Two years ago, I examined the “publication trends” in anime/manga studies by tracking the actual number of articles on anime/manga that have appeared in English-language academic journals starting in 1993 and through 2015. At that point, I was able to identify 965 such articles – though of course, the determination of what exactly constitutes an “anime/manga studies” article is ultimately subjective. And, as I continue the work of compiling the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, I am also able to extend this analysis forward to the present.

English-language academic articles on anime/manga, by year, 2015-2018:

2015: 91
2016: 101
2017: 91
2018 (to date): 86

Total: 369

As with previous years, the numbers require some explanation. First of all, how do I actually locate the articles, and what specific sources do I use? As I mention in About the Bibliography, an interdisciplinary topic such as anime/manga studies requires using a wide range of academic databases, including:

  • Bibliography of Asian Studies Online
  • EBSCO Academic Search Premier
  • Film & Television Literature Index
  • Gale Academic One File
  • HeinOnline
  • International Index to the Performing Arts
  • MLA International Bibliography
  • ProQuest Research Library
  • ScienceDirect

I supplemented these with Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search, and, whenever possible, reviewed the works cited sections of any new publications I located. I also periodically browsed the tables of contents of various journals that I already knew had previously published scholarship on anime/manga in the past.

Another question to consider is what exactly “counts” as an anime/manga studies article. Again, here, the determination is basically left up to me. With many, making the decision is easy, as when an article specifically examines particular anime/manga (a typical example is Debts of redemption: Usury manga and the morality of money in contemporary Japan), or particular fan activities (Fannish masculinities in transition in anime music video fandom). With others, such as Fight for your right to fruit!: Psychosocial outcomes of a manga comic promoting food consumption in middle-school youth, it is less so – but my approach here is to be inclusive and not limit the scope of the study only to the humanities or to a narrow definition of what exactly is meant by anime/manga. Basically, if the article discusses even the “idea” of anime/manga, the anime/manga style, or any social or commercial environments that anime/manga circulate in to any extent – I considered it for inclusion. On the other hand, a simple mention of anime/manga, without in-depth discussion or analysis, would not be enough to qualify an article for inclusion.

Academic Search 2017Finally, how do I actually go about locating the individual articles? With the keyword-driven academic databases such as Academic Search Premier, the process was straight-forward and easy to illustrate. Simply searching for the keywords anime OR manga in Academic Search, limited to items published in 2017, and limiting the search to results in “scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals” returns 170 results – significantly more than then 86 that I end up with. However, the default setting retrieves articles in various languages, not just English, and not only articles, but book reviews as well. More importantly, a significant number of results that are retrieved in a keyword search for the term manga will actually be related to the Mapping Nearby Galaxies at Apache Point Observatory (MaNGA) project, and in many other cases, the results are included because “manga” or “mangas” is an author’s last name. Once the search is restricted significantly, to only the terms “anime” or “manga” appearing in the abstract, limited to English-language articles, this retrieves only 41 results. But even then, many are still not relevant, so a further “manual” inspection of the results is necessary.

Google ScholarWith Google Scholar, on the other hand, manual inspections are a must. A keyword search for (anime OR manga) AND Japan, limited to 2017 retrieves over 4,200 results. There is  no way to narrow it down further, and the results themselves represent many different types of works, such as books by single authors, essay collections, journal articles, conference presentations, and unpublished papers in formal institutional repositories, “academic social networks”, including and, and individual authors’ personal sites/pages. So, while Google Scholar is useful as a “backup” search tool, and is definitely useful especially for locating chapters in essay collections that are likely not indexed in the major academic databases, it cannot be the only tool to rely on for any kind of comprehensive search.

Moving beyond the overall counts and my methodologies, another question to ask is which journals do the articles actually appear in? Are they concentrated in a small set, or spread out among many different ones? And how even or uneven are the distributions? As it turns out, the 369 articles are published in a total of 178 different journals. Over 60% of the articles appeared in just 39 journals (22% of the total), each of which published more than one and as many as 30. So, over this period, which journals have been the most “welcoming” to publications on anime/manga?

The Phoenix Papers: A Journal of Fandom and Neomedia Studies: 30 articles
(note: A majority of the 30 articles are based on the surveys conducted by the International Anime Research Project)

International Journal of Comic Art: 25

East Asian Journal of Popular Culture: 19
(note: 4 articles published in a special issue on use of Japanese popular culture in Japanese language education; 7 articles published in a special issue on Studio Ghibli)

Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics: 12

Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities: 12
(note: all articles published in an “Ecocritical approaches to Studio Ghibli” special section)

Arts: 11
(note: 8 articles published in a Japanese Media Cultures in Japan and Abroad: Transnational Consumption of Manga, Anime and Video Games special issue)

Mutual Images: 10

Japan Forum: 9
(note: 4 articles published in a Japanese Popular Culture and Contents Tourism special issue)

Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal: 7

Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies: 7

Together, these 10 journals – just over 5% of the total – published more than a third of all articles on anime/manga that appeared since 2015. 4 of them (International Journal of Comic Art, Animation, Japan Forum, Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies) were also present in the top-10 list for 1993-2015; the other six are new

So, overall, what can we infer from all of these numbers? Probably the most important thing to take away is that scholars who are working on anime and manga have access to a wide range of publishing opportunities – but should definitely pay attention to the unique opportunities that calls for papers for journals’ special/themed issues offer. And overall, the anime and manga studies field is quite robust – and is continuing to evolve and expand with the launch of new journals such as The Phoenix Papers, the East Asian Journal of Popular Culture, and Mutual Images. In fact, plans are now underway for a dedicated Journal of Manga, Manhwa, & Manhua, set to launch sometime next year. And, adding the 2015-2018 numbers to those I already compiled, going back to 1993, presents a fairly comprehensive picture of how the field of anime and manga studies has developed in the past twenty-five years.

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