One of the most well-defined features of an academic field is a journal that brings together the work of scholars who produce and publish research on a particular topic and presents it to readers. The existence of a journal means that there is enough research being published on a topic to support one, and the journal’s title is in many cases also the term used for the field itself. Asian Studies, Japanese Studies, Science Fiction Studies, Animation Studies, and ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies are all examples of journals that give structure to particular academic fields.
The first English-language scholarly articles on anime and manga appeared in journals like Youth & Society (Contemporary Japanese youth: Mass media communication, 1977), The Journal of Popular Culture (Salaryman comics in Japan: Images of self-perception, 1979, and Female gender role patterns in Japanese comic magazines, 1987), The Journal of Japanese Studies (Panic sites: The Japanese imagination of disaster from Godzilla to Akira, 1993), and Wide Angle (Transcultural orgasm as apocalypse: Urotsukidoji: The Legend of the Overfiend, 1997). It was not until 2006 that the University of Minnesota Press began publishing what could be treated as an anime and manga studies journal – Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and Fan Arts, although it was presented as a “series of books”, and right away, embraced other – though definitely related – topics such as video games.
And now, four years since Mechademia went on hiatus, forty since those first articles, and a full sixty since what I have identified as the first scholarly publications in any format in English on Japanese animation or comics (the chapters “Children’s comics in Japan” and “Comparative study of comics: American and Japanese – Sazae-san and Blondie” in the 1959 essay collection Japanese Popular Culture: Studies in Mass Communication and Cultural Change), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has announced the launch of the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies – the first “open-access journal dedicated to providing an ethical, peer-reviewed space for academics, students, and independent researchers examining the field of anime, manga, cosplay, and fandom studies to share their research with others.” JAMS is currently actively welcoming article submissions from scholars at all levels, including faculty members, graduate students, undergraduates, and independent researchers. There are also no particular limitations on potential topics, beyond the general statement that it is dedicated to “scholarly analysis”, or on article length, and submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis. The journal’s first actual issue is currently set to appear in the fall of this year.
I have known about the plans to launch this journal for some time. Needless to say, I am extremely excited to see these plans evolve into something real – another major milestone in the development of the academic field of anime and manga studies. In the coming months, I look forward to following further news about the journal’s development, and assisting the process in any way that I can.
And if you are interested in publishing your research in the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies, review the About the Journal portion of the JAMS website, follow the Submissions Checklist and Author Guidelines, register as an author – and good luck! And I will look forward to hopefully, reading your submission in the journal’s inaugural issue!