NYAF2010: The Anime in Academia Panel
You think Anime and Manga is just a hobby? Think again. Anime and Manga are being utilized not only as a practice of art or entertainment, but also for academic purposes. Like books, film or any other media outlet, Anime and Manga also cover a wide range of topics and ideas that can be analyzed if done correctly. This in short means to take ideas and theories already established by scholars and applying them to the medium and in the process developing your own theses. Whether the subject is large like fansubbing or small like eye designs, it can be explored if the right ideas and materials are drawn upon.
Just the mere thought of Anime being thought of as an academic resource is rather silly to most. Admittedly, I am rather skeptical about the idea. The suggestion becomes a bit more practical when one of the speakers is getting her PhD at the University of Cambridge for her research in Anime and Sociology. A bit shocking, but if film classes are offered at most Universities, why not Anime classes? As it turns out, there is already a large society of people who research Anime and Manga for academic papers. The Anime and Manga Research Circle is an online group dedicated to building a community of people who do just that. The members range from professional scholars, to students and even to fans who are interested in exploring the deeper aspects of their hobby. A small note to fans though: in order to be taken seriously when discussing a subject most consider…well, somewhat silly, you have to leave most of your personal feelings on the subject behind. The panelists of course acknowledged that a general interest must be there for the research to take place, but being a fanboy or fangirl will do you no good in an academic setting.
If you are a bit confused on how to even begin exploring Anime in such a way, there are fortunately useful resources out there already. Books like Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle and Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics are a great starting point and really dive into the world of Anime and Manga like you never would have thought. If you don’t want to go and spend the money on a book, there are online journals such as Mechademia. These sources also look in the Japanese culture and how it is conveyed via Anime and Manga. Japanamerica, a book by Roland Kelts, specifically discusses how Japanese pop culture has invaded the United States and what it means for our daily lives. The works themselves are only the surface of the content, it also gets down to the business, the people involved on the Japanese and licensing end, as well as the fandom and how it has an effect on the Industry as a whole. Anime and Manga is a huge industry in Japan and other countries, and has had a large influence over the last few decades, which to me indicates it is worth digging into. If you still aren’t convinced, I encourage you to take the time to do a bit of searching on the matter. Perhaps you will learn that your passion for Anime and Manga can actually turn your hobby into a career.