anime/manga studies) is now, in 2021, “a field in formation“, then it is no longer enough just to describe or even analyze. At this point, it is becoming more and important to start thinking about the contours and dimensions of this field, and about what this field encompasses. What topics are scholars who are working in anime and manga studies actually examining? What kinds of approaches are they using?

In this way, Jaqueline Berndt, in an analysis of “the interplay of anime research and the institution of Japanese studies outside of Japan” titled Anime in Academia: Representative Object, Media Form, and Japanese Studies makes the effort to point out that “the bulk of Japanese studies in the humanities pays attention to representations of Japanese culture and society in anime”.

…the bulk of Japanese studies in the humanities pays attention to representations of Japanese culture and society in anime

Jaqueline Berndt, “Anime in Academia”

Similarly, in A Coming of Age in the Anthropological Study of Anime? Introductory Thoughts Envisioning the Business Anthropology of Japanese Animation, Ryotaro Mihara has challenged the field with a straight-forward question: “Why do Anglophone anime studies, especially the anthropological studies on anime, show so little interest in anime’s business aspects and so much interest in its non-commercial activities?”

A related kind of approach would be to ask which particular creators – and even which particular works – is anime and manga studies emphasizing or centering, and the way this process can then affect the expected image or “meaning” of anime/manga outside Japan. I presented an example of this approach in an analysis of English-language scholarly publications on the work of Hayao Miyazaki, demonstrating that, as of the spring of 2018, Princess Mononoke was Miyazaki’s most-studied English film (34 publications, including an edited essay collection), followed by Spirited Away (32, including one full-length book), and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (21).

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Call for Papers – Journal of Anime and Manga Studies v. 2

In their editors’ introduction to the essay collection (“designed as a comprehensive undergraduate and graduate textbook”) Introducing Japanese Popular Culture, Alisa Freedman and Toby Slate refer to Japanese popular culture studies as “a field in formation”. Classes on different aspects and dimensions of Japanese popular culture are now fairly common at American colleges, and scholars are continuing to explore a wide range of approaches to this general topic in books, book chapters, and journal articles. A major new development in the field’s institutionalization took place earlier this year with the official launch of the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies. JAMS is not the first publication of this kind, but between its name and its open-access format (i.e., free availability online), it can have a significant contribution on promoting this field and introducing the idea of academic approaches to Japanese popular culture in general and anime and manga studies in particular to the academic community, and really, to all those who are interested in these kinds of approaches.

The journal’s launch volume featured five full-length peer-reviewed articles and a range of subjects, as well as several analytical approaches that have never before been tried in anime and manga studies. And now, the JAMS editorial team has announced the Call for Papers for the next issue.

In line with the general goal and mission of the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies, this call is general and interdisciplinary – the only guideline is that papers should discuss “anime, manga, cosplay, and their fandoms as analyzed from any number of scholarly perspectives”. All types of authors – faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and “independent scholars” are welcome to submit their work, and the papers can be broadly theoretical, or based on qualitative or quantitative research. Book review proposals may also be considered.

Maximum length: 7,500 words (however, significantly shorter or longer submissions may be accepted at the discretion of the journal’s editor)
Submission deadline: February 1, 2021

So, if you have plans to publish your research on anime/manga, or have ever wanted to try, the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies can be a great opportunity to have your your research undergo a formal peer review process, and then have the result appear as a formal publication in a new journal. I know I am already looking forward to reading the papers that will appear in the new volume, and I’m confident that plenty of other people are too.

So, to all potential Volume 2 authors, good luck!

The full Call for Papers, with additional details, is available online.

Call for Papers – The Waseda Symposium on Demon Slayer (鬼滅の刃)

One of the last places I expect to see a mention of a “smash-hit Japanese comic book” is the business section of the New York Times. And yet, on October 20, the Times highlighted the unexpected and unparalleled success of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train, which set a new box office revenue record on its opening weekend, and has since gone on to become the second highest grossing film of all-time in Japan.

At this point, it’s becoming hard to under-emphasize how much of a big deal Demon Slayer is on the Japanese popular culture landscape. And, now, Waseda University has announced a Call for Papers for The Waseda Symposium on Demon Slayer (鬼滅の刃) (to be held as an online event/webinar)

Suspensions of Concentration: Kimetsu no yaiba and Blockbuster in the Year of the Global Pandemic
Waseda University / online
March 15, 2010

“By scrutinizing Kimetsu no yaiba in relation to these and other issues, we will collectively reflect on the location of anime in its broadest sense. 

This one-day online symposium is an attempt to accomplish this objective by exploring a wide range of issues that are concretely related to Kimetsu no yaiba yet have implications beyond the single media franchise. The following are examples of possible topics for presentations and discussions:

The anime industry and media mix, fan culture, cosplay and social media, anime songs and music, voice acting and actors genre systems, intertextuality, action and spectacle, speed and kinetic dynamism, narrative motifs, iconography, visual style, historical imagination, the political unconscious, affect, violence, censorship, gender and authorship, transnational reception and consumption, labor and marketing, COVID-19 and the culture industry, etc.

We invite papers that critically discuss any aspects of the Kimetsu phenomena including – but not limited to – the list of topics mentioned above.”

Proposal length: 250 words
Submission deadline: January 9, 2021

Send proposals to: wasedakimetsu@gmail.com

The full Call for Papers is reproduced below and available at H-Net H-Announce.

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Book Review – The Anime Boom in the United States: Lessons for the Global Creative Industries

Authors: Michal Daliot-Bul (University of Haifa) & Nissim Otmazgin (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Publisher: Harvard University Asia Center
Contents

Twenty years ago now, in Anime From Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation, Susan J. Napier presented one leading reason for approaching selecting anime as an object of study. “For those interested in Japanese culture, it is a richly fascinating contemporary Japanese art form with a distinctly narrative and visual aesthetic that both harks back to traditional Japanese culture and moves forward to the cutting edge of art and media. Furthermore, anime, with its enormous breadth of subject material, is also a useful mirror on contemporary Japanese society, offering an array of insights into the significant issues, dreams, and nightmares of the day.” 

Napier’s book was the first full-length scholarly study of Japanese animation published in English, and most others that have been published since – titles such as Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii (Brian Ruh, 2004), The Anime Paradox: Patterns and Practices through the Lens of Traditional Japanese Theater (Stevie Suan, 2013), and Anime: A Critical Introduction (Rayna Denison, 2015) have largely followed its focus on Japanese animation as something to be examined with the approach and tools of literary and film criticism. But, as Napier herself also argued, “…anime is worth investigating for other reasons as well, perhaps the most important being the fact that it is also a genuinely global phenomenon, both as a commercial and a cultural force.” 

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Call for Book Chapters – “Libraries/Archives/Librarians in Comics”

“The editors of a new collection of articles/essays are seeking essays about the portrayal of libraries, archives and librarians in graphic novels, comic strips, and sequential art/comics. The librarian and the library have a long and varied history in sequential art. Steven M. Bergson’s popular website LIBRARIANS IN COMICS is a useful reference source and a place to start as is the essay Let’s Talk Comics: Librarians by Megan Halsband. There are also other websites which discuss librarians in comics and provide a place for scholars to start. 

Going as far back as the Atlantean age the librarian is seen as a seeker of knowledge for its own sake. For example, in Kull # 6 (1972) the librarian is trying to convince King Kull that of importance of gaining more knowledge for the journey they about to undertake. Kull is unconvinced, however. In the graphic novel Avengers No Road Home (2019), Hercules utters “Save the Librarian” which indicates just how important librarians are as gatekeepers of knowledge even for Greek Gods. These are just a few examples scholars can find in sequential art that illustrate librarians as characters who take their roles as preservers of knowledge seriously. We will accept essays related to sequential art television shows and movies e.g., Batgirl in the third season of Batman (1966); Stan Lee being a librarian in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) movie. 

Any topic related to librarians/archives/librarians in comics and sequential art will be considered. 

We are seeking essays of 2,500-5,000 words (no longer) not including notes in APA style for this exciting new volume. 

Please send a 300-500-word abstract by November 15th to  

Carrye Syma
Carrye.Syma@ttu.edu  
Assistant Academic Dean and Associate Librarian 
Texas Tech University Libraries”

FULL DETAILS

Ed. note:  Manga in libraries has been the subject of several different recent academic studies, such as The institutionalization of Japanese comics in US public libraries (2000-2010), and Librarians’ perceptions of educational values of comic books: A comparative study between Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The “reverse” of this – libraries and librarians in manga – has not. The reason for this is not difficult to identify – overall, it is just a very marginal topic in manga studies. Nonetheless, at least in comics studies more broadly, it has been approached in the past – as, for example, in The long, strange trip of Barbara Gordon: Images of librarians in comic books, and there is no reason why “Libraries/Archives/Librarians in Comics” would not be open to one or more essays on depictions of libraries/librarians in manga. The key question, of course, would be how to actually structure this kind of chapter – it would have to be more than just a “survey”. Some potential angles could include a comparison of how manga portray libraries/librarians with how American comics do, or, alternately, with portrayals in other Japanese fiction, or an examination of some unique angles in these portrayals – such as the militarized Library Forces depicted in the Library Wars manga series.

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…)