Category: Announcements

Online Symposium – Queer and Feminist Perspectives on Japanese Popular Cultures

The full schedule is now available for the upcoming online symposium Queer and Feminist Perspectives on Japanese Popular Cultures, organized by a team of scholars from Concordia University (Canada), UNSW Sydney (Australia) and Tulane University (USA), and supported by the Media, Gender and Sexualities Study Group (University of Tokyo). The goal of the symposium is to explore points of contact between Japanese popular culture broadly defined – including anime/manga, videogames, fashion, literature, and other fields and areas – and feminist studies, with an emphasis on issues of and intersections among gender, sexuality, race, queerness, disability, and class.

Over three days, the symposium will feature more than 20 speakers, representing institutions from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Italy, Japan, and other countries, as well as two keynote addresses. Emory University professor Erika Kanesaka, the creator of the website CuteStudies.com, will speak on the topic of “Cute and the Asian American experience”, and Laura Miller, the Eiichi Shibusawa-Seigo Arai Endowed Professor of Japanese Studies, University of St. Louis-Missouri, will speak to “Taking Girls Seriously”. Dr. Miller is the author of Beauty Up: Exploring Contemporary Japanese Body Aesthetics (University of California Press, 2006) and co-editor of, among other titles, Manners and Mischief: Gender, Power, and Etiquette in Japan (University of California Press, 2011) and Modern Girls on the Go: Gender, Mobility, and Labor in Japan (Stanford University Press, 2013). Just some of the articles on Japanese popular culture she has written include Extreme makeover for a Heian-era wizard, Japan’s Cinderella motif: Beauty industry and mass culture interpretations of a popular icon, Behavior that offends: Comics and other images of incivility, and Rebranding Himiko, the shaman queen of ancient history.

The symposium is free, but registration is required, and a Zoom link will be sent to all individuals who register for the event.

April 15

5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.
BL and queer studies

  • A utopian poetics of female observers inside/out in BL Manga
    Marianne Tarcov (McGill University)
    Emma Wang
  • Who put the ♂ in M♂M? Locating the breedable male body in shōshika BL
    Yoshika Han
    Jaclyn Zhou (University of California, Berkeley)
  • The bishōnen as void, and void again: Understanding Rio Kishida’s Summer Vacation 1999 through a framework of zero
    River Seager
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‘Cats, Single Ladies, and Manga: Feminist Fantasies of Cohabitation in East Asian Discourses’ lecture

Over the past ten or so years, the Japanese program at Baruch College (City University of New York) has hosted a series of mini-seminars and talks by individual speakers on topics related to Japanese animation and comics. The series started in 2015 with Globalized Manga Culture and Fandom and continued with Alt Manga: Alternative Manga Symposium (April 2016), Manga/Comics and Translation (April 2017), Manga/Comics against Human Trafficking (April 2018), and, in 2019, Untold History of Japanese Comics: Prewar and LGBTQ+ Manga. And, after an understandable hiatus, it has continued, with the latest one scheduled for next week.

The speaker, Dr. Grace En-Yi Ting is an assistant professor in the gender studies programme, The University of Hong Kong, and author of, among other publications, the essay The desire and disgust of sweets: Consuming femininities through shōjo manga (U.S.-Japan Women’s Journal) and the Gender, manga, and anime chapter in the Routledge Companion ot Gender and Japanese Culture. Entitled Cats, Single Ladies, and Manga: Feminist Fantasies of Cohabitation in East Asian Discourse, the talk is an examination of Japanese popular culture’s approach to themes of “heteronormative pressures regarding marriage and reproduction”, as expressed in particular in the manga The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today and its 2023 anime adaptation.

Thursday, April 4
12:50 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Baruch College
55 Lexington Ave, VC-4-165
New York, NY 10010)

The talk is open to members of the Baruch community and the general public, but registration is required. Additional details and the registration link are available on the Baruch Japanese Program website.

Call for Papers: Queer and Feminist Perspectives on Japanese Pop

Abstract Submission Deadline:
February 1

Notification of Acceptance:
February 15

Dates: Mid-April, 2024 (dates tbc)
Format: Online (Zoom)
In order to facilitate multiple timezones, the event will start at 8am EST/9pm JST

Organizers:

Aurélie Petit, Concordia University, Canada
Megan Catherine Rose, UNSW Sydney, Australia
Edmond Ernest dit Alban, Tulane University, United States of America

Supported by:

Media, Gender, and Sexualities Study Group (The University of Tokyo)

We invite scholars, researchers, activists, and practitioners from around the world to participate in a multidisciplinary two-day exploration of the intersection between Japanese popular cultures and intersectional, trans-inclusive feminist studies. During this symposium we will explore the convergence of gender, sexuality, race, queerness, disability and class. We aim to provide a platform for critical discussions about gender and Japanese animation, fashion, video games, literature and digital cultures. In doing so we hope to encourage new directions in feminist approaches to Japanese popular cultures.

Symposium Themes:

We welcome papers that address, but are not limited to, the following themes:

  • Genre and gender

We encourage papers that seek to move beyond gender binaries, in which “men” and “women” are generalize into monolithic categories of preferences, attitudes and ideologies. We would love to see papers that account for gender diversity, or instances where marginalized groups who move outside these paradigms are included. We encourage papers that open up and challenge assumptions that underpin gendered audiences.

  • Lived-experiences

We seek input and leadership from lived-experience experts on matters of equity, inclusion and justice for marginalized communities (e.g. sex workers, gender diverse people, disabled people, survivors) in relation to Japanese popular cultures. We call for vulnerable voices to be centered in all accounts of “big” ethical dilemmas studies of Japanese culture grapple with. We especially encourage applications from scholars who wish to reflect on their own positionality within the field of feminist Japanese studies

  • Feminism and femininities

Up until fourth wave feminism, gender presentation and the body has been a contested site of debate,colonization and control. We invite contributions that explore ways we can free the body through queer beauty discourses and re-direct feminist activism towards structural change in Japanese popular cultures. We also call for examinations of feminist activism within media industries and the challenges encounteredthroughout the years.

  • Gendered platform-interactions

Here, we invite contributions that explore the role online platforms have played in shaping Japanese popularcultures. Which gendered history have platform-centered approaches perpetuated throughout the years? Which exclusionary practices towards gender-diverse people have been facilitated by social media platforms?

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Submission Guidelines:

Abstracts should be between 250-300 words (title included) and clearly outline the research question, methodology, findings, and relevance to the conference themes.

Submissions must be written in English

Please include a brief biography (50-100 words) along with your submission, as well as the time zone you will be joining us from.

Submissions can be made by email at popculturesjapan@gmail.com, and the full Call for Papers is additionally available at https://t.co/Ltr9MuJiAA

Participation and attendance is free of charge.

The symposium will be held online over two days, in order to accommodate participants in different time zones.

Roundtable – Welcome to Anime/Manga Studies


TUESDAY, November 21
2:00 p.m. (Eastern time)
https://tinyurl.com/mvzedsxm (Zoom)

– Ever thought about writing a college paper on themes and images in Attack on Titan?
– Wanted to take a class on the history of girls’ manga?
– Are intrigued by a book on the many different ways that Japanese manga authors have adapted characters and images from Alice in Wonderland?

Just curious about what “anime and manga studies” even means?

Anime and Manga Studies Projects presents a live interactive discussion introducing the idea of scholarly approaches to Japanese comics and animation and the academic field of anime/manga studies.

  • What is anime and manga studies
  • What do we want to accomplish by approaching anime/manga this way?
  • What kinds of questions can we ask?
  • Who participates in this field
  • What themes and topics are anime/manga scholars interested in exploring?
  • Do I need to be a college professor to participate
  • Do I need to be a Japanese studies scholar to participate

For this discussion, a group of leading anime/manga scholars, from different backgrounds, and at different stages in their careers will share their thoughts, opinions, and experiences.

And we will be happy to answer any questions you may have – about how we chose this field, what exactly we do, and why – and how you too can join us!

Featuring:

Prof. Brent Allison
Social Foundations & Leadership Education
University of North Georgia

Zoe Crombie
PhD candidate, Film Studies
Lancaster University

Moderator: Mikhail Koulikov
(Executive Producer, Anime and Manga Studies Projects)

Have any questions you would like to ask the speakers, topics you want to see us talk about, issues you feel we need to discuss?

Please send your suggestions to mik@animemangastudies.com!

Japan Foundation Presents – Mecha-Anime

In Anime: A Critical Introduction, Rayna Denison uses the phrases “a cultural phenomenon” and “a sliding, shifting category of media production” to describe Japanese animation. When we think about anime this way, it’s also only natural to consider different genres within anime – one of the most iconic is “mecha” – in the definition that Giuseppe Gatti succinctly provides – “narratives of giant robots piloted by a human within”.

Mecha anime first appeared in the 1970’s, and the genre then evolved in several different directions. Some of the most well-known Japanese animation films and television series of the last several decades belong to the genre, and every year, at least several others try to expand its possibilities. And, for that matter, it is also no surprise that mecha has also attracted a significant amount of scholarly interest – just some examples are essays such as Between the child and the mecha – a reading of the anime series Rahxephon as “an allegory of Lacan’s landmark description of the three stages of subject development”, and “Peace through understanding”: How science-fiction anime Mobile Suit Gundam 00 criticizes US aggression and Japanese passivity.

And now, on November 10, as a part of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2023, the Japan Foundation, London is hosting animation journalist and scholar Ryota Fujitsu who will present a lecture on the history of mecha, the way the genre’s features have developed over the years, and some of drivers for these developments.

Friday, November 10, 2023
1:30 p.m. (Eastern time)
REGISTRATION

FUJITSU Ryota is one of Japan’s leading animation critics. He has lectured in the Animation Studies program at Tokyo Polytechnic University, and served as a programming advisor for the Animation Section of the Tokyo International Film Festival. His publications include アニメ「評論家」宣言 / Anime Hyoronka Sengen (Anime Critic’s Declaration), Tokyo: Fusosha, 2003, チャンネルはいつもアニメ――ゼロ年代アニメ時評 / Channeru wa Itsumo Anime: Zero Nendai Anime Jihyō (We’ve Been Watching Anime All the Time, When We Sit in Front of TV!), Tokyo: NTT Shuppan, 2010, a collection of personal reflections and notes on television anime in the years from 2000 to 2010, and アニメと戦争 / Anime to sensō (Anime and War), Tokyo: Nippon Hyoron sha, 2021.

Help Wanted – Anime Professor!

Who are the participants in “Japanese popular culture studies”? Not in the abstract sense, but more concretely – if Japanese popular culture studies is an academic area or field or discipline, do those who are involved in it identify themselves as “professors of Japanese popular culture studies”? For that matter, is such a thing as a “department of Japanese popular culture studies” or a “professor of Japanese popular culture studies” even possible or feasible?

In fact, if we actually do take a closer look at what academic departments scholars who write on anime, manga, and other related topics are actually based in, the patterns that emerge are essentially predictable Thus, when we look at the departments that the authors of the articles in the first seven issues of Mechademia: Second Arc are affiliated with, some of the ones we see include Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Education, Film Studies, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Law, and Musicology. Similarly, the department affiliations of the authors of some of the major recent books on anime/manga include Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Film and Media Studies, and Film and Television.

What can a professor who is interested in anime/manga as a research subject do to advertise this? One way is to simply mention a book project they are working on, as Prof. Jinying Li (Modern Culture and Media, Brown University) does.

She recently completed her first book, Anime’s Knowledge Cultures
(University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming)

And even if a professor is not actively working on a book, they can mention anime/manga among the subjects, topics, and themes that they are actively pursuing!

His research interests include biblical allusions in literature, missiology, Korean popular culture (e.g. K-pop and K-dramas), and Japanese anime/manga”.

But, a professor announcing what their interests is one thing. A university actively looking to hire a professor who specializes in a particular area is something very different. And, in what I believe is the first time for something like this, a major university has specifically announced that it is seeking to fill the position of Assistant Professor in Japanese contemporary literature and culture – “with interdisciplinary research and teaching interests in manga and animé”. The person who is hired for this position will be expected to teach both undergraduate and graduate courses, including at least one with a specific emphasis on anime/manga, as well as contribute to the development of the collection of original and translated manga in Ohio State’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

Requirements for the position include a PhD in “Japanese literature or a related field” – completed by August 2024 – and a good demonstration of what a position can require instead of a “PhD in anime” is the call for a specialization in an area such as “visual narrative media such as manga and animé” or “history of popular media”. The hiring committee will begin screening applications for the position next week (November 1), but screening will continue without any kind of hard deadline, presumably until the position has been filled.

So, what does something like this mean? First of all, it means that next year, there will be at least one new professor at a major U.S. university who is almost definitely interested in both teaching about and researching Japanese animation and comics. This also shows that we are seeing the beginnings of an active process to bring professors. And with this, “studying anime and manga” – an activity and just what you do takes another step in the direction of “anime and manga studies” – a defined area with its own structures, goals, boundaries, aims, and rules.

CFP: Studio Ghibli Films as Adaptations

Just this week, the latest Studio Ghibli anime feature film – and, now, most likely the final anime to be directed by Hayao Miyazaki, opened in Japan, to both fascination and acclaim. And over the the years, Ghibli’s body of work has also attracted significant scholarly interest, with over 20 English-language monographs and essay collections, several themed issues in various peer-reviewed journals, and literally dozens of individual articles and chapters. Scholars have explored many different aspects of the Ghibli universe – among them depictions of particular themes and subjects, such as in The kraft of labour, labour as craft: Hayao Miyazaki’s images of work, and Anorexic in Miyazaki’s land of cockaigne: Excess and abnegation in Spirited Away, audience responses and reactions (Bridge builders, world makers: Transcultural Studio Ghibli fan crafting), and the ways Ghibli films have been translated and adapted outside Japan (The localization of Kiki’s Delivery Service).

One angle that not many scholars have explored yet is the nature of Ghibli works as adaptations. Some of the most well-known Ghibli films are based on works of fiction (Kiki’s Delivery Service, The Wind Rises, The Borrower Arrietty, When Marnie Was There) and others, on comics (Only Yesterday, Whisper of the Heart, My Neighbors the Yamadas, From Up on Poppy Hill). Howl’s Moving Castle was an arguably successful attempt to adapt a British fantasy novel; Tales from Earthsea, an infamously unsuccessful one to create an anime feature film based on an American one. Even Porco Rosso included one scene likely inspired by a Roald Dahl short story. And the new The Boy and the Heron is, according to Miyazaki, “very loosely inspired” by a 1937 children’s book. And it is this aspect of Studio Ghibli’s work that is the subject of a new Call for Papers


Call for Papers: Edited Volume on Studio Ghibli Films as Adaptations

This edited volume seeks to collect scholarship on how Studio Ghibli has adapted stories from other media to film. Many of the Japanese animation powerhouse’s films have their origins in novels or comics, such as Diana Wynne Jones Howl’s Moving Castle. Studio Ghibli cofounder and director Hayao Miyazaki even adapted his own manga, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, into a feature film. We seek proposals – from a variety of disciplines and perspectives = for essays exploring how Studio Ghibli’s storytellers have approached adaptation, as well as what the study of Studio Ghibli’s filmography can contribute to the broader field of adaptation studies.

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Call for Papers – Mechademia: Second Arc, 17.1 “Cosplay, Street Fashion, and Subcultural Styles”

One concept that, for many people, is probably the most closely associated with anime/manga is cosplay. In turn, studies of cosplay are a major area in anime and manga studies in general – just some prominent examples include Melissa de Zwart, Cosplay, creativity and immaterial labours of love, Joel Gn, Queer simulation: The practice, performance and pleasure of cosplay, and Alexi Hieu Truong, Framing cosplay: How ‘layers’ negotiate body and subjective experience through play. And in 2006, when Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and Fan Arts launched with its “Emerging Worlds of Anime and Manga” issue, one of the articles in it was Costuming the imagination: The origins of anime and manga cosplay.

Despite their increasing visibility the importance of costume, fashion and style is often overlooked; they escape focused scholarly attention because, paradoxically, they are so patent and obvious, we may think anyone can talk about them.

Seventeen years have passed since then. And now, Mechademia has announced the Call for Papers for a full issue on “Cosplay, Street Fashion, and Subcultures”, guest-edited by Dr. Masafumi Monden (Lecturer, Japanese Studies, University of Sydney, author of, among other publications, Japanese Fashion Cultures: Dress and Gender in Contemporary Japan), and currently set for publication in the fall of 2024. The CFP suggests several broad questions or ideas to consider when thinking about cosplay and its relationships to fashion, street fashion, culture, and subculture. One of these questions is the nature of the difference between the ideas of “fashion” and “style”. Another is place that the body holds when approaching concepts related to fashion.

Within the broad issue scope, authors are invited to consider a wide range of topics and themes. Some of these can include:

  • Marketing and consumer culture
  • Sexuality and/or gender
  • Fandom and subsequent communities
  • Activism, resistance and protests
  • Beauty and aesthetics

The expected word length for submissions is between 5000 and 7000 words, and the submission deadline for the issue is July 1, 2023.

The full CFP, with additional details, is available on the Mechademia website.

Highlighting New Publications – JAMS v. 3

I think it’s safe to say we are comfortably past the point where the appearance of a new scholarly article on a topic related to anime/manga is something remarkable or extraordinary. As other scholars have already noted – and as I have worked to demonstrate – “anime and manga studies” (or the broader area of “Japanese popular culture studies” is now very much “a field in formation”, establishing itself and developing, and evolving.

But, even if a new publication on anime/manga is not particularly remarkable or even groundbreaking, it may still be worth examining. And this is especially true when we are looking not just at a single article, but several that appear at once – as is the case with the new third volume of the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies, the only “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”. JAMS launched in 2020, and with this latest volume, with nine stand-alone articles, one event report, and two book reviews, continues to make a very significant contribution to anime and manga studies as an academic field.

In November of 2020, JAMS got 322 file views. In November of 2021, this increased to 755 files views. And in November of 2022, this increased again to 1286 file views.

The issue opens with a report from the journal’s editor, including a look at readership statistics and month-to-month trends. At launch in November 2020, JAMS received 322 file views. This number stayed stable at approximately 200 views through much of 2021, but began trending up significantly from September 2021 on. with peaks in January, March, and October of the following year. The final figure the editor was able to provide, for November 2022, was 1286 file views. The major explanations for the growth trends that the editor presented are JAMS’ inclusion in the Directory of Open Access Journals, starting in February 2022, and the related Anime News Network news item. One question the report does not consider is whether the articles that JAMS is publishing are achieving any “impact” in the sense of receiving citations in other publications, or at least mentions in online discussions. Granted, even expecting impact from a relatively recent journal in a specialized subject area may be a lot to ask for – but from what I can tell, at least a couple of the articles that were published in JAMS have already been referenced elsewhere, such as The indigenous shôjo: Transmedia representations of Ainu femininity in Japan’s Samurai Spirits, 1993–2019, cited in Edutaining with indigeneity: Mediatizing Ainu bilingualism in the Japanese anime, Golden Kamuy, and Embedded niche overlap: A media industry history of yaoi anime’s American distribution from 1996 to 2009 included in the online resource What are Fujoshi, Fudanshi & BL? – plus mentions of others, and of the journal as a whole, in blog posts and on social media!

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Call for Book Chapters – Explaining Isekai

Anime is not a genre – but considering genres is one of the ways to at least begin critically approaching Japanese animation. In this way, Rayna Denison presents a focus on anime genres “because of the way genres are often seen, like anime, to operate as cultural categories or phenomena”. And, as Denison points out, studying genres calls for an awareness not only of differences between them, but also of their “meanings”, such as the ways that both audiences and critics respond to particular ones. This kind of awareness can highlight instances where particular genres draw popular attention, but remain relatively obscure in terms of criticism and analysis. Denison herself uses the example of horror anime, while Lucy Fraser and Masafumi Monden, in The maiden switch: New possibilities for understanding Japanese shōjo manga (girls’ comics) have examined “early 1980s and 1990s shōjo manga that were primarily targeted at the youngest band of readers, stories with early adolescent heroines in light, romantic, and fairytale-like narratives” – in contrast to “texts that enact more explicit gender subversion”.

isekai (literally ‘different world’) is an anime and manga genre whose plots usually consist in a main character that enters (or is forcibly transported) to a fantasy world, whose setting can combine fantasy Middle Age elements with a science fiction or steampunk appeal.

Oscar García Aranda, Representations of Europe in Japanese anime: An overview of case studies and theoretical frameworks

One genre where this kind of gap between popularity and critical recognition is particularly prominent is isekai. Definitions for it include “(literally ‘different world’)…an anime and manga genre whose plots usually consist in a main character that enters (or is forcibly transported) to a fantasy world, whose setting can combine fantasy Middle Age elements with a science fiction or steampunk appeal” (Oscar García Aranda, Representations of Europe in Japanese anime: An overview of case studies and theoretical frameworks), and “a specific genre of storytelling in which people move from one world to another, usually through some sort of a portal such as a gate or a doorway” (Giovanni Tagliamonte and Yaochong Yang, Isekai: Tracing interactive control in non-interactive media), although these authors add to the definition, noting that “isekai usually refers to a specific set of qualities: amateur-publishing, fantasy worlds with varying levels of game-like qualities, and a self-reflexive commentary aided by platform publishing”, and as a recent Japan Times report notes, isekai has “dominated the manga and light novel markets“. But beyond a few essays and articles such as these and Zachary Samuel Gottesman, The Japanese settler unconscious: Goblin Slayer on the ‘Isekai’ frontier, and Tani Levy, Entering another world: A cultural genre discourse of Japanese isekai texts and their origin in online participatory culture, it remains a genre that is yet to attract significant scholarly attention.

It is with this mind that Dr. Michael Cserkits has announced a call for papers for an Explaining Isekai essay collection. Proposals of 200-400 words for papers on range of topics, such as the history of isekai, gender and social aspects, violence and the military, and case studies of particular titles, will be accepted until January 23, 2023. The expected length for the final papers is approximately 5000-7000 words, with expected submission in August 2023.

The full Call for Papers is available below and at https://networks.h-net.org/node/73374/announcements/11213439/explaining-isekai-%E2%80%93-call-contributions.

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