“Japanese popular culture studies is a field in formation”, note Alisa Freedman and Toby Slade in the opening chapter of Introducing Japanese Popular Culture, the first volume on the topic that is specifically designed as a textbook. The same statement can be extended to anime and manga studies as well. And as the field of anime and manga studies is forming – through new directions in scholarship and teaching, the development of particular research patterns and trends, the emergence of foundational and highly cited publications, and even formal institutionalization, participants in the field can pursue some unique opportunities.
One specific area in anime and manga studies that I think could benefit from more attention is conversation within the field – that is, commentary on and discussion of not just the films and TV series and comics themselves, but the critical responses to them that already exist. Book reviews are one familiar type of this kind of commentary, and plenty of books on anime/manga do receive reviews – though primarily, in academic journals. One exception are the reviews of books on anime/manga and other aspects and products of Japanese popular culture that the All the Anime blog frequently publishes.
However, it is often difficult for a review of a single book to specifically talk about the place that book holds in the ongoing conversation on its topic. Reviews that do more than discuss single books – that go over several – are significantly less common; among the few examples are Historicizing Anime and Manga: From Japan to the World and Anime: Comparing Macro and Micro Analyses, in respectively the first and second volumes of Mechademia. And critical responses to individual journal articles are almost nonexistent – probably the only example that comes to mind is 2005’s Fans, copyright, and subcultural change: A review of Sean Leonard’s “Progress against the law”. (more…)