Category: Commentary

Publication patterns in anime/manga studies, 2010-2014

Over the last year, I have been using this blog to promote, foster and facilitate the developing field of anime/manga studies, and document various new developments in this field. And, I also hope to be able to say that with this blog, I can  demonstrate just what we mean by the term anime and manga studies. One easy way to do this is simply by highlighting the range of academic books, book chapters, journal articles, and other publications on anime/manga – as I do in the Bibliography section. Another is by noting that many of these publications themselves specifically use the terms ‘anime studies’/’manga studies’.

But, pointing out that anime/manga studies is an academic field then raises a direct question – what are some of the characteristics of anime/manga studies as an academic field? What kinds of programs are the scholars writing about anime/manga based in? What form does the “scholarly output” of anime/manga studies take? What is the field’s “citation landscape” – what kinds of publications do anime/manga scholars cite in their work, and are there particular publications (or even particular individual titles) that are cited with such frequency that they should be considered “core” for the field as a whole? Academic fields or areas can also be characterized by their “publication patterns” – that is, the kinds of journals (or the specific journals) that scholarship in these fields tends to appear in. Do anime scholars seek to publish their work primarily in Japanese or Asian studies journals? Film studies/animation studies journals? Other types? (more…)

Researching the Business of Anime – Resources and Thoughts

In the opening chapter of The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation, Thomas Lamarre identifies what he calls “the book report or film review model” of writing on Japanese animation – “a summary of the major narrative in conjunction with a consideration of major themes”. He does not dismiss this approach, and acknowledges it as “frequently insightful”, but argues that it is only one of several possible or potential approaches that anime scholars can take. However, as he points out, far too much of the scholarly writing on Japanese animation that is published in English falls under this model. Anime scholars select particular themes, and highlight how these themes are expressed in particular anime, or working in reverse, scholars pick a particular anime work and examine the themes and images that it contains. Or they look at how audiences interact with anime – as consumers, but primarily, as fans. Less frequently, authors describe the particular technical characteristics of a director’s work. (more…)

“Predatory open-access” and anime/manga studies

The growth of (free, online) “open-access” to academic publications has made a significant impact on how scholarship is produced, packaged/published, and presented to readers. And it is perhaps inevitable that the open-access model has given rise to actors who work to take advantage of it to generate profits for themselves. These actors – “predatory open-access publishers” – already have a significant effect on scholarly publishing in many fields – primarily in science, technology, and mathematics, but increasingly, in social sciences and the humanities. What are the implications of predatory open-access for anime and manga studies? (more…)

Anime/Manga Books and Their Covers

There is no way around this – books are judged by their covers. Readers judge. Corporate bookstore chain “buyers” (not customers, but rather, the corporate bookstore chain employees whose job it is to select the specific books that their particular bookstore chain will purchase from the publisher and put up on the shelves) judge. Librarians judge. And ultimately, a cover reflects and indicates not just what a particular book is about, but how much care and effort has been put into a particular book as a physical object – and as something that is supposed to be worth a reader’s money.

The history of English-language books on Japanese animation and comics beginManga! Manga!s over thirty ago, with Frederik Schodt’s Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics – first published in 1983, and still in print today. And by my count, at least 90 books dealing with anime/manga have been published in English since. Granted, this figure includes everything from “traditional” scholarly monographs such as The Anime Machine: A Media  Theory of Animation and Cartoon Cultures: The Globalization of Japanese Popular Media and edited essay collections (Cinema Anime: Critical Engagements with Japanese Animation, Mangatopia: Essays on Manga and Anime in the Modern World) to books directed at casual readers (Anime and Philosophy: Wide Eyed Wonder, BFI Film Classics: Spirited Away, The Rough Guide to Manga), “directories” (500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide, Anime Classics Zettai!: 100 Must-See Japanese Animation Masterpieces) and various odds-and-ends – exhibit catalogs, revised reprints of magazine columns, first-hand accounts. But even focusing on the more “academic” books on anime and manga that have been published in English from 1983 to the present, we can learn a lot about how authors – and publishers – have approached Japanese animation and comics over the years as expressed in the covers that they selected. (more…)

Comment/Response: Bringing Anime to Academic Libraries

Ten or fifteen years ago, the idea that academic libraries should collect “sequential art” of any kind, whether comics, graphic novels, or manga was if not controversial, then at least cutting-edge. Since then, however, these kinds of materials have found wide acceptance in library collections, to the point that librarians are now publishing articles on the “best practices” of collecting comics in a research library (O’English, Lorena, et al., Graphic novels in academic libraries: From Maus to manga and beyond) and looking at the sizes of comics collections in major academic research libraries (Masuchika, Glenn & Boldt, Gail, Japanese manga in translation and American graphic novels: A preliminary examination of the collections in 44 academic libraries). On the other hand, up until recently, there were no similar articles on the practices of building anime collections in academic libraries.

Robbins, Laura Pope (2014). Bringing anime to academic libraries: A recommended core collection. Collection Building, 33(2), 46-52. (more…)

Publishing and Self-Publishing – Part 3

In my last two posts – Thoughts on Self-Publishing on Anime/Manga, Part 1 and Part 2, I raised the general question of whether it was possible for an author to produce and distribute his or her writing outside the established business structure of publishing, and went through some possible models. What I’d like to do now is to move beyond the models to concrete examples, to see how publishing commentary and works of scholarship can – and does – happen without the involvement of a publishing company or even a university press.

(more…)

Self-Publishing on Anime/Manga – Part 2

In my previous post, I discussed the standard way of publishing one’s writing – through a for-profit publishing company or non-profit university press – and the alternative of self-publishing. But, are those the only options open to someone who is interested in writing a book on a topic related to anime/manga, and getting that book into libraries and/or to readers?

As of right now, largely yes. But potentially, there are other options. Publishing, after all, is a combination of a technical or industrial process and a business model. Until recently, the technical process needed the business model – publishing a book cost money, and more money than an individual could commit. Print-on-demand and electronic distribution of books has made the technical process a lot easier to deal with. The business model that involves submission or commissioning, peer review and editing, and finally, promotion and distribution is harder to work around through technology alone. The whole point of a publishing house is not just to operate the printing or production machinery, it’s to organize and package knowledge.

And, to think of it, there is no objective reason for there not to be a “third way” between working with an established publisher, and self-publishing. The solution that Jonathan Gray (Media and Cultural Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison) proposes is of “publishing collectives” – that is, groups of scholars (or anybody else interested creating and distributing knowledge in a particular area of study or about a particular topic) taking control of publishing from established publishers.

(more…)

Thoughts on Self-Publishing on Anime/Manga

What are the options that an author interested in publishing a full-length book on anime/manga can reasonably pursue? And are publishers actually interested in books on anime/manga? The easy answer seems to be ‘yes’ – or at least, some publishers certainly are. Palgrave Macmillan, one of the most prominent English-language corporate/for-profit publishing houses, has published Susan Napier’s Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke (2001) and From Impressionism to Anime: Japan as Fantasy and Fan Culture in the Eyes of the West) (2007), Steven Brown’s Tokyo Cyberpunk: Posthumanism in Japanese Visual Culture (2010) and just earlier this month, a new edition of Brian Ruh’s Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii. Non-profit university presses that may consider a book on Japanese animation or comics include the University Press of Mississippi (God of Comics: Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post-World War II Manga, 2009), the University of Hawaii Press (Straight from the Heart: Gender, Intimacy, and the Cultural Production of Shojo Manga, 2011), and the University of Minnesota Press (The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation, 2009). The University of Iowa Press, which recently launched a line of books specifically on “fan studies” is certainly worth keeping in mind as well. And of course, beyond those two types of publishers, there are also the smaller companies like M.E. Sharpe, Edwin Mellen, Stone Bridge Press, with a long tradition of publishing books about Japan, Open Court Publishing, Kamera Books, and various others.

But is going the “traditional” route the only way to go? Is it possible for an author to self-publish a book on Japanese animation or Japanese comics? What kinds of challenges would a self-publishing author face? And are there other, alternate ways beyond either working with an established publishing house, or self-publishing?

(more…)

Anime and Manga Studies in 2013 in Numbers

Trying to ask what exactly is meant by an academic discipline, field or area is a question that is almost so broad as to be meaningless. Of course, it’s still a question that is asked plenty of times – as, for example, Paul Ward does in Animation studies, disciplinarity and discursitivity (Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, 3:2). But one way to at least begin asking this question is to operationalize it – to move away from what a field is, and towards the question of what do those working in this field actually do, and how. There is a general answer – scholars in a particular field think about particular topics, work with particular materials, answer particular questions. And there is an answer that is even more specific – scholars in a particular field produce knowledge that takes specific – and quantifiable – forms. And one way to gain at least some understanding of any particular academic field is by looking at how that field produces knowledge.

At the very basic level, this means examining a particular field’s “research output”, “publication patterns” or “publishing behavior”. That is, what kind of writing is expected of scholars in the field? Does it take the form of journal articles, book chapters, stand-alone books? And what are the proportions of each of those type of output to each other? A typical example of this kind of question and analysis is Huang and Chang’s Characteristics of research output in social sciences and the humanities.

(more…)

Who is Dani Cavallaro? – Part 2

Part 1

At this point, what do we definitely know about Dani Cavallaro? She is the author of at least 22 books, including 13 on anime. These books are available at many academic libraries – the OCLC FirstSearch database indicates that more than 500 own copies of The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. And her work has been acknowledged by other scholars. But what do we know about Dani Cavallaro the person? What is her academic background? How is she actually qualified to write about Japanese animation and comics?

And, more importantly, how have readers evaluated her work?

(more…)