2011 was a very strong year for new English-language academic/scholarly publications on anime and manga. These included four new monographs, a Collector’s Edition of Frederik Schodt’s seminal Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga (originally published in 1996), a new edited collection of essays on Japanese animation and comics, to add to Cinema Anime: Critical Engagements with Japanese Animation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) and Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime (M. E. Sharpe, 2008), 16 individual book chapters in other essay collections, and over 50 articles in various scholarly journals. In addition, 3 journals published special issues focused on anime/manga.
Once again, these books and journals spanned a wide range of fields and disciplines. While some were in the expected areas of animation and comics studies, film, literature, and East Asian/Japanese studies, some of the other areas that welcomed publications on anime/manga and related topics included urban studies, folklore, modern European history, and health communication. (more…)
The names of Hayao Miyazaki, Mamoru Oshii, and Satoshi Kon are familiar to pretty much anyone who has an interest in Japanese animation. And it is no surprise that these are the three directors who have also received extensive attention in the English-language scholarly writing on anime. But, as was widely reported and discussed last year, Miyazaki has now effectively retired from working as a feature film director. Oshii’s last anime film was 2008’s Sky Crawlers – he has since been working primarily on live-action projects. Kon passed away in 2010.
The question of who will be the next truly major anime director has been raised time and time again in discussions about the current state of Japanese animation, and anime’s prospects for the future. Some names that have come up include Hideaki Anno, Kunihiko Ikuhara, and Mamoru Hosoda – but none of them have received the same kind of acclaim or attention as did Miyazaki, Oshii, or Kon. Granted, there were definitely quite a few responses in the literature on anime to Anno and Neon Genesis Evangelion, but, important – transformative – as that series was, it was also very much a product of a particular point in time, and he has not been able to follow it up with anything else that would be as prominent. (more…)
Anime, as anime scholars will never tire of repeating, is not a genre, it is a “form” or “mode” of animation, and anime films and television series can include a wide variety of genres. At the same time, it is also true that anime’s stereotypical genre is science fiction. The two films that first really got anime noticed outside Japan, Akira and Ghost in the Shell – are the epitome of science fiction cinema. And so, one of the most common approaches to anime that scholars take it to focus on anime as science fiction.
For example, the only anime director (in fact, the only animator) profiled in Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction (“a collection of engaging essays on some of the most significant figures who have shaped and defined the genre”, Routledge, 2009) is Ghost in the Shell‘s Mamoru Oshii. “Manga and anime” is a section in the Routledge Companion to Science Fiction (2009). Among the chapters in Science fiction film and television: Across the screens (Routledge, 2012) is one on Cowboy Bebop. And some of the most seminal scholarly essays on Japanese animation to be published in English – among them, Carl Silvio’s Reconfiguring the radical cyborg in Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell (No. 77, March 1999), Michael Fisch’s Nation, war, and Japan’s future in the science fiction anime film Patlabor II (No. 80, March 2000), and the three articles by Susan Napier, Sharalyn Orbaugh, and Christopher Bolton in the special issue on Japanese science fiction (No. 88, November 2002 – appeared in the journal Science Fiction Studies – these include).
With this in mind, ever since Liverpool University Press launched the journal Science Fiction Film and Television, the only peer-reviewed scholarly journal I am aware of with that specific focus, I have been looking forward to the kind of scholarship on Japanese animation the journal would feature. Until now, it was limited to reviews of books (and edited collections containing chapters on) anime, as well as one review of a particular anime film. And now, “science fiction anime” is the specific theme of the journals’ new Autumn 2014 issue. (more…)
When 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…)
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…)
Ten or fifteen years ago, the idea that academic libraries should collect “sequential art” of any kind, whether comics, graphic novels, or manga was if not controversial, then at least cutting-edge. Since then, however, these kinds of materials have found wide acceptance in library collections, to the point that librarians are now publishing articles on the “best practices” of collecting comics in a research library (O’English, Lorena, et al., Graphic novels in academic libraries: From Maus to manga and beyond) and looking at the sizes of comics collections in major academic research libraries (Masuchika, Glenn & Boldt, Gail, Japanese manga in translation and American graphic novels: A preliminary examination of the collections in 44 academic libraries). On the other hand, up until recently, there were no similar articles on the practices of building anime collections in academic libraries.
Robbins, Laura Pope (2014). Bringing anime to academic libraries: A recommended core collection. Collection Building, 33(2), 46-52. (more…)
In my work documenting anime and manga studies as a discreet academic area by compiling an enumerative bibliography of scholarship on Japanese comics and animation – a project I started (I think) in the spring of my freshman year of college (2000) – my actual practices have changed very little over the years. Locate a new “item”, add it to an ever-growing list, next. For a long time, the “list” was literally just that, a plaint-text file. For several years, I also maintained a basic database using DabbleDB, and when that application was shut down, worked with a developer to create a custom one. That is also currently on hiatus as I prepare for re-launching it on a dedicated website, However, at the end of every year, I would also create an “annual” list of books, book chapters, and journal articles on anime and manga that were published throughout that year, and distribute it on the Anime and Manga Research Circle Mailing List, and to anyone else who was interested.
Now, however, I realize that there is really no need for me to wait until the end of a year to have this kind of list. Accordingly, I am now able to present the 2014 Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies. Note that this is (and will continue to be) a work in progress. Today, it is a record of scholarship and commentary on Japanese comics/animation that has been published this year so far as of today; as I locate new items to add, or as new items are published, this list will continue to grow. But, right now, it is probably the most complete and comprehensive record of the publishing activities of anime and manga scholars around the world this year to date. (more…)
In my previous post, I discussed the standard way of publishing one’s writing – through a for-profit publishing company or non-profit university press – and the alternative of self-publishing. But, are those the only options open to someone who is interested in writing a book on a topic related to anime/manga, and getting that book into libraries and/or to readers?
As of right now, largely yes. But potentially, there are other options. Publishing, after all, is a combination of a technical or industrial process and a business model. Until recently, the technical process needed the business model – publishing a book cost money, and more money than an individual could commit. Print-on-demand and electronic distribution of books has made the technical process a lot easier to deal with. The business model that involves submission or commissioning, peer review and editing, and finally, promotion and distribution is harder to work around through technology alone. The whole point of a publishing house is not just to operate the printing or production machinery, it’s to organize and package knowledge.
And, to think of it, there is no objective reason for there not to be a “third way” between working with an established publisher, and self-publishing. The solution that Jonathan Gray (Media and Cultural Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison) proposes is of “publishing collectives” – that is, groups of scholars (or anybody else interested creating and distributing knowledge in a particular area of study or about a particular topic) taking control of publishing from established publishers.