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Catching up

Apr. 18th, 2014 | 03:12 pm
location: Home
mood: happyhappy
music: Live swing music recordings

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: YMMVCollapse )

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At last!

Oct. 16th, 2013 | 10:35 am
location: home
mood: accomplishedaccomplished

Hot off the virtual press: my article "New Media Beyond Neo-imperialism: Betty Boop and Sita Sings the Blues" in the Journal of Postcolonial Writing!

If you have free access to Taylor & Francis journals through your university, log in and check it out here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17449855.2013.842735, or just search for Sandra Annett.

If you DON'T have institutional access and this article is relevant to your interests, you're in luck! There are 50 free downloads available here: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/kbV53jRIRx5wbtmbjmGI/full

Once those are used up, just contact me and we'll work something out on the boop boop a doop. ;)

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Aca-Fan Service: Strategies of Scholarly Seduction in GitS:SAC and Ergo Proxy

Oct. 13th, 2013 | 10:08 am
location: home

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the always-enjoyable SGMS/Mechademia conference on Japanese popular culture in Minneapolis. (Hi to everyone who was also there!) I heard that some people on Twitter were interested my presentation, so I decided to post it here. (Hi Twitter folks, if you've made it here!) Then work and life jumped up in my face yelling "Me, me! Look at me! SO important! Must do now!" And the days passed, and...

At any rate, better late than never! Text below the cut, and you can also see the slides here: Trust me, it makes more sense with the slides.

Aca-fan ServiceCollapse )

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Abstract: Aca-Fan Service: Strategies of Scholarly Seduction in Ghost it the Shell: SAC and Ergo Pro

Aug. 2nd, 2013 | 12:25 pm
mood: productiveproductive

Aaah, summer! For the first time in years I finally had a vacation, a real 3-week vacation away from the internet and course prep and manuscripts and everything. But now it's time to gear back up, and that means conference proposals. Here's my accepted proposal for this year's Mechademia/SGMS conference in Minneapolis. Feedback very welcome, especially from aca-fan types!

Fan service is commonly understood as a glimpse of something that allures fans viewers, be it a flash of panties or a passing reference to otaku trivia. In this paper, I will address two anime series, Ghost in the Shell: SAC and Ergo Proxy, that use a similar strategy of seduction I call “aca-fan service”: gratuitous references to authors and texts canonized as “High Theory,” such as Jacques Derrida and Julia Kristeva. While screenwriters may not be cackling “I’ll give those academics something to talk about!” with every keystroke, the nature of their allusions suggests that they are targeting an intellectual sub-segment of their fanbase consistent with Matt Hills’ “aca-fan,” a fan who uses scholarly references and theoretical discourses to interpret texts.

Aca-fan service in these programs, I argue, draws on both the knowledge communities and the (sometimes troubling) gender politics of more general anime fan service. It engages fans who recognize “theory trivia,” creating opportunities for bonding and competition around specialized knowledge. At the same time, it relies on the fetishization of figures such as Lacan, whose theories of sexuality serve as “proxies” for embodied experience that allow academics to discuss gender and eroticism in abstracted, schematized ways. In this paper, I will address the intersection of academia and fandom as a site of knowledge production and ask: how do theory allusions allow aca-fans to connect? What kinds of discussions do they allow that regular “fan trivia” doesn’t? And what kinds of discussions do they foreclose?

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Review: The Soul of Anime

Jun. 8th, 2013 | 10:03 am
location: home
mood: energeticenergetic

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 AnimeCollapse )

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Coming up next: a book and two conferences

May. 25th, 2013 | 10:07 am
location: home
mood: energeticenergetic
music: Sita Sings the Blues soundtrack

Finally, spring! It took a while to come, but nice weather has arrived in Ontario and my sap is rising too. After a hectic end to the term, I'm finally feeling energetic and ambitious (enough to blog) again. So here's what I'm working on right now.

Project 1: the thesis book!
I've been revising my PhD thesis into a book on and off throughout the the fall and winter terms using materials I gathered in Japan last summer. Now I'm happy to say that I've finished enough to take that first step and send off a book proposal to the University of Minnesota Press! The revised project is titled "Frictive Pictures: The Animation of Transcultural Fan Communities, 1906-2012," and as the title suggests it uses the concept of "friction" rather than global "flow" to discuss connection-across-difference in anime fandom.

In case I've condensed that so much it makes no sense at all, here's the opening blurb from my proposalCollapse )

Fingers crossed the acquiring editor likes the chapters I've sent!

Project 2: conferences
I'm also working on next year's round of conference papers now, in order to get proposals in on time. I've been invited by the University of Miami's amazingly-connected Daisy Yan Du to take part in a panel on East Asian Animation at the 2014 Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Seattle. For SCMS I want to do something new, so I'm going a more media-studies route and examining how animation creates "haptic visuality," or the sensation of tactile and embodied experience, especially weight and weightlessness. This one is tentatively titled "Weighing Imbalance: Haptic Visuality in Japanese and South Korean Cinematic Animation"

If you'd like to read that proposal, have a look under the cutCollapse )

Finally, I am also planning to go to the Mechademia conference at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design again in Sept. 2013. (Fourth year running, I think? How time flies!) I was going to present the above paper there too, but the conference theme is "Fanthropologies," while my haptic visuality paper has almost nothing to do with fans. I'm thinking of going back to the thesis/book again and presenting my chapter on child fans of sci-fi tv cartoons like The Jetsons and Astro Boy. We'll see!

For now, I hope to start posting again with reviews of books I've been reading and shows I've been watching (including Eden of the East), energy levels depending. Til next time!

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Oct. 16th, 2012 | 11:10 am
mood: energeticenergetic

Just a quick post to promote a wonderful project!

Masaaki Yuasa (Tatami Galaxy) and Oshii Mamoru (Ghost in the Shell) want to make a short animated film about S&M wrestling called "Kick-Heart." It looks rough and edgy and funny and heartwarming all at once. But this is not the sort of project that is easy to get funding for. In fact, at a panel on "Anime Art and Industry" at this year's School Girls and Mobile Suits conference, screenwriting Dai Sato talked about how hard it is for animators to do original, experimental projects in the current economic climate, which makes investors very conservative in what new projects they pick up. Because animation is a low-paid, labour-intensive venture, it's hard for new animators to get a start while still making a living, and even harder for established directors to do satisfying projects and not work themselves to death. In his view, anime as an art form could be dead within 20 years due to such adverse conditions. But, he said, innovative projects can succeed through alternative channels like crowd-sourcing.

Case in point: this Kickstarter project. I became a backer a few weeks ago, and it's been really great. I get daily email updates with pictures of the evolving character designs and messages from the staff. When the project is funded, I'll get a free digital subbed download of the film. Since the funding rewards were just upgraded today, I'm delighted to learn I'm also getting a postcard, poster, and higher-quality download too. I'm almost tempted to add another 10.00 and get the DVD, newly available at the 30.00 donation level.

My point is that even the style or subject matter aren't to your taste, if you're an anime fan you should seriously think about supporting it to help create a space for high-quality experimental animation. This drive runs until Oct. 31. There are just two weeks left in the campaign, and they still need about 500,000 dollars. So to support this great effort, go to the link below, and you'll be directed to pay easily through Amazon.com. Happy crowdsourcing!


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Book Binge

Sep. 11th, 2012 | 11:24 am

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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What can a Vocaloid do?

Aug. 31st, 2012 | 07:08 pm
location: Home (Ontario 2.0 version)
mood: awakeawake

Aaaand there goes the summer. Wow. Now that I'm home again, I can't even begin to summarize everything that happened in Japan, everything that's happened in my life. So instead I'll look back by looking forward, and just do my acafannish thing.

One of the major reasons I went to Japan this summer was the chance to lecture at Wako University, in Ueno Toshiya's class on Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus. I had free run of the massive tome, but it wasn't hard to pick a topic: I am fascinated by their theory of the Body without Organs, which is in short a surface or circulation of desire that is not yet fixed to a single object. I can't explain why, but this idea touches me deeply, like something I have always known and never been able to express. I felt a similar mysterious attraction to the virtual idol Hatsune Miku: the feeling of encountering a series of strangely impersonal yet deeply affecting images of an almost too-literal BwO. So, I decided to read one in the other, both through each, for the lecture. Based on the class' reaction, I think the example really worked to illustrate a difficult concept! To get all I can out of a topic I'm passionate about, I also proposed to expand the lecture through fan studies for presentation at the School Girls and Mobile Suits/Mechademia conference in September.

I'll be reworking the lecture for presentation in the next few weeks. So, I thought I'd post the presentation abstract here to get my brain -and this blog- started again. This, so far, is the idea:

"What Can a Vocaloid Do?: The Kyara as Body without Organs"

This paper explores the intersections between "kyara," desire, and fan production by reading the Vocaloid idol Hatsune Miku through Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s theory of the "Body without Organs" (BwO).

The first section explains the elusive BwO through three keywords: desire, intensity, and (de)stratification. It shows how Deleuze and Guattari understand desire not as a lack but as an immanent creative force, generating freely-circulating intensities. In contrast to criticisms of the BwO as apolitical abstraction, however, I bring out the vital social implications that arise when the BwO is organized or stratified in embodied practice.

To illustrate a BwO in practice, I turn next to the example of the kyara or character in anime, manga, light novels and related media. Here I discuss the difference between the kyara of the media-mix industry and the traditional "I" of the Japanese "I-novel," comparing their modes of subjectivity and desire, their media temporalities, and the ways they build up or break down strata of identity and social hierarchy.

Finally, as a concrete case study, I consider the virtual idol singer Hatsune Miku and the uses she is put to by major corporations and fan collectives. In asking "What Can a Vocaloid Do?", my paper reformulates Deleuze and Guattari's concept of the BwO in light of today's media environment, and provides a more complex perspective on the Vocaloid phenomenon, beyond the easy celebrations of user empowerment touted by the media giants themselves.

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Back in Japan: First Impressions

Jul. 8th, 2012 | 11:51 am
location: Tokyo
mood: excitedexcited
music: Sakamichi no Apollon OP

Hi, everybody!

As of last Thursday, I'm back in Japan, in my old neighbourhood (and in fact, my old apartment complex)in the western suburbs of Tokyo. It's a bit odd in its very familiarity: I still remember the train lines, where the shops are, even where to find certain products on the shelves, through a kind of automatic body-memory. For being so "far from home," it's remarkably homey. I just wish the language was coming back to me as fast! Some kind of brush-up language class may be in order. Suggestions welcome!

In anime terms, I found a local Comics Toranoana (time to manga: <1 day) while out getting apartment necessaries and picked up the fourth volume of Hetalia. I don't want to generalize based on one little shop, but the Hetalia boom seems to be fading, and I don't see a stand-out replacement for fujoshi yet. For the male otaku set, I see lots of Madoka doujin (since Toranoana sells both pro and amateur works), and lots of Vocaloid, as expected. Maybe I just notice what's familiar to me more, but I get the impression that the gap between what's popular in N.America and Japan is fairly narrow now. More observations to come once I make it out to Akiba and Otome Road, though.

What is really, bizarrely big on the streets is Mickey Mouse. Classic Mickey & Minnie are EVERYWHERE, much moreso than in 2010. I see them on towels, t-shirts, back-packs, you name it. Oddly, Mickey often seems to be wearing the British flag for pants. There's something to be said here about character goods and twisted brand nationalism, but I don't know what yet.

At any rate, today I'm heading to a lecture on post-90s Japanese art at Sophia University with some folks from the Anime and Manga Research List. I should get going right away, so here's to hoping I can actually find my way to the venue!

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