Who is Dani Cavallaro? – Part 1

When looking at any academic field, one particular feature that’s worth examining is who exactly are the prominent – prolific and highly-cited – authors in this field. What colleges are they affiliated with, what are their positions and job titles, how did they end up where they are. In anime and manga studies, a few prominent names come to mind right away – Fred Schodt, Susan Napier, Antonia Levi, Thomas Lamarre. And one more name that certainly comes up often enough is Dani Cavallaro.

At first glance, it should be easy to assume that Cavallaro is a scholar of the same caliber as someone like Napier – and maybe even more. And if pure quantity of published writing is anything to go by, she is certainly worth noticing. Amazon lists her as the author of 22 books . 13 of them, from last year’s Japanese Aesthetics and Anime, and goign back to 2006’s The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki, are specifically on Japanese animation. In terms of individual books authored, this makes her the single most productive scholar currently writing on anime in English.

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The End of “Cool” Japan? (University of Michigan, Apr. 5)

The End of “Cool” Japan?: Ethical, Legal, Political and Cultural Challenges for Japanese Popular Culture Teachers, Researchers and Students

Organizers: University of Michigan Department of Screen Arts & Cultures and Center for Japanese Studies

Location: University of Michigan, North Quad Space 2435 (Ann Arbor, MI)

Date: April 5, 2014

This workshop addresses some pressing concerns for all those with an investment in teaching and learning about Japan via its popular culture. It brings together Japan specialists, both educators and researchers, in order to identify key challenges in research and pedagogy and to develop a framework for a code of ethics that can serve as a guideline for Japan Studies professionals. (more…)

Spotlight on New Publications – Folktales and other references in Dragon Ball

One of the easiest, most straight-forward ways of finding new publications on topics related to anime or manga is simply to identify journals that have published anime/manga articles in the past, and pay attention to these journals’ upcoming issues. Of course, plenty of times, a journal might feature an anime article once – and never again. Other times, relevant articles may be few and far between. But, just as with many other academic areas, anime/manga studies has a list of “core” journals that specifically welcome papers on Japanese animation and comics.

Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal is definitely one of these core titles. Its goal is straight-forward – the journal “provides the first cohesive international peer-reviewed publishing platform for animation that unites contributions from a wide range of research agendas and creative practice.” And, since the journal began publication, in 2006, it has been one of the most consistent and reliable sources for new research on Japanese animation.

The latest issue – Volume 9, Issue 1 (March 2014), is now available. And once again, it features a new and noteworthy paper on a Japanese animated series.

Minguez-Lopez, Xavier (2014). Folktales and other references in Toriyama’s Dragon Ball. Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 9(1), 27-46.

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Where is the scholarship on the U.S. anime industry?

The new March 2014 issue of the journal Pacific Affairs features, as one of the articles in its East Asian Cultural Industries special section, a paper by Nissim Otmazgin (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) on Anime in the US: The entrepreneurial dimensions of globalized culture. The article’s abstract summarizes it as one that “[d]rawing on interviews with Japanese and American key personnel in the anime industry, field research and market surveys…focuses on the organizational aspect of the anime market in the United States since the mid-1990s, with particular attention to the role of entrepreneurs.” I am going through the article right now, and will probably have some comments on it in the next few days, but just looking at the title and the abstract brings up one question that I’ve always found interesting.

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Highlighting New Journals – Journal of Popular Television

Anime and manga studies is a field that is inherently interdisciplinary. It intersects – and takes from – of course literature, film, and Japanese studies, but research on anime/manga can draw on theories and methods from dozens of other subjects. From law to developmental psychology, from library and information science to history, from folklore studies to translatology – scholarship on Japanese animation and comics has found a place for itself in all of these areas – and in many more.

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Anime and Manga Symposium Archives – 2011

By 2011, anime and manga studies as an academic field was definitely coming into its own, with a number of books, dozens of classes, an annual conference (Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits, at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design), and even an annual journal dedicated to “anime, manga and the fan arts”. What anime and manga studies did not have, though, was a way to present the academic field to non-academic audiences – to connect anime/manga scholars with anime and manga fans. And it was here that I saw both a niche, a need, and a market gap – and tried to fill it. So, in the winter of 2011, I approached the senior officers of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, the non-profit corporate parent of the Anime Expo convention, with a proposal to organize, produce and manage a track of academic presentations and panel discussions that would be a part of the AX 2011 program. A lot of my proposal was based on enthusiasm and hopeful thinking, but in making the proposal, I was drawing on examples for Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits, the Comic Arts Conference track of San Diego Comic-Con, and the easily dozens of papers on various aspects of anime and manga that had been presented over the years at academic conferences, seminars and workshops around the U.S. In fact, as early as 2004, the Anime Boston convention had incorporated a session of formal academic presentations into its panel programming schedule – and if they could do it, I could certainly try to adjust the program for scale and expand it over the length four days of AX 2011. (more…)

Anime: A History – A Review Round-Up

Fred Schodt wrote Manga! Manga!, the first English-language book on Japanese comics, more than 30 years ago. Easily several dozen “books on anime/manga” have been published since – and I have made the argument that by looking at these books, it’s possible to trace the evolution of anime and manga studies – how authors write about these topics, and more importantly, what authors hope to achieve – from 30 years ago to now.

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Looking for – and finding – new writing on anime

Looking at anime and manga studies as a field requires paying attention to several things and asking several specific questions. Who are the some of the people writing on anime/manga. Are they mostly tenured/tenure-track professors, adjuncts, graduate students, “independent scholars”? What kinds of programs are they affiliated with? What kinds of degrees do they hold? For that matter, where does “anime and manga studies” actually live – or rather, what form do the end products of anime/manga studies actually take?

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Familiar names, familiar titles – but new books!

Just as anime in the U.S. is not nearly as “hot” or popular as it was in, say, 2006, the “size” or breadth of anime studies as a field has diminished significantly from a few years ago. For example, in 2010, there were at least 215 new scholarly publications on anime, manga and related topics – compared to 90 last year. But nonetheless, authors are still writing about anime – and in fact, two authors whose names should be instantly recognizable to anyone who has followed how anime studies has developed in the U.S. are both about to publish a pair of full-length books!

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