Earlier this year, when the new East Asian Journal of Popular Culture published its first issue, I was pleased to profile it as a potential new venue for academic writing on a wide range of topics related to Japanese animation and Japanese comics. In fact, the first issue already included two papers dealing with manga – though the two were substantially different from each other in terms of their focus and methodologies. The journal’s second issue is now available, and 3 articles (out of a total of 8 in the issue) again specifically address anime/manga – again, broadly defined.

The articles in question are:

– Wroot, Jonathan. Dubbing Death Note: Framing the authentic text (pp. 193-204)

“This case study stems from an article written in 2005 by Laurie Cubbison, titled ‘Anime fans, DVDs, and the authentic text’ (ed., published in The Velvet Light Trap, 56, 45-57). In her research, she states that English-speaking fans of Japanese animation (anime) pressured distributors to use the DVD medium to its full potential. This meant providing the choice of viewing anime with either a dubbed soundtrack or subtitles. However, this has not lessened the influence of distribution companies that affect how anime is viewed outside of Japan. This article will focus on this influence by looking at the extra features on anime DVDs, specifically using the English-language release of the Death Note TV series (Araki, Nippon Television Network, 2006–07) as a case study. Very few of the series’s DVD special features refer explicitly to the Japanese origins of the story. Interviews and making-ofs are included, as is the case with many DVDs of audio-visual media. But the Death Note series’s extras mostly illustrate the work of the cast and crew that recorded the dubbed English-language soundtrack. Applying approaches and concepts specific to the analysis of DVD special features means the intentions behind these decisions can be thoroughly explored. The extras for the Death Note series do not just provide an intriguing insight into the voice-recording process (for the TV series, as well as the media industry in general). They encourage viewers to see the value and work behind the dubbed version, meaning that the distributors are not just providing viewing-option choices for the anime. They are providing a frame which indirectly suggests how a media text should be viewed. The evidence presented in this case study will demonstrate how such frames, concerning dubbed translation within DVD media, can be used by the discs’ distributors.”

Additional information about the author is available on his blog

– Hyland, Robert. A culture of borrowing: Iconography, ideology, and idiom in Kari-gurashi no Arietti/The Secret World of Arrietty (pp. 205-222)

“Japanese director and producer of animated film, Miyazaki Hayao had long wanted to make an adaptation of the Mary Norton novel, The Borrowers (1952). The film Kari-gurashi no Arietti/The Secret World of Arrietty (Yonebayashi, 2010) at first look strikes one as a suitable fit for Studio Ghibli both culturally and ideologically, with its history of setting stories in imagined European landscapes and its established style of blending fantastic and realist narrative with imagistic elements, and indeed, Japan is itself not without legends of miniature people or Chibi Kobito. The film, however, manifests myriad ambivalences, many of which are derived from the limitations and contradictions inherent in adapting a geographically, historically and culturally ‘foreign’ text. Using Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (2000) and their writings on globalization in their work Empire, this paper uses their concept of post-Fordian globalization: an era characterized by global awareness and cultural sensitivity, as a framework from which to analyse the film’s many ambivalences. This article examines cultural, aesthetic and ideological liminality inherent in the Studio Ghibli animated film adaptation of Mary Norton’s The Borrowers, a film which reflects its twenty-first-century production and at the same time, inevitably is pervaded by the cultural context of its nineteenth and twentieth-century antecedents.”

Dr. Hyland is an assistant professor at the Bader International Study Center, Queen’s University (UK). To the best of my knowledge, this is the first English-language scholarly article on “The Secret World of Arrietty”, although Paul Jackson discussed it in 2012 for the Australian film magazine Metro.

– Amano, Ikuho. Visualizing the self in comedic pathos: Japanese autobiographical manga at the limit of multiculturalism (pp. 239-253).

“Since the 1960s, Japanese artists have utilized manga as an effective platform for life writing. In the twenty-first century the genre has visibly evolved around the theme of the transnational/cultural experience of each author, developing a significant size of readership and cultural market in Japan. One of the most prolific authors is Yamazaki Mari (1967–), whose fame is attributed to the success of her manga on comparative bath cultures, Thermae Romae (2008–13). On the other hand, artists of the previous decades used to create their autobiographical work after establishing a reputation for a number of masterpieces. This normative pattern became obsolete, and instead more recent artists have focused on their personal history and cultural experience to appeal to the contemporary readership. Yamazaki’s autobiographical manga, including Mo-retsu Italia kazoku/Ferocious! The Italian Family (2006) and Italia kazoku fu-rin kazan/The Italian Family, Serene but Daring (2010), prominently illustrates the formation of this emerging genre, reflecting the diversity of transnational/cultural realities that Japan faces today.”

The author is Assistant Professor of Japanese, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She presented an earlier version of this paper at the 2012 annual conference of the Japan Studies Association.

With five articles on anime/manga published in its first two issues, it is clear that this journal actively welcomes these kinds of papers. It is, of course, still very young – compared especially to such established titles as the Journal of Popular Culture, Japan Forum, Japanese Studies, and the Journal of Japanese Studies, or Science Fiction Studies – and both potential readers and potential authors may not be very familiar with it as of yet. In addition, it is not clear to what extent it is indexed in either general or subject-specific academic databases – although it does appear to be available for both searching and full-text access in Gale Academic OneFIle, a major resource that both academic and public libraries frequently subscribe to. In any case, at this point, I would definitely recommend this journal both to anyone interested in reading new academic writing on Japanese animation or Japanese comics, and to anyone who is considering publishing their own scholarship on anime/manga in a peer-reviewed journal.

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