Tag: Mechademia

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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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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