Anime/manga studies is, as Mark MacWilliams notes in his introduction to the essay collection Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime, the process and practice of “exploring the historical, cultural, sociological and religious dimensions of Japanese animation and comics, their production, and global reception” from an academic perspective. Having this kind of definition is an important first step in establishing an academic field. But, defining an academic field is one thing – identifying its characteristics is the next.
And, for any academic field, there are some particular characteristics that we can identify. Who are the participants in the field? What disciplines or departments are they based in? What kinds of materials do they draw on in their research? What kinds of specific research methods do they use? What formats do they publish their work in, and in what kinds of publications? And, simply, how much do they publish? When we talk about “anime/manga studies”, are we talking about only a few dozen publications? Several hundred? More?
Developing the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, which currently covers academic publications on Japanese comics and animation going back to 1977, puts me in a unique position to begin providing some of the answers to these questions. In the process of analyzing the Bibliography, I have been able to identify some specific characteristics, patterns, and trends:
- Between 1993 and 2015, English-language academic journals/periodicals published at least 965 articles on anime/manga – close readings of individual works, surveys of particular themes, examinations of specific directors/creators, histories, studies of fan practices and many other types of approaches.
[Although the earliest English-language academic article on Japanese comics that I am aware of appeared in 1977, for this specific project, I only analyzed academic publications on anime/manga going back to 1993 – the publication year for the first article on anime in an English-language academic journal. In addition, I specifically excluded approximately several dozen articles that are listed in the Bibliography based on their language or length. One more thing to keep in mind is that the Bibliography that I used as the source of publications for this study is updated continuously as I identify new publications that qualify for inclusion. So, this total number is the total as of today – but may increase in the future.]
- These articles appeared in a total of 467 different journals, from Acta Paediatrica Japonica (reports on children who “developed various neuropsychological problems, including seizures, while watching the program Pocket Monster”) to Young Adult Library Services.
- The academic publication that carried the highest number of articles on anime/manga over this time frame is the International Journal of Comic Art, with 78. The 10 journals that have been most “welcoming” to scholarly writing on anime/manga between 1993 and 2015 are:
1. International Journal of Comic Art: 78 articles (8%)
2. Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal: 22
3. The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus: 21
4. Japan Forum: 19
5. Transformative Works & Cultures: 17
6. Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies: 15
7: Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific: 15
8: The Journal of Popular Culture: 15
9: Image [&] Narrative: 13
10: International Journal of the Humanities: 13
These ten journals accounted for approximately 24% of all the articles on anime/manga that were published in English from 1993 to 2015.
- 273 of the articles (28%) appeared in journals published by commercial/for-profit publishers – Taylor & Francis, Sage, Wiley, Intellect, Common Ground, and 15 others. The other 692 articles are in journals published by university presses, colleges/universities or even individual academic departments, academic societies and associations, other non-profit organizations, and sometimes, even individuals.
- The number of articles on anime/manga published in English-language academic journals from 1993 to 2015 annually, and the breakdown by the number of articles that appeared in journals published by commercial publishers and by independents/non-profits each year can be seen in this chart:
In follow-up posts, I will provide some context for this project, highlight the methods I used – and the specific choices I made to exclude certain publications, discuss the results in more detail, of course, mention some of the limitations of my research – and hopefully, provide some ideas for how to expand on it. But again, at this point, I am pleased to at least be able to make one more concrete contribution to establishing anime/manga studies as a definite and defined academic field.