NYAF '10: Anime in Academia


Compared to the amount of academic research afforded to more established forms of entertainment like film and Western animation, there is an expected lack of discourse on anime. Or at least, that's what I assumed, but according to a panel on Anime in Academia, there is apparently quite a bit of research that has been done on anime and manga. They stressed it repeatedly, in fact, and started out the panel by listing a bunch of books you should be reading, such as Anime: From Akira to Howl's Moving Castle, Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics, Tezuka is Dead, Japanamerica, and The Anime Machine.

However, those students who are interested in this subject don't receive some sort of magical major in Anime with a minor in Manga. They have to actually participate in the study of many fields that cross over to properly analyze the subject. Social studies and animation/film scholars are often best equipped to discuss the material. While Japanese and Asian Studies often cross over with social studies, those studying that major often do not have the skills or methodological training to properly address the subject.

Though advice on how to approach studying anime and manga was rather straight-foward - just jump into it and try to tie in assignments to your interest - they did stress that you should try to hold true to the academic process. Fact-checking with fans is alright, but the final product needs to be understandable for non-fans as well, so traditional peer review processes should still be utilized. Don't focus just on your interest in anime and manga, but also immerse yourself in other forms of media so you have a broader knowledge that allows you to draw connections with examples outside of the medium.

Strangely, the panelists made a point that since English is often considered the main language of scholars, Japanese scholars have to intentionally publish their articles in English in order to participate in the overall discussion. They claimed there is a sense that if they are published in English, even for manga, then they have "made it," giving the impression that Japanese accomplishments can't stand on their own without getting translated into our Western tongue. I found this way of thinking rather narrow-sighted, treating Japanese contributions as less important than our contributions, which is especially weird considering their likely more informed point of view on their own cultural exports. Maybe American academics should try to drop this centralist attitude if they are interested in growing the discourse on the subject even further.

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Bob Muir
Bob MuirContributor   gamer profile

Bob has been hanging around ModernMethod for years and and somehow writes almost everywhere, including Destructoid and Flixist. He was once lit on fire, but it's not as cool as you'd think. more + disclosures



Filed under... #anime #new york anime festival #osamu tezuka #otaku culture



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