Anime Topics Research Papers

The original! This is a short essay/intro to Japanese comics and animation, and what makes them special (and popular!). Somehow this became a very popular essay, and many people wound up copying it or even modifying it all over the net. Come on, guys, just link back here instead.

Against Anime/Manga Stereotypes (at EX).
A peek beyond the sex-mechs-violence stereotype, so common in the US media today.

"The Romantic, Passionate Japanese in Anime: A Look at the Hidden Japanese Soul"
A glimpse beneath the stereotypes laid upon the Japanese by the rest of the world; answers to arguments that the Japanese are anti-individualism, etc. Presented at the 1997 Japanese Pop Culture Conference at the University of Victoria (in Canada). Published in Japan Pop! Inside the World of Japanese Popular Culture (more informative teaching guide page). Publisher: M.E. Sharpe; edited by Dr. Tim Craig of the University of Victoria.

The Philosophical (Moral, Ethical, Spiritual) High Road in Manga: Examples. (2000)
Examples of specific philosophical, ethical, spiritual teachings from manga (and possibly other) sources. While for various reasons I no longer subscribe to weekly manga, I think this list is still a good glimpse into what makes some manga magical.

The Use (and abuse?) of the Psychic in Manga and Anime (Some updates 08/2001)
A possibly controversial look at the prevalence of supernatural themes in manga and anime, and its effects on readers.

Gender and Gender Relations in Manga and Anime
Another possibly controversial look at the relationship between the sexes in both manga and Japanese society. Speaking of which, why are so many female characters suffering from amnesia?

Ethnic and Racial Stereotypes in Manga (3/2000)
More controvery? A look at the question of race and ethnicity in manga, from a perspective of asking "Why?" and "What happened?"

Environmentalism in Manga and Anime
A fast look at the thread of environmentalism in manga and anime. Not as in-depth as I'd like, but a start.

What's Lost in the Translation?
A fast look at the Japanese language, and how a lot of information can be lost when translating to English.

In a previous post, I highlighted several books that I think are the best to recommend for someone who really knows almost nothing about Japanese animation/Japanese comics, and wants an introduction that is both accessible and reasonably comprehensive. The titles that I profiled – among them Anime: A Critical Introduction, Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga, and Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices– all strive to be just. But, what kinds of books could I recommend to a reader who is interested not in anime/manga “broadly defined”, but in the work of a particular anime director or manga artist/writer?

Books on Anime/Manga, Part 2 – Specific Directors/Creators

Hayao Miyazaki

For many people, Hayao Miyazaki is anime/Japanese animation – and this is not unreasonable. Sales figures, critical recognition, awards – and scholarship – all contribute to this, to the point where, as Jaqueline Bernd notes (in her essay “Considering manga discourse: Location, ambiguity, historicity”, in Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the Worlds of Manga and Anime): “Non-Japanese scholars tend to assume that his movies are typical as a whole because of their mere presence in Japan; they frequently treat these animated movies are mirrors of Japanese culture, assuming the existence of a homogenous audience, and often implicitly comparing them to Disney products, but they rarely locate them within the history and present variety of animation in Japan.” But, again, just as Miyazaki and his films often serve as points of entry into the “worlds of manga anime”, writing on Miyazaki and his films can serve as point of entry to anime scholarship.

First published in 1999, Hayao Miyazaki: Masster of Japanese Animation – Films, Themes, Artistry is likely the first one on Miyazaki that a reader will come across. It is widely available and easy to read, with a straight-forward organizational scheme that consists of an overview of Miyazaki’s “life and work”, chapters on seven of his movies, from Castle of Cagliostro to Princess Mononoke, each divided into identical sections (“Origins”, “Art and technique”, “The characters”, “The story”, “Commentary”), and a concluding one on “The Miyazaki Machine”. Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that it is almost twenty years old now, and so, simply does not cover either the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, Miyazaki’s other subsequent projects, or his role as the conscience – or vocal critic – of the animation industry in Japan. Continue reading →

books, Brian Ruh, Hayao Miyazaki, Helen McCarthy, Mamoru Oshii, Osamu Tezuka, Satoshi Kon, Susan Napier

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