“Japanese popular culture studies is a field in formation”, note Alisa Freedman and Toby Slade in the opening chapter of Introducing Japanese Popular Culture, the first volume on the topic that is specifically designed as a textbook. The same statement can be extended to anime and manga studies as well. And as the field of anime and manga studies is forming – through new directions in scholarship and teaching, the development of particular research patterns and trends, the emergence of foundational and highly cited publications, and even formal institutionalization, participants in the field can pursue some unique opportunities.
One specific area in anime and manga studies that I think could benefit from more attention is conversation within the field – that is, commentary on and discussion of not just the films and TV series and comics themselves, but the critical responses to them that already exist. Book reviews are one familiar type of this kind of commentary, and plenty of books on anime/manga do receive reviews – though primarily, in academic journals. One exception are the reviews of books on anime/manga and other aspects and products of Japanese popular culture that the All the Anime blog frequently publishes.
However, it is often difficult for a review of a single book to specifically talk about the place that book holds in the ongoing conversation on its topic. Reviews that do more than discuss single books – that go over several – are significantly less common; among the few examples are Historicizing Anime and Manga: From Japan to the World and Anime: Comparing Macro and Micro Analyses, in respectively the first and second volumes of Mechademia. And critical responses to individual journal articles are almost nonexistent – probably the only example that comes to mind is 2005’s Fans, copyright, and subcultural change: A review of Sean Leonard’s “Progress against the law”. Short critical response essays that comment, reflect, or engage with recent scholarly writing on anime/manga would, I believe, add an important dimension to the developing field of anime and manga studies. So, animemangastudies.com is now welcoming essay submissions responding to any other article-length scholarship on anime/manga or related topics published in English in the last five years.
The essays should be approximately 750-1000 words in length, and can take the form of a review or evaluation, an appreciation, a direct response, or even a challenge. An example of the kind of “response” that could be appropriate is the one I published on the article “Anime in the US: The Enterpreneurial Dimensions of Globalized Culture.
If you are interested in contributing to animemangastudies.com in this way, please contact me at email@example.com. Recent journal articles on anime/manga are listed in the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies. Many of the individual articles are available online in open access, and if would like to work on a response to one that is not, and you do not have access to it through your college/university or through a public library, let me know, and I will provide a copy.
I will review the submissions for clarity/grammar, but otherwise, do not intend to interfere with them in any way. And look forward to this as a new initiative in what animemangastudies.com does, and in how it contributes to anime and manga studies as growing, emerging and developing field.