Over the last several years, one of the regular updates that I have added to this site has been a list of new classes at colleges/universities around the U.S. that specifically focus on Japanese animation and Japanese comics. Some examples of these classes include “Transnational Anime: Japanese Animation History and Theory” at Washington State University (Spring 2019), Girls’ Manga and Beyond at Oberlin College (Spring 2017), and Japanese Culture and Society Through Anime at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
And now, as we approach the Fall 2022 semester, it may be useful to present one more such update. This is definitely not a comprehensive list, but I hope that it can serve as a good illustration of the kinds of titles that college classes on anime/manga can have, the different approaches they can take, and even the different departments that offer them.
Of course, if you know other similar classes, are taking one, or even teaching one – by all means, let me know, and I will be happy to add it to the list!
Global Anime (Modern Culture and Media)
This course provides a systematic introduction to the forms, history, and culture of Japanese animation (anime). Surveying the historical developments, artistic styles, major themes and subgenres of anime under both the national context of Japan and a wider trajectory of globalization, this course focuses on analyzing the forms and idioms of anime in relation to changing technological conditions and their cultural ramifications. The students are expected to relate anime culture with their experience of new media technologies, and to expand their artistic interest in anime to wider theoretical questions such as posthumanism, globalism, techno-orientalism, and media convergence.
Carnegie Mellon University
Anime – Visual Interplay Between Japan and the World (Modern Languages)
In contemporary Japanese culture, anime plays a vital role, unfolding a wide range of non-linear as well as linear ways of storytelling with its distinct modes of visual representation, such as character designs and vibrant use of colors to reconstruct the environment/social reality, and complementing to other forms of culture (e.g., literature, film, and art). This course explores Japanese animes appeal to the international viewers today, centering on cultural/social analyses of animated works such as the fantastic of the Studio Ghibli production and Cyberpunks post-apocalyptic worldview in consultation with the scholarship of anime as a global cultural phenomenon. Equally important are to locate the origin of Japanese animation, which is also to be investigated through analyses of the prewar and postwar works of animation in conjunction with related forms such as manga, or comic strips (e.g., Osamu Tezukas works that was initially inspired by Disney) and to discuss the potential of anime as an art form.
Florida State University
Japanese Manga (Japanese)
This course traces the history of manga from its hybrid prehistory to its developments as a postwar industry and cultural form, investigating manga’s connections to adjacent media practices and its social and cultural importance both domestically and abroad.
Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
Sociolinguistics Through Manga (Japanese)
East Tennessee State University
Japanese Manga and Anime Translation (Japanese)
Introduces translation theories used to produce practical translations mainly from Japanese to English. This course teaches basic translation skills for Japanese manga and animation through an interdisciplinary approach by including translations from various authentic materials from Japanese manga, books, videos, and movies.
Anime as Global Popular Culture (Gen. Ed.)
What can anime’s development in Japan and its global dissemination teach us about the messy world of contemporary media culture where art and commerce, aesthetic and technology, and producers and consumers are inextricably entangled with each other?
Extended Course Description
Hawai’i Pacific University
Superheroes in Anime and Manga (Art History
This course promotes competence through visual literacy by examining selected images of superheroes from Japanese manga (comics in printed media) and anime (animated comics). Students will explore the socio-political, economic, religio-cultural, historical, and gender issues of these images, following their production and reception from their beginnings until present day. The course combines lectures and seminars with reading assignments, as well as active participation of viewing the examples of manga and anime in the classroom.
Sarah Lawrence College
Introduction to Japanese Anime (Film History)
Japanese animation, or anime, is a global phenomenon—a cultural export that has come to stand in for Japan itself in much of the world. Defined by a national identity as “Japanese” but beloved by an international audience of fans and creators, anime is a contradictory and diverse group of texts that allow us to begin to think about what it means for culture to flow globally in the 20th and 21st centuries. In this course, students will learn about the history of Japanese animation from the 1920s to the present. The course offers broad exposure to Japanese animation, from mainstream television cartoons to experimental art animation, but with an emphasis on the specific tradition of Japanese animation production that came to be known globally as “anime.” We will discuss anime as an intermedial consumer art form deeply connected to other media, such as manga (comic books), toys, video games, literature, music, traditional art, and live-action film. Our own experiences of anime as consumers/fans will be placed in context with academic theories of animation and methods for the study of anime. Students will learn about the Japanese cultural and historical context while also examining their own position in creating global anime reception. Assignments will help students develop research skills in Japanese studies, formal film-analysis skills, and creative methods for scholarly engagement. Themes will include production and marketing (e.g., “the media mix”), technology and labor, gender and sexuality, propaganda and political interests (e.g., “Cool Japan”), race and colonialism, genre, auteurism, reception and fan culture (e.g., “otaku” and “fujoshi”), religion, comedy, video games and interactive media, and intertextuality. Works discussed will include Astro Boy; films by Miyazaki Hayao, Galaxy Express 999, Sailor Moon, Doraemon, Mobile Suit Gundam, Naruto, manga by Hagio Moto, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell, Osomatsu-san, stop-motion animation by Kawamoto Kihachirō, and the works of Shinkai Makoto.
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
The Fantastical World of Japanese Anime
In the past three decades Japanese popular culture has surpassed the technology industry to become Japans largest export. In particular, anime (Japanese animation), the most profitable form of Japanese popular culture, has become increasingly visible all over the world. Although anime fandom in the U.S. is anchored by several works of mass appeal, it remains a subculture whose increasingly influential devotees occupy a cultural fringe. This course introduces students to this unique subculture and introduces an academic approach to viewing the anime art form. In addition to the focus on specific genres of anime, this course will pay special attention to four influential anime directors; Oshii Mamoru, Satoshi Kon, Hosoda Mamoru and Miyazaki Hayao. This course is designed to be interactive, while it builds a rigorous understanding of the anime medium through its history, its artists, and its institutions. Not only will the course focus on critical analysis of films, it will use anime as a medium by which to study Japanese culture at large, with some attention given to production. Taught in English.
University of Idaho
Japanese Anime (Foreign Language – English)
Selected Japanese animated films are studied as cultural products; each film is situated in its socioeconomic, political, cultural, and/or historical contexts. Japanese language proficiency not required.
University of Michigan
First-Year Japanese through Anime and Manga (Asian Languages)
ASIANLAN 123 is the first half of the first-year Japanese course taught through various types of media, mainly anime and manga. It is designed for students who have some prior knowledge of Japanese (hiragana/katakana recognition, basic greetings, etc.) but not enough to test into a higher level. The course incorporates various forms of Japanese media into class activities to improve students’ language skills. This approach not only makes language learning more fun but also increase familiarity with aspects of both traditional and modern Japanese culture that are necessary for language competency. This course also encourages students to become autonomous language learners by providing personalized tasks that students can adapt to their own needs and interests (e.g. drawing original manga).
By the end of this course, students will have:
– built up a repertoire of vocabulary and basic sentence patterns that will allow them to speak about themselves and topics of personal relevance solely in Japanese;
– developed the pragmatic and socio-cultural skills needed to attain a basic understanding of anime, manga, and other Japanese media;
– mastered the hiragana and katakana writing systems and around 50 kanji (Chinese characters); and
– learned to use the Japanese writing system to read parts of the manga and prepared texts and to write about themselves and topics of personal relevance.
Attendance, Class Performance & Participation, Assignments, Personalized Projects, Quizzes & Lesson Tests, Final Written & Oral Exam, and Final Project
Students across many disciplines who would like to start learning Japanese. The course is not designed for native speakers who: 1) Speak Japanese as first language 2) Completed their high school education at an institution where the language of instruction is Japanese only.
University of Pennsylvania
Be it shrine maidens, gods of death, and bodhisattvas fighting for justice; apocalypse, the afterlife, and apotheosis… the popular Japanese illustrated media of manga and anime are replete with religious characters and religious ideas. This course uses popular illustrated media as a tool for tracing the long history of how media and religion have been deeply intertwined in Japan.
University of Rochester
Life and Anime (Film & Media Studies)
The etymology of the word “anime” works its way through the English “animate” to the Latin “animare”—to instill with life. This course considers both how anime brings philosophy to life and the questions anime raises about the good (and bad) life. This course covers works of Japanese anime from the post-World War II period to the present. We begin with an introduction to the language and theory of Anime Studies. In subsequent weeks, students watch and analyze a variety of anime genres. This course employs a comparative approach to the study of anime: each anime is paired with excerpts from germane works of philosophy or literature. The course concludes with pairings of student-selected viewings and readings. All anime viewed for this course include English subtitling.
Japanese Anime (East Asian Studies / Film Studies)
“A study of Japanese anime (animation) from its origins to the present, with particular focus on its historical development and sociocultural context. Included in the course will be anime made by such creators as Tezuka Osamu, Miyazaki Hayao, Otomo Katsuhiro, Takahashi Rumiko, Matsumoto Leiji, Anno Hideaki, Rintaro, Kon Satoshi, and Oshii Mamoru. Both short-form and feature-length anime will be considered, as well as representative works from various genres, including mecha, romance, historical, and supernatural. The connections between manga and anime will be addressed, as will various aspects of anime production, technology, economics, and distribution. Among the questions raised in the course will be: (1) How do anime address what it means to be Japanese, and to be growing up and living in Japanese society, and (2) How do anime address what it means to be human, as opposed to, for example, a cyborg or a mutant? The course is taught in English, and all films have English subtitles. No prerequisites. Required screenings are held on Mondays at 7 pm. This course fulfills the “GN” (Global Interconnections) requirement for the college core curriculum. All students must register for FS250S.A (Screenings).”