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3 New Academic Books on Otaku, Anime, Manga Published

posted on by Mikhail Koulikov
Titles include first-ever English translation of a Japanese study of otaku culture

Three different U.S. academic publishing houses are each releasing a new book on anime, manga, and otaku culture. The three volumes include the first-ever English translation of a Japanese study of anime fans, a collection of essays on the influence of Japanese popular culture on American children and teenagers, and a look at how new readers get introduced to manga and form communities.

The first of these books is Otaku: Japan's Database Animals, a translation of 2001's Dobutsuka suru Posutomodan : Otaku Kara Mita Nihonshakai (Animalizing Postmodernity : Otaku and Postmodern Japanese Society), by the scholar and media critic Hiroki Azuma. The University of Minnesota Press published the book on April 10. The book examines the reasons behind the emergence of otaku and otaku culture in Japan, and links it to the way Japan has developed since its defeat in World War II. Azuma also argues that overall, Japan's otaku simply represent an extreme case of how culture and media is "consumed" throughout the world.

Lexington Books is bringing out Reading Japan Cool: Patterns of Manga Literacy and Discourse. Its authors, John Ingulsrud and Kate Allen, both live in Japan and teach at Tokyo's Meisei University and Meiji University, respectively. This 244-page book covers the different types of manga that are being produced, the medium's history and why it is so different from Western comics, and moves on to a discussion on how audiences both in Japan and in the West actually read and understand manga.

The third book is entitled The Japanification of Children's Popular Culture: From Godzilla to Miyazaki from Scarecrow Press. Mark I. West, a professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, compiled this collection of essays; the individual chapters examine topics such as how anime has been censored for American television, the initial reception of the Pokémon television series, and the reasons for the impact that Japanese videogame companies have made on the U.S. market. One of the chapters, which focuses on an important scene from the Cardcaptor Sakura manga, can be previewed online.

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