Category: New Publications

Comment/Response: Japanese Cartoons, Virtual Child Pornography, Academic Libraries, and the Law

Different scholars write about manga in different ways. What a literature scholar can – and may want – to say about Japanese comics will necessarily be different from the perspective of a historian or a sociologist. And, one particular kind of perspective on manga is that brought by librarians and library science scholars. Granted, these contributions to manga studies can also take several shapes. One is the guide for other librarians, to assist them in developing manga collections – such as the books Understanding manga and anime, Mostly manga: A Genre guide to popular manga, manhwa, manhua, and anime, and the article “Basic reader’s advisory for manga: Select popular titles and similar works” (Young Adult Library Services, 5(3), 13-21 – the complete issue is currently available online in open access). Another is the case study based on personal experience – like Paper folding, bento, and tea parties: Programs with a manga and anime twist, Knowledge Quest: Journal of the American Association of School Librarians, 41(3), 42-49. One more is an examination of actual library practices over several years, such as Graphic novels in academic libraries: From Maus to manga, and beyond and The institutionalization of Japanese comics in US public libraries (2000-2010).

This kind of writing – as much of the writing in library/information science is by default and design – is essentially descriptive. Asking questions is not its goal. But, a librarian who is interested in manga from an academic, and really, also from a professional point of view, can find a good way to ask questions.

Masuchika, Glenn. Japanese cartoons, virtual child pornography, academic libraries, and the law, Reference & User Services Quarterly, 54(4), 54-60.

(Ed.: Direct online access to this article is currently available only to Reference and User Services Association members. However, the article is accessible through most major academic databases, including EBSCO Academic Search Premier, Gale Academic OneFile, and the ProQuest Research Library. If you are not able to access any of them, and would like to read it, please contact me for a copy.]

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New Issue: East Asian Journal of Popular Culture

Earlier this year, when the new East Asian Journal of Popular Culture published its first issue, I was pleased to profile it as a potential new venue for academic writing on a wide range of topics related to Japanese animation and Japanese comics. In fact, the first issue already included two papers dealing with manga – though the two were substantially different from each other in terms of their focus and methodologies. The journal’s second issue is now available, and 3 articles (out of a total of 8 in the issue) again specifically address anime/manga – again, broadly defined. (more…)

Highlighting New Publications: Global Manga

Global Manga
Publisher’s website
Amazon
Google Books

Global Manga: “Japanese” Comics Without Japan?, the new essay collection, edited by City University London’s Casey Brienza, on the “global cultural phenomenon” of comics that may be presented as manga but are not actually created in Japan, is now available for purchase in hard-cover and e-book formats.

*** Special discount: 50% off (hard-cover only) ***

Dr. Brienza introduces the essays with Manga Without Japan?, an overview of the emergence of “original” (i.e., non-Japanese) manga, largely in response to market pressures and conditions. This essay provides working definitions of both “global manga” and “manga” in general, surveys the current state of “cultural production” of global manga around the world – in the U.S. and Canada, in Europe, and in South America, and approaches the underlying question of how to consider manga/global manga – as styles, as marketing functions or labels, or even as “tools” deployed in support of particular activities. Ultimately, as she points out, just some of the questions this book highlights – and that should be involved in any discussion about manga, whether in Japan or elsewhere, include:

  • What do the fields of cultural production of “global manga” look like?
  • Why and under what sorts of conditions do they arise and flourish?
  • Who gets to decide what counts as “manga,” and who benefits from that decision?
  • What are global manga’s implications for contemporary economies of cultural and creative labor?
  • What does it mean…for manga to be “authentically” Japanese and what, precisely, is at stake?

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Highlighting New Publications: Boys Love Manga and Beyond

Boys Love Manga and BeyondAs a particular genre in Japanese comics (and to a lesser degree, animation), Boys’ Love and the related generic/content label of yaoi has attracted significant scholarly attention from English-language scholars of Japanese popular visual culture. Boys’ Love, often abbreviated to BL, refers to texts with homosexual or at least homoerotic romance themes, created primarily by, and primarily for women. Yaoi is used generally for explicitly pornographic fan-created works, depicting sex between male partners, and using characters from established media properties such as novels, films, and anime/manga. Some of the ways that scholars are writing on BL/yaoi can be seen in book chapters such as Suzuki, Kazuko (1998), Pornography or therapy?: Japanese girls creating the yaoi phenomon, in S. Inness (Ed.), Millennium girls: Today’s girls around the world (pp. 243-267), and McHarry, Mark. Girls doing boys doing boys: Boys’ love, masculinity, and sexual identities, in T. Perper & M. Cornog (Eds.), Mangatopia: Essays on manga and anime in the modern world (pp. 119-133), and journal articles like Welker, James (2006), Beautiful, borrowed, and bent: “Boys’ Love” as girls’ love in shojo manga, Signs, 31(3), 841-870, McLelland, Mark (2006), Why are Japanese girls’ comics full of boys bonking? Refractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media, 10, and Pagliassotti, Dru (2008), Reading Boys Love in the West, Particip@tions: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies, 5(2). In addition, out of the less a dozen edited collections of essays on anime/manga that have been published in English before this year, one specifically focuses on “Boys’ Love manga”.

The publication by the University Press of Mississippi of Boys Love Manga and Beyond: History, Culture, and Community in Japan now brings the number of English-language essay collections on shounen-ai/Boys Love/BL/yaoi to two. And the obvious question is – what makes this essay collection unique. Is it anyhow different from the already-published five years ago now Boys’ Love Manga: Essays on the Sexual Ambiguity and Cross-Cultural Fandom of the Genre (Jefferson, NC: McFarland), or is it just more of the same?

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New Issue – Japan Forum: Japanese Popular Culture and Contents Tourism

Japan ForumOne feature of scholarly communication that is common to many different academic fields/areas is a small group of journals that are considered to be “core” to that particular field or area. These journals are the field’s most important and most prestigious – and often also the most heavily cited. Anime/manga studies does not (yet?) have such a core group. One reason for this is that as an academic area, it’s still very young. Another, perhaps more important reason is that as a label, anime/manga studies encompasses a wide range of approaches, grounded in many different disciplines. There is very little in common that articles like Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress: A feminine journey with dream-like qualities, Bringing anime to academic libraries: A recommended core collection, Ownership, authority, and the body: Does antifanfic sentiment reflect posthuman anxiety, and Viewer perception of visual nonverbal cues in subtitled TV anime have between them – other than that they all, to one degree or another, discuss Japanese animation as an art form, a commodity, or an object that audiences can respond to. (more…)

New Issue – Science Fiction Film and Television

sff.7.3_frontAnime, as anime scholars will never tire of repeating, is not a genre, it is a “form” or “mode” of animation, and anime films and television series can include a wide variety of genres. At the same time, it is also true that anime’s stereotypical genre is science fiction. The two films that first really got anime noticed outside Japan, Akira and Ghost in the Shell – are the epitome of science fiction cinema. And so, one of the most common approaches to anime that scholars take it to focus on anime as science fiction.

For example, the only anime director (in fact, the only animator) profiled in Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction (“a collection of engaging essays on some of the most significant figures who have shaped and defined the genre”, Routledge, 2009) is Ghost in the Shell‘s Mamoru Oshii. “Manga and anime” is a section in the Routledge Companion to Science Fiction (2009). Among the chapters in Science fiction film and television: Across the screens (Routledge, 2012) is one on Cowboy Bebop. And some of the most seminal scholarly essays on Japanese animation to be published in English – among them, Carl Silvio’s Reconfiguring the radical cyborg in Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell (No. 77, March 1999), Michael Fisch’s Nation, war, and Japan’s future in the science fiction anime film Patlabor II (No. 80, March 2000), and the three articles by Susan Napier, Sharalyn Orbaugh, and Christopher Bolton in the special issue on Japanese science fiction (No. 88, November 2002 – appeared in the journal Science Fiction Studies – these include).

With this in mind, ever since Liverpool University Press launched the journal Science Fiction Film and Television, the only peer-reviewed scholarly journal I am aware of with that specific focus, I have been looking forward to the kind of scholarship on Japanese animation the journal would feature. Until now, it was limited to reviews of books (and edited collections containing chapters on) anime, as well as one review of a particular anime film. And now, “science fiction anime” is the specific theme of the journals’ new Autumn 2014 issue. (more…)

Highlighting Upcoming Publications: Global Manga

When we use the term ‘manga’, what exactly do we mean? What are the components, or features, or characteristics of manga. Are these features or characteristics equal and equally necessary – does a work need to have all of them to qualify, or are some of them more fluid or optional than others. Is something either manga or not manga? Or can we talk about degrees or a spectrum? Can we say that one work is “more manga” than another? And, for that matter, how is the definition created? By whom? Why? When? How has it changed over the years? Are the borders of this definition subject to any kind of friction?

What do different scholars mean when they use the term ‘manga’ is a topic for another post. But it is clear that at least in America, manga has always meant something that can serve as a base or structure, but is open to modification. And a lot of the history of manga in America is a history of taking this term and all of its meanings, and creating new ones. So, from manga came the decidedly awkward Amerimanga (the title of an anthology magazine published over several issues by the long-forgotten Studio Ironcat; though it’s hard not to wonder whether “Amerimanga” was a conscious – or even unconscious – mirror image of the term “Japanimation”, which at one point in time was a perfectly acceptable way of referring to Japanese animation). From manga came OEL (Original English Language) manga, with the marketing and branding power of Tokyopop, for years, easily the most successful publisher of Japanese comics in English. From manga came “original-English language manga”, the preferred turn of phrase still used by the publisher Seven Seas Entertainment. And, from manga came “global manga”. (more…)

Highlighting New Publications: Anime Fan Communities

Anime_Fan_CommunitiesAs an academic field, anime studies may not be quite as “hot” as it was a few years ago, at the height of the anime boom/bubble, when it could very well seem that images drawn from Japan were everywhere in Western visual culture. And even though that bubble burst, and Japanese animation is nowhere near as popular or prominent in the U.S. and other Western countries as it was a decade ago, one particular effect of that bubble, an effect that we are still seeing now, is a steady stream of academic books on various aspects of anime and manga. There were eight such books published in 2014, although of the eight were new editions of previously published titles. 5 such books were published in 2013, 6 in 2012, and 4 in 2011 (all of these numbers are for monographs, not essay collections or reference titles). When thinking about explanations for this particular effect, perhaps the one that comes to mind right away is simply that at least some of the high school and college students who first became interested in anime at the height of the bubble ten years ago are now in academia, as graduate students and early-career professors. Anime and manga is what they know intimately, what they have been interested in for years – and topics related to anime and manga make for obvious candidates for their first major publications. (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…)

New Issue – Int’l Journal of Comic Art

The full table of contents for the latest (Spring 2014) issue of the International Journal of Comic Art (IJOCA), the oldest and most well-established forum for English-language scholarship and research on all aspects of comics, graphic novels, caricature, strips, editorial and political cartoons, animation, and other related topics worldwide is now available at the IJOCA website. The new issue includes at least two papers on Japanese comics:

  • Galbraith, Patrick. The Misshitsu trial: Thinking obscenity with Japanese comics (pp. 125-146)
    [Preview / Read online]
  • Whaley, Ben. Doomed hybrids: Three cases of fatal mixing in the war comics of Tezuka Osamu (pp. 244-257)
    [Preview / Read online]

IJOCA has been published twice a year since 1999. It has grown from 219 pages and 18 articles in the launch issue to almost 800 pages and 42 articles in last fall’s (down to 590 pages and 28 articles for Spring 2014). It has always been actively international in scope, and almost every issue has included at least several articles on Japanese comics. And although it is perhaps not as “reader-friendly” as other, more recent publications, such as Studies in Comics, the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, and the open-access ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies, it remains the single most prominent periodical in English-language comics studies. In fact, earlier this year, it was the only periodical nominated for a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award in the “best scholarly/academic work” category.