Tag: Mechademia

Mechademia June 2022 – Migration and Transition

When in 2001, the Minneapolis College of Art & Design hosted a “Weekend Intensive study in the culture and creation of Japanese Manga (Comics) and Anime (Animation)” under the title Schoolgirls & Mobilesuits, it was one of the first events of its kind anywhere in the world. In the more than 20 years that have passed since, the idea of an academic workshop or symposium on anime/manga is no longer particularly novel, and that first SGMS event gave rise to Mechademia, a series of annual conferences held first at MCAD, and later, in several locations in South Korea and Japan. The Mechademia conferences also played a significant role in the launch in 2006 of Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga and the Fan Arts, which was then published for 10 issues, went on hiatus, and has since returned as Mechademia: Second Arc, with a twice-yearly publication schedule and a more expanded subject focus.

As was the case with most live events, Mechademia did not take place in either of the last two years, but returned last month, though with a major change in location to Los Angeles, to more closely co-incide with Anime Expo, the largest anime convention in the U.S., also returning live after after a two-year-break. And, although it has now been several weeks since Mechademia 2022, I think it’s important to preserve and present the schedule for this year, even as a guide to the range of subjects and topics that an event of its kinds and scope could cover, and the speakers it attracted.

Mechademia 2022 – Migration and Transition

Tuesday, June 28

10:00 a.m. – Panel 1
Definitions and Delineations

Transcultural Perspectives on Moe: Fan Theories, Discourses
Paul Ocone (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

Rise of the Weeaboo: Differentiating Japanese Otaku from Global Anime and Manga Fans
Ana Matilde Sousa (CIEBA – Artistic Studies Research Center, University of Lisbon)

10:00 a.m. – Panel 2
Outsiders: Assimilations and Erasures

‘Time is the Last Sacred Territory’: Tenuous Temporalities and Ainu Erasure in Naoko Takeuchi’s Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon
Taylor Janeen Pryor (Cornell University)

Glimpses of the Gaikokujin: Engaging with the ‘Outsider’ in Modern Manga
Ananya Saha (Assistant Professor, English, St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata)

1:00 p.m. – Panel 1
Dislocated Identities

I Love, Therefore I Am: Dismantling the Cartesian Dichotomy and Unifying the Self in Ghost in the Shell
Maria Grajdian (Associate Professor, Media Studies and Cultural Anthropology, Hiroshima University)

Society Eats Their Own: The Transnational Image of the Cannibal
Wendy Goldberg (Lecturer, Composition & Rhetoric, University of Mississippi) (more…)

Who are the anime/manga scholars? – a 2022 update

As anime and manga studies continues to establish itself, developing from simply an area of interest to an established academic field, one of the questions that has to be asked time and time again is not just what is the definition of anime and manga studies, but what are its actual features and characteristics. “Where” does anime and manga studies actually take place – or where do the results of “anime and manga studies” appear. And, similarly, who are the actual participants in this field? Having answers to these questions can help establish a profile for anime and manga studies, and can also allow for comparisons between it and other areas of interest, fields of study, etc.

Seven years ago now, I already tried answering one of these kinds of foundational questions with a basic analysis of “who are the anime/manga scholars“. At that point, I examined the institutional affiliations of the authors who contributed chapters to four different essay collections on anime/manga, and determined that of a total of 59 authors, 35 (59%) were college/university faculty, 8 (14%) – graduate students, 5 (8%) – other academic employees (researchers, etc.), and 11 (19%) – independent scholars or not affiliated with an academic institution (including artists, librarians, museum employees, and industry professionals).

Of course,, anime and manga studies, and Japanese popular culture studies in general has evolved significantly since I published my initial 2015 study. For example, the Society for Animation Studies now includes an Anime Studies special interest group. Mechademia, the first regular English-language scholarly journal on anime/manga and related topics, which first began publication in 2006 but went on hiatus after ten annual volumes, has been relaunched as Mechademia: Second Arc, with an expanded focus on “the study of East Asian popular cultures, broadly conceived”, and a more frequent publication schedule. It has recently been joined by the open-access Journal of Anime and Manga Studies. More and more colleges/universities around the U.S. are offering classes on anime and manga, every year, new graduate students are focusing on anime/manga in their dissertations, and major new textbooks, such as A Companion to Japanese Cinema and Introducing Japanese Popular Culture emphasize the place of anime and manga in Japanese culture.

So, with all of this in mind, I think that 2015 “who are the anime/manga scholars?” is due for an update, with some modifications. In particular, just as Mechademia has expanded its scope, it’s appropriate to go beyond just an analysis of authors of chapters in edited essay collections on anime/manga. In fact, the “new” Mechademia, which has now published 7 issues, each with its own subtitle and general theme (such as “Childhood”, “Soundscapes”, and “New Formulations of the Otaku”) is a perfect source to drawn on to identify some of the current characteristics of authors in anime/manga studies, Japanese popular culture studies, and, really, East Asian popular culture studies in general.

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Highlighting New Publications – Mechademia: Second Arc

One of the most powerful steps in the development process of a new academic field is the launch of a journal to collect and present new scholarly writing in the field. If nothing else, a journal means that enough scholars are interested in a particular topic area or on a particular subject to support the existence of one – and thus, can signal that the area or subject is supported by an actual community. In this way, publications such as Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, International Journal of Comic Art, and Journal of Fandom Studies help support the idea that animation studies, comics studies – and, recently, fandom studies do, in fact, exist as actual academic fields.

In 2006, the idea of approaching Japanese animation as a subject of academic study was certainly not unheard of. Susan Napier first introduced it in 2001’s Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation – followed by titles such as Roland Kelts’ Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. and Brian Ruh’s Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii. There were at least several classes on Japanese animation and Japanese comics at various colleges/universities around the U.S., and a small but active and growing community of scholars interested in the topic. So, when the University of Minnesota Press announced plans to launch an full-scale ongoing scholarly publication on anime, manga, and related topics, the announcement was seen as exciting and welcome – but not unexpected.

The first volume of Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and the Fan Arts set the tone for the publication with several unique features. Its contents were structured around a common theme – in that case, “Emerging World of Anime and Manga”, and included both original articles with titles such as The Japan Fad in Global Youth Culture and Millennial Capitalism, The Werewolf in the Crested Kimono: The Wolf-Human Dynamic in Anime and Manga, and Assessing Interactivity in Video Game Design, translations of materials that had already previously been published in Japanese, shorter commentary pieces, reviews, interviews, and artwork. Nine more followed, with subtitles such as Limits of the Human (2008), User Enhanced (2011), and Origins (2014). Mechademia consistently attracted submissions from leading academics, but also welcomed work from graduate students and independent scholars, the volumes were easy to access electronically via JSTOR and Project Muse and widely available in academic libraries, and many of the individual essays received frequent citations in subsequent scholarship.

However, following 2015’s Volume 10, World Renewal, Mechademia‘s editorial team made a decision to expand its scope to encompass more broadly “scholarship on media cultures and texts from across Asia”, and thematically, “topics of current interest to scholars of Asian art, animation, literature, film, comics-manga-manwah, video games, merchandise, digital storytelling, and other ever-emerging media”. To underline this change, the journal would be formally retitled Mechademia: Second Arc, and, going forward, would be published twice a year. The call for papers for the initial volume – “Childhood” – was distributed in the summer of 2016. An “extraordinary series of delays on the publication side” followed, but Mechademia: Second Arc – “Childhood”, numbered as Volume 11, Number 1, and with a Fall 2018 cover date, is finally now available, though at this point, only online, through JSTOR and Project Muse (according to a notice on the University of the Minnesota Press website, the issue “is not in stock and the estimated shipping date is not available at this time”). (more…)

Call for Papers – Mechademia: Second Arc, 13.2 “Soundscapes”

In a few weeks, the University of Minnesota Press will launch the new Mechademia: Second Arc series of books – the successor to its Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and Fan Arts titles that appeared between 2006 and 2015. This first volume’s theme will be “Childhood”, the next two, “Transnational Fandoms” and “Materialities Across Asia” are scheduled for release later in the year, it will then move to a twice-a-year publication calendar. The Call for Papers for Volume 13.1, “Queer(ing), is open until June 1, and the CFP for 13.2 is now available.

The theme for Mechademia: Second Arc issue 13.2 is “Soundscapes”, and it will be edited by Dr. Stacey Jocoy, Associate Professor of Musicology, Texas Tech University.

“This issue of Mechademia will consider sound and soundscapes, broadly conceived, as an aspect of the deeper narratives of anime, manga/ manhua, gaming, and related fields. The editors invite papers of 5000 to 7000 words revolving around critiques, musicological, socio-cultural, musico-psychological, music theory and analytical approaches, and acoustical considerations toward the investigation into the global ramifications of soundscapes.”

The full CFP is available on the Mechademia website, and submissions are due by June 15. Some potential topics it suggests include:

  • Music, sound, and narrative in anime, manga, gaming, and other East Asian media, including sound effects and musical iconography
  • Musical allusions to notable compositions, performers, or genres (e.g. classical, jazz, rock, traditional folk musics)
  • Media representations of idol singers, musicians, bands
  • Image songs, character albums, podcasts, and other tie-in audio media
  • Fan creations: AMVs, MMVs, Vocaloids, Desk Top Music (DTM) software
  • Voice acting, seiyû, voice-based celebrities

The issue will be published in the fall of 2020.

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Call for Papers – Mechademia: Second Arc, Vol. 1 “Childhood”

Back in 2006, the University of Minnesota Press’s launch of Mechademia Volume 1: Emerging Worlds of Anime and Manga – the first in “a series of books…devoted to creative and critical work on anime, manga and the fan arts”, with the goal for the series stated as being “to examine, discuss, theorize and reveal this unique style through its historic Japanese origins and its ubiquitous global presence and manifestation in popular and gallery culture” was rightly seen as a major step in the development of anime/manga studies as a defined academic field.

Mechademia was, of course, not the only place where an author could publish their work on anime/manga, but it quickly became one of the most prominent and accessible – widely distributed to academic and even public libraries, available online via JSTOR and Project Muse, and priced at a point that made it affordable to readers who simply wished to purchase individual volumes. And, this volume, and the nine that followed, each centered around a general theme, among them “Networks of Desire“, “Lines of Sight“, “Tezuka’s Manga Life” and finally, in 2015, “World Renewal” each made a major and significant contribution to the growing field, especially with their unique and distinctive mix of original essays, translations of both recent and and historical Japanese scholarship, short commentary pieces, photo essays, comics/manga, and other types of content far beyond the range of what is normally seen in academic journals and essay collections. (more…)

Call for Papers – Mechademia Conf. on Asian Popular Cultures 2017

Mechademia ConferenceMechademia 2017: Science Fictions
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Minneapolis, Minnesota
September 22-24, 2017

The organizers of the annual Mechademia conference, hosted at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, are inviting scholars to present their work at this year’s event. Mechademia’s overall goal is to “explore the global innovations and creative and cultural implications of Japanese anime and manga”, and the specific focus of this year’s event is on science fiction, broadly defined. Some potential topics could include discussions of:

• Transnational science fiction forms
• Gender, feminist science fiction
• Emergent genre of “cli-fi”
• Fan Fiction
• Science fiction and environmental justice movements (more…)

Call for Papers – Mechademia Conf. on Asian Popular Cultures 2016

Mechademia Conference

Minneapolis College of Art and Design
September 23-25, 2016

The organizers of the annual Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures are now inviting proposals for individual paper presentations and panel discussions for this year’s event. The dates for Mechademia 2016 are Friday, September 23 to Sunday, September 25 and it will once again be hosted by the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (Minneapolis, MN).

The theme of this year’s conference is “World-Building in Asian Popular Cultures”, and some of the potential questions, issues and topics that speakers are invited to address in their proposals include:

  • Popular culture frequently juxtaposes different realities in the form of alternative timelines or bifurcating temporalities. How might imaginative narratives jostling time and space function as axes of a potential alternate world reality?
  • How might worldbuilding address and even transform the dark portend of the Anthropocene?
  • How do new storytelling practices and forms of communication support worldbuilding across alternative locations and temporalities?
  • What is the role language plays in creating alternate worlds? Does one have to change language to create an altered reality?
  • Science fictions often encourage us to approach history and broad societal currents in terms of ‘what if’ scenarios. Such scenarios invite us to understand history through counterfactual narrations.  But rather than dismiss such scenarios as non-factual, we ask: What are potential relationships to be found in the social and political implications of understanding our historical reality in such terms?
  • How do colonialism, social inequality and gender constitute frameworks toward the creation of alternate worlds? In what ways are these factors recontexualized in new fictional worlds?
  • How do musical scores and soundtracks create the affective atmospheres that shape worldbuilding practices in film, anime and gaming?

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SGMS/Mechademia Tokyo Conference on Asian Popular Cultures Program

MechademiaThe organizers of the 桜SGMS: Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures, which will run at Aoyama Gakuin University (Tokyo, Japan) over this weekend (March 18-20) have now announced the full program for this event. The theme for this international conference “Conflicts of Interest in Anime, Manga, and Gaming”, and the program will consist of a total of twelve themed panel sessions, with over 40 individual presentations. It will also feature plenary addresses by Takayuki Tatsumi, who teaches at the Department of English, Keio University, and has been described as “one of Japan’s leading cultural critics”, author and science fiction critic Mari Kotani, and Vince Shortino, Executive Vice President of Japan Channels at Crunchyroll, Inc., the leading global platform for internet streaming of anime and other Asian video content, a “Cosplay: In Costume and Performance” workshop, and a “micro-museum” curated by the photographer, writer, and installation artist Eron Rauch.

Mechademia’s keynote address will be presented by Prof. Hiroshi Deguchi (Department of Computational Intelligence and Systems Science, Tokyo Institute of Technology), one of the founders of Comiket and a co-editor of the forthcoming essay collection The Rise of Japanese Visual Narratives: Cultural, Institutional, and Industrial Aspects of Reproducible Contents (Springer). Other speakers who will be participating in Mechademia include both a number of established who have written and lectured on anime/manga extensively, among them Deborah Shamoon, Marco Pellitteri, Akiko Sugawa-Shimada, Renato Rivera Rusca, Stevie Suan, Wendy Goldberg, Heike Hoffer and Andrea Horbinski, and scholars who are just entering the field. Just some of the specific talks on the program include:

  • Mobile Suit Gundam War Narratives
  • Romantic Love and the ‘Housewife Trap’: A Gendered Reading of The Cat Returns
  • The Heretical Lineage: Images of Rural Blasphemy in Lovecraft and Lovecraftian Manga
  • The Postmodern Magical Girl: The Evolution and Contemporary Representation of the Mahô Shôjo Genre
  • Musical World-Making in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
  • Performing Differently: Convention, Medium, and Globality from Manga (Studies) to Anime (Studies)

桜SGMS: Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures – full program

Friday, March 18:

Session I: 12:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Opening Introductions
Edmund W. Hoff, Frenchy Lunning

Panel 1 – Impact of the Global Expansion of Cosplay
Convener: Edmund W. Hoff

In the post war period, anime and manga of Japan has seen popular expansion around the world. Initially enjoyed through bookstores and on television, they have come to be consumed in various forms. This panel will explore the extent to which cosplay has had an impact in coordination with this global spread. Edmund Hoff will look at the soft power and hard power relations of two nations with long histories of costuming, the United States and Japan. In a world where cosplay has come to be enjoyed in many countries, Lillian Ruan will examine the global popularity of cosplay in relation to the relatively robust marketing machines of other contents from Japan. Tiffany Lim will discuss the implications of online social media on cosplay communities and with the Filipino cosplay community as a focal point she will consider presentation, esteem, and image of the self. With locations in India as a case study for the popular expansion of Japanese pop culture, Sharmishtha Rawat will explore the forms in which this culture has taken root and the various forms of interaction with greater society. Discussion will span a wide geographic range and share a common association in cosplay and its varied implications.

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Creator Bibliography – Osamu Tezuka (Part 2: 1997-2009)

Earlier this year, I compiled a list of English-language academic/scholarly publications on Osamu Tezuka and his works since 2010. At that point, I noted that it would be the first part of a comprehensive specialized bibliography of academic writing on Tezuka – and I am now pleased to present its second part, covering book, book chapters, and journal articles that were published before 2010.

God of ComicsThe sources for the list are the individual annual bibliographies of English-language academic publications on anime/manga. These are based on searches in various general and subject-specific academic databases, as well as resources such as Google Scholar and Google Books, Microsoft Academic Search, and the Directory of Open Access Journals, major library catalogs, reviews of the bibliographies/notes/works cited sections of items that were already identified for inclusion, and direct contributions by authors. As with any enumerative bibliography, its scope is necessarily limited to only certain types of publications – books, chapters in essay collections and articles in academic/scholarly journals, but not book reviews or articles in newspapers/general-interest magazines. In addition, while I of course acknowledge that plenty of other academic publications mention Tezuka and his works, I make a conscious decision to also limit this bibliography’s scope to publications that deal with Tezuka extensively or significantly. Therefore, this bibliography does not cover broader essays on Japanese comics/animation, such as, for example, Kinko Ito’s A history of manga in the context of Japanese culture and society, or papers on general topics that mention one of Tezuka’s works in passing – such as The frenzy of the visible in comic book worlds (Angela Ndalianis, Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal).

Creator Bibliography – Osamu Tezuka
Part 2 – 1997-2009

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Call for Papers – 桜SGMS: Mechademia Conf. on Asian Popular Cultures

Aoyama Gakuin University
Tokyo, Japan
March 18-20

MechademiaThe organizers of the Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Culture annual conference, held at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design annually since 2001 (originally as Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits) are now accepting presentation and panel proposals for the Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures 2016, to be hosted in Tokyo, Japan (at Aoyama Gakuin University), from March 18 to March 20, 2016.

The theme of the conference is “Conflicts of Interest in Anime, Manga and Gaming”. There is no formal list of potential or suggested topics, but the organizers describe its theme as follows:

“After the initial period of explosive expansion and innovation in the arts of Japanese anime, manga, and gaming in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, a new era has arrived in which the effects of that massive emergence and expansion have begun to appear in, on, and around the surface of those arts, in the form of conflicts, ambiguities, controversies, disappointments, as well as stunning opportunities and innovation. These cracks on the smooth surface of this global phenomenon may in fact be the ‘stretch marks’ of its rapid global growth.

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