Category: Commentary

Who is Dani Cavallaro? – Part 1

When looking at any academic field, one particular feature that’s worth examining is who exactly are the prominent – prolific and highly-cited – authors in this field. What colleges are they affiliated with, what are their positions and job titles, how did they end up where they are. In anime and manga studies, a few prominent names come to mind right away – Fred Schodt, Susan Napier, Antonia Levi, Thomas Lamarre. And one more name that certainly comes up often enough is Dani Cavallaro.

At first glance, it should be easy to assume that Cavallaro is a scholar of the same caliber as someone like Napier – and maybe even more. And if pure quantity of published writing is anything to go by, she is certainly worth noticing. Amazon lists her as the author of 22 books . 13 of them, from last year’s Japanese Aesthetics and Anime, and goign back to 2006’s The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki, are specifically on Japanese animation. In terms of individual books authored, this makes her the single most productive scholar currently writing on anime in English.

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Where is the scholarship on the U.S. anime industry?

The new March 2014 issue of the journal Pacific Affairs features, as one of the articles in its East Asian Cultural Industries special section, a paper by Nissim Otmazgin (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) on Anime in the US: The entrepreneurial dimensions of globalized culture. The article’s abstract summarizes it as one that “[d]rawing on interviews with Japanese and American key personnel in the anime industry, field research and market surveys…focuses on the organizational aspect of the anime market in the United States since the mid-1990s, with particular attention to the role of entrepreneurs.” I am going through the article right now, and will probably have some comments on it in the next few days, but just looking at the title and the abstract brings up one question that I’ve always found interesting.

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Anime: A History – A Review Round-Up

Fred Schodt wrote Manga! Manga!, the first English-language book on Japanese comics, more than 30 years ago. Easily several dozen “books on anime/manga” have been published since – and I have made the argument that by looking at these books, it’s possible to trace the evolution of anime and manga studies – how authors write about these topics, and more importantly, what authors hope to achieve – from 30 years ago to now.

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Looking for – and finding – new writing on anime

Looking at anime and manga studies as a field requires paying attention to several things and asking several specific questions. Who are the some of the people writing on anime/manga. Are they mostly tenured/tenure-track professors, adjuncts, graduate students, “independent scholars”? What kinds of programs are they affiliated with? What kinds of degrees do they hold? For that matter, where does “anime and manga studies” actually live – or rather, what form do the end products of anime/manga studies actually take?

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Familiar names, familiar titles – but new books!

Just as anime in the U.S. is not nearly as “hot” or popular as it was in, say, 2006, the “size” or breadth of anime studies as a field has diminished significantly from a few years ago. For example, in 2010, there were at least 215 new scholarly publications on anime, manga and related topics – compared to 90 last year. But nonetheless, authors are still writing about anime – and in fact, two authors whose names should be instantly recognizable to anyone who has followed how anime studies has developed in the U.S. are both about to publish a pair of full-length books!

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