To most people, “encyclopedia” means one of two things. It can mean a national encyclopedia like the Encyclopedia Britannica – obsolete, a prop, a historical artifact. Or it can mean Wikipedia – criticized and controversial (and the subject of extensive research – a lot of it is summarized in Mesrage, M., et al., “The sum of all human knowledge”: A systematic review of scholarly research on the content of Wikipedia, Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, forthcoming) – but also undeniably useful, and most importantly, heavily used by students at all levels. However, in the academic context, “encyclopedia” can also refer to a particular type of information resource – the “subject encyclopedia”, an edited collection of short articles on topics related to a particular field, discipline, area or theme.
The purpose of this type of resource is not to present original research, but rather, to “provide both undergraduate students and researchers with a starting point to clarify terminology and discover further reading” – East, John W. (2010) “The Rolls Royce of the library reference collection”: The subject encyclopedia in the Age of Wikipedia, Reference & User Services Quarterly, 50(2), 162-169.
So, do subject encyclopedias cover anime/manga? What kinds of subject encyclopedia cover anime/manga? And more importantly, how useful are these subject encyclopedias for a researcher at any level who is interested in anime and manga? In my work compiling a comprehensive bibliography of anime and manga studies, I have identified at least 15 individual academic encyclopedias with entries/articles on anime, manga and related topics. These range from 1999’s The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (with a one-page entry on ‘anime’) to Boy Culture: An Encyclopedia (2010, entry on ‘Manga and anime’) and the Encyclopedia of Religion and Film (2011, entry on ‘Hayao Miyazaki’).
The full list: (more…)