Tag: book chapters

Call for Book Chapters – Explaining Isekai

Anime is not a genre – but considering genres is one of the ways to at least begin critically approaching Japanese animation. In this way, Rayna Denison presents a focus on anime genres “because of the way genres are often seen, like anime, to operate as cultural categories or phenomena”. And, as Denison points out, studying genres calls for an awareness not only of differences between them, but also of their “meanings”, such as the ways that both audiences and critics respond to particular ones. This kind of awareness can highlight instances where particular genres draw popular attention, but remain relatively obscure in terms of criticism and analysis. Denison herself uses the example of horror anime, while Lucy Fraser and Masafumi Monden, in The maiden switch: New possibilities for understanding Japanese shōjo manga (girls’ comics) have examined “early 1980s and 1990s shōjo manga that were primarily targeted at the youngest band of readers, stories with early adolescent heroines in light, romantic, and fairytale-like narratives” – in contrast to “texts that enact more explicit gender subversion”.

isekai (literally ‘different world’) is an anime and manga genre whose plots usually consist in a main character that enters (or is forcibly transported) to a fantasy world, whose setting can combine fantasy Middle Age elements with a science fiction or steampunk appeal.

Oscar García Aranda, Representations of Europe in Japanese anime: An overview of case studies and theoretical frameworks

One genre where this kind of gap between popularity and critical recognition is particularly prominent is isekai. Definitions for it include “(literally ‘different world’)…an anime and manga genre whose plots usually consist in a main character that enters (or is forcibly transported) to a fantasy world, whose setting can combine fantasy Middle Age elements with a science fiction or steampunk appeal” (Oscar García Aranda, Representations of Europe in Japanese anime: An overview of case studies and theoretical frameworks), and “a specific genre of storytelling in which people move from one world to another, usually through some sort of a portal such as a gate or a doorway” (Giovanni Tagliamonte and Yaochong Yang, Isekai: Tracing interactive control in non-interactive media), although these authors add to the definition, noting that “isekai usually refers to a specific set of qualities: amateur-publishing, fantasy worlds with varying levels of game-like qualities, and a self-reflexive commentary aided by platform publishing”, and as a recent Japan Times report notes, isekai has “dominated the manga and light novel markets“. But beyond a few essays and articles such as these and Zachary Samuel Gottesman, The Japanese settler unconscious: Goblin Slayer on the ‘Isekai’ frontier, and Tani Levy, Entering another world: A cultural genre discourse of Japanese isekai texts and their origin in online participatory culture, it remains a genre that is yet to attract significant scholarly attention.

It is with this mind that Dr. Michael Cserkits has announced a call for papers for an Explaining Isekai essay collection. Proposals of 200-400 words for papers on range of topics, such as the history of isekai, gender and social aspects, violence and the military, and case studies of particular titles, will be accepted until January 23, 2023. The expected length for the final papers is approximately 5000-7000 words, with expected submission in August 2023.

The full Call for Papers is available below and at https://networks.h-net.org/node/73374/announcements/11213439/explaining-isekai-%E2%80%93-call-contributions.

(more…)

Comment/Response – Building a Japanese Manga Collection for Nontraditional Patrons

Comics, graphic novels, and manga have a place in libraries. The Young Adult Library Services Association division of the American Library Association compiles a yearly Great Graphic Novels for Teens list, and just some of the recent books on comics/graphic novels/manga that are targeted specifically at librarians include Graphic Novels Beyond the Basics: Insights and Issues for Libraries (Libraries Unlimited, 2009), Library Collections for Teens: Manga and Graphic Novels (American Library Association, 2010), Mostly Manga: A Genre Guide to Popular Manga, Manhwa, Manhua, and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2012), and the collection Graphic Novels and Comics in Libraries and Archives: Essays on Readers, Research, History and Cataloging (McFarland & Co., 2010). Examples of similar coverage in prominent journals in the library science field are the articles Graphic Novels in Academic Libraries: From Maus to Manga and Beyond (The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 2006), The Institutionalization of Japanese Comics in US Public Libraries (2000-2010) (Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 2013), and, just earlier this year, A School Librarian’s Journey through Manga Collection Development (Knowledge Quest).

One common thread that links these books and articles is that they generally either present a “high-level” overview of the idea of including manga, etc. in library collections, or actually quantify the extent to which libraries are doing so. What they generally do not discuss, with the exception of some of the chapters in Graphic Novels and Comics in Libraries and Archives are the actual mechanics of this process. How does a library go about purchasing comics/manga, what are some of the different possible approaches to adding records for these kinds of titles to a library’s catalog, where should they even be physically located in the library space?

Another recent collection, The Library’s Guide to Graphic Novels (American Library Association, 2020) does specifically try to answer these kinds of questions. And one of its chapters – Building a Japanese Manga Collection for Nontraditional Patrons in an Academic Library, discusses these same kinds of mechanics as applied to manga in particular.

Of course, the first question that can come up in relation to this chapter is what do its authors even mean when they refer to a library’s “nontraditional patrons”. Presumably, the main goal of an academic library is to collect and provide access to books and other materials that would support the needs of researchers. The Japanese Manga Collection that they describe, on the other hand, is designed to support in-class reading (in the terminology used by the University of Pennsylvania Japanese Language Program, “tadoku” – “extensive reading” – where students “choose Japanese-language books appropriate to their level, then read as much as they can without a dictionary and by skipping difficult sections, grasp the overall content from the parts they can decipher on their own”. Traditionally, this approach used “graded readers” – “easy-to-read books specifically targeted at programmed grammatical and vocabulary levels”, but the authors, one of whom was the University of Pennsylvania Libraries Japanese Studies Librarian, realized that students were more interested in, and would engage with the tadoku approach more – if the books it offered would be titles they were interested in on their own – i.e. manga. Coming to this realization then led into the “mechanics-related” questions on selecting titles to purchase, actually purchasing these titles, creating correct bibliographic records, and then simply advertising the existence of the new collection to potential users.

The aim of tadoku is for students to choose Japanese-language books appropriate to their level, then read as much as they can without a dictionary and by skipping difficult sections, grasp the overall content from the parts they can decipher on their own.

Possible approaches the authors describe for selecting titles to purchase include reaching out to language instructors to solicit recommendations from students, as well as trying to become aware of manga titles that are popular “among a more general population of patrons”, using the recommendation algorithm on Amazon Japan to get a better understanding of “what is both currently popular and relevant for the growing collection”, reviewing records in Wikipedia for details about spin-offs and sequels and such, and drawing on the catalogs and other marketing materials put out by the major U.S. publishers of translated manga for a sense of “currently popular titles” and “important publishing trends”. One such trend that the authors specifically point out is “women-authored gay romance stories” and a “queer lens on manga”, leading to “a selection focus on LGBTQ titles that orient readers to gay history and culture as well as
relationships and everyday life.” Of course, all of these approaches have the potential for a selection bias and can lead to a collection that over-represents certain types or genres to the exclusion of others that are perhaps not as “trendy”, but better represent the full range of the different kinds of manga that are available to readers in Japan.

Students of Japanese as a foreign language are often inspired by their interest in popular culture, so there was naturally a demand for Japanese comics, or manga, to engage with in class for tadoku

Building a Japanese Manga Collection, p. 145

From this, the article describes the process of locating details about two particular manga titles (My Brother’s Husband! and Jūhan Shuttai!), aimed at a librarian with no familiarity whatsoever with manga, such as both the advantages and the limitations of Wikipedia for locating details about these titles, and the challenges of using Amazon Japan to actually purchase volumes. The next section is its most intensely technical, dealing with possible ways of actually representing manga in a library catalog in a way that would make these books distinct from non-Japanese graphic novels/comics. Right now, the best such way is to use the Library of Congress Subject Headings system’s “Comic books, strips, etc.” heading, and add the Japan geographic subdivision. The authors also recommend specifically highlighting that the book is in Japanese, and whenever possible, including the actual original Japanese title (in kanji, not just transliterated) in the catalog record.

In the absence of a widely adopted library-facing thesaurus that establishes “manga” or “manhwa” as freestanding subjects – and the consequent lack of representation for established subgenres
in Japan and Korea – libraries should adopt and maintain those conventions that serve their users and describe their collections best.

Building a Japanese Manga Collection, p. 157

Example: Penn Libraries catalog record, 弟の夫 (My Brother’s Husband)

One more part of the article addresses the other key aspect of developing and maintaining this kind of collection – how do you actually make its existence known to library users? This involved deciding on a unique name for the collection, and a dedicated physical location, and even specifically indicating the collection on book spine labels. Nonetheless, the collection remained largely unknown to users other than Japanese language students, and to remedy this, the librarians specifically designed a marketing campaign with both print and digital signs, including signage displayed on the library’s ground floor.

The East Asia Comics Collection has been designed for direct application in language pedagogy and as active circulating resources for student enrichment, and its development represents a shift in how the Penn Libraries’ East Asian-language materials have been advertised and used.

Building a Japanese Manga Collection, p. 161

A conclusion also summarizes the way the collection has actually been used, and how it fits into the library system’s broader mission of “making language learning and the library itself fun for underserved demographics” (such as students in language courses, as opposed to researchers), and even the way it is potentially open to public users who can access university library collections at specified times, as well as other college/university libraries via inter-library loan.

Overall, this chapter is a valuable profile of a unique and important library collection, and a very useful template or guide for other libraries that may wish to establish collections of this type, or simply collect manga titles in the original Japanese. Of course, the methods and approaches that its authors highlight are not comprehensive. They for example do not address the usefulness of other resources, such as the Anime News Network Encyclopedia for locating information about manga titles, using lists of awards winners to select titles for inclusion, or basing at least some of the collection on titles that have been the subject of scholarly research. Nonetheless, Building a Japanese Manga Collection is a valuable addition to the literature on manga in libraries, and to library science/librarianship literature in general, and one that, I hope, will serve as an important resource for and aid to librarians who are interested in manga!

Call for Book Chapters – “Libraries/Archives/Librarians in Comics”

“The editors of a new collection of articles/essays are seeking essays about the portrayal of libraries, archives and librarians in graphic novels, comic strips, and sequential art/comics. The librarian and the library have a long and varied history in sequential art. Steven M. Bergson’s popular website LIBRARIANS IN COMICS is a useful reference source and a place to start as is the essay Let’s Talk Comics: Librarians by Megan Halsband. There are also other websites which discuss librarians in comics and provide a place for scholars to start. 

Going as far back as the Atlantean age the librarian is seen as a seeker of knowledge for its own sake. For example, in Kull # 6 (1972) the librarian is trying to convince King Kull that of importance of gaining more knowledge for the journey they about to undertake. Kull is unconvinced, however. In the graphic novel Avengers No Road Home (2019), Hercules utters “Save the Librarian” which indicates just how important librarians are as gatekeepers of knowledge even for Greek Gods. These are just a few examples scholars can find in sequential art that illustrate librarians as characters who take their roles as preservers of knowledge seriously. We will accept essays related to sequential art television shows and movies e.g., Batgirl in the third season of Batman (1966); Stan Lee being a librarian in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) movie. 

Any topic related to librarians/archives/librarians in comics and sequential art will be considered. 

We are seeking essays of 2,500-5,000 words (no longer) not including notes in APA style for this exciting new volume. 

Please send a 300-500-word abstract by November 15th to  

Carrye Syma
Carrye.Syma@ttu.edu  
Assistant Academic Dean and Associate Librarian 
Texas Tech University Libraries”

FULL DETAILS

Ed. note:  Manga in libraries has been the subject of several different recent academic studies, such as The institutionalization of Japanese comics in US public libraries (2000-2010), and Librarians’ perceptions of educational values of comic books: A comparative study between Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The “reverse” of this – libraries and librarians in manga – has not. The reason for this is not difficult to identify – overall, it is just a very marginal topic in manga studies. Nonetheless, at least in comics studies more broadly, it has been approached in the past – as, for example, in The long, strange trip of Barbara Gordon: Images of librarians in comic books, and there is no reason why “Libraries/Archives/Librarians in Comics” would not be open to one or more essays on depictions of libraries/librarians in manga. The key question, of course, would be how to actually structure this kind of chapter – it would have to be more than just a “survey”. Some potential angles could include a comparison of how manga portray libraries/librarians with how American comics do, or, alternately, with portrayals in other Japanese fiction, or an examination of some unique angles in these portrayals – such as the militarized Library Forces depicted in the Library Wars manga series.

Call for Papers: “Anime and Manga Fandom Before 2000”

Japanese animation came to the U.S. in the early 1960’s, with the first television broadcasts of Astro Boy. But it took several dozen years for anime fandom to develop outside Japan, and actual descriptions of how anime/manga fandom around the world developed between the 1960’s and the 1990’s are still few and far between. How did non-Japanese viewers actually perceive Japanese animation during these years? How did fan communities form? At the most basic level, what did anime fans actually do – where were anime clubs formed, when did anime conventions start, how were they organized? What technological or social affordances did fans benefit from? How did anime fans interact with broader fan circles, and engage with broader social structures. How difficult were these interactions or engagements? Answering these kinds of questions is crucial for learning about how anime fandom actually came to take the form that it it has now, as well as for establishing a historical record.

An early, and immediately controversial attempt is Annalee Newitz’s Anime otaku: Japanese animation fans outside Japan (archived version), published in a 1994 issue of Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life, and since then, cited widely in scholarly writing on fandom and on other, more general topics. Another, much more recent, is From vulnerable lives to cosmpolitan affects: Child fans of anime in the 1960s-1980s (Sandra Annett, Mechademia: Second Arc, 11). But one of the challenges of writing on early anime and manga fans and fandom is that so much of the sources to use in writing about this topic is ephemeral, such as pieces in local, and college newspapers and high school newspapers, and documents that in library science are referred to as “grey literature” – convention programs, enthusiast magazines and fan club newsletters – the kinds of materials that are often hard to locate and access, and generally, not likely to be preserved in library collections.

It is with these challenges in mind, as well as with the inevitable challenge presented by the aging of many of the “creators” of anime fandom outside Japan – in their thirties and forties (if not already older) 30 and 40 years ago, so approaching or past retirement age now, that a group of scholars, including several who themselves have been leaders in the field of anime and manga studies around the world, have issued a call for papers for an essay collection on “archival research in anime and manga fandom before the year 2000”. One of the collection’s co-editor will be Helen McCarthy, whose own writing, such as The anime! movie guide: Movie-by-movie guide to Japanese animation (1997) and Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation: Films, Themes, Artistry (1999), as well as numerous magazine articles, have been instrumental to the formation of the English language anime fan community.

Raiders of the Lost Archives: Anime and Manga Fandom Before the Year 2000 (more…)

“What do we study?”: A content analysis of recent anime and manga studies

In “Global and Local Materialiaties of Anime”, her contribution to the essay collection Television, Japan, and Globalization (Center for Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan, 2010), Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano presented what I still think is one of the sharpest criticisms of “anime studies” as it comes together as an academic field:

With anime studies as a forming discipline, discussions often center on the visually more complex anime “films”, but not on the domestic and mass-produced anime TV series. Big budget anime films such as MetropolisPrincess MononokeGhost in the Shell, and Akira are frequently discussed, along with their contemporary critical themes of technological alienatation, environmental issues, cyborg feminism, and postmodernity, while the majority of TV anime series have been neglected, since an analysis would require an examination of anime’s connections with local audiences and the complex popular culture of Japan.”

Global and Local Materialities of Anime, p. 245

But, does this statement – made in 2010 – still hold today, in 2019? That is, as scholars are making their contributions to anime (and manga) studies right now, what films and TV series and comics are they actually discussing? The same ones over and over again, or new and different titles?

A comprehensive list of English-language scholarly publications on anime/manga that have appeared this year so far would be able to provide at least some of the answers to these kinds of questions. And the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, 2019 is just such a list! (more…)

Neon Genesis Evangelion: A Bibliography of English Language Scholarship

It’s definitely not every week and not every month that New York Magazine, The New Yorker and Vox pay attention to Japanese animation. But, of course, if there is ever an anime – not directed by Hayao Miyazaki or Mamoru Oshii – that would qualify for coverage in a mainstream English-language publication, Neon Genesis Evangelion, now available for streaming on Netflix, is that anime.

Ever since Evangelion premiered on Japanese television in the fall of 1995, and then made its way to countries around the world via means both official and decidedly unofficial, it has been the subject of intense discussion and reflection. And while it’s essentially impossible to build anything like a comprehensive catalog of “fan” reaction to Eva, what we can do is instead ask – and answer – the question of how have anime scholars responded.

As with any literature review or survey of this type, it is subject to certain restrictions and caveats. The most obvious one is of “scope” – the distinction between just passing mentions of Evangelion, and actual in-depth substantive discussion. But exactly where does this distinction lie? And beyond that, there is also the issue of “recall” – there is no way to ever be sure that a literature search is fully comprehensive. Nonetheless, and with these restrictions in mind, a look at English-language scholarly responses to Neon Genesis Evangelion still adds an important angle to considering and reflecting on Eva’s impact and effect.

[Last Updated: February 13, 2022]

Neon Genesis Evangelion Studies, 1996 – present

1996

*** OPEN ACCESS ***
Azuma, Hiroki. Anime or something like it: Neon Genesis Evangelion. InterCommunication, 18.

1997

[ARCHIVED]
Woznicki, Krystian. Towards a cartography of Japanese anime: Anno Hideaki’s “Evangelion”. Blimp Film Magazine, 36, 18-26

1999

Steinberg, Marc. The trajectory of the apocalypse: Pleasure and destruction in Akira and Evangelion. East Asia Forum, 8/9, 1-31.

2000

Routt, William D. Stillness and style in ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’. Animation Journal, 8(1), 28-43.

2002

*** OPEN ACCESS ***
Broderick, Mick. Anime’s apocalypse: Neon Genesis Evangelion as millennarian mecha. Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, 7.

Napier, Susan J. When the machines stop: Fantasy, reality, and terminal identity in “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and “Serial Experiments Lain”. Science Fiction Studies, 29(3), 418-435.

Orbaugh, Sharalynn. Sex and the single cyborg: Japanese popular culture experiments in subjectivity. Science Fiction Studies, 29(3), 436-452.

2004

Redmond, Dennis. The World is Watching: Video as Multinational Aesthetics, 1958-1995. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

“Evolving rapidly from the movie screen to the television screen to the computer screen, video culture has blossomed from its origins as an obscure spin-off of the 1960s Anglo-American media culture into one of the leading art forms of the late twentieth century. And as such, video culture has grown from being the dominion of small but dedicated cult followings to becoming a near mainstream cinematic interest. The World Is Watching: Video as Multinational Aesthetics, 1968–1995 explores the origins and implications of this powerful visual medium which crosses national, cultural, and political boundaries to present provocative tales of the highest quality. Dennis Redmond’s probing study is rooted in close readings of three stylish and highly successful video efforts – The Prisoner (1967), The Decalogue (1988), and Neon Genesis: Evangelion (1995).”

[Ed. note: This title, largely ignored by both film/video scholars in general and by anime scholars in particular, is the only in-depth comparative discussion of Evangelion in a full-length scholarly monograph that I am aware of.]

2005

Sanders, Leonard. Virtual ephemeralities: Idoru and Evangelion, popular visual cultures in Japan.
In Martin Heusser, Michele Hannoosh, Eric Haskell, Leo Hoek, David Scott, & Peter de Voogd (Eds.), On verbal/visual representation (pp. 137-149). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

2007

Malone, Paul M. My own private apocalypse: Shinji Ikari as Schreberian paranoid superhero in Hideaki Anno’s Neon Genesis Evangelion.
In Wendy Haslem, Angela Ndalianis, & Chris Makie (Eds.), Super/heroes: From Hercules to Superman (pp. 111-126). Washington, DC: New Academia.

Ortega, Mariana. My father, he killed me; my mother, she ate me: Self, desire, engendering, and the mother in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Mechademia, 2, 216-232.

Redmond, Dennis. Anime and East Asian culture: Neon Genesis Evangelion. Quarterly Review of Film and Video, 24(2), 183-188.

2008

*** OPEN ACCESS ***
Ashby, Madeline. Ownership, authority, and the body: Does antifanfic sentiment reflect posthuman anxiety? Transformative Works and Cultures, 1.

“This essay examines three Japanese anime texts – Ghost in the Shell, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Serial Experiments: Lain – in order to discover metaphors for female fan practices online. In each of the three texts, women overthrow corporate, governmental, or paternal control over the body and gain the right to copy or reproduce it by fundamentally altering those bodies. These gestures are expressions of posthuman anxiety and “terminal identity.” In addition, they involve confrontation with an uncanny double in some way. But how can they provide models for cyborg and fan subjectivity in an era in which bodily and textual reproduction, especially among females, is such a hotly contested issue? And how is the antifanfic backlash related to the phenomenon of the uncanny?”

*** NEW ***
Vuckovich, Rob. Evangelion and existentialism: The case of Shinji Ikari.
In M. Berman (ed.). The Everyday Fantastic: Essays on Science Fiction and the Human Being (pp. 73-86). Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

2009

*** OPEN ACCESS ***
Thouny, Christophe. Waiting for the Messiah: The becoming-myth of Evangelion and Densha Otoko. Mechademia, 4, 111-129.

2010

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Bryce, Mio. Cheung, Paul, & Gutierrez, Anna Katrina. Clones, hybrids and organ transplants in manga and anime. International Journal of the Humanities, 8(5),279-290.

“Manga and anime are commonly regarded as media products geared primarily towards entertainment and merchandising opportunities. However, some are capable of offering critical commentary on society, humanity and more broadly, life itself. Following the lead taken by the ‘God of Manga’ Tezuka Osamu in “Seimei-hen” in “Hi no Tori” (“Life” in “Phoenix”, 1980), a number of manga and anime have produced unsettling images of clones and hybrid beings, particularly those resulting from organ transplantation. These works question, typically ahead of the technology of the time, the value of life, the integrity of its form, and its immunity from commodification. In spite of their fictionality, these narratives are associated with a great sense of reality and immediacy, due in part to rapid developments in biotechnology, computing and engineering. At the same time, humanity itself appears to have changed along with these developments and the fictional narratives can be said to embody fears, hopes, and dreams concerning life and its significance. They deal with a range of pressing social and ethical issues, especially those related to the self and its multiple boundaries, whilst entertaining their readers and viewers. Using several narratives as exemplars, this paper will explore the use of biotechnology in manga and anime as devices in envisioning ‘life’ – what it may be, how it is formed and how it could be dealt with, at the individual as well as collective level. In doing so, the paper will demonstrate how these manga and anime narratives and others like them are relevant in a wide range of contexts despite their apparent linguistic and cultural specificity.”

2013

Li, Carl, Nakamura, Mari and Roth, Martin. Japanese science fiction in converging media: Alienation and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Asiascape Occasional Papers, 6, 1-15.

*** OPEN ACCESS ***
Ruh, Brian. Producing transnational cult media: Neon Genesis Evangelion and Ghost in the Shell in circulation. Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media, 5, 1-23.

2014

Ballus, Andreu, & Torrents, Alba G. Evangelion as Second Impact: Forever changing that which never was. Mechademia, 9, 283-293.

DiTommaso, Lorenzo. Apocalypticism and popular culture.
In John J. Collins (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of apocalyptic literature (pp. 473-510). New York: Oxford University Press.

*** OPEN ACCESS ***
Savoy, Katherine. The artificial restoration of agency through sex and technology in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies, 14(3).

“In this article, I will discuss the origin and limiting factors of identity in the series Neon Genesis Evangelion and the relationship between the individual and the community. I will examine the process of outsourcing one’s identity and, in doing so, relinquishing agency and responsibility. To elaborate on these points I will dissect the show’s patriarchal structure, looking first at the role of women and then sexuality as it applies to the struggle between free-will and imposed external regulation. I will follow the growth of identity through the presence of technology, and question the assumed binaries between man and machine as well as how the series challenges such concepts. Finally, I will look at denial as the internal control of identity, contrasting with the use of self-awareness for social domination within the community.”

2016

*** OPEN ACCESS ***
Tsang, Gabriel F. Y. Beyond 2015: Nihilism and existential rhetoric in Neon Genesis EvangelionJournal of International and Advanced Japanese Studies, 8, 35-43.

“Generally categorized as low art, Japanese manga and anime draw insufficient overseas critical attention, regardless of their enormous cultural influence in East Asia. Their popularity not simply proved the success of cultural industrialization in Japan, but also marks a series of local phenomena, reflecting social dynamicity and complexity, that deserve interdisciplinary analysis. During the lost decade in the 1990s, which many scholars studied with economic accent (Katz 1998, Grimes 2001, Lincoln 2001, Amyx 2004, Beason and Patterson 2004, Rosenbluth and Thies 2010), manga and anime industry in Japan entered its golden age. The publication and broadcast of some remarkable works, such as Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Crayon Shin-chan and Slam Dunk, not only helped generate huge income (nearly 600 billion yen earned in the manga market in 1995) that alleviated economic depression, but also distracted popular focus from the urge of demythologising national growth.

This paper will focus on the TV-series version of Hideaki Anno’s Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995–1996), a well-received anime broadcast after the Great Hanshin earthquake and the Tokyo subway sarin attack perpetrated by terrorists of Aum Shinrikyo, both happening in 1995. I will base my discussion on someimportant concepts of Jean-Paul Sartre, such as le pour-soi (the for-itself) and bad faith, to illustrate how Hideaki Anno represents his protagonists as figures emancipated by existentialist morality. His frequent use of monologue in latter episodes individually enquiring the meaning of personal existence, following the dystopian fall of Tokyo-3, echoes the nihilistic context of both post-traumatic Europe and over-capitalized
Japan. I argue that the subjective bonding between given existence of self-consciousness and innate search for fixing the purpose of being has pre-universalized relevant reflection. It sustains the celebrity of Neon Genesis Evangelion until now, especially when Japan has not yet recovered from the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tohoku, which carried unresolved economic challenges.”

2021

Afanasov, Nikolai. Messiah in depression: Religion, science-fiction and postmodernism in Neon Genesis EvangelionState, Religion and Church7(1), 47-66.
[original version in Russian]

*** NEW ***
*** OPEN ACCESS ***

Jose Andres Santiago Iglesias & Ana Soler Baena (eds.). Anime Studies: Media-Specific Approaches to Neon Genesis Evangelion. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press.

Anime Studies: Media-Specific Approaches to Neon Genesis Evangelion aims at advancing the study of anime, understood as largely TV-based genre fiction rendered in cel, or cel-look, animation with a strong affinity to participatory cultures and media convergence. Taking Neon Genesis Evangelion (Shin Seiki Evangerion) as a case study, this volume acknowledges anime as a media form with clearly recognizable aesthetic properties, (sub)cultural affordances and situated discourses.”

2022

Galbraith, Patrick W. The Evangelion boom: On the explosion of fan markets and lifestyles in Heisei Japan.
In Noriko Murai, Jeff Kingston, & Tina Burrett (eds.). Japan in the Heisei Era (1989-2019): Multidisciplinary perspectives (pp. 234-244). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Anime/Manga Studies in 2018: The Year in Review

For various reasons, I missed a Year in Review post for 2017. But, with 2018 now several weeks behind us, it is definitely appropriate to review the highlights of the year for anime and manga studies in the broad categories of new and notable publications, conferences and other events, and classes.

Books:

interpreting animeAfter a relatively quiet year in terms of major new English-language books on anime, this past one was anything but, with some of the most well-known authors in anime and manga studies publishing new titles.

Christopher Bolton, who teaches comparative and Japanese literature at Williams College, led the way with Interpreting Anime, the first book on anime I am aware of that is designed specifically for classroom use – and so, aimed at both instructors and students – and priced accordingly, at just $24.00. It has already received excellent reviews, including in Choice and in the Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies, where the reviewer praises Bolton for “a meaningful contribution to the scholarship of reading, one able to transcend its subject matter – anime – and speak to readers everywhere, those who seek as full, as complete an engagement with their texts as possible.” To promote the book further, Prof. Bolton has also created a dedicated web page for it, and a YouTube trailer.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWx277kDS9A&w=560&h=315]

[And, in what may be a personal first, alongside the books, chapters, and journal articles that Interpreting Anime’s bibliography lists, there is also a citation to a post in this blog.]

For many years, the introductory title in anime studies – more or less by default, was Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation, first published in 2001. And even though it saw an 2005 update (as Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle, now, in 2018, it is still inevitably dated. So, something like Interpreting Anime, along with Anime: A Critical Introduction, published in 2015, is absolutely invaluable. Probably the only caveat when considering this title is that it is based almost entirely on essays that Bolton published previously, although all of them have been revised and expanded to fit into an overarching structure. (more…)

Manga Studies in the 2019 Eisner Awards – Eligibility

2016 Eisner AwardsThe first months of the new year are, among other things, awards season – definitely for television and film (and animation), with the Golden Globes now finished, the Annie Awards coming up next month, and of course then the Oscars. The academic world does not and will never have anything like these awards ceremonies, but research that deserves recognition can receive it. The Society for Animation Studies presents its Norman McLaren/Evelyn Lambart Award for the best scholarly book and best scholarly article on animation – Marco Bellano received the 2010 article award for “The Parts and the Whole: Audiovisual Strategies in the Films of Hayao Miyazaki and Joe Hisaishi” (Animation Journal18, 4-55), and Tzu-Yue G. Hu and Jonathan Clements were runners-up for the best scholarly book one with Frames of Anime: Culture and Image-Building (2011) and Anime: A History (2015). It also presents the Maureen Furniss Award for Best Scholarly Paper in Animated Media – in 2017, to Jacqueline Ristola, for Realist Film Theory and Flowers of Evil: Exploring the Philosophical Possibilities of Rotoscoped Animation. Similarly, when the Comics Studies Society launched its program of prizes last year, it recognized Andrea Horbinski with an honorable mention in the Best Graduate Student Conference Presentation category for her talk “Something Postmodern Going On: The Queering of the Manga Sphere in the 1970s”, at On Belonging: Gender, Sexuality, and Identity in Japan.

The Eisner Awards – the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards – are the Oscars of the comics industry and really, the world of comics. But, unlike the Oscars and other awards ceremonies, the Eisners do have a “best scholarly/academic work” category. And the judges for this year’s awards are now accepting submissions for consideration to be nominated for the award in all categories – including this one. There are no formal criteria for eligibility other than that the title had to have been “shipped to retailers in the U.S.” or available online between January 1 and December 31, 2018. (more…)

English-Language Scholarship on Studio Ghibli Films: Looking at the Numbers

One of the paradoxes of scholarship in the humanities is that often, some questions that seem straightforward do not actually have simple answers. In fact, even coming up with an answer to some questions may be difficult, if not impossible. For example, it is relatively easy to demonstrate that a particular book or comic or movie is popular – the sales figures and box office numbers may not be immediately accessible, but the numbers do exist. But it is much harder to claim that a particular author – or a particular film – is “the most studied of all time” or something similar. Claims of this kind, applied to many different authors and many different films, are not uncommon – but the casual statements I have often seen, such as that “among the most studied films of the last few decades are those that descend from the mid-century fiction of Philip Dick and his contemporaries“, tend not to be supported in any way. Comparing authors or works based on the amount of critical attention they have received is equally challenging, though not unheard of – see, for example, Powrie, Phil, Thirty years of doctoral theses on French cinema, Studies in French Cinema, 3(3), 199-203, noting, among other things, “the most popular directors studied”. And, of course, studying the relative importance or prominence of actual scholarship is a well-established practice – and identifying the “most frequently cited works” and the “most frequently cited scholars” in particular fields is at the core of formal citation analysis.

Nonetheless, again, while providing an answer to the question of what is the most frequently studied anime ever – or the most frequently studied anime director ever – is impossible, narrowing the scope of the question can lead to interesting, and potentially insightful, results. The role that Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have played in introducing Japanese animation to audiences and critics outside Japan, and in legitimizing academic approaches to anime, is easy to acknowledge. And, as it turns out, now that we are looking at something more narrow in scope than “all anime that has ever been written about critically”, we can, in fact, survey and quantify English-language scholarly writing on Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. The end result, then, can be an actual illustration to the general discussion on how non-Japanese scholars have approached Miyazaki and his films.

English-Language Scholarship on Studio Ghibli Films: Examining the Numbers

Purpose: To compile and present specific figures on English-language research on the anime feature films of Studio Ghibli.

Scope: These figures are based on materials included in the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies – books, chapters in edited essay collections, and articles in peer-reviewed journals and professional magazines. Articles in newspapers and general-interest magazines/websites, as well as blog posts and personal essays are not included, nor are dissertations/theses/papers written for class, or conference presentations, unless specifically published in Proceedings. The materials were identified using keyword searches in library catalogs, major and subject-specific academic databases, and Google Scholar, direct review of the bibliographies/works cited sections of many previously identified works, and in many cases, direct submissions by authors. All of the entries are listed separately in Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli: A Bibliography.

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Isao Takahata: A Bibliography of English-Language Scholarship

As several sources have reported, Isao Takahata, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli and the director of five Ghibli feature films films, passed away earlier today. Takahata’s output as a creator has always been second to Miyazaki’s. Nonetheless, his work, and in particular, Grave of the Fireflies, also received a significant amount of English-language scholarly attention. And, of course, Takahata’s work has been addressed extensively throughout the more general academic writing on the work of Hayao Miyazaki on on Studio Ghibli.

Isao Takahata (1935-2018): A Bibliography of English-Language Scholarship

Books

Colin Odell & Michelle Le Blanc.
Studio Ghibli: The films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.
Harpenden, UK: Kamera Books (1st ed.: 2009; Revised & Updated Ed.: 2015)

Book Chapters and Journal Articles

Swale, Alistair. Memory and forgetting: Examining the treatment of traumatic historical memory in Grave of the Fireflies and The Wind RisesJapan Forum29(4), 518-536.
“Within Japanese popular culture, manga and anime have played a significant role in mediating responses to the outcome of the Pacific War. Miyazaki Hayao’s (possibly) final feature-length film, The Wind Rises, has been an important addition to the preceding body of popular media ‘texts’ that raise such themes. This article aims to address the question of how far cinematic animation can reasonably be obliged to follow the kinds of historiographical concerns that inevitably arise when engaging with Japan’s militarist past. To answer this question, considerable space is devoted to examining the historical context of what others have done in the post-war period and integrate that commentary into an analysis of how the works of Takahata Isao and Miyazaki Hayao fit amongst a succession of creative works that have been co-opted in the reshaping of historical perceptions of the Japanese at war amongst the Japanese themselves. This will also require some incidental discussion of methodological issues that arise when dealing with such cases as vehicles for understanding transformations in historical consciousness. Ultimately it is argued that Miyazaki does indeed make an important contribution to the commentary on the Japanese war experience, although it must, perhaps unavoidably, be on highly personal terms so far as The Wind Rises is concerned.”

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