Researching the Business of Anime – Resources and Thoughts

In the opening chapter of The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation, Thomas Lamarre identifies what he calls “the book report or film review model” of writing on Japanese animation – “a summary of the major narrative in conjunction with a consideration of major themes”. He does not dismiss this approach, and acknowledges it as “frequently insightful”, but argues that it is only one of several possible or potential approaches that anime scholars can take. However, as he points out, far too much of the scholarly writing on Japanese animation that is published in English falls under this model. Anime scholars select particular themes, and highlight how these themes are expressed in particular anime, or working in reverse, scholars pick a particular anime work and examine the themes and images that it contains. Or they look at how audiences interact with anime – as consumers, but primarily, as fans. Less frequently, authors describe the particular technical characteristics of a director’s work. (more…)

Anime Director Bibliographies: Satoshi Kon

Satoshi KonWhen thinking about the “best”, “greatest”, “most influential”, or even simply “most recognizable” directors of Japanese animation, the first two names are easy – Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Oshii. But, beyond those two, who else to name? Using the simple measure of scholarly attention, the third name that comes up is of the late Satoshi Kon. And so, the next item in my new bibliographic project of lists of scholarship on major anime directors will address English-language scholarship on his work.

Kon’s career, first in manga and then in anime, spanned a period of 26 years – from his 1984 debut with the award-winning short comic Toriko, to his death from pancreatic cancer in 2010. But over the course of this career, he directed only four feature films and one anime television series. But, as I demonstrate, these five works have received significant attention in the literature of anime studies. (more…)

“Predatory open-access” and anime/manga studies

The growth of (free, online) “open-access” to academic publications has made a significant impact on how scholarship is produced, packaged/published, and presented to readers. And it is perhaps inevitable that the open-access model has given rise to actors who work to take advantage of it to generate profits for themselves. These actors – “predatory open-access publishers” – already have a significant effect on scholarly publishing in many fields – primarily in science, technology, and mathematics, but increasingly, in social sciences and the humanities. What are the implications of predatory open-access for anime and manga studies? (more…)

Using Google Scholar in Anime/Manga Studies

Since its launch ten years ago, in October 2004, Google Scholar, Google’s “free service [that] helps people search scholarly literature” has made a major impact on how we search for and access academic publications. Some things about Google Scholar are certain. Students at all levels from high schools to graduate departments – rely on it. Educators and professional researchers accept it. And library and information science scholars work to understand, analyze, and describe it. So, how does Google Scholar hold up as a research tool for anime and manga studies?

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Manga and the Manga-esque: New Perspectives to a Global Culture

Manga and the Manga-EsqueThe Japanese Studies Program at Ateneo de Manila University (Manila, Philippines) has unveiled the full schedule for Manga and the Manga-esque: New Perspectives to a Global Culture, the program’s 15th Annual International Conference on Japanese Studies. The conference will be held at Ateneo de Manila University on January 22 and 23, 2015, and this year, it will receive support from the Women’s MANGA Research Project (Chikushi Jogakuen University) and also serve as the project’s 6th Women’s Manga Conference. Accordingly, the conference will significantly emphasize manga in general and manga’s female readers in particular both in Japan and in other Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.

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Call for Papers – “Exploring 30 Years of Studio Ghibli: Spirited Discussions”

Cardiff University (Cardiff, Wales, UK) – April 18, 2015

Exploring 30 Years of Studio Ghibli: Spirited Discussions

2015 marks the 30th anniversary of Studio Ghibli, and with that anniversary it is time to reflect on the domestic and global success of Japan’s most famous animation studio. With the retirements of Studio Ghibli’s most famous director, Hayao Miyazaki, and it main producer, Toshio Suzuki earlier this year, the future of Studio Ghibli is in turmoil, provoking rallying cries from fans and critics alike. The Wind Rises may have been Miyazaki’s swan song, but this is not his first retirement. Despite Miyazaki’s professed departure, Ghibli’s other directors like Miyazaki’s founding partner, Isao Takahata, and Hiromasa Yonebayashi have produced recent hits of varying degrees for this powerful studio that suggest overlooked aspects of the Studio in need of further analysis and discussion. This anniversary year is therefore a pertinent time to celebrate and critically reflect on Studio Ghibli, not only exploring Miyazaki’s famous films, but also considering other facets of the Ghibli universe. This symposium explores a diverse range of topics, exploring the wide international appeal of Studio Ghibli and the cultural significance of everything from the studio’s canon to its more obscure local activities. (more…)

Anime Director Bibliographies: Mamoru Oshii

In almost any discussion about Japanese animation, the names of certain directors are bound to come up. Hayao Miyazki is easily the most obvious, but there are several others who have also received significant attention in English-language anime scholarship. Continuing my work in documenting the literature of anime/manga studies, I am pleased to present a new bibliographic project – bibliographies of scholarship on major anime directors and their works.

The first item in this project addresses the a director one of whose films was, for many Western viewers, their introduction to Japanese animation as a genre, rather than simply as animation that was produced in Japan – Mamoru Oshii. Oshii’s prominence as a director is hard to understate – he is commonly mentioned in standard scholarly and popular introductions to Japanese cinema, is the only anime director profiled in Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction (Abingdon, UK: Routledge), and the only Japanese animator on in the worldwide list of “Great Directors” compiled by the influential film studies journal Senses of Cinema. And, while his list of credits as a director is relatively modest, the sheer amount of attention he has received in the scholarship, including monographs, chapters in edited collections, and individual journal articles, has been significant. (more…)

Legal Scholarship on Anime/Manga

One of the most basic things to keep in mind about “anime/manga  studies” is that it is not a discreet or formal academic area, discipline, or subject. It is frequently referred to as a “field” (especially in reviews of monographs and essay collections on anime/manga) – but it is certainly not an established, “institutionalized” academic subject like anthropology or East Asian studies or history. It welcomes different ways of asking questions – and different approaches from different disciplines. And this in turn means that scholars who want to explore anime/manga in their writing are not limited to publishing in only some particular types of journals, although of course some journals may be more open to scholarship on anime/manga than others.

One of the things that my work compiling the “research output” of scholars around the world who write about Japanese animation and Japanese comics allows me to do is to then examine particular types of this kind of work. I can look at publication patterns by specific journal, by year, by country of origin. I can also look at the full universe of published scholarship on anime/manga, and examine particular sub-sets of this universe. And, one particular sub-set that I think definitely deserves a closer look is anime/manga legal scholarship – the academic analysis of legal issues related to the creation, production, distribution and consumption of anime/manga. (more…)

Anime/Manga Books and Their Covers

There is no way around this – books are judged by their covers. Readers judge. Corporate bookstore chain “buyers” (not customers, but rather, the corporate bookstore chain employees whose job it is to select the specific books that their particular bookstore chain will purchase from the publisher and put up on the shelves) judge. Librarians judge. And ultimately, a cover reflects and indicates not just what a particular book is about, but how much care and effort has been put into a particular book as a physical object – and as something that is supposed to be worth a reader’s money.

The history of English-language books on Japanese animation and comics beginManga! Manga!s over thirty ago, with Frederik Schodt’s Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics – first published in 1983, and still in print today. And by my count, at least 90 books dealing with anime/manga have been published in English since. Granted, this figure includes everything from “traditional” scholarly monographs such as The Anime Machine: A Media  Theory of Animation and Cartoon Cultures: The Globalization of Japanese Popular Media and edited essay collections (Cinema Anime: Critical Engagements with Japanese Animation, Mangatopia: Essays on Manga and Anime in the Modern World) to books directed at casual readers (Anime and Philosophy: Wide Eyed Wonder, BFI Film Classics: Spirited Away, The Rough Guide to Manga), “directories” (500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide, Anime Classics Zettai!: 100 Must-See Japanese Animation Masterpieces) and various odds-and-ends – exhibit catalogs, revised reprints of magazine columns, first-hand accounts. But even focusing on the more “academic” books on anime and manga that have been published in English from 1983 to the present, we can learn a lot about how authors – and publishers – have approached Japanese animation and comics over the years as expressed in the covers that they selected. (more…)

Call for Proposals – ‘Queers and Comics’

Queers and Comics: LGBT Cartoonists’ Conference
New York, NY – May 7-8, 2015

Queers & Comics brings LGBTQ cartoonists, comics writers, and artists together with scholars and fans in order to document the history and significance of queer comics. This conference spotlights the veterans of LGBTQ cartooning in North America and internationally, with forums for working artists to share their knowledge and to discuss how to navigate the comics industry.”

The conference welcomes submissions for “workshops, readings, presentations, portfolio reviewers, and preformed roundtables (with a minimum of 3 discussants) as well as proposals by individual roundtable discussants” on any topic related to the general theme of “how queer comics reflect and critique queer culture”. Manga and anime are specifically highlighted as possible topics for proposals.

Proposal requirements:

– Description of proposal (250 words or less)
– Biographical info (100 words or less) or one-page CV for each participant
– Audio-Visual requests

Proposal deadline: November 3, 2014