Tag: journal articles

Comment/Response – “Do female anime fans exist?”…


Any kind of writing about anime will at some point have to consider anime’s audiences and their activities and practices. And in fact, studies that ask questions like “what anime fans do, and how, and why” are prominent in the field. As far back as 1994, writing for the journal Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life, Annalee Newitz examined “Japanese animation fans outside Japan“, and in 2001’s Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation, Susan Napier devoted an appendix to the topic of “Western audiences and Japanese animation”. Other notable studies include Brent Allison’s chapter “Interviews with adolescent anime fans” (in The Japanification of Children’s Popular Culture: From Godzilla to Miyazaki and Lawrence Eng’s Strategies of engagement: Discovering, defining and describing otaku culture in the United States (in Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World), as well as the full monograph Anime Fan Communities: Transcultural Flows and Frictions, by Sandra Annett.

The history of anime fans outside Japan can be traced to at least the 1980’s, if not earlier. Now that this history is established, the conditions are in place for scholarship that engages with the history critically. And one such recent engagement is the essay by Aurélie Petit (Concordia University) that examines the discussions that took place in early anime fan communities, and argues that these discussions have played a major role in shaping how anime fans interact between themselves and with the “external” world, and to some extent how the idea, concept, and image of the “anime fan” is now defined.

Petit, Aurélie (2022) “Do female anime fans exist?” The impact of women-exclusionary discourses on rec.arts.anime. Internet Histories, 6(4), 352-368.

anime is still synonymous with far-right ideologies of white and male supremacy

“Do female anime fans exist?”…, p. 353
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Highlighting New Publications – JAMS v. 4


When it first launched in 2020, the open-access Journal of Anime and Manga Studies represented a major new development in the establishment of anime and manga studies as a defined academic field. Since the launch, it clearly thrived, with each new issue a range of new authors, and covering a diverse array of topics under the general umbrella of Japanese animation and comics. JAMS’ latest volume (2023) was formally released on December 3, and its eight articles once again do a great job of representing some of the most innovative scholarly writing on anime/manga that is currently available in English. And – all of it is free to read!

The issue opens with a letter from the JAMS editor-in-chief, summarizing the year’s developments and activities for the journal, the most prominent among them the Mechademia/JAMS track of scholarly presentations held as a part of the year’s Anime Expo convention. The letter also highlights the continuing upward trends in the journal’s readership, to over 2,000 pageviews per month at the conclusion of 2023, as well as the journal’s top five most read articles – the leader by far is A Survey of the Story Elements of Isekai Manga (volume 2) – currently, the 4th-ranking result in Google Scholar for a search for the term “isekai”, and the first result that is an actual peer-reviewed article.


The volume’s main section opens with Inclusive Media Mix: Shaping Communication through A Silent Voice. In this essay, Yuta Kaminishi (Habib Institute for Asian Studies, University of Idaho) expands the concept of the “Japanese media mix” that Marc Steinberg proposes and applies it to activities of different types – and involving different participants – than those that Steinberg envisions.

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Interview with the Anime Scholar – Dr. Bill Ellis

Several weeks ago, the American Folklore Society, the leading organization for the study and advancement of folklore and expressive cultural traditions wordwide, broadly defined, announced that its 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award was being bestowed on Dr. Bill Ellis, emeritus professor, Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Ellis is a pre-eminent folklore scholar – and, over the last fifteen years, he has written extensively on the intersections between folklore in general and fairy tales specifically, and anime/manga. Some of his major publications in this area include the chapter “Folklore and gender inversion in Cardcaptor Sakura”, in the 2009 essay collection The Japanification of Children’s Popular Culture, one of the first English-language studies of that particular manga, as well as The fairy-telling craft of Princess Tutu: Metacommentary and the folkloresque, and the chapter Anime and manga: The influence of Tale Type 510B on Japanese manga/anime in the Routledge Companion to Media and Fairy Tale Cultures. Dr. Ellis also contributed the “Anime and manga” section to the Greenwood Publishing Group reference volume Youth Cultures in America.

And, to mark this, I am extremely excited to be able to sit down with Dr. Ellis, and to hear his thoughts on anime, manga, and folklore all fit together!

MK: As an experienced and established folklore scholar, how did you become interested in Japanese comics?

Bill Ellis: To begin with, I should note that I have always been seen as something of an outsider in folklore studies.  My training was in and English program, rather than folklore studies per se, notably Medieval English literature and the American Renaissance.  I was hired by a small campus of Penn State University (freshmen and sophomores only) on the basis of my experience in teaching remedial composition and my work with Ohio State’s Center for Textual Studies, which was preparing a standard edition of everything (yes, everythingI) written by the author Nathaniel Hawthorne.  I edited two volumes of his business letters written when he was American consul at Liverpool and contributed to four other volumes of letters and notebooks.  On the strength of that, I earned tenure from Penn State, which considered my work in folklore a whimsical and irrelevant digression from “mainstream” research.

My first awareness of the anime/manga came in the late 90s by way of my teenaged daughter, who for a time dated a boy who was a fan of Dragon Ball Z.

By disposition I was always something of a lone-walker, doing things not because one gained academic credit by doing so, but because I thought the topics important for some reason.  Examples of these off-beat topics included alien abductions, adolescents’ legend-trips, Satanic cult rumors and panics, topical black humor referencing disasters (e.g., Challenger Shuttle jokes and later the much larger corpus of September 11 humor), and Facebook games.

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One Piece in Anime and Manga Studies

One of the most memorable anime-related events of 2023 was the worldwide Netflix launch of a live-action series adapting the long-running One Piece manga and anime series, by far one of the most successful and globally recognized entertainment properties of all time in any medium. As could be expected, viewers were initially cautious about just how the live action series would turn out, but, reviews and audience reactions were largely positive.

For the purposes of this site, however, what is particularly interesting is not so much the reaction of critics and fans, but, rather, whether One Piece has received any extent of attention from anime/manga scholars. And, as it turns out, the answer to this question is very much yes. In fact, with at least eight English-language publications on it so far, the way that scholars have examined One Piece since the manga first began publication in Japan in 1997, presents some very interesting, even if not yet very extensive, examples of different scholarly approaches to Japanese comics and animation!

One Piece deserves our attention not only because it is the most successful Japanese mangas of all time, but also because it reflects on dilemmas of IR in a surprisingly elaborate manner

– Ákos Kopper, Pirates, justice and global order in the anime “One Piece”

2023

  • Nakamura, Konoyu. One Piece: Diversity and borderlessness.
    In Marybeth Carter, & Stephen Farah (eds). The Spectre of the Other in Jungian psychoanalysis: Political, psychological, and sociological perspectives (pp. 175-184). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

    Anime constitutes prime material to be analysed and interpreted in a Jungian manner. This chapter focuses on ONE PIECE, a fantastic sea adventure. The protagonist is a 17-year-old named Luffy who journeys with his friends, called ‘the team of straw’, in search of a legendary treasure, the titular ONE PIECE. Here Konoyu Nakamura explores the idea of ‘the team of straw’ as an individual. She discusses the ‘variety and differences’ that these characters represent not only in terms of the differentiation of an individual but also in relation to the diversity represented by the cultural and national borderlessness that societies face today.
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Call for Papers – Journal of Anime and Manga Studies v. 5

Since its launch in 2020, the open-access Journal of Anime and Manga Studies has quickly established itself as the leading scholarly publication for this emerging field. Over the four issues that have been published so far, JAMS has attracted a wide array of articles, representing diverse perspectives and approaches, as well as a significant diversity in terms of the characteristics of the authors of the individual papers. Just some of the papers that have appeared in it so far have included:

In addition – and the name and open-access status certainly help – JAMS is fast becoming the first, or at least one of the first – resources to recommend to anyone who wants to become familiar with how scholarly writing on anime and manga even looks like.

So, keeping all of this in mind, it is great to see JAMS announce the Call for Papers for the journal’s 2024 issue. Submissions will be accepted until March 31, 2024, and recognizing both the breadth of the field of anime and manga studies, and how open it is to different approaches and perspectives, the journal welcomes papers of any type, as long as the subject matter of the paper involves “anime, manga, cosplay, and their fandoms”. Submissions are expected to be approximately between 6500 and 8000 words, but papers that fall outside that range may be considered if discussed with the journal’s editor.

The full Call for Papers is available here.

Good luck to everyone who will be submitting a paper for consideration! The issue will be published towards the end of the year, and I will definitely be looking forward to reading all of the papers in it!

Makoto Shinkai – A Bibliography of English-language Scholarly Writing

The start of the year’s movie awards season is always a good opportunity to reflect back on what the year has offered to audiences in terms of anime – and what anime continues to offer to viewers. This year, understandably, much of the attention that was directed towards new Japanese animated feature films went to Hayao Miyazaki’s 君たちはどう生きるか / How Do You Live / The Boy and the Heron. But that it was neither the only anime feature film released this year, nor the only one that is receiving recognition now that the awards season has launched. And, perhaps, if The Boy and the Heron represents Japanese animation looking back, the other prominent film that opened this year worldwide – Makoto Shinkai’s すずめの戸締まり / Suzume is inevitably both the present – and the future – of Japanese animation.

And for that matter, in the same way that The Boy and the Heron is the capstone film for Hayao Miyazaki’s career as a director and creator, Suzume, globally successful and critically acclaimed, eligible for the 2024 Academy Awards, and already nominated for the Golden Globes, is a great summation of the work that Shinkai has done up to now, from his first days as a video game artist, through his earliest solo projects, and through more and more sophisticated and elaborate films. So far, Suzume has gathered significant critical attention, though no scholarly responses yet, but watching this film and thinking about it is also a great time to reflect on how scholars are now approaching Makoto Shinkai – because scholars certainly are!

Total: 20 publications (15 journal articles, 5 chapters in edited essay collections)

2023

Izumi, Katsuya. Saviours of the world: Impersonality and success in Shinkai Makoto’s animated films.
In Shih-Wen Sue Chen & Sin Wen Lau (eds.). Representations of children and success in Asia: Dream chasers (pp. 202-211). Abington, UK. Routledge.

  • “This chapter analyzes how Shinkai Makoto, a Japanese animation film director, has built a new image of the teenage hero who reflects shifts in cultural values during the Heisei period (1989–2019). Focusing on the teenagers, Mitsuha and Taki, in Your Name. (2016), this chapter argues that impersonality, rather than strong individualism, enables Shinkai’s characters to become heroes in the sekai-kei genre. Shintoism and classical Japanese language constitute the key elements in Shinkai’s concept of impersonality, or the state of an individual character in which they empty themselves to become a medium for others’ agencies and voices.”
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Satoshi Kon (1963-2010) – An Anime Studies Retrospective

When, around Christmas, journalists and other commentators discuss what they consider to be the most memorable depictions of the holidays and related themes in “global cinema”, one title that consistently finds its way into these discussions is an anime film – Tokyo Godfathers, directed by Satoshi Kon. Kon, tragically passed away from pancreatic cancer on August 24, 2010 at the age of 47. At the time of his death, he was already recognized as one of the most prominent directors working in Japanese animation, and since then, his stature has only grown. Accordingly, while reflecting on the anime that he contributed to, it is also important to mark how anime scholars have approached his work.

Previously, I presented a basic content analysis of scholarly works on Satoshi Kon’s films, with the goal of determining which ones of his films were the most frequently studied. And now, supplementing this, I believe it is also useful to present essentially a comprehensive bibliography of English-language scholarly publications on Satoshi Kon and his works, especially designed to commemorate both the 60th anniversary of his birth, and 30 years since the first such publication.

As with other similar specialized resources, this bibliography is based on materials in the larger Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies. It is based on searches for relevant terms in various major specialized academic databases, as well as in Google Scholar, and, where possible, direct examinations of relevant publications to identify other cited materials. The earliest article in the bibliography that I am currently away of is dated 1993 – on Kon’s manga World Apartment Horror; the most recent is from earlier this year, on “giallo tropes and gender in Perfect Blue“. Between these are 36 other publications – for a total of 38 – consisting of 1 full-length monograph, 7 chapters in edited essay collections, and 30 individual articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals. And, with as many as six of these added in just the last two years, it may be entirely safe to assume that non-Japanese scholars will continue to be interested in Satoshi Kon and his works for the foreseeable future.

Satoshi Kon – A Bibliography of English-language Scholarly Publications – 1993-2023-?

2023

2022

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Call for Papers – Mechademia: Second Arc, 17.1 “Cosplay, Street Fashion, and Subcultural Styles”

One concept that, for many people, is probably the most closely associated with anime/manga is cosplay. In turn, studies of cosplay are a major area in anime and manga studies in general – just some prominent examples include Melissa de Zwart, Cosplay, creativity and immaterial labours of love, Joel Gn, Queer simulation: The practice, performance and pleasure of cosplay, and Alexi Hieu Truong, Framing cosplay: How ‘layers’ negotiate body and subjective experience through play. And in 2006, when Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and Fan Arts launched with its “Emerging Worlds of Anime and Manga” issue, one of the articles in it was Costuming the imagination: The origins of anime and manga cosplay.

Despite their increasing visibility the importance of costume, fashion and style is often overlooked; they escape focused scholarly attention because, paradoxically, they are so patent and obvious, we may think anyone can talk about them.

Seventeen years have passed since then. And now, Mechademia has announced the Call for Papers for a full issue on “Cosplay, Street Fashion, and Subcultures”, guest-edited by Dr. Masafumi Monden (Lecturer, Japanese Studies, University of Sydney, author of, among other publications, Japanese Fashion Cultures: Dress and Gender in Contemporary Japan), and currently set for publication in the fall of 2024. The CFP suggests several broad questions or ideas to consider when thinking about cosplay and its relationships to fashion, street fashion, culture, and subculture. One of these questions is the nature of the difference between the ideas of “fashion” and “style”. Another is place that the body holds when approaching concepts related to fashion.

Within the broad issue scope, authors are invited to consider a wide range of topics and themes. Some of these can include:

  • Marketing and consumer culture
  • Sexuality and/or gender
  • Fandom and subsequent communities
  • Activism, resistance and protests
  • Beauty and aesthetics

The expected word length for submissions is between 5000 and 7000 words, and the submission deadline for the issue is July 1, 2023.

The full CFP, with additional details, is available on the Mechademia website.

Highlighting New Publications – JAMS v. 3

I think it’s safe to say we are comfortably past the point where the appearance of a new scholarly article on a topic related to anime/manga is something remarkable or extraordinary. As other scholars have already noted – and as I have worked to demonstrate – “anime and manga studies” (or the broader area of “Japanese popular culture studies” is now very much “a field in formation”, establishing itself and developing, and evolving.

But, even if a new publication on anime/manga is not particularly remarkable or even groundbreaking, it may still be worth examining. And this is especially true when we are looking not just at a single article, but several that appear at once – as is the case with the new third volume of the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies, the only “open-access journal dedicated to providing an ethical, peer-reviewed space for academics, students, and independent researchers examining the field of anime, manga, cosplay, and fandom studies”. JAMS launched in 2020, and with this latest volume, with nine stand-alone articles, one event report, and two book reviews, continues to make a very significant contribution to anime and manga studies as an academic field.

In November of 2020, JAMS got 322 file views. In November of 2021, this increased to 755 files views. And in November of 2022, this increased again to 1286 file views.

The issue opens with a report from the journal’s editor, including a look at readership statistics and month-to-month trends. At launch in November 2020, JAMS received 322 file views. This number stayed stable at approximately 200 views through much of 2021, but began trending up significantly from September 2021 on. with peaks in January, March, and October of the following year. The final figure the editor was able to provide, for November 2022, was 1286 file views. The major explanations for the growth trends that the editor presented are JAMS’ inclusion in the Directory of Open Access Journals, starting in February 2022, and the related Anime News Network news item. One question the report does not consider is whether the articles that JAMS is publishing are achieving any “impact” in the sense of receiving citations in other publications, or at least mentions in online discussions. Granted, even expecting impact from a relatively recent journal in a specialized subject area may be a lot to ask for – but from what I can tell, at least a couple of the articles that were published in JAMS have already been referenced elsewhere, such as The indigenous shôjo: Transmedia representations of Ainu femininity in Japan’s Samurai Spirits, 1993–2019, cited in Edutaining with indigeneity: Mediatizing Ainu bilingualism in the Japanese anime, Golden Kamuy, and Embedded niche overlap: A media industry history of yaoi anime’s American distribution from 1996 to 2009 included in the online resource What are Fujoshi, Fudanshi & BL? – plus mentions of others, and of the journal as a whole, in blog posts and on social media!

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Studying Satoshi Kon – The Numbers

The academic area of interest of “anime studies” welcomes many different approaches and even methods. But fairly consistently, authors who study Japanese animation have drawn on approaches based in auteur theory to emphasize the importance of particular creators/directors.

anime, as a form of postmodern popular culture, can be best understood in the West through a triangulation of different approaches that balance issues of form, medium, cultural context, and individual creators.

Kevin M. Moist & Michael Barthalow, When Pigs Fly: Anime, Auteurism, and Miyazaki’s Porco Rosso

Somewhat similarly, and although this is definitely changing, a significant percentage of what actually makes up English-language “anime studies” consists of studies of anime feature films. As Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano notes, in a critique of the field, “Big budget anime films such as Metropolis, Princess Mononoke, Ghost 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.”

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