Earlier this year, I compiled and published a list of recent classes on Japanese animation offered by colleges/universities around the U.S. As I mentioned then, I knew that this list would not be comprehensive – there would be classes I simply did not know about, and others that are only being offered for the first time. So, with the Fall 2015 semester now under way – an update.

Courses on Japanese Animation at American Colleges: Fall 2015

Harvard AnimeHarvard University

Anime as Global Popular Culture

This course examines Japanese animation (or anime) through its generic conventions, formal aesthetic, and narrative motifs. At the same time, the course approaches anime as a lens through which we study contemporary media culture and its local and global production, distribution, and reception. In this sense, anime will be treated as a node in an extensive transnational network involving commercial as well as non-commercial mediums such as graphic novels, live-action films, video games, character merchandises, and fanzines/fan-events.

Harvard’s Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations is currently highlighting this class as one of its Fall 2015 Featured Courses – along with at least two others that touch on Japanese animation (Global Japanese Cinema, and Media Mix: Representations and Meaning Between Media in Japan)

Bowdoin College

Japanese Animation – History, Culture, Society

Animation is a dominant cultural force in Japan, and perhaps its most important cultural export. This class will examine the ways in Japanese animation represents Japan’s history and society and the diverse ways in which it is consumed abroad. How does animation showcase Japanese views of childhood, sexuality, national identity, and gender roles? How does its mode of story-telling build upon traditional pictorial forms in Japan? Focusing on the aesthetic, thematic, social and historical characteristics of Japanese animation films, this course will provide a broad survey of the place of animation in 20 century Japan. Films will include Grave of Fireflies, Spirited Away, Ghost in the Shell, Akira, and Princess Kaguya.

Carleton College

The World of Anime in Translation

This course examines the extraordinary achievement of anime (Japanese animation), from the modern classics by Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and Mamoru Oshii, to more recent anime directors. The anime will be studied for their aesthetic, cultural, and auteur contexts. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship of the anime to traditional arts, culture and society. This course is conducted in English and all the course materials are in English translation or in English subtitles.

Rochester Institute of Technology


This introductory survey course examines the history, aesthetics and style of Japanese animation or “anime.” The course provides a vocabulary for the analysis of anime as well as the critical and analytical skills for interpreting anime as an art form. This course will develop students’ skills in viewing, analyzing, interpreting and evaluating the art of anime. Students will learn to analyze important series and films, and connect anime with contemporary and historical trends in Japan. Emphasis will be placed on the analysis of works by major directors and studios including: Tezuka, Sugii, Miyazaki, Oshii, Kon, Takahata, Shinkai, Watanabe, Studio Ghibli, Studio 4C and Madhouse. Background knowledge of animation, film or anime is helpful but no specific knowledge is required or expected.

The University of Texas at Dallas

Literature of Fantasy: Anime/Manga – Serious Fun

In this course we will present a selection of Japanese anime (animation), manga (graphic novels/comics), poetry and light novels, focusing on the ways they represent and adapt a wide variety of fantasy themes and conventions. For many centuries, human cultures have used visual and verbal fantasy narratives as modes of philosophical speculation and exploration, as well as popular forms of entertainment. Anime and manga represent new manifestations of this ancient quest and present interesting challenges to us as readers (interpreters) and consumers of culture as well as creative contributors to it.

Wellesley College

Japanese Animation

What makes Japan tick? New visitors to Japan are always struck by the persistence of traditional aesthetics, arts, and values in a highly industrialized society entranced by novelty. Through animation films (English subtitles) and readings on animation, we will explore this phenomenon from the inside. Focus is on the works of Tezuka Osamu, Hayao Miyazaki, and others. No Japanese language required.

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