When in 2001, the Minneapolis College of Art & Design hosted a “Weekend Intensive study in the culture and creation of Japanese Manga (Comics) and Anime (Animation)” under the title Schoolgirls & Mobilesuits, it was one of the first events of its kind anywhere in the world. In the more than 20 years that have passed since, the idea of an academic workshop or symposium on anime/manga is no longer particularly novel, and that first SGMS event gave rise to Mechademia, a series of annual conferences held first at MCAD, and later, in several locations in South Korea and Japan. The Mechademia conferences also played a significant role in the launch in 2006 of Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga and the Fan Arts, which was then published for 10 issues, went on hiatus, and has since returned as Mechademia: Second Arc, with a twice-yearly publication schedule and a more expanded subject focus.

As was the case with most live events, Mechademia did not take place in either of the last two years, but returned last month, though with a major change in location to Los Angeles, to more closely co-incide with Anime Expo, the largest anime convention in the U.S., also returning live after after a two-year-break. And, although it has now been several weeks since Mechademia 2022, I think it’s important to preserve and present the schedule for this year, even as a guide to the range of subjects and topics that an event of its kinds and scope could cover, and the speakers it attracted.

Mechademia 2022 – Migration and Transition

Tuesday, June 28

10:00 a.m. – Panel 1
Definitions and Delineations

Transcultural Perspectives on Moe: Fan Theories, Discourses
Paul Ocone (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

Rise of the Weeaboo: Differentiating Japanese Otaku from Global Anime and Manga Fans
Ana Matilde Sousa (CIEBA – Artistic Studies Research Center, University of Lisbon)

10:00 a.m. – Panel 2
Outsiders: Assimilations and Erasures

‘Time is the Last Sacred Territory’: Tenuous Temporalities and Ainu Erasure in Naoko Takeuchi’s Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon
Taylor Janeen Pryor (Cornell University)

Glimpses of the Gaikokujin: Engaging with the ‘Outsider’ in Modern Manga
Ananya Saha (Assistant Professor, English, St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata)

1:00 p.m. – Panel 1
Dislocated Identities

I Love, Therefore I Am: Dismantling the Cartesian Dichotomy and Unifying the Self in Ghost in the Shell
Maria Grajdian (Associate Professor, Media Studies and Cultural Anthropology, Hiroshima University)

Society Eats Their Own: The Transnational Image of the Cannibal
Wendy Goldberg (Lecturer, Composition & Rhetoric, University of Mississippi)

2:30 p.m. – Panel 1
Evolving Landscapes

You Can (Not) Restore: Ecocritique and Intergenerational Ecological Conflict in Evangelion
Andrew Smith (University of Florida)

Pandemic Places and Spaces: Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Josh Eason

Kagura Dance as Historical Imaginary in Kimetsu no Yaiba/Demon Slayer and Kimi no Na wa/Your Name
Stacey Jocoy (Associate Professor of Music, Texas Tech University)

2:30 p.m. – Panel 2
Competitive Struggles

Smile Through the Pain: Cultural Instability as an Extracurricular Activity in Anime
Ted Gournelos (Associate Professor, Communication & Theatre Arts, Old Dominion University)

Collapsing Time and Space: Western Pastice and the Absense of Discord in Appare-Ranman
John Francis (Tufts University)

4:00 p.m. – Panel 1
Means of Production/Destruction

Anime’s Alternative Geography: On Form and Transnational Cultural Production
Stevie Suan (Associate Professor, Global & Interdisciplinary Studies, Hosei University)

Anime War Machines: Depictions of Military Technology in Ôtomo Katsuhiro’s Cannon Fodder
Betty Stojnic (Nagoya University)

4:00 p.m. – Panel 2 
Imagined Places

Shotengai: Resilient Cultural and Economic Centers of Japan on the Brink
Edmund Hoff

A Space Between Worlds: Anime Pilgrimages in Contemporary Japan
Radiya Nuradi (Kyushu University)

Play, Create, Ideate: The Ideal Imagery of Medieval Japanese Culture through Player-Created Content and the Case of the Torii Gate Reconstruction Crowdfunding Project
Carmel Anne Abela (Nagoya University)

6:00 p.m.
Keynote Address
Fan Culture as a Template of Migration: The Case of Hello Kitty
Christine Yano (Professor, Anthropology, University of Hawai`i at Manoa)

In 2014, the Japanese American National Museum and adjacent Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo housed the first ever museum display of Hello Kitty (“Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty”) and hosted the first Hello Kitty Convention (“Kitty Con”). Both events broke new ground in global fandom surrounding the Japanese icon of cute. This talk explores the migratory nature of global fan cultures in the 21st century, using Japanese company Sanrio’s Hello Kitty as a case study. Migration provides the infrastructure of what I call rebounded charisma – the ineffable and shifting magnetism between and among global fans and objects of desire. With each dialectical movement, the emergent authenticity of one begets the other in ways that affirm and challenge multiple stakeholders and the communities they assert. In this, migration becomes both the proving ground as well as the source of friction in a self-reflexive loop. As fame begets fame, I suggest that global fan cultures can serve as templates for thinking through the stickiness of migrations and its effects.

Wednesday, June 29

10:00 a.m. – Panel 1

The Zoomorphic Urge: The Migration of the Omegaverse into Japanese Boys’ Love Media
Callum Sarracino (PhD Candidate, East Asian Studies, The University of Sheffield)

Towar a Transmedial Iconology of the Japanese Cartoon
Beáta Pusztai (Eötvös Loránd University)

10:00 a.m. – Panel 2

The Subway Speaks: Emigration and Escape in Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion
Lillian McIntyre (University of Hawai`i at Manoa)

Imagining (Animating) Waifus and Husbandos in Japan and Abroad: A Comparative Data-Driven Perspectives on Character Intimacy Games
Luca Bruno (Leipzig University)

1:00 p.m. – Panel 1
Gendered Words, Gendered Performance(s)

Queering Confucianism and Confucianizing Queerness in Japanese Popular Culture: How Family Reverence Overcomes Parental Transphobia in Love Me for Who I Am
Makoto Hunter (University of California – Santa Barbara)

From Abjection to Self-Identification: Shifts in the Definition of “otokonoko” in English-language Online Spaces
Rhea Vichot (University of Wisconsin – Whitewater)

2:30 p.m. –  Panel 2

From the Apennines to the Andes to Mount Fuji: Neorealism in Isao Takahata’s 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother
Alex Tai (Northwestern University)

De-Sexualization and Multi-Sexualization in RyōSeiRui Fandubbing Circle in China
Wenjin Yao (University of Minnesota)

Considering the East/West Inscriptions in the Illustrations of the Bodies of Taishô era ‘S’-coupled Shojôs
Frenchy Lunning (Professor Emeritus in Liberal Arts, Minneapolis College of Art & Design)

4:00 p.m. – Panel 1

Getting to an Isekai
Paul Price (University of Iowa)

Isekai as Conservative Meta-Narrative; Or, Contemporary Japan as Fantasy
Scott Ma (Waseda University)

4:00 p.m. – Panel 2

Re-mediatized Memory and the Transnational Travel of Hikaru no Go in China
Muyang Zhuang  (The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

Hybridization and Nostalgia in Philippine Anisongs
Herb Fondevilla (Rikkyo University)

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