Tag: Mechademia

Call for Papers – Mechademia: Second Arc, 18.2 “Studio Ghibli”

Japanese animation is many things. On the very first page of the excellent Anime: A Critical Introduction, animation scholar Rayna Denison uses the phrase “a shifting, sliding category of media production”, and further in the same book Dr. Denison also refers to anime as a “cultural phenomenon”. But outside Japan, and especially in Western media, Japanese animation is (still) often synonymous with the persona of Hayao Miyazaki and the films he has directed at Studio Ghibli. In fact, Jaqueline Berndt specifically points to this as one of the shortcomings in contemporary scholarly approaches to Japanese animation, writing that “Non-Japanese scholars tend to assume that [Hayao Miyazaki’s] movies are typical of anime as a whole because of their mere presence in Japan”.

But just because some of these assumptions may be incorrect, does not mean that all of them are. Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli are the subjects of almost 20 English-language scholarly books, from Helen McCarthy’s Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation – Films, Themes, Artistry, which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary later this year, to last year’s – and very different in scope and in tone Studio Ghibli: An Industrial History (also by Prof. Denison), as well as a full collection of essays on Princess Mononoke, and two different entries in the BFI Film Classics line of handbooks (on Grave of the Fireflies and on Spirited Away). Miyazaki and Ghibli have also been the subjects of a special section in the Journal of Ecocritical Humanities, and other essays discussing particular aspects of and approaches to Ghibli films, or comparing them to other works, such as non-Japanese animations – appear frequently in edited essay collections and peer-reviewed journals – an excellent recent example is Miyazaki’s monstrous mother: A study of Yubaba in Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, in a recent issue of Feminist Media Studies.

Now, it appears that plans are underway for another major contribution to Miyazaki/Ghibli studies, with a dedicated “Studio Ghibli” issue of Mechademia: Second Arc, set for a Summer 2026 publication date. Prof. Denison will serve as one of the editors, joined by Dr. Jaqueline Ristola (University of Bristol).

One of the goals of the issue will be to significantly expand the potential critical approaches to undertake in connection with Ghibli, such as “investigations into the studio’s wider politics, its industrial activities, and cultural impact in Japan and around the world”.

Papers for the issues can address topics such as:

  • New theoretical approaches to studying Hayao Miyazaki’s films
  • Analyses of Japanese academic approaches to Studio Ghibli
  • Sound and Studio Ghibli films
  • Studio Ghibli’s animation aesthetics – e.g. background art, CG aesthetics, hand-drawn animation
  • Studio Ghibli’s other directors (Isao Takahata, Yoshifumi Kondō, Gorō Miyazaki, Tomomi Mochizuki, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, etc.)
  • Producers at Studio Ghibli (Toshio Suzuki, Yoshiaki Nishimura, Eiko Tanaka, etc.)
  • Studio Ghibli CEOs/Leaders (Toshio Suzuki, Koji Hoshino, Yasuyoshi Tokuma, etc.)
  • Studio Ghibli’s below the line workers (animators, inbetweeners, colorists, etc.)
  • Studio Ghibli’s Art Museum and the Ghibli Park
  • Advertising, partnerships, sponsors and Studio Ghibli
  • Studio Ghibli’s environmental activism

Authors are invited to submit essays of between 5,000 and 7,000 words. The submission deadline for the issue is July 1, 2024.

Full details about the CFP are available on the Mechademia website.

Call for Papers – Mechademia: Second Arc, 18.1 “Death and Other Endings”

In the classic study Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation, Susan Napier identifies “the apocalyptic” as one of the three major “modes” of Japanese animation. But this is a relatively narrow approach – a much broader one would move to consider both East Asian popular culture products, expressions, and activities in general, and a more abstract idea of “endings”. And it it this approach that Mechademia: Second Arc is proposing for the upcoming Volume 18.1, currently set for publication in the Winter of 2025 with Prof. Anne Allison (Duke University) serving as the issue’s editor.

“Death and Other Endings” seeks papers that address the subject of endings of whatever kind, embedded in conditions of current times, and given a particular narrative, portrayal, or form in popular/media culture.

Some potential topics for the issue can include (the list is not exhaustive):

  • Technological imaginaries and/or development in end-of-life or postmortem care (robots, AI)
  • Surveillance and security apparati used to “end” various threats to public safety
  • Recovery or memorialization following national disasters (3.11 or others)
  • Global warming and/or environmental justice: effects of and activism around climate disaster
  • Shifts in life-stage and life-cycle: What are the “ends” driving social aspirations and lives today?
  • Temporality in an age of never-ending digitality and online connectedness
  • What do reports of sexlessness, disconnection, and solo sociality signal in terms of endings and /or beginnings of desire, sexuality, or relationality?
  • National borders, border-crossing, and (non)citizenship: What is the biopolitics of life, whose lives are valued (and whose is not), is there a necropolitics “ending” certain bodies?
  • How are apocalyptic, end-time or dystopic stories particular to Japan?
  • What has “ended” in the way of work, family, reproduction, and growth today, and is this ending something to mourn?

Authors are invited to submit essays of between 5,000 and 7,000 words. The submission deadline for the issue is July 1, 2024.

Full details about the CFP are available on the Mechademia website.

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.

Call for Papers – Mechademia: Second Arc, 17.2 “Methodologies”

Since its relaunch in 2018, with a more ambitious twice-a-year publication schedule and an expanded scope on “East Asian popular cultures, broadly conceived”, Mechademia has established itself as the leading publication in the anime and manga studies space. Eight issues have been published so far, featuring both original essays, and translations of major previously published Japanese scholarship and commentary, from authors who can justly be viewed as representing the cutting edge of the field of East Asian popular culture studies. And, the Mechademia editorial calendar is filled for the foreseeable future, with Volume 15.2, 2.5D Cultures on the schedule for Spring 2023, 16.1, Media Mix, for the fall, and 16.2, Media Platforms and Industries for Spring 2024. And now, Mechademia is also actively looking to fill a Fall 2024 issue, with the subtitle Methodologies, to be guest-edited by Dr. Jaqueline Berndt (Professor, Japanese Language and Culture, Stockholm University).

This journal issue invites those engaged in research on East and Southeast Asian popular media and related global fan cultures to foreground their theoretical frameworks and methodological assumptions, and to critically reconsider their methods of analysis in order to explore new possibilities for inter-disciplinary collaboration.

Submissions of between 5,000 and 7,000 words, using the Mechademia Style Guide, are accepted until July 1, 2023.

The Call for Papers for the issue highlights several potential questions to consider. Among them:

  • What allows for conceptualizing manga, anime, video games, etc. as “popular culture” and not “subculture,” as Japanese-language discourse more often has it? What difference does it make to speak of “media culture” rather than “popular culture” in this regard? What would be an up-to-date name for the wider research field covered by Mechademia?
  • Allegedly, there has been an overemphasis on textual analysis, but what type of textual analysis is meant by that? What type of formalism does research in media representations of gender, ethnicity, youth nationalism, etc. require today?
  • What institutional factors have led to the persistent overemphasis on subjects related to Japan and/or based in Japan studies? What limitations and potentials does this overemphasis hold?
  • What hampers the interrelation between English-language and Japanese-language scholarship (including publications by non-Japanese nationals in Japanese, and translations of popular or non-academic Japanese media criticism in English)? What facilitates mutual ignorance or exclusion? And how can these obstacles be overcome?

For an example of a recent methodology-focused study on a topic related to East Asia, although it does not deal with East Asian popular culture specifically, consider Xiang Li, Citing East Asia: A citation study on the use of East Asian materials in East Asian Studies dissertations, College & Research Libraries, 80(4), 561-577.

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

2022 in Review in Anime and Manga Studies

The start of the new year implies many things, but for websites that deal with news, the start of a new year often implies “year in review” articles summarizing some of the previous year’s major trends and highlighting major events. And, surprising as it may be, when we look back at 2022 in terms of developments related to anime and manga studies, there were several that are worth pointing out specifically!

2022 Highlights

34th Annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards – Best Academic/Scholarly Work winner: Comics and the Origins of Manga: A Revisionist History (Eike Exner, Rutgers University Press)

Marking a high point in the development of manga studies as an academic field, 2022 saw the first time that the Eisner Award in this category went to a book on Japanese comics, although volumes on manga have received nominations before. Exner’s study, based on extensive fieldwork he conducted in Japan, working primarily at the National Diet Library, makes the case that American comic strips played a key role in the development of Japanese manga because they were widely translated, available to both readers and authors/artists, and introduced the Japanese market to potential new storytelling and visual techniques. This does not in any way mean that manga “rips off” American comics; nonetheless, some Japanese Twitter commenters have attempted to accuse the author of racism and cultural appropriation. Interviews with Exner are available on this site and on the New Books Network.

Qualitative Research publishes, then retracts “Using masturbation as an ethnographic method in research on shota subculture” paper after media outcry.

This absolutely unprecedented sequence of events started on April 26, with the OnlineFirst appearance of a research article with the full title “I am not alone – we are all alone: Using masturbation as an ethnographic method in research on shota subculture in Japan”. Nothing of interest happened until early August, when the it began picking up Twitter attention from both other academics and even some politicians, leading, predictably, to media coverage in The Telegraph, Vice.com, and other venues. And an opinion piece in Times Higher Education that presents the original article as an example of “insanity of ethnography’s turn towards introspection and other postmodern research methods that place little value on objectivity” is that paper’s most-read article of the year! (more…)

Call for Papers – Mechademia 2023 Conference: “Aftermath”

Mechademia 2023 – Aftermath
Kyoto International Manga Museum
May 27 – May 29, 2023

Originally launched at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design as “Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits”, the annual Mechademia conference is now a premier site for new research on a wide range of topics related to Japanese popular culture, including anime and manga, but also encompassing video games and fan activities and practices. Last year’s conference was held in Los Angeles immediately preceding the Anime Expo convention, and for 2023, Mechademia will take place in Kyoto, at the Kyoto International Manga Museum, and potentially at Kyoto Seika University (home of the Graduate School of Manga). Options for line presentations will be available, but in-person participation is strongly encouraged.

The keynote speaker for this year will leading manga scholar Prof. Jaqueline Berndt (Stockholm University). Some of recent work includes contributing the introduction to the new Stockholm University Press open-access essay collection Anime Studies: Media-Specific Approaches to Neon Genesis Evangelion, and the essay More Mangaesque than the Manga: ‘Cartooning’ in the Kimetsu no Yaiba Anime to a special section on Demon Slayer in an issue of the journal Transcommunication, and serving as one of the co-editors for Shojo Across Media: Exploring “Girl” Practices in Contemporary Japan. Prof. Berndt has also written adn lectured widely on the future of anime and manga studies as a field.

The theme for 2023 will be “aftermath” – in connection to concepts of a “a sense of destruction”, apocalyptic images, and shifts in lived experiences in response to these events and changes. Some suggested topics that participants are invited to consider in their papers include:

  • Methodological shifts within the field of anime and manga studies
  • Effects of digitalization on media mixes
  • BL as a global genre
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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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