Tag Archives: Anime

Summer Course

Our new J-Pop summer course is running from July 18-August 18. I am team-teaching with 2 other fantastic PhD students, Kazue Harada and David Holloway. I am doing a module on Anime and images of modernity and post-modernity, depictions of nostalgia, ideal worlds, reality, and identity. Here are my topics, clips, and readings:

August 9
History of Anime/Why Study Anime in Academia?
Readings:
Roland Kelts, Japanamerica (New York: Palgrave, 2006), pp. 3-65.
Susan Napier, Anime: From Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle, (New York: Palgrave, 2005), pp. vii-18.

August 10
Miyazaki Hayao: Anime and Environmental Consciousness
We will watch clips from various Miyazaki films as part of our discussion
Readings:
Miyazaki Hayao, “Earth’s Environment as Metaphor” in Starting Point: 1979-1996, (San Francisco: VIZ Media, 2009), 474-432
—. “On the Banks of the Sea of Decay” in Starting Point: 1979-1996, (San Francisco: VIZ Media, 2009), 165-172.
—. “Nature is Both Generous and Ferocious” in Starting Point: 1979-1996, (San Francisco: VIZ Media, 2009), 332-338.
—. “On Nausicaä” in Starting Point: 1979-1996, (San Francisco: VIZ Media, 2009), 283-284.
—. “Thougts on Japanese Animation” in Starting Point: 1979-1996, (San Francisco: VIZ Media, 2009), 70-85.

REQUIRED: OUTSIDE OF CLASS VIEWING: 4PM OMOHIDE POROPORO

August 11
Only Yesterday: Nostalgia and the Idealized World of the Past
Readings:
Susan Napier, Anime: From Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle, (New York: Palgrave, 2005), Chapter 14: pp. 275-290.
Millie Creighton, “Consuming Rural Japan: The Marketing of Tradition and Nostalgia in the Japanese Travel Industry” in Ethnology, Vol 36.3 (Summer, 1997), pp. 239-254.
William W. Kelly, “Rationalization and Nostalgia: Cultural Dynamics of New Middle-Class Japan” in American Ethnologist, Vol. 13.4 (Nov., 1986), pp. 603-618.

August 12
Reinterpreting the “Past”-iche: Hip-hop Samurai
We will watch clips of Samurai Champloo in class as part of our discussion
Readings:
Marius B. Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan, (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press), pp. 274-279;
Philip Brophy, 100 anime, (New York: Macmillan, 2005), 200-205.
William L. Benzon, “Postmodern Is Old Hat: Samurai Champloo” in Mechademia Vol. 3 (2008), 271-274.

August 15
The Loss of the Real: Kon Satoshi’s Paprika and the Postmodern Condition
We will watch clips of Paprika in class as part of our discussion
Readings:
Perper and Cornog, “Psychoanalytic Cyberpunk Midsummer-night’s Dreamtime: Kon Satoshi’s Paprika” in Mechademia, (Volume 4, 2009, pp. 326-329).
Glenn Ward, Teach Yourself Postmodernism, (Chicago: McGraw-Hill, 2003), pp 55-86.

August 16
Consumerism and the Otaku Culture in Kon Satoshi’s Paranoia Agent
Readings:
Glenn Ward, Teach Yourself Postmodernism, (Chicago: McGraw-Hill, 2003), pp 88-139.
Gerald Figal, “Monstrous Media and Delusional Consumption in Kon Satoshi’s Paranoia Agent” in Mechademia (Volume 5, 2010, pp. 139-155).
Furukawa Hideo, “Monsters” in Monkey Business: New Writing From Japan Vol 1 (2011), pp. 6-17.

August 17
Literature in Anime, Anime as Literature
We’ll watch the Akutagawa section of Aoi Bungaku (2010) in class
Readings:
Akutagawa Ryûnosuke, Spider’s Thread.
—. “Hell Screen” in Modern Japanese Literature, Donald Keene, ed. (Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1956), 307-332.
“Akutagawa Ryûnosuke: 1892-1927” in Modern Japanese Writers, Jay Rubin, ed. (New York: Scribner, 2001), pp. 19-30. (on permanent reserve in reference area in Olin library)

Facebook blunders, Anime, and Nekulturny

Over the weekend, a New Hampshire state representative, Nikolas Levasseur made some ridiculous commentary on Facebook, saying that “Anime is the reason just 2 nukes wasn’t enough.”

Now, of course, for some, to be upset over this comment will be another example of oversensitivity and politically-correct responses to an ill-thought out, idiotic statement. But looking deeper, we can see that this is more than purely foolish rhetoric. Many people think Facebook is private and safe, but anyone who has been to “Failbooking” will recognize that what you say on Facebook may not stay among your close network of 500 friends. Indeed, we forget just how public the internet is. So perhaps Mr. Levasseur was just making an idiotic comment that one might make at a bar with friends, where some of his actual meat-space friends would say, “Nick, come on, that’s not cool.” And perhaps, he would have relented thinking that maybe “jokes” about thousands of people instantly dying are not funny in the least.

Perhaps this statement is also an example of someone simply being uneducated. As any Tom Clancy fan will know, a highly-charged Russian insult is to call someone Nekulturny, meaning “Uncultured.” A boorish, loud person might be prone to say such things. A person without deeper historic, or cultural appreciation for Japan might think it OK to say something like this. Maybe a way to prevent this kind of thinking is education.

Sure, there are things in anime that I find detestable, and I would not advise people to pick up and enjoy those titles. But, there is a huge variety of excellent, deep, moving, refreshing content within the anime genre that deserves to be seen and enjoyed. Most anime that we might find objectionable in the west is created for a subset of a purely Japanese audience, who has a different sense of what it means to enjoy something versus acting out on it. (We Americans seem to act out our violent fantasies, rather than leaving them in the realm of fantasy…just look at the murder/rape rate and compare to Japan.) But, to say anime is a reason a country should have been wiped out, and that a state representative is saying such things, is really inexcusable. If he read up a bit, he might realize, as Takashi Murakami posits, anime and the otaku subculture is really in response to the atomic vaporization of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So, I humbly submit a short reading list for the state representative, and hope he will begin to do some homework before shooting of his mouth again.

  1. Dower, John. Embracing Defeat
  2. Drazen, Patrick. Anime Explosion
  3. Gravett, Paul. Manga, 60 Years of Japanese Comics
  4. Hendry, Joy. Understanding Japanese Society
  5. Ibuse, Masuji. Black Rain
  6. Kelts, Roland. Japanamerica
  7. De Bary, Keene, Tsunoda, and Varley. Sources of Japanese Tradition, vols 1-3
  8. Napier, Susan. Anime: From Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle.
  9. Schodt, Frederick L. Dreamland Japan
  10. Schodt, Frederick L. Manga, Manga, Manga
  11. Sugimoto, Yoshio. An Introduction to Japanese Society

Recent Project – Confucianism and Anime

Haven’t had much time to post lately; been focused on some off-line activities. I am writing an article for an issue of Asianetwork Journal on the ways we can see Confucian values at work in Shonen anime, especially Naruto and Bleach. I’ve presented on this in the past, but haven’t put it down into an article to date. This is fun! Have to say, Donald Keene, Wm. Theodore De Bary, and Tsunoda Ryusaku did some rockstar work. “Sources of Japanese Tradition” has been a great resource to get examples of Neo-Confucian writings.

I will be focusing on the 5 relationships (ruler-ruled, father-son, husband-wife, elder-younger, friend-friend,) filial piety, benevolence (Li and Ren), and loyalty. These are key values to be found in Shonen anime. Who says postmodern Japan is out of touch with its roots? Check back for details, I’ll say more when the article gets released.