The primary focus of anime and manga studies as an academic area is on the texts/works of Japanese animation and Japanese comics themselves – their meanings, their interpretations, and how they are perceived by audiences. So a “typical” study in this field is something like The altered shall inherit the Earth: Biopower and the disabled body in Tehxnolyze or The utopia of suburbia: the unchanging past and limitless future in Doraemon. Another strand of scholarship examines how fans actually interact with anime/manga, and fans’ motivations, activities, and practices – just some examples here include A portrait of Japanese popular culture fans who study Japanese at an Australian university: Motivations and activities beyond the classroom and Fannish masculinities in transition in anime music video fandom. But this type of research, valuable as it may be, is generally based on in-depth interviews with very small numbers of individuals. It does not, and really, by design cannot be extended to broader groups, and to presenting a more comprehensive picture of anime fans – not just who they are in terms of demographics, but how they think, perceive the world, behave, and act.
However, one effort to do precisely this is the International Anime Research Project – “a multidisciplinary team of scientists studying the anime/manga fandom (as well as other fandoms)”. Specifically, the project uses an annual survey to explore “various aspects of how anime fans perceive the fandom, interact with other fans, how the fandom influences the self, along with a variety of other research questions aimed at understanding the connection to anime.” The survey has been conducted since 2014, and the Project’s members have used its results in over 20 publications, primarily in the online journal The Phoenix Papers, reporting on topics such as “motivations of cosplayers to participate in the anime fandom“, “anime genre preferences and paranormal beliefs“, and “prevailing stereotypes of anime fans“.
Now, the Project is inviting participants for the 2019 Anime Survey. This year’s goal will be to “understand your experience of being an anime fan, fantasy, identity formation, education, identity, wellbeing, assessments of other fan groups, and LGBTQ inclusion in fandoms.” The survey will take approximately 30 minutes to complete, and all participants will be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card.
Additional information about the survey process, including its ethics clearance status, is available on the International Anime Research Project website.