Call for Papers – Journal of Anime and Manga Studies v. 5

Since its launch in 2020, the open-access Journal of Anime and Manga Studies has quickly established itself as the leading scholarly publication for this emerging field. Over the four issues that have been published so far, JAMS has attracted a wide array of articles, representing diverse perspectives and approaches, as well as a significant diversity in terms of the characteristics of the authors of the individual papers. Just some of the papers that have appeared in it so far have included:

In addition – and the name and open-access status certainly help – JAMS is fast becoming the first, or at least one of the first – resources to recommend to anyone who wants to become familiar with how scholarly writing on anime and manga even looks like.

So, keeping all of this in mind, it is great to see JAMS announce the Call for Papers for the journal’s 2024 issue. Submissions will be accepted until March 31, 2024, and recognizing both the breadth of the field of anime and manga studies, and how open it is to different approaches and perspectives, the journal welcomes papers of any type, as long as the subject matter of the paper involves “anime, manga, cosplay, and their fandoms”. Submissions are expected to be approximately between 6500 and 8000 words, but papers that fall outside that range may be considered if discussed with the journal’s editor.

The full Call for Papers is available here.

Good luck to everyone who will be submitting a paper for consideration! The issue will be published towards the end of the year, and I will definitely be looking forward to reading all of the papers in it!

Makoto Shinkai – A Bibliography of English-language Scholarly Writing

The start of the year’s movie awards season is always a good opportunity to reflect back on what the year has offered to audiences in terms of anime – and what anime continues to offer to viewers. This year, understandably, much of the attention that was directed towards new Japanese animated feature films went to Hayao Miyazaki’s 君たちはどう生きるか / How Do You Live / The Boy and the Heron. But that it was neither the only anime feature film released this year, nor the only one that is receiving recognition now that the awards season has launched. And, perhaps, if The Boy and the Heron represents Japanese animation looking back, the other prominent film that opened this year worldwide – Makoto Shinkai’s すずめの戸締まり / Suzume is inevitably both the present – and the future – of Japanese animation.

And for that matter, in the same way that The Boy and the Heron is the capstone film for Hayao Miyazaki’s career as a director and creator, Suzume, globally successful and critically acclaimed, eligible for the 2024 Academy Awards, and already nominated for the Golden Globes, is a great summation of the work that Shinkai has done up to now, from his first days as a video game artist, through his earliest solo projects, and through more and more sophisticated and elaborate films. So far, Suzume has gathered significant critical attention, though no scholarly responses yet, but watching this film and thinking about it is also a great time to reflect on how scholars are now approaching Makoto Shinkai – because scholars certainly are!

Total: 20 publications (15 journal articles, 5 chapters in edited essay collections)

2023

Izumi, Katsuya. Saviours of the world: Impersonality and success in Shinkai Makoto’s animated films.
In Shih-Wen Sue Chen & Sin Wen Lau (eds.). Representations of children and success in Asia: Dream chasers (pp. 202-211). Abington, UK. Routledge.

  • “This chapter analyzes how Shinkai Makoto, a Japanese animation film director, has built a new image of the teenage hero who reflects shifts in cultural values during the Heisei period (1989–2019). Focusing on the teenagers, Mitsuha and Taki, in Your Name. (2016), this chapter argues that impersonality, rather than strong individualism, enables Shinkai’s characters to become heroes in the sekai-kei genre. Shintoism and classical Japanese language constitute the key elements in Shinkai’s concept of impersonality, or the state of an individual character in which they empty themselves to become a medium for others’ agencies and voices.”
(more…)

College Classes on Anime and Manga – Spring 2024

Just as the idea of a scholarly monograph or a peer-reviewed journal article on anime is long past being anything unusual or controversial, so is the idea of a college class on Japanese animation or Japanese comics. These kinds of classes are now offered at many different kinds of colleges/universities – and how they are structured can be different. Some are just general surveys, while others use Japanese animation and Japanese comics as starting points to explore other related topics. A good example of the “general survey” approach is The Fantastical World of Japanese Anime at the University at Buffalo (State University of New York). The course description is straight-forward – “This course introduces students to this unique subculture and introduces an academic approach to viewing the anime art form”. A similar approach is in Manga and Anime, at City College of San Francisco – “An examination and analysis of Japanese comics (manga) and animation (anime), and the role they play in Japanese culture as artistic forms of expression, an industry, and as representations of history and contemporary social conditions.”

But, again, these are just some possible approaches. Compare them to Japanese Anime and the Idea of the Posthuman (Dartmouth College), Anime as Human/Animal Hybrids – an Iowa State University honors program seminar (“The goal of this class is to unravel compelling inquiries about what it means to be human, animal, or monstrous within literary settings that blur the lines between these categories”), and Anime – Visual Interplay Between Japan and the World (Carnegie Mellon University – “This course explores Japanese animes appeal to the international viewers today, centering around cultural analyses of anime such as the Studio Ghibli production and Cyberpunk”).

A more comprehensive list is as follows, though this is still probably not complete. Of course, many more classes may include some discussion of anime/manga without them being the major subjects. And, as always, if you know about a class that you think should be included in this list – are taking one, have heard about one – or are teaching one – by all means, let me know, and I will gladly add it!

Anime and Manga on Campus Update: Japanese Animation and Japanese Comics Classes at U.S. Colleges, Spring 2024

  • Carnegie Mellon University
    Visual Interplay Between Japan and the World
    Japanese Studies
(more…)

Satoshi Kon (1963-2010) – An Anime Studies Retrospective

When, around Christmas, journalists and other commentators discuss what they consider to be the most memorable depictions of the holidays and related themes in “global cinema”, one title that consistently finds its way into these discussions is an anime film – Tokyo Godfathers, directed by Satoshi Kon. Kon, tragically passed away from pancreatic cancer on August 24, 2010 at the age of 47. At the time of his death, he was already recognized as one of the most prominent directors working in Japanese animation, and since then, his stature has only grown. Accordingly, while reflecting on the anime that he contributed to, it is also important to mark how anime scholars have approached his work.

Previously, I presented a basic content analysis of scholarly works on Satoshi Kon’s films, with the goal of determining which ones of his films were the most frequently studied. And now, supplementing this, I believe it is also useful to present essentially a comprehensive bibliography of English-language scholarly publications on Satoshi Kon and his works, especially designed to commemorate both the 60th anniversary of his birth, and 30 years since the first such publication.

As with other similar specialized resources, this bibliography is based on materials in the larger Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies. It is based on searches for relevant terms in various major specialized academic databases, as well as in Google Scholar, and, where possible, direct examinations of relevant publications to identify other cited materials. The earliest article in the bibliography that I am currently away of is dated 1993 – on Kon’s manga World Apartment Horror; the most recent is from earlier this year, on “giallo tropes and gender in Perfect Blue“. Between these are 36 other publications – for a total of 38 – consisting of 1 full-length monograph, 7 chapters in edited essay collections, and 30 individual articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals. And, with as many as six of these added in just the last two years, it may be entirely safe to assume that non-Japanese scholars will continue to be interested in Satoshi Kon and his works for the foreseeable future.

Satoshi Kon – A Bibliography of English-language Scholarly Publications – 1993-2023-?

2023

2022

(more…)

Call for Papers: Queer and Feminist Perspectives on Japanese Pop

Abstract Submission Deadline:
February 1

Notification of Acceptance:
February 15

Dates: Mid-April, 2024 (dates tbc)
Format: Online (Zoom)
In order to facilitate multiple timezones, the event will start at 8am EST/9pm JST

Organizers:

Aurélie Petit, Concordia University, Canada
Megan Catherine Rose, UNSW Sydney, Australia
Edmond Ernest dit Alban, Tulane University, United States of America

Supported by:

Media, Gender, and Sexualities Study Group (The University of Tokyo)

We invite scholars, researchers, activists, and practitioners from around the world to participate in a multidisciplinary two-day exploration of the intersection between Japanese popular cultures and intersectional, trans-inclusive feminist studies. During this symposium we will explore the convergence of gender, sexuality, race, queerness, disability and class. We aim to provide a platform for critical discussions about gender and Japanese animation, fashion, video games, literature and digital cultures. In doing so we hope to encourage new directions in feminist approaches to Japanese popular cultures.

Symposium Themes:

We welcome papers that address, but are not limited to, the following themes:

  • Genre and gender

We encourage papers that seek to move beyond gender binaries, in which “men” and “women” are generalize into monolithic categories of preferences, attitudes and ideologies. We would love to see papers that account for gender diversity, or instances where marginalized groups who move outside these paradigms are included. We encourage papers that open up and challenge assumptions that underpin gendered audiences.

  • Lived-experiences

We seek input and leadership from lived-experience experts on matters of equity, inclusion and justice for marginalized communities (e.g. sex workers, gender diverse people, disabled people, survivors) in relation to Japanese popular cultures. We call for vulnerable voices to be centered in all accounts of “big” ethical dilemmas studies of Japanese culture grapple with. We especially encourage applications from scholars who wish to reflect on their own positionality within the field of feminist Japanese studies

  • Feminism and femininities

Up until fourth wave feminism, gender presentation and the body has been a contested site of debate,colonization and control. We invite contributions that explore ways we can free the body through queer beauty discourses and re-direct feminist activism towards structural change in Japanese popular cultures. We also call for examinations of feminist activism within media industries and the challenges encounteredthroughout the years.

  • Gendered platform-interactions

Here, we invite contributions that explore the role online platforms have played in shaping Japanese popularcultures. Which gendered history have platform-centered approaches perpetuated throughout the years? Which exclusionary practices towards gender-diverse people have been facilitated by social media platforms?

===

Submission Guidelines:

Abstracts should be between 250-300 words (title included) and clearly outline the research question, methodology, findings, and relevance to the conference themes.

Submissions must be written in English

Please include a brief biography (50-100 words) along with your submission, as well as the time zone you will be joining us from.

Submissions can be made by email at popculturesjapan@gmail.com, and the full Call for Papers is additionally available at https://t.co/Ltr9MuJiAA

Participation and attendance is free of charge.

The symposium will be held online over two days, in order to accommodate participants in different time zones.

Roundtable – Welcome to Anime/Manga Studies


TUESDAY, November 21
2:00 p.m. (Eastern time)
https://tinyurl.com/mvzedsxm (Zoom)

– Ever thought about writing a college paper on themes and images in Attack on Titan?
– Wanted to take a class on the history of girls’ manga?
– Are intrigued by a book on the many different ways that Japanese manga authors have adapted characters and images from Alice in Wonderland?

Just curious about what “anime and manga studies” even means?

Anime and Manga Studies Projects presents a live interactive discussion introducing the idea of scholarly approaches to Japanese comics and animation and the academic field of anime/manga studies.

  • What is anime and manga studies
  • What do we want to accomplish by approaching anime/manga this way?
  • What kinds of questions can we ask?
  • Who participates in this field
  • What themes and topics are anime/manga scholars interested in exploring?
  • Do I need to be a college professor to participate
  • Do I need to be a Japanese studies scholar to participate

For this discussion, a group of leading anime/manga scholars, from different backgrounds, and at different stages in their careers will share their thoughts, opinions, and experiences.

And we will be happy to answer any questions you may have – about how we chose this field, what exactly we do, and why – and how you too can join us!

Featuring:

Prof. Brent Allison
Social Foundations & Leadership Education
University of North Georgia

Zoe Crombie
PhD candidate, Film Studies
Lancaster University

Moderator: Mikhail Koulikov
(Executive Producer, Anime and Manga Studies Projects)

Have any questions you would like to ask the speakers, topics you want to see us talk about, issues you feel we need to discuss?

Please send your suggestions to mik@animemangastudies.com!

Japan Foundation Presents – Mecha-Anime

In Anime: A Critical Introduction, Rayna Denison uses the phrases “a cultural phenomenon” and “a sliding, shifting category of media production” to describe Japanese animation. When we think about anime this way, it’s also only natural to consider different genres within anime – one of the most iconic is “mecha” – in the definition that Giuseppe Gatti succinctly provides – “narratives of giant robots piloted by a human within”.

Mecha anime first appeared in the 1970’s, and the genre then evolved in several different directions. Some of the most well-known Japanese animation films and television series of the last several decades belong to the genre, and every year, at least several others try to expand its possibilities. And, for that matter, it is also no surprise that mecha has also attracted a significant amount of scholarly interest – just some examples are essays such as Between the child and the mecha – a reading of the anime series Rahxephon as “an allegory of Lacan’s landmark description of the three stages of subject development”, and “Peace through understanding”: How science-fiction anime Mobile Suit Gundam 00 criticizes US aggression and Japanese passivity.

And now, on November 10, as a part of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2023, the Japan Foundation, London is hosting animation journalist and scholar Ryota Fujitsu who will present a lecture on the history of mecha, the way the genre’s features have developed over the years, and some of drivers for these developments.

Friday, November 10, 2023
1:30 p.m. (Eastern time)
REGISTRATION

FUJITSU Ryota is one of Japan’s leading animation critics. He has lectured in the Animation Studies program at Tokyo Polytechnic University, and served as a programming advisor for the Animation Section of the Tokyo International Film Festival. His publications include アニメ「評論家」宣言 / Anime Hyoronka Sengen (Anime Critic’s Declaration), Tokyo: Fusosha, 2003, チャンネルはいつもアニメ――ゼロ年代アニメ時評 / Channeru wa Itsumo Anime: Zero Nendai Anime Jihyō (We’ve Been Watching Anime All the Time, When We Sit in Front of TV!), Tokyo: NTT Shuppan, 2010, a collection of personal reflections and notes on television anime in the years from 2000 to 2010, and アニメと戦争 / Anime to sensō (Anime and War), Tokyo: Nippon Hyoron sha, 2021.

Help Wanted – Anime Professor!

Who are the participants in “Japanese popular culture studies”? Not in the abstract sense, but more concretely – if Japanese popular culture studies is an academic area or field or discipline, do those who are involved in it identify themselves as “professors of Japanese popular culture studies”? For that matter, is such a thing as a “department of Japanese popular culture studies” or a “professor of Japanese popular culture studies” even possible or feasible?

In fact, if we actually do take a closer look at what academic departments scholars who write on anime, manga, and other related topics are actually based in, the patterns that emerge are essentially predictable Thus, when we look at the departments that the authors of the articles in the first seven issues of Mechademia: Second Arc are affiliated with, some of the ones we see include Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Education, Film Studies, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Law, and Musicology. Similarly, the department affiliations of the authors of some of the major recent books on anime/manga include Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Film and Media Studies, and Film and Television.

What can a professor who is interested in anime/manga as a research subject do to advertise this? One way is to simply mention a book project they are working on, as Prof. Jinying Li (Modern Culture and Media, Brown University) does.

She recently completed her first book, Anime’s Knowledge Cultures
(University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming)

And even if a professor is not actively working on a book, they can mention anime/manga among the subjects, topics, and themes that they are actively pursuing!

His research interests include biblical allusions in literature, missiology, Korean popular culture (e.g. K-pop and K-dramas), and Japanese anime/manga”.

But, a professor announcing what their interests is one thing. A university actively looking to hire a professor who specializes in a particular area is something very different. And, in what I believe is the first time for something like this, a major university has specifically announced that it is seeking to fill the position of Assistant Professor in Japanese contemporary literature and culture – “with interdisciplinary research and teaching interests in manga and animé”. The person who is hired for this position will be expected to teach both undergraduate and graduate courses, including at least one with a specific emphasis on anime/manga, as well as contribute to the development of the collection of original and translated manga in Ohio State’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

Requirements for the position include a PhD in “Japanese literature or a related field” – completed by August 2024 – and a good demonstration of what a position can require instead of a “PhD in anime” is the call for a specialization in an area such as “visual narrative media such as manga and animé” or “history of popular media”. The hiring committee will begin screening applications for the position next week (November 1), but screening will continue without any kind of hard deadline, presumably until the position has been filled.

So, what does something like this mean? First of all, it means that next year, there will be at least one new professor at a major U.S. university who is almost definitely interested in both teaching about and researching Japanese animation and comics. This also shows that we are seeing the beginnings of an active process to bring professors. And with this, “studying anime and manga” – an activity and just what you do takes another step in the direction of “anime and manga studies” – a defined area with its own structures, goals, boundaries, aims, and rules.

CFP: Studio Ghibli Films as Adaptations

Just this week, the latest Studio Ghibli anime feature film – and, now, most likely the final anime to be directed by Hayao Miyazaki, opened in Japan, to both fascination and acclaim. And over the the years, Ghibli’s body of work has also attracted significant scholarly interest, with over 20 English-language monographs and essay collections, several themed issues in various peer-reviewed journals, and literally dozens of individual articles and chapters. Scholars have explored many different aspects of the Ghibli universe – among them depictions of particular themes and subjects, such as in The kraft of labour, labour as craft: Hayao Miyazaki’s images of work, and Anorexic in Miyazaki’s land of cockaigne: Excess and abnegation in Spirited Away, audience responses and reactions (Bridge builders, world makers: Transcultural Studio Ghibli fan crafting), and the ways Ghibli films have been translated and adapted outside Japan (The localization of Kiki’s Delivery Service).

One angle that not many scholars have explored yet is the nature of Ghibli works as adaptations. Some of the most well-known Ghibli films are based on works of fiction (Kiki’s Delivery Service, The Wind Rises, The Borrower Arrietty, When Marnie Was There) and others, on comics (Only Yesterday, Whisper of the Heart, My Neighbors the Yamadas, From Up on Poppy Hill). Howl’s Moving Castle was an arguably successful attempt to adapt a British fantasy novel; Tales from Earthsea, an infamously unsuccessful one to create an anime feature film based on an American one. Even Porco Rosso included one scene likely inspired by a Roald Dahl short story. And the new The Boy and the Heron is, according to Miyazaki, “very loosely inspired” by a 1937 children’s book. And it is this aspect of Studio Ghibli’s work that is the subject of a new Call for Papers


Call for Papers: Edited Volume on Studio Ghibli Films as Adaptations

This edited volume seeks to collect scholarship on how Studio Ghibli has adapted stories from other media to film. Many of the Japanese animation powerhouse’s films have their origins in novels or comics, such as Diana Wynne Jones Howl’s Moving Castle. Studio Ghibli cofounder and director Hayao Miyazaki even adapted his own manga, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, into a feature film. We seek proposals – from a variety of disciplines and perspectives = for essays exploring how Studio Ghibli’s storytellers have approached adaptation, as well as what the study of Studio Ghibli’s filmography can contribute to the broader field of adaptation studies.

(more…)

Book Review – Manga Cultures and the Female Gaze

English-language writing on Japanese comics is not by any means a new thing or even a recent thing. Fred Schodt’s Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics is 40 years old this year, and a couple of journal articles and book chapters are even older. But if we look at the way book length studies of Japanese comics written in English have developed over these last 40 years, one thing that’s easy to notice right away is that these studies can be grouped together around several common themes and approaches. Three recent titles simply bring together “explorations” and “perspectives” (Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime, Manga: An Anthology of Global and Cultural Perspectives, Manga Vision: Cultural and Communicative Perspectives). Two analyze boys love manga / boys’ love manga. And four others have as their subject “ladies comics”, women’s comics, shojo manga, and “shojo and shojo manga”.

Examples of a different kind of focus can be found in Manga and the Representation of Japanese History, Rewriting History in Manga: Stories for the Nation, and The Representation of Japanese Politics in Manga: The Visual Literacy of Statecraft. One particularly interesting thing, though, these are all studies of particular kinds or genres of manga – compared to the more comprehensive ways that scholars have been approaching Japanese animation the way Susan Napier does in Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation. Rayna Denison’s  Anime: A Critical Introduction, and Christopher Bolton’s Interpreting Anime are similar examples.

One title that is a definite exception to this is Manga: A Critical Guide, just published earlier this year. And another, though it dates from a couple of years ago – and is more complex than an overview, is Manga Cultures and the Female Gaze. With it, Kathryn Hemmann (who currently teaches in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania and writes on a variety of topics at digitalfantasydiary.com) sets out to make the point that while when we think of visual popular culture in general, and Japanese visual culture in particular, we often assume a “default” male audience, it is crucial to consider the female creators and female audiences. “The female gaze” is how female manga artists depict female characters, but as it turns out, this gaze, and essentially, what it reveals simply by virtue of treating “women as subjects instead of objects” then can challenge some of the standards approaches to “trends in the consumption of (Japanese) entertainment media” that (male) theorists such as Eiji Otsuka, Hiroki Azuma, and Saito Tamaki have presented.

(more…)