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Another spring, and another term over! When so much time goes by, it becomes impossible to sum up all the individual things that have happened. So instead, here are some general reflections on how I've changed my perspective and opened up my life in the last year.

Because you know what? I feel like I’ve found some sort of secret key for joyful living this year. I thought that yesterday as I walked to a jazz band rehearsal. (I'm in a jazz band now. True story.) I felt like I’d found the secret to happiness. But when I tried to pin it down, it eluded words, or came out too simple. “I just do what makes me happy!” Yes, that’s it! And not it, not entirely. The entire “it” can’t be captured. It’s a feeling of going down the right path, knowing what I do is for the best, living authentically. Just…living.

Secret to Happiness below. Caveat: YMMV )
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It's Saturday, which means time for book reviews! And since I just finished Ian Condry's new book The Soul of Anime a couple of weeks ago, here are some thoughts. Note: thoughts may be oriented towards my own personal usage. YMMV. RSVP. TTYL. Etc. ;)

The Soul of Anime )

Book Binge

Sep. 11th, 2012 11:24 am
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Fall has fallen! The air is getting cool at night, the leaves are starting to kindle, and yesterday a line of geese flew over my head talking loudly among themselves, probably about the sweet timeshare they've got lined up in Florida.

Because I've been a student for over a decade, Fall always means book-buying time. I'm not even teaching this term, but I can't resist the urge to hoard some books. So in case you're looking for any good reads on animation, anime, or Japanese film this Fall, here are my must-have, just-ordered picks:

Bukatman, Scott. The Poetics of Slumberland: Animated Spirits and the Animating Spirit. University of California Press, 2012.
-Bukatman has written some interesting books on sci-fi (especially his "Terminal Identity"), so his take on Western animation history starting from Winsor McCay, with chapters on things like "Disobedient Machines," is something to look forward to.

Ito, Mizuko et al, eds. Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World. Yale University Press, 2012.
-This book contains a mix of new studies and translations/excerpts from major Japanese authors like Azuma Hiroki (Database Animals) and Morikawa Kaichiro (Otaku and the City: The Rebirth of Akihabara). I wonder why Lawrence Eng and Mizuki Ito are both in there twice -couldn't they have gotten some other authors? But it seems useful to anime fan studies.

Perper, Timothy. Mangatopia: Essays on Manga and Anime in the Modern World. Libraries Unlimited, 2011.
-Mangatopia is expensive -the paperback runs nearly 60.00CAD- but with articles on biopolitics in Barefoot Gen by Tom Lamarre, cosplay by Frency Lunning, and other interesting things on GLBTQ readers and masculinity in manga, I'm thinking it'll be worth the cover price.

Tze-Yue, G. Hu. Frames of Anime: Culture and Image-Building. Hong Kong University Press, 2010.
-I'm not sure about this one. The table of contents makes it look like a broad overview of animation history in Japan. What I skimmed of the intro seems reasonably well-written. But I hadn't heard much about this book, though it seems to have been published two years ago. Is there a reason it's being overlooked, or is it a hidden treasure, just recently available in Canada? We'll see...

And a couple of Japanese film catch-ups:

Gerow, Aaron. Visions of Japanese Modernity: Articulations of Cinema, Nation, and Spectatorship, 1895-1925. University of California Press, 2010.
-A brilliant exploration of early Japanese film history. I don't know why I haven't ordered my own copy before now!

Phillips, Alastair. Japanese Cinema: Texts and Contexts. Routledge, 2007.
-An auteur-based essay collection with articles on all the major directors from early Ozu up to Kitano Takeshi and Miyazaki Hayao. It wouldn't work as a textbook, but it is very useful to have on hand if you're teaching a Japanese film course -which I am, in the Winter!

I am also looking forward to:

Condry, Ian. The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan's Media Success Story. Duke University Press, 2013.

Wada-marciano, Mitsuyo. Japanese Cinema in the Digital Age. University of Hawaii Press, July 31 2012(??) (Must be delayed in Canada, it's still in preorder here!)

Happy reading!
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This week, my home university, Wilfrid Laurier Univeristy, is partnering with the University of Waterloo to host Canada's major humanities conference, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Basically, all the individual national scholarly organizations -like mine, the Film Studies Association of Canada- get together an hold their annual conferences at the same time in one place. We'll have over 7000 people this year, which is a massive conference by Canadian standards. (Though it makes me smile to realize what a small fraction of Comiket's 500,000 attendees that is!)

There will be a lot of live blogging and tweeting of this event, but I don't think I'll be one of the avid bloggers. Maybe I'll do a sum-up at the end, especially of the panel on "Anime/Comics: Appropriation and Adaptation." But since this is more an anime blog than an aca blog, I'll keep it low key.

That said, my presentation in a panel on post-cinematic adaptation is half about Satoshi Kon, so I have no problems posting my proposal/abstract here, for anyone who's interested!

Hugo and Paprika )
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Now that teaching is done and professional service is almost done, I'm finally getting back into concentrated anime research. And at the top of my pile (along with Mechademia 6, review coming eventually) is Marc Steinberg's new book Anime's Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan. I have to say off the top that this book is mainly targeted at those interested in the history and media theory of the anime industry, not at a general reader or even fan community audience. Examples from shows are few, endnotes are many. But if you are interested in the marketing and transmedia aspects of anime, and you want to know how the current system of manga/anime/gaming/light novel integration came to be, this is a ground-breaking book based on some impressive archival research.

Mini Media Mix )
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I don't think anyone on my flist is in Montreal (besides [ profile] eacherown), but if you are, or if you just want to know what's going on in the academic anime-sphere, check out this event being hosted by Concordia University next weekend:

Experiencing Media Mix: Anime, Manga, Video Games

The keynote speaker is Otsuka Eiji on Saturday, and on Sunday there will be papers by Ian Condry (on Miku!), Thomas Lamarre, Ueno Toshiya and Thomas Looser, among other fine scholars. I'm going, and I'm pumped!

Now if only I can manage to finish all the marking/exam writing/lecture prep that needs to be done before I go... O.o
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So busy. So, so busy! With 40 quizzes to mark, four lectures to write, a conference paper to edit, and all the regular reading, emails, meetings, and survival tasks coming up just for next week, things are frantic and I'm not even into the heavy part of the term yet. I haven't watched any of the summer anime releases, and the fall shows are already coming out. >.<

Also, I finally got my copy of Saitou Tamaki's Beautiful Fighting Girl in translation and read through the intro and first chapter with interest. Now, it sits on my couch-side Ottoman, Ayanami Rei glaring sideways off the cover at me, and I just can't find the time to get back to it. It's actually less offensive than I expected so far. But it still does that "let's mention female yaoi fans as a kind of otaku in passing and then keep talking about otaku as if they're all the same as the psychoanalytic idea of men" trick Azuma Hiroki also does. Maybe I'll bring it on the plane to Minneapolis and read it then instead of writing more lectures.

Anyways! This is just to say that things are good but busy. I like my classes, I have some excellent students who say they like my classes, and my proposal for a Japanese Film course was unanimously passed by the English and Film Dept. yesterday. (It goes on to the Curriculum Committee next.) I'm pushing myself very hard and it's cutting into my personal/fan time, but hopefully I can find a balance in the coming months.

Over and out!

Thesis Link

Aug. 8th, 2011 09:53 am
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Hey, now that there's no chance of compromising my rl identity (because I did it myself) I can post this link freely.

Here you can read or download my PhD thesis, "Animating Transcultural Communities: Animation Fandom in North America and East Asia from 1906-2010." The language and references are pretty academical, but I hope that anyone who likes animation and wants to know more about its history and current fandom might find it interesting. It's committee-approved and chock-full of animated goodness!

I'll post the abstract under a cut as well.

Thesis Abstraction )
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I did it! I'm all moved in to my new apartment and my new university office in Ontario. Once I get a home printer and more books to fill my office shelves, I'll have everything I need to live, write, and work effectively. Eventually, this life will become normal.

Which is to say, it's not quite normal yet. )

In short, however much things change, let's stay connected. What else do we have blog communities for, anyways?
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For me, there's something unspeakable about fandom.

And so I must try to speak about it )
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I did it! Well, kind of. I was determined to finish my final thesis section on Internet animation and fandom in November. It took a couple of extra days in December, but the whole thing is now roughed out. 86 pages, 24,687 words. Not a lot compared to a 50,000 word novel, but academic writing takes me about four times as long as fiction writing, and this has to be good enough to show my advisor.

So officially I'm done and should move on to the conclusion. But in my brain, I still have about a million and a half doubts about what I wrote and even about the very practices of thesis writing.

I worry: where do I get the right to "represent" female fans, who are not all positioned the same way I am? I wonder: how personal can my writing be, and how much must I cover my doubts and desires in order to sound at least respectable, if not authoritative? And just how racist is Axis Powers Hetalia, anyways? Because I'm worried that it's pretty racist sometimes even if it is satiric, and I can only hope that the wonderful, positive, self-aware fan appropriations I found justify (my continuing helpless love of) it.

Well, I'm obviously still all caught up in this thing right now. I'll post again when I have some actual contribution to make, like a review or maybe a link to an amusing lolcat. Til then!
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-Sept. 13: I find out that yes, I am presenting at the Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits conference on Sept. 25. I writewritewrite, Greyhound down to Minneapolis, and have a wonderful time hanging out with old and new anime aca/fan friends like [ profile] starlady38.

-Sept. 25: I find out that I'm invited to attend the symposium on Borderlessness and Youth Culture in Modern Japan(Oct. 15-16), where my host advisor from Japan will be presenting. I email the organizer to get set up for that. This means a visit with [ profile] eacherown, yay!

-Sept. 29: I find out that there is a job posting in my field at a good Canadian university, and yes, I am a viable candidate who should apply post-haste. Deadline: Oct. 15. First application for an academic position, here I come.

-And finally, all my books from Japan have arrived, so I can start reading them for that little thing called my thesis. Which I WILL finish before Christmas in rough draft, so help me Dog.

This is all an elaborate way of saying that I have no reviews to post this week and no time to clean up anything from my field notes. I'm watching a little anime (at least, I rented Hoshi no Koe), and reading for pleasure at mealtimes (Larissa Lai's new volume of cyberfeminist poetry, Automaton Biographies), and writing fiction til the early hours of the morning (the less said the better), but damned if I also have the time to do the metawork of reviews and blogging about them.

How do you blog, you blogging people? Where do you get the energy to do so much and then post about it? It's not even noon and I'm already tired!
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I never thought when I decided to stay in school for the rest of my life that it would involve so much travelling. But if you like to travel, academia is a good place to be. Next week I'm heading to Germany to give a presentation at the University of Heidelberg's Exzellenzcluster on Asia and Europe in a Global Context. (I like the word "Exzellenzcluster" a lot. I like the people in the Exzellenzcluster even more!) Also invited is a scholar of East Asian pop culture, Dr. Chua Beng Huat, who will give a lecture and lead our workshop on soft power and media.

I hope this doesn't sound like boasting, but I'm really excited and a little astonished to be doing things like this. When I started studying anime, I thought I'd be pretty much on my own. But now I discover that there are all kinds of people studying all kinds of popular culture across the world. Sure, I always knew that in the abstract. But once you actually go meet people from countries that were only names on a map before, and find that you have some very different experiences but also some common points of changes things.

It's all so fresh to me, this global aca-fan community. It's both like and unlike non-academic fandom. I find in general that academic gatherings -even about pop culture- involve a lot more career-building maneuvering: what will look good on my cv? Can I get a publishing deal out of this? And so on. But in the end, academics are also a bunch of geeks who like to sit around and argue about everything from human rights and international relations to the relative popularity of Korean and Japanese idol singers. The difference is more in the certain kinds of language you have to use (fan and academic jargon) and also in the restrictions on who can join (because face it, university degrees cost a whole lotta money.)

Well, maybe I'll write more about my actual experiences in Germany when I get back. Or maybe not. I'm always unsure of what I should write about here. Professionalism is a difficult discourse to handle when it comes to new media. What is proper to blog about? What will hurt my prospects? How public or private is this writing? Well, I don't know. In the meantime, I hope I can make a worthwhile contribution at the workshop!


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