Waseda Anime Symposium

Theorizing Anime: Invention of Concepts and Conditions of Their Possibility
November 16 & 17, 2019
Graduate School of International Culture and Communication Studies, Waseda University

The purpose of the international symposium “Theorizing Anime: Invention of Concepts and Conditions of Their Possibility” is to reassess critically what anime studies has accomplished in and outside Japan since the beginning of the 2000s. The symposium attempts to explore the possibility of emerging new topics and methodologies by mainly focusing on the following three clusters of issues and ideas.

First, we will reexamine various subfields and approaches in anime studies—including, for instance, textual analysis, reception and consumption, industrial analysis, historiography, anime’s medium specificity, and anime as a form of thought experiment (T. Elsaesser)—to clarify what has been accomplished so far and what remains to be done.

Second, we will scrutinize the politics of anime studies discourse in a global context. Anime studies, which emerged contemporaneously in Japan and the global space of English-language academic discourse, now exists as a distinct field of intellectual inquiry. Even though they partially share similar concepts and historical paradigms, anime studies in the global academic space and Japan’s anime studies for the most part exist separately. The absence of active interaction with each other sometimes makes them appear as though they are two parallel—not necessarily equally valued—universes. While the English-language scholarship on anime tends to set itself up as a “universal” standard by freely crossing national borders,anime studies in Japan often does not actively respond to the global enclosure of anime-related knowledge by the English-language scholarship. We will closely examine this peculiar relation of the “global” and the “local” in an attempt to search for a more dialogic model of transnational interaction and cooperation.

Third, we will discuss the relationship between anime studies and various relevant disciplines. While having established itself as a distinct research field, anime studies is not (yet) an academic discipline. The possibility of anime studies is intimately linked to such disciplines and areas of research as media studies, film studies, visual studies, game studies, and literary studies. What can anime studies learn from these established disciplines? Conversely, what impact does anime studies have on them? We will address these questions not only from an institutional or theoretical perspective but also through concrete case studies.

Over thirty scholars, and one active practitioner, will gather to discuss these issues over two days. We hope to see you there and that you will participate in what we would like to be a lively discussion.

Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto (Waseda University)
Bryan Hikari Hartzheim (Waseda University)

Website and Mascot design:
Yasmeen Alsinan