ASIA 2512: Explorations of Japanese Animation
Animated films and TV series rank among Japan’s most prominent forms of artistic expression and have become important exports in a transnational and transcultural global media market. The mass appeal and range of content in anime—from kiddie cartoons to sophisticated feature films to philosophically complex sci-fi to gruesomely violent pornography—render it a significant object of study. While most Japanese animation constitutes light entertainment, many treat themes associated with “serious art” and ask us to take them seriously even as we enjoy them lightly. While one risks taking the enjoyment out of any pop cultural form by submitting it to academic scrutiny, we will enjoin our study of anime in the belief that close analysis will enhance our enjoyment. The field of anime is wide and the choices it presents are legion. The material for this course is thus necessarily selective while introducing major genres; recurrent themes; important works; historical, cultural, and technical contexts; and scholarly approaches to anime. This course does not aim to be comprehensive or up-to-date with the latest greatest anime. Rather, it selects examples that, while demonstrating techniques and traits of the medium, provoke issues of history and memory; humans, nature and technology; bodies and gender; speculative and apocalyptic visions. The works of Miyazaki Hayao receive special attention as noteworthy examples of feature-length animated films.