On October 29, 1999, Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke opened in 8 theaters around the U.S. It was, of course, not the first Japanese animated feature film to receive an American theatrical release, but it was certainly more prominent than any that was released before. It ultimately expanded to some 130 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, and grossed at least $2.3 million during its theatrical run through the first months of 2000. And so, it was definitely not a coincidence that 1999 also saw the publication of the first English-language book on Miyazaki, authored by British anime journalist Helen McCarthy. Aimed at a general, non-academic audience, it nonetheless performed an excellent job of introducing commentary on Miyazaki’s works to a wide range of readers.
1999 also saw the launch of two different journals that both made an impact on the emerging field of anime/manga studies. From its very first issue, the International Journal of Comic Art, founded by the incredibly prolific comics scholar John A. Lent (he also edited both of the essay collections published in 1999 that contained chapters on manga – and authored one of the chapters), welcomed essays on Japanese comics – defined as broadly as possible. Since then, under Dr. Lent’s editorial guidance, it has published more than 60 such papers, as well as several special issues/special sections on manga, and has featured contributions from many of the most well-known scholars of manga who write in English, including many who are based in Japan and in other Asian countries, as well as in Europe.
The Japanese Journal of Animation Studies, the official publication of the Japan Society for Animation Studies, is a publication that most Western anime/manga scholars are still largely not familiar with. Interestingly, while most of its contents are in Japanese, the very first issue did include one essay on anime written in English, and the issues that appeared in subsequent years have largely followed this pattern. This journal is, of course, a lot more difficult for Western readers to access, but nonetheless, a comprehensive history and bibliography of academic writing on anime and manga cannot be complete without it.
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McCarthy, Helen. Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese animation: Films, themes, artistry. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press.