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.
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.
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…)
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.
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?
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!
One of the goals of this blog is to promote and highlight new and noteworthy publications on anime and manga. And so, today marks the launch of the blog’s first regular feature – a Spotlight on a New Publication in anime/manga studies. (more…)
The University of Tokyo is now accepting applications for the two-week residential 2014 Media Mix Summer Program, to be held from July 14 to July 26. Through lectures, workshops, field trips and other special activities, participants in this program will “understand the ways in which Japanese pop culture circulates across multiple media platforms and commodity forms.” The program’s overall goal will be to “examine this transmedia movement between anime, manga and other media forms from both a theoretical and practitioner perspective.” The sessions will be led by Ian Condry (MIT), Marc Steinberg (Concordia University), and Eiji Otsuka, and Shinuya Oshimi (University of Tokyo).
The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation is pleased to announce the Call for Papers for the 2014 AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium, a unique track of academic talks, presentations and panels that will be an integral part of the live programming at the largest anime convention in the United States.
July 3 – July 6
Anime Expo 2014
Los Angeles Convention Center (Los Angeles, CA)
Keynote Speaker: Prof. Marc Steinberg (Concordia University, Montreal, Canada)
Submission Deadline: May 1, 2014 (more…)