Subject Bibliography – Scott Pilgrim

One question that is necessarily central to any kind of academic discussion about manga is, simply, “what do we actually mean by ‘manga’?” How we define or operationalize the term directly influences the scope of any such discussion. And indeed, many of the scholars and other commentators who write about manga do take the time to present their working definitions. Of course, these definitions themselves differ, or emphasize particular aspects and approaches.

Jason Thompson, in the introduction to Manga: The Complete Guide, states simply that “[M]anga is Japanese for ‘comics'” (p. xiii) – and goes on to highlight two features that he considers particularly important. “Manga are stories. Long stories. With endings.” “The artist is more important than the property.” (p. xx). Toni Johnson-Woods, introducing the essay collection Manga: An Anthology of Global and Cultural Perspectives, also does not feel the need to offer anything than more complicated than equating manga and “Japanese comics” – but she too immediately expands the definition, with the argument that “over the past two decades, manga has spread from being a quirky style of comics to being the new comic-book art format.” And, for Katherine Dicey, in “What is Manga?” (in Manga: Introductions, Challenges, and Best Practices, pp. 5-24), the word refers to “long-form stories spanning hundreds or thousands of pages”.

But, many of these same scholars acknowledge that even starting with what seems to be a fairly straight-forward definition of “manga” leads to the problem of how to respond to a situation where “manga and anime are no longer solely the provenance of Japanese artists” (Marc MacWilliams, “Introduction”, in Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime, pp. 3-25), “manga-style comics” are being created outside Japan, and the word itself is being used “to name [the] visual language…loosely conceived of as an ‘aesthetic style'” (Neil Cohn, “Japanese visual language: The Structure of manga”, in Toni Johnson-Woods (Ed.), Manga: An Anthology of Global and Cultural Perspectives, pp. 187-203). And one such way it to expand not just the definition, but the term itself – as Casey Brienza has been doing, first in “Beyond B&W? The Global Manga of Felipe Smith”, in the Eisner-nominated 2013 essay collection Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation, and, last year, in her introduction to Global Manga: “Japanese” Comics Without Japan?.

In fact, these kinds of “global manga” (“Original English Language manga”, “Original global manga”, “Amerimanga” and various similar – progressively more awkward – other terms) have themselves been around for almost as long as actual English-language translations of Japanese comics have been. And, just as with manga studies proper, where a major component of establishing it as an academic field is building an awareness of the depth and breadth of published scholarship on manga, I think it also interesting to highlight how scholars have been approaching “global manga” so far. What kinds of questions are they asking? How are they phrasing both the questions and the answers to them, even what kinds of publications they consider when proposing academic publications on global manga?

Scott PilgrimOne particular approach to take here is to focus on academic writing on what is arguably the single most successful “global manga” title that has been published in English so far – Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim, brought out over six volumes by Oni Press between 2004 and 2010, and since then, translated into multiple languages, and adapted into a major motion picture and a Playstation 3/Xbox 360 video game. The 12 academic publications (chapters in edited essay collections and articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals) on it listed below do indeed represent a variety of ways of dealing with a particular global manga text and emphasizing particular aspects of it – Scott Pilgrim as a Canadian work first and foremost, Scott Pilgrim as a comic, Scott Pilgrim an an example of a multimodal work, or one with transmedia properties. In fact, only one of the essays specifically approaches it in a “global manga” context, while one more compares Scott Pilgrim side-by-side with an actual Japanese comic.

Perhaps the final question to consider with regard to academic writing on “global manga” goes back to the nature of the term. Does it ultimately refer to a type of comics/graphic novels that existed for several years, and then largely disappeared? Or will “global manga” persist as a distinct – and distinctive – category of visual culture that will continue to attract scholarly attention in the same way that both manga and American comics do.

Scott Pilgrim: An Academic Bibliography (more…)

Highlighting New Publications – Manga in America

Manga in AmericaEnglish-language scholarship on Japanese comics/manga goes back almost 40 years – at least to Mary Sanches’ Contemporary Japanese youth: Mass media communication, published in 1977 in Youth & Society (8:4, 389-416) – an analysis of “the information presented to young readers in one issue of each of two typical Japanese publications [manga magazines]”, with an emphasis on “the differences in the kinds of information aimed at female and male readers.” And in the years since that essay’s publication, the majority of such writing has focused on manga as literature or as a form of Japanese visual culture. Fred Schodt takes this approach in both Manga! Manga: The World of Japanese Comics and Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga, as do the editors of the essay collections Manga and Philosophy: Fullmetal Metaphysician and Manga and the Representation of Japanese History, and the authors of articles such as Layers of the ethereal: A cultural investigation of beauty, girlhood, and ballet in Japanese shojo manga. (Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, 18:3, 251-296), Transgression of taboos: Eroticising the master-servant relationship in Blue Morning. (Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 6:4, 382-397), and Visualizing the self in comedic pathos: Japanese autobiographical manga at the limit of multiculturalism (East Asian Journal of Popular Culture, 1:2, 239-253). But, stories and themes do not simply appear. They are created by authors, developed by editors, published and distributed by for-profit companies, sold by retailers. And, manga scholars need to also be aware of all of those steps and processes, recognize their importance and pay attention to them. (more…)

Meiji University “Cool Japan” Summer Program (July 20 – August 5)

Cool Japan 2016Individual classes on anime/manga offered by colleges of all types around the U.S. are nothing new. But, what kinds of options are there for students who are interested in learning about topics related to Japanese visual culture – in Japan? One such option is the Cool Japan Summer Program, which has been offered annually since 2010 by Tokyo’s Meiji University. The application period for this year’s program is now open, and applications are being accepted until February 29.

“Meiji University’s Cool Japan Summer Program is a series of lectures and field trips on a wide variety of subjects relating to Japan’s contemporary images – from manga, anime and music, to fashion, craftsmanship and cuisine. We invite you to discuss many issues of “Japan” with some of the leading researchers and professionals of each field. Let us look into the essence of Japanese pop culture while exploring is current social context and future potential. We will investigate diverse aspects of Japanese society and uncover their underlying traditional elements.”

The program itself will run from Wednesday, July 20, to Friday, August 5, with a total of over 50 hours of content. Particular highlights will include a tour of the J.C. Staff animation studio (Azumanga Daioh, Ikki Tousen, Nodame Cantable, Ano Natsu de Matteru/Waiting in the Summer, among others), and a three-day trip outside Tokyo. It will be limited to 30 participants, who must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at the time. Participating speakers will include faculty members from several Japanese universities, journalists, translators, and industry professionals. Although Meiji University will not award students any credit for participation, their own individual “home” institutions may. No knowledge of Japanese is required to participate.

Further addition information about the Cool Japan Summer Program, including a brochure and promotional video, is available on the program website.

[Ed.: For the last two years, Tokyo University has offered a similar summer program. Both years, the program’s schedule was focused around a common theme (2014 – “Media Mix“; 2015 – “Mediated Worlds“), and participants in the programs were not charged for their participation, and received reimbursement for their travel expenses and a stipend for accommodations and personal expenses. However, the 2015 program was specifically designed for graduate students. A 2016 program has not been announced as of yet.)

Call for Papers: AX 2016 Anime and Manga Studies Symposium

axlogo_2016_date_blackAs many of you know, one of the major projects that I am involved with annually is developing, organizing/producing, and managing the AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium, also known as the Academic Program track of Anime Expo, the largest anime convention in the U.S. Every year, the Symposium brings together a select group of academics, graduate students, undergraduates, and independent scholars who present their research on a wide range of topics related to anime/manga directly to AX’s attendees.

The Call for Papers for this year’s Symposium is now open. It will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center from July 1 to July 4. If you would like to be considered for participation as a speaker, please review the CFP, and submit your proposal (300 words maximum) to me at mkoulikov@gmail.com. The proposal submission deadline is April 15. And, you are welcome (and encouraged) to pass it along to anyone who you think may be interested in speaking on the program or attending!

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Call for Papers
AX 2016 Anime and Manga Studies Symposium
Anime Expo 2016
July 1-4 | Los Angeles, CA

www.anime-expo.org
www.anime-expo.org/academic-program

The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, the parent organization of Anime Expo (AX), the largest anime convention in the U.S., is inviting proposals for plenary addresses, presentations, and panel discussions for the 2016 AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium. The Symposium will be held from July 1 to July, 2016 at the Los Angeles Convention Center (Los Angeles, California) as the Academic Program track of this year’s Anime Expo.

Japanese animation (anime) and comics (manga) are unique forms of visual culture that attract and inspire audiences around the world. The AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium serves as the premier site for presenting and sharing research on a wide range of topics related to the creation, production, distribution, and worldwide reception of anime/manga, their history, relationships with other media, and the experiences and practices of anime and manga fans.

The Symposium’s goal is to bring together a diverse, international group of scholars, and facilitate the development of anime/manga studies as a defined academic field. As an integral part of Anime Expo, and open to all attendees, it also introduces general audiences to the methods, practices and tools of academic research into popular culture and fosters a dialogue between academics and fans. Participants in the Symposium will be able to join a celebration and appreciation of Japanese popular culture and interact directly with the convention’s attendees. Inherently interdisciplinary, it is open to approaches from different fields, and welcomes a wide range of speakers. Early-career scholars, graduate students, undergraduates, and independent researchers/industry professionals are especially encouraged to submit proposals!

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Tools for locating publications on anime/manga: Thoughts and comments

One of the most defining features of the “genre” of academic writing is that it explicitly connects to, expands on, and engages in a conversation with previously published material. The author of an academic work on a particular topic, whether this work is a book, a journal article, or simply a paper prepared for a class assignment has to be aware of what other authors have written about this topic, their methodologies, their points and arguments, and their conclusions. So, for an easy example, Brian Ruh opens his essay Producing transnational cult media: Neon Genesis Evangelion and Ghost in the Shell in circulation (Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media5) with the statement that “In the case of anime and manga, fan response has been a critical factor to how various texts have been adapted and received, and fan activities have been necessary to their transnational flow” – and supports it with references to two book chapters – Anne Allison’s “Can popular gulture go global?: How Japanese ‘Scouts’ and ‘Rangers’ fare in the US” (2000) and Lawrence Eng’s “Anime and Manga Fandom as Networked Culture” (2012), and Marco Pellitteri’s 2010 book The Dragon and the Dazzle: Models, Strategies and Identities of Japanese Imagination: A European Perspective.

So, how does an author find the supporting sources that are necessary for good academic writing? As I described in a previous post, there are several standard techniques and resources for research in anime/manga studies. The resources include library catalogs, and general and subject-specific academic databases, both subscription-based (such as Academic OneFile, the Bibliography of Asian Studies, and the Film & Television Literature Index), and open-access (primarily Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search). Some of the search techniques that scholars can use include “reference chaining” – directly examining the bibliographies/works cited sections of works already identified using one of the resources I just listed, and simply examining the table of contents of new issues of journals that have previously published materials on a relevant topic.

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Highlighting New Publications – The Task of Manga Translation

The question of how exactly to refer to anime/manga studies – as an academic discipline, a field, an area of interest – is easy to ask, perhaps even inevitable. And it certainly puts “anime/manga studies” into good company – this same kind of question has come up time and time again in relation to topics as diverse as knowledge management, “public diplomacy”, popular music studies, and even film studies.

With this in mind, it is particularly interesting to compare “anime/manga studies” to another area that it is very close to, and in fact, that it can be said to overlap with – comics studies. More specifically, what does “comics studies” have that “anime/manga studies” does not?

At this point, English-language comics studies is characterized by several features. Classes on different aspects of comics/graphic novels are common at colleges and universities around the U.S. and in other countries; in fact, the Department of English at the University of Florida now offers a “comics and visual rhetoric” track in its PhD program, while the University of Oregon allows undergraduate students to pursue an interdisciplinary “comics and cartoon studies” minor. Comics scholars can also present their work at events such as the Comics Arts Conference and the sessions at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Annual Conference that are sponsored by the PCA’s Comics and Comic Arts Area, and receive formal recognition for it, for example, via an Eisner Award in the “best scholarly/academic category”.

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Resource Review – Dissertation Reviews

DRIn a previous post, I asked whether graduate students write Ph.D dissertations/master’s theses on anime and manga – the answer being very much yes. In the same post, I also discussed several ways of locating and accessing these kinds of dissertations, including using Google Scholar, institutional repositories, and the subscription-only ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database, and listed a number of recent dissertations/theses authored by graduate students in colleges/universities both in the U.S. and in other English-speaking countries.

But, just as with published scholarship, simply being able to locate and access dissertations on a particular topic does not necessarily serve to fill an end user’s information needs. Books receive reviews, whether in academic journals, in popular magazines, or on blogs. Until recently, I was not aware of any similar resource for reviews of dissertations.

As it turns out, the appropriately titled Dissertation Reviews website serves exactly this purpose – of providing “overviews of recently defended, unpublished doctoral dissertations in a wide variety of disciplines across the Humanities and Social Sciences”. Its main goal is to highlight, rather than critique/criticize, so in a way, if a title is selected to be reviewed, that in of itself can be treated as an endorsement and a positive appraisal of its value and contribution to scholarship.

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Where do we publish on anime/manga – a select list

If anime/manga studies is to be thought of as a defined academic field or area, then it should have particular characteristics. And, one of the ways to characterize an academic field is by identifying the kinds of journals that scholars who work in this area turn to when publishing their work.

Building up, as I have, a fairly comprehensive bibliography of academic writing on anime/manga, including journal articles, allows me to comfortably state that papers on Japanese animation or Japanese comics can – and do – appear in a wide range of academic journals. At the same time, I think it is also important to present a set of journals that, in my opinion, have over the years specifically welcomed discussions of Japanese visual culture. Some of these journals have gone as far as to publish dedicated theme issues on anime/manga, others have simply carried a significant number of relevant articles over the years.

Building this kind of set can serve several purposes. At its most basic, it may help an author decide which journals to consider submitting a paper on anime/manga to. Additionally, even though this list is essentially subjective, it can be used as one of the criteria for developing a “core collection” of academic journals to support research on anime/manga – so, an academic librarian charged with developing such a collection may refer to it when determining whether the faculty and students that they are supporting have access to the journals that they are likely to need/want to have access to. Having said that, it is also important to keep in mind that this kind of list is not based on any immediately obvious empirical factors. Moreover, again, it is a list, not a ranking – no journal on it is inherently “better” than any other one, and in fact, nor are any of them better than titles that are not on the list at all.

Regardless, so, what kinds of journals publish academic articles on anime/manga? Or, turning the question around, in what kinds of journals do anime/manga scholars publish their work?

Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga and the Fan Arts

Mechademia, described variously as a journal and a book series (the technical term for a publication of this type is “continuing monograph”) is the only English-language scholarly periodical with a focus on anime/manga that has been appearing on a regular schedule, at a rate of one volume per year. Each volume has been organized around a common theme or topic, such as “Networks of Desire” (v. 2, 2007), “User Enhanced” (v. 6, 2011), and “Origins” (v. 9). One of its particularly unique features is that in addition to original scholarly essays, it has also featured translations of seminal Japanese scholarship (both stand-alone articles and excerpts from longer works), as well as photo essays, comics, interviews, and shorter commentary-style pieces. Ten volumes have been published since it launched in 2006, and the contents of each are listed in the Annual Bibliographies section of this site. However, if I understand correctly, publication has ceased with last year’s Volume 10: World Renewal  – although plans are supposedly under way to relaunch it as a “New Series”.

Electronic access to Mechademia is available via the Gale Academic OneFile database, JSTOR, and Project Muse (with free access to Volume 4, 2009, “War/Time”).

Other anime/manga studies journals, by subject:

Each of these groups includes several titles. Many are published by corporate/for-profit publishing houses such as Intellect, Sage, and Taylor & Francis, others by colleges/universities directly or by independent non-profit organizations, and some, essentially by individuals. Several of them have been in existence for decades; others were just launched within the last several years.

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Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies – 2002 Ed.

In an earlier post, I made the case that 2001 marked the beginning of a new period in the development of anime/manga studies as an academic field or area. And while it was certainly possible that one year was just a quirk, the English-language academic publications on Japanese animation and comics that appeared in 2002 point strongly towards the development of a trend. Two particular highlights this year were the publication of a Japanese animation special issue, containing 7 individual articles, of Japan Forum, “the leading European journal in the multidisciplinary field of Japanese Studies”, and a “Japanese science fiction” one of Science Fiction Studies, with individual articles by Susan Napier on Neon Genesis Evangelion and Serial Experiments Lain, Christopher Bolton on Patlabor 2, and Mari Kotani on “Japanese women’s science fiction”, among others. (Interestingly, including the ones in the special issue Japan Forum has published a total of 18 articles on anime/manga, from 1996’s Change in the social status, form and content of adult manga, 1986-1996 to the four in last year’s Japanese Popular Culture and Contents Tourism special issue. Of the 16 journals with a subject focus on Asian/East Asian/Japanese Studies that have published more than one article on anime/manga, it ranks at no. 2, after only the online-only/open-access The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan FocusScience Fiction Studies published 4 articles on anime before 2002, but only 1 since.)

Between them, these two special issues, and a special section in an issue of the Japan Economic Foundation’s English-language Journal of Japanese Trade & Industry carried 17 articles on anime/manga. A further 29 appeared in other journals – for a total of 46 individual articles, an increase of more than 100% from the previous year. Many of these journals, such as the Animation Journal, Asian Studies Review, Education About Asia, Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, the International Journal of Comic Art and the Journal of Popular Culture could be expected to publish on anime/manga – and in fact, had already published articles on anime/manga in the past. But, once again, 2002 made it clear that as long as the specific matter of a particular article was appropriate for a journal’s overall theme, it would be welcomed – as could be seen in Baby can you drive my bed: Technology and old age in Japanese animated film – a study of “tensions between the experience of old age and high technology [that]…draws attention to how technologies of care are not always socially and culturally attuned to personal biographies” – as depicted in Hiroyuki Kitakubo’s OVA Roujin Z – and published in the Journal of Aging and Identity.

Finally, 2002 also saw the publication of an article that, although it did not run in a peer-reviewed academic journal, was possibly the single most important piece of English-language writing on Japanese popular culture that appeared in the first half of the 2000’s – Japan’s Gross National Cool, written for the the influential “journal of opinion” Foreign Policy, by recent Japan Society media fellow Douglas McGray. The article highlighted Japan’s “cultural reach” abroad, as expressed in music, fashion, “character goods”, and anime/manga, and presented a fairly straight-forward question (as restated in a NeoJaponisme comment on it): “Can Japan revive its economic outlook by becoming a content-providing cultural superpower?” Since its publication, the article has shown itself to be extraordinarily influential, with over 300 citations in all kinds of academic publications. Even more importantly – and certainly unusually for a publication of any kind – it ended up playing a major role as a driver for the development of the Japanese government’s “Cool Japan” policy.

English-language books, book chapters, and journal articles on anime/manga – 2002

As usual, this list is also archived as a separate page. Any additions or corrections will be reflected on that page only.

Book Chapters
(Total published: 7)

Allison, Anne. Playing with power: Morphing toys and transforming heroes in kids’ mass culture. In Jeannette Marie Mageo (Ed.), Power and the self (pp. 71-92). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

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Creator Bibliography – Osamu Tezuka (Part 2: 1997-2009)

Earlier this year, I compiled a list of English-language academic/scholarly publications on Osamu Tezuka and his works since 2010. At that point, I noted that it would be the first part of a comprehensive specialized bibliography of academic writing on Tezuka – and I am now pleased to present its second part, covering book, book chapters, and journal articles that were published before 2010.

God of ComicsThe sources for the list are the individual annual bibliographies of English-language academic publications on anime/manga. These are based on searches in various general and subject-specific academic databases, as well as resources such as Google Scholar and Google Books, Microsoft Academic Search, and the Directory of Open Access Journals, major library catalogs, reviews of the bibliographies/notes/works cited sections of items that were already identified for inclusion, and direct contributions by authors. As with any enumerative bibliography, its scope is necessarily limited to only certain types of publications – books, chapters in essay collections and articles in academic/scholarly journals, but not book reviews or articles in newspapers/general-interest magazines. In addition, while I of course acknowledge that plenty of other academic publications mention Tezuka and his works, I make a conscious decision to also limit this bibliography’s scope to publications that deal with Tezuka extensively or significantly. Therefore, this bibliography does not cover broader essays on Japanese comics/animation, such as, for example, Kinko Ito’s A history of manga in the context of Japanese culture and society, or papers on general topics that mention one of Tezuka’s works in passing – such as The frenzy of the visible in comic book worlds (Angela Ndalianis, Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal).

Creator Bibliography – Osamu Tezuka
Part 2 – 1997-2009

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