Highlighting New Publications – Origin and Ownership from Ballet to Anime

One of the inevitable challenges of attempting an academic approach to anime/manga is the simple question of selecting particular works to examine – out of hundreds. In a way, it is this challenge that leads many scholars to limit their discussion of anime to discussions of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated films – if nothing else, this kind of limitation allows them to easily connect such new to the significant amount of scholarship on these films that exist already. Similarly, as Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano points out, scholars who write on anime all too frequently limit their studies to straight-forward textual analysis – this leads to a “marginalization” of anime series that air on television – and, maybe, are just not that interesting from a pure textual analysis point of view.

This is precisely why examples of new contributions to anime studies that do go beyond Miyazaki and a handful of other directors are always worth paying attention to. And one such example appears in the February 2016 issue of the Journal of Popular Culture . The full issue is currently available in open access on its publisher’s website.

Kennell, Amanda. Origin and ownership from ballet to anime. Journal of Popular Culture, 49(1), 10-28.

Princess Tutu“‘Long ago and far away…’ begins each episode of Princess Tutu. An anime steeped in century-old ballets – themselves steeped in older folklore, opera, history, and fairytales – Princess Tutu does not quite fit into an easily recognizable mold. It features a magical girl, or mahō shōjo, but she seems to take a back seat to other characters, and the reward waiting for her at the end of the series is a quiet life as a single duck, rather than as the partner of a handsome prince. The story revolves around a battle between a beloved prince and an evil raven, but the prince first lacks interest in battle and then eventually allies himself with the raven. A young man trying to become a valiant knight plays an important role, yet he becomes most important when he throws away his sword and absents himself from the climactic fight, allowing a wimpy bookworm to defend him valiantly against attack. Finally, a young woman falls in love with the prince, but she is dating him before the series begins and they ride off into the sunset at the end with little change in their relationship. Not a mahō shōjo-type coming-of-age story; not a love story; not, really, the story of a battle between good and evil, Princess Tutu emerges from a frothy ocean of stories without really belonging to any of them. Yet, an in-depth examination of the relationship between Princess Tutu and one of its sources, the ballet Swan Lake, reveals that Princess Tutu is representative of a process of creation common to classic ballets.”

(more…)

Citation patterns in anime/manga studies – an initial study

When we bring up the term “anime and manga studies”, or even just the concept, being asked to define what we mean by it is inevitable. In trying to present a definition, we are certainly not alone –  just some recent examples of scholarship describing and defining particular academic areas, fields, and disciplines include Building a new academic field – the case of services marketing (Journal of Retailing), The emerging academic discipline of knowledge management (Journal of Information Systems Education), and, perhaps with the most application to anime and manga studies in particular, Animation studies, disciplinarity, and discursivity (Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture) and the essays Why comics studies and “What’s in a name?”: The academic study of comics and the “graphic novel”, published in an issue of the Cinema Journal, in an “In Focus: Comics Studies Fifty Years After Film Studies” special section.

As Catherine Labio, author of “What’s in a  name?” notes, “defining our object of study…is a fraught yet obligatory first step in the process of academic disciplinary formation”. And, certainly, scholars writing in English about Japanese comics and Japanese animation have made it a point to present several working definitions – two such efforts are Craig Norris’s Manga, anime, and visual art culture chapter in the Cambridge Companion to Modern Japanese Culture (pp. 236-260), and Susan Napier’s “Manga and anime: Entertainment, big business, and art in Japan” in the Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society (pp. 226-237). But, all that a working definition of this kind does is establish an area of inquiry or a field of study – something more is necessary.

(more…)

Call for Papers – Princess Mononoke, 20th Anniversary

Princess MononokeFor many people in the U.S, their first experience with Japanese animation took place in 1999, when Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke played in some 130 theaters around the country. Since then, it has become one of the most recognizable examples of anime, and film programs and classes on Japanese cinema in general and on anime in particular include it pretty much as a matter of course. Scholars have also been paying attention to it pretty much from right after its release – with Susan Napier’s 2001 Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation, and more than a dozen essays in various journals and edited collections – some of these include Between the worlds: Liminality and self-sacrifice in Princess Mononoke (Journal of Religion and Film), Animating child activism: Environmentalism and class politics in Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke (1997) and Fox’s Fern Gully (1992) (Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies) and National identity (re)construction in Japanese and American animated film: Self and other representation in Pocahontas and Princess Mononoke (Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies). A full list of these is available in the Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli Bibliography that I also maintain/edit.

(more…)

The First Years of Anime/Manga Studies: 1970’s-1980’s

Manga! Manga!Today, the idea of an article in a major academic journal that deals with some aspect of Japanese animation or Japanese comics, the global distribution networks for anime/manga, the activities and practices of anime fans, and other related topics is really nothing particularly out of the ordinary – just this year so far, I have already identified about a dozen such articles. But, “anime/manga studies”, or simply the idea of treating anime and manga as subjects of commentary and academic study, had to start somewhere. And, the latest update to the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies covers these first years of writing on anime and manga – the period from 1977 (the first article on Japanese comics to appear in an English-language academic journal that I have been able to identify) and through the 1980’s.

Unsurprisingly, the actual list is fairly brief – seven articles (or eight, if you count one that appeared in two different journals), a book chapter, and two books (one of them not directly on anime, but with plenty of relevant discussion). From what I have been able to tell, the articles passed by largely unnoticed when they were first published – and have remained largely unnoticed since, even as anime/manga studies began to develop as an academic area. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to note right away that two of the seven articles appeared in the Journal of Popular Culture, the leading English-language academic journal on “material culture, popular music, movies, architecture, comics and all other forms of popular art and culture” – and one that has continued welcoming scholarly publications on anime/manga ever since – Nuclear disasters and the political possibilities of shojo (girls’) manga (comics): A case study of works by Yamagishi Ryoko and Hagio Moto appeared in one of last year’s issues, and this past February’s includes Origin and ownership from ballet to anime. The essays themselves, Salaryman comics in Japan: Images of self-perception and Female gender role patterns in Japanese comic magazines, are good examples of relatively straight-forward surveys of particular themes as presented in particular genres of manga.

One other article, Copyright protection of fictional characters in Japan, is also worth highlighting. At first glance, this paper does not appear to have any direct relevance to anime/manga. But, as it turns out, it presents a summary and analysis of a seminal Japanese copyright infringement case – that did, in fact, involve the unauthorized use of characters from the classic manga Sazae-san by a tour bus company. Of course, in terms of its style, format, methodology, and even “genre”, it’s very different from the kinds of more expected “anime/manga studies” papers that would appear in Asian Studies Review, Japanese Studies, the Journal of Popular Culture or the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. Nonetheless, its subject matter makes it valid for including in a list of publications that deal with anime/manga broadly defined.

Finally, it is plain-out impossible to talk about the “first days of anime/manga studies” without mentioning the work of Frederik L. Schodt. Manga! Manga!: The World of Japanese Comics, published by Kodansha International in 1983 really was the book that introduced American readers to thinking about Japanese comics critically – and, through its several dozen pages of excerpts from Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenis, Leiji Matsumoto’s Ghost Warrior, Riyodo Ikeda’s The Rose of Versailles, and Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen, to the comics themselves. Since then, Manga! Manga! has been updated and reprinted three times, and although it is now inevitably dated, surprisingly, it still serves as an essential introduction to Japanese comics overall – and as a great survey of Japanese comics in the 1980’s. In fact, one of the most surprising things about this book is that since it was published, there has been only one other attempt to present a general, wide-ranging overview of manga has a whole that would be aimed to a general, non-specialist audience – the same author’s 1996 Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga.

English-language books, book chapters, and journal articles on anime/manga – 1970’s and 1980’s

As with all updates to the Bibliographies, this list is also archived as a separate page. Any additions or corrections are always welcome – but will be reflected on that page only.

(more…)

Highlighting New Publications – Manga & Anime Go to Hollywood

Manga and Anime Go to Hollywood“Can anime/manga be adapted into successful American live-action films?” And, for that matter, “which anime/manga would be good candidates for adaptation into American live-action films? These kinds of questions are too easy – and are asked time and time again. In the mid-2000’s, A.D. Vision, then the leading distributor on anime on VHS and DVD in the U.S. was in the early stages of producing a live-action version of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Several years later, a live-action Speed Racer opened in U.S. theaters, followed by a live-action Dragonball: Evolution. And just a few weeks ago, ICv2, a leading website for news about “pop culture products”, reminded readers in a feature article on “new trends in manga” that:

“There’s another trend coming down the pipe that’s also likely to raise the profile of anime and manga even further.  Hollywood is taking notice of the global popularity of Japanese pop culture, and the results of that interest are going to start hitting screens soon. Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson, is fairly far along, as is Death Note, which is being cast.  At earlier stages of development are Naruto, and Akira.”

So far, however, with the exception of Rayna Denison’s Franchising and failure: Discourses of failure within the Japanese-American Speed Racer franchise, published in 2014’s “Origins” volume of Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and Fan Arts, there has been very little in the way of English-language commentary on the potential of Hollywood adaptations of anime/manga, or analysis of the adaptations that have appeared so far. (more…)

Potential research topics in anime/manga studies – Crowdfunding anime

One of the more common criticisms aimed at the whole process of scholarly publishing is that it just takes too long. The period between when an article is first submitted for publication and when it actually appears in a journal takes several months at the least, and may very well be year or more. For example, the authors of Are Australian fans of anime and manga motivated to learn Japanese language presented it for publication in the Asia Pacific Journal of Education in February of 2013. It was accepted that September, but did not appear online until June of 2014 – almost a year and a half later – and only now had made it into an actual issue of the journal. Similarly, the publisher of the Journal of Youth Studies received the manuscript for ‘Growing as a person’: experiences at anime, comics, and games fan events in Malaysia in November of 2014, accepted it in September of last year, and made it available to readers online the next month – but the article is yet to appear in an issue of the journal.

What the length of the publication process means is that scholars are often simply not able to “react” and respond in a timely manner to new developments in the fields that they are interested. If commentary on a particular event or issue does not appear until two years after the event took place or the issue first came up, by the time it does, such commentary may be largely irrelevant – words spent on a long-forgotten topic – to say nothing of the possibility of other, interceding events or issues that may make the commentary itself obsolete.

In fact, academic publishers have largely acknowledged this issue, and have been searching for ways to mitigate it. For the corporate, for-profit publishers, one way has been by allowing electronic access to articles as soon as they have been accepted for publication, regardless of whether nor they have been assigned to a particular issue of a journal – one example of this is the list of “latest articles” in Japan Forum. Non-profit publishers of open-access journals are beginning to forgo the concept of “issues” altogether, and are publishing articles on their journals’ websites continuously – this is the approach taken by Animation Studies and The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, among others.

KickstarterHowever, these kinds of options are meaningless unless scholars who are interested in anime/manga make sure to pay attention to new developments in the field. One such development has been the use of crowdfunding to bring anime to audiences outside Japan. In fact, Western anime companies have been experimenting with crowdfunding (primarily via pre-order campaigns) long before the practice became widespread, but the emergence of major crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo has certainly made these campaigns more prominent. (more…)

SGMS/Mechademia Tokyo Conference on Asian Popular Cultures Program

MechademiaThe organizers of the 桜SGMS: Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures, which will run at Aoyama Gakuin University (Tokyo, Japan) over this weekend (March 18-20) have now announced the full program for this event. The theme for this international conference “Conflicts of Interest in Anime, Manga, and Gaming”, and the program will consist of a total of twelve themed panel sessions, with over 40 individual presentations. It will also feature plenary addresses by Takayuki Tatsumi, who teaches at the Department of English, Keio University, and has been described as “one of Japan’s leading cultural critics”, author and science fiction critic Mari Kotani, and Vince Shortino, Executive Vice President of Japan Channels at Crunchyroll, Inc., the leading global platform for internet streaming of anime and other Asian video content, a “Cosplay: In Costume and Performance” workshop, and a “micro-museum” curated by the photographer, writer, and installation artist Eron Rauch.

Mechademia’s keynote address will be presented by Prof. Hiroshi Deguchi (Department of Computational Intelligence and Systems Science, Tokyo Institute of Technology), one of the founders of Comiket and a co-editor of the forthcoming essay collection The Rise of Japanese Visual Narratives: Cultural, Institutional, and Industrial Aspects of Reproducible Contents (Springer). Other speakers who will be participating in Mechademia include both a number of established who have written and lectured on anime/manga extensively, among them Deborah Shamoon, Marco Pellitteri, Akiko Sugawa-Shimada, Renato Rivera Rusca, Stevie Suan, Wendy Goldberg, Heike Hoffer and Andrea Horbinski, and scholars who are just entering the field. Just some of the specific talks on the program include:

  • Mobile Suit Gundam War Narratives
  • Romantic Love and the ‘Housewife Trap’: A Gendered Reading of The Cat Returns
  • The Heretical Lineage: Images of Rural Blasphemy in Lovecraft and Lovecraftian Manga
  • The Postmodern Magical Girl: The Evolution and Contemporary Representation of the Mahô Shôjo Genre
  • Musical World-Making in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
  • Performing Differently: Convention, Medium, and Globality from Manga (Studies) to Anime (Studies)

桜SGMS: Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures – full program

Friday, March 18:

Session I: 12:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Opening Introductions
Edmund W. Hoff, Frenchy Lunning

Panel 1 – Impact of the Global Expansion of Cosplay
Convener: Edmund W. Hoff

In the post war period, anime and manga of Japan has seen popular expansion around the world. Initially enjoyed through bookstores and on television, they have come to be consumed in various forms. This panel will explore the extent to which cosplay has had an impact in coordination with this global spread. Edmund Hoff will look at the soft power and hard power relations of two nations with long histories of costuming, the United States and Japan. In a world where cosplay has come to be enjoyed in many countries, Lillian Ruan will examine the global popularity of cosplay in relation to the relatively robust marketing machines of other contents from Japan. Tiffany Lim will discuss the implications of online social media on cosplay communities and with the Filipino cosplay community as a focal point she will consider presentation, esteem, and image of the self. With locations in India as a case study for the popular expansion of Japanese pop culture, Sharmishtha Rawat will explore the forms in which this culture has taken root and the various forms of interaction with greater society. Discussion will span a wide geographic range and share a common association in cosplay and its varied implications.

(more…)

‘Alternative Manga’ Symposium

Alt-Manga SymposiumOn April 7, Baruch College (City University of New York) will host Alt-Manga: Alternative Manga Symposium. The full program is still in development, but it will include presentations by Shige Suzuki (Baruch College), George Tsouris (LaGuardia Community College), in conversation with manga artist Akino Kondoh, and blogger/manga industry professional Erica Friedman. The Symposium is receiving support from the Japan Foundation New York, and is open to the all interested attendees, but registration is required.

“The ‘Alt-Manga Symposium’ invites scholars, professionals, and artists in and around the city of New York to give lectures and conversations about Japanese comics (manga). One of the primary objectives of the symposium is to show the rich and diverse world of Japanese comics with a focus on Japanese alternative and non-mainstream manga, and their development in both domestic and transnational contexts.”

This is the second such event at Baruch, building on the success of last year’s Globalized Manga Culture and Fandom Shoujo Manga Symposium and the World of Shojo Manga: Mirrors of Girls’ Desires art exhibition.

Alt-Manga: Alternative Manga Symposium
Thursday, April 7 | 12:40 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.
Baruch College Vertical Campus
55 Lexington Avenue, 5th Floor, Room 165
Free – REGISTRATION FORM

Communicating with Cool Japan (Int’l Communication Association Pre-Conference)

conf2016A few months ago, I was glad to participate in distributing the Call for Papers for Communicating with Cool Japan: New International Perspectives on Japanese Popular Culture, a one-day mini-conference that would run in Tokyo, at Waseda University, on June 8, just ahead of (and in connection with) the 66th annual conference of the International Communication Association. The preliminary schedule for this event, has now been announced.

As the schedule currently stands, it will consist of a keynote address presented by Prof. Koichi Iwabuchi (Monash University), and a total of 9 sessions, running simultaneously (2/3 at a time), each organized around a common theme.

The themes that the sessions will address are:

  • What We Live For: Women, Expression, and Empowerment in Japanese Fan Cultures
  • Methodologies of Cultural Power
  • Image/Text
  • Audience Studies, Otaku, and Fan Cultures
  • Institutionalization and Nostalgia
  • Discontented Japanization
  • The Living Popular
  • Digital Productions: Distribution, Piracy, and Globalization
  • Localization, Adaptation, and Hybridization

These sessions will feature a total of 39 individual presentations, and speakers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Given the mini-conference’s broad focus on “any area of Japanese popular culture”, not all of them address anime/manga, but, many do:

Session 1.2: Methodologies of Cultural Power
10:20 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Why hasn’t Japan banned child-porn comics?”: An Investigation into the Socio-legal Attitudes towards Yaoi Manga

Simon Turner (Chulalongkorn University)

(more…)

“So, what do I do next?” – Resources for calls for papers

Academic work in any field or area, including anime/manga studies, is not “for its own sake” – and the end goal of any academic project is a result or outcome that can be shared with the public. Of course, the actual process of knowledge sharing can take several different forms. Just some of them include books, chapters in edited essay collections, articles in a academic journal, presentations at conferences, stand-alone lectures, even just blog posts. So, if you are an academic who just finished a research project, how do you find the opportunities that may be available to you to share your work?

One straight-forward way (especially if your work is in the form of an article-length paper) is to identify journals that cover the subject, theme, topic or area of your research, and submit it for publication to one of them. Over the course of the research process, we become familiar with both the leading general journals in our research fields, and with others that are much more specialized. So, for example, someone who is studying the work of a particular anime director is likely already familiar with the Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema – and can plan on submitting their paper to it. Similarly, a journal like Japan Forum or Japanese Studies would be a logical place to publish an examination of how anime/manga depict particular events in Japanese history, while a paper on representations of disability in manga can be presented to a journal such as Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry (as Andrea Wood did with Drawing disability in Japanese manga: Visual politics, embodied masculinity, and wheelchair basketball in Inoue Takehiko’s REAL).

However, this kind of approach has its own limitations. At the very basic, you the author may simply not be familiar with some of the journals that could potentially serve as outlets for your work. In fact, as studies such as Trends in publication outlets of geographer-climatologists and Where do educational technologists really publish? An examination of successful scholars’ publication outlets demonstrate, scholars in particular academic fields can publish in dozens of different journals. New journals appear frequently – Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society, just announced a few days ago and set to publish its first volume next year may be of particular interest to scholars working with Japanese comics. Sometimes, journals may also announce special issues built around specific themes. And, of course, journals represent only one of the potential types of outlets that scholars have for sharing their work.

So, what kinds of resources can scholars draw on for identifying opportunities to publish their work in journals/essay collections or present it at academic conferences? There are several such resources that may be of interest to scholars who are interested in anime and manga. (more…)