The essays brought together in Mechademia 9 lead us to understand the extent to which “Japan” might be seen as an idea generated by anime, manga, and other texts rather than the other way around. What is it that manga and anime produce that no other medium can precisely duplicate? Is anime its own medium or a genre of animation—or something in between? And how must we adapt existing critical modes in order to read these new kinds of texts? While the authors begin with similar questions about the roots of Japanese popular culture and media, they invoke a wide range of theoretical work in the search for answers, including feminist criticism, disability studies, poststructuralist textual criticism, postcolonialism, art history, film theory, phenomenology, and more. Richly provocative and insightful, Mechademia 9 both enacts and resists the pursuit of fixed starting points, inspiring further creative investigation of this global artistic phenomenon.
Contributors: Stephen R. Anderson; Dale K. Andrews, Tohoku Gakuin U; Andrew Ballús; Jodie Beck; Christopher Bolton, Williams College; Kukhee Choo, Tulane U; Ranya Denison, U of East Anglia; Lucy Fraser; Fujimoto Yukari, Meiji U, Japan; Forrest Greenwood; Imamura Taihei; Seth Jacobowitz, Yale U; Kim Joon Yang; Thomas Lamarre, McGill U; Margherita Long, U of California, Riverside; Matsumoto Nobuyuki, Tokyo National Museum; Laura Miller, U of Missouri–St. Louis; Alexandra Roedder; Paul Roquet, Stanford U; Brian Ruh; Shun’ya Yoshimi, U of Tokyo; Alba G. Torrents.
Frenchy Lunning is professor of liberal arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Grouped thematically, the essays in this volume explore the relationship between national sovereignty and war (from the militarization of children as critically exposed in Grave of the Fireflies to reworkings of Japanese patriotism in The Place Promised in Our Early Days), the intersection of war and the technologies of social control (as observed in the films of Oshii Mamoru and the apocalyptic vision of Neon Genesis Evangelion), history and memory (as in manga artists working through the trauma of Japan’s defeat in World War II and the new modalities of storytelling represented by Final Fantasy X), and the renewal and hybridization of militaristic genres as a means of subverting conventions (in Yamada Futaro’s ninja fiction and Miuchi Suzue’s girl knight manga).
Contributors: Brent Allison; Mark Anderson; Christopher Bolton, Williams College; Martha Cornog; Marc Driscoll, U of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Angela Drummond-Mathews, Paul Quinn College; Michael Fisch; Michael Dylan Foster, Indiana U; Wendy Goldberg; Marc Hairston, U of Texas, Dallas; Charles Shiro Inouye, Tufts University; Rei Okamoto Inouye, Northeastern U; Paul Jackson; Seth Jacobowitz, San Francisco State U; Thomas Lamarre, McGill U; Tom Looser, New York U; Sheng-mei Ma, Michigan State U; Christine Marran, U of Minnesota; Zilia Papp, Hosei U, Tokyo; Marco Pellitteri; Timothy Perper; Yoji Sakate; Chinami Sango; Deborah Scally; Deborah Shamoon, U of Notre Dame; Manami Shima; Rebecca Suter, U of Sydney; Takayuki Tatsumi, Keio U, Tokyo; Christophe Thouny; Gavin Walker; Dennis Washburn, Dartmouth College; Teresa M. Winge, Indiana U.
Fanthropologies—the fifth volume in the Mechademia series, an annual forum devoted to Japanese anime and manga—focuses on fans, fan activities, and the otaku phenomenon. The zones of activity discussed in these essays range from fan-subs (fan-subtitled versions of anime and manga) and copyright issues to gender and nationality in fandom, dolls, and other forms of consumption that fandom offers. Individual pieces include a remarkable photo essay on the emerging art of cosplay photography; an original manga about an obsessive doll-fan; and a tour of Akihabara, Tokyo's discount electronics shopping district, by a scholar disguised as a fuzzy animal.
Contributors: Madeline Ashby; Jodie Beck, McGill U; Christopher Bolton, Williams College; Naitō Chizuko, Otsuma U; Ian Condry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Martha Cornog; Kathryn Dunlap, U of Central Florida; Ōtsuka Eiji, Kobe Design U; Gerald Figal, Vanderbilt U; Patrick W. Galbraith, U of Tokyo; Marc Hairston, U of Texas at Dallas; Marilyn Ivy, Columbia U; Koichi Iwabuchi, Waseda U; Paul Jackson; Amamiya Karin; Fan-Yi Lam; Thomas Lamarre, McGill U; Paul M. Malone, U of Waterloo; Anne McKnight, U of Southern California; Livia Monnet, U of Montreal; Susan Napier, Tufts U; Kerin Ogg; Timothy Perper; Eron Rauch; Brian Ruh, Indiana U; Nathan Shockey, Columbia U; Marc Steinberg, Concordia U; Jin C. Tomshine, U of California, San Francisco; Carissa Wolf, North Dakota State U.
In Beautiful Fighting Girl, Saitō Tamaki offers a far more sophisticated and convincing interpretation of this alluring and capable figure. For Saitō, the beautiful fighting girl is a complex sexual fantasy that paradoxically lends reality to the fictional spaces she inhabits. As an object of desire for male otaku (obsessive fans of anime and manga), she saturates these worlds with meaning even as her fictional status demands her ceaseless proliferation and reproduction. Rejecting simplistic moralizing, Saitō understands the otaku’s ability to eroticize and even fall in love with the beautiful fighting girl not as a sign of immaturity or maladaptation but as a result of a heightened sensitivity to the multiple layers of mediation and fictional context that constitute life in our hypermediated world—a logical outcome of the media they consume.
Featuring extensive interviews with Japanese and American otaku, a comprehensive genealogy of the beautiful fighting girl, and an analysis of the American outsider artist Henry Darger, whose baroque imagination Saitō sees as an important antecedent of otaku culture, Beautiful Fighting Girl was hugely influential when first published in Japan, and it remains a key text in the study of manga, anime, and otaku culture. Now available in English for the first time, this book will spark new debates about the role played by desire in the production and consumption of popular culture.
Frederik L. Schodt is a translator and author of numerous books about Japan, including Manga! Manga! and Dreamland Japan. He often served as Osamu Tezuka’s English interpreter. In 2009 he was received the The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette for his contribution to the introduction and promotion of Japanese contemporary popular culture.