How do you search for academic journal articles about anime? About the work of Hayao Miyazaki? About Sailor Moon, and about magical girls in Japanese comics in general? About the history of anime fansubbing?
Type a couple of words into Google and hope for the best? Type a few words into Google Scholar and hope for the best? Remember what you were taught in whatever “introduction to research” lectures you had? Ask a teacher? Schedule an appointment with a subject librarian?
As it turns out, one of the biggest challenges facing anyone who is interested in approaching anime and manga as the subjects of academic research is actually how to best go about locating the scholarly publications that are at the heart of the research process. Because of the many different ways to refer to Japanese animation and Japanese comics, and the wide range of potential topics and approaches that can fall under the “anime and manga studies” label, neither general interdisciplinary academic databases such as EBSCO Academic Search Premier and Gale Academic OneFile nor more specialized ones (Bibliography of Asian Studies Online, Film & Television Literature Index, Performing Arts Periodicals Database) can offer comprehensive indexing and full-text coverage for the field of anime and manga studies. So while it is certainly possible to use these databases, and other similar ones, to find many scholarly publications on anime/manga, a scholar working with one of these databases, or even with several of them, can never be sure the their search is comprehensive – how many of the available publications they have located, and how many they’ve missed.
This basic issue (of search tool scope and of search recall) is common across all academic fields. And one of the most direct ways it has been addressed is through the development of highly curated research tools such as subject bibliographies, where the items that are actually selected for inclusion are evaluated individually by a specialist, rather than simply returned as the results of a computer search. For as long as I have been interested in the idea of academic approaches to anime and manga, I have also been interested in developing this kind of research tool. The Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, which currently includes which I believe to be over 99% of all scholarly writing on Japanese animation and comics that has been published in English to date , and which I consistently work to maintain and update, is this tool in its present form. But this present form of simple chronological lists is not sufficient to meet the needs of researchers, teachers, students, and anyone else who is interested in this topic.
Accordingly, Animemangastudies.com is issuing a Call for Interest for a developer to cooperate on a project to create a searchable database-driven Anime and Manga Studies Bibliography that would use the entries in the Annual Bibliography for its content. As I envision it, a major feature of the Bibliography would be the use of 3 distinct types of records: “publication”, “author”, and “source”, and the possibility to search across all types, or by type. This is similar to the titles, names, companies, etc. search functionality on imdb.com and the various search options in the Anime News Network Encyclopedia. The actual results would be formatted differently depending on whether the result was a publication (book, book chapter or individual article), an author, or a source (essay collection or journal with many individual articles). This is different from searches in most academic databases, where all results are formatted in only one way.
In this way, searching for “Attack on Titan” would return a list of all English-language academic publications on this manga/anime (i.e., with Attack on Titan specifically mentioned in the title or keywords – such as Colossal bodies: Re-imagining the human anatomy in Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan), and a record for each one, with more information (author, source, date of publication, online availability, etc.). Searching for “Susan Napier” would return a record for Prof. Napier, with basic information about her, such as her current academic position, and a listing of all publications on anime/manga that she has authored, linked to the record for each, and a search for ImageTexT would return a record for this publication, and records for all the articles that have appeared in it.
Once the technical infrastructure for the Bibliography is in place, I can begin work to actually populate the database. But right now, developing the infrastructure is my priority. So, if this is a project you are interested in working on, or know someone who is, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas, any questions you may have, and/or, if you are interested in working on this project, your proposal!
Looking forward to hearing from some of you, and to seeing where this goes!