October 9, 2014

Seats Available: CTCS 303

Japanese Anime

Dr. Ellen Seiter’s Japanese Anime covers the theory and practice of the Japanese Animation industry, history and culture. The class explores, from a critical angle, how Anime went from the humble pages of manga to one of the most important cultural forces in the world. Dr. Seiter sat down to discuss her course, what students can look forward to while enrolled and how anime may be one of the best places for artists to explore controversial topics and hard science fiction.

The course has no prerequisites and is open to anyone.

Tell me about the course, "Japanese Anime" SEITER: We look at both feature films and television programs. We try to both give a history of anime going back to Tezuka and Astroboy looking at Manga and how manga influenced anime. Students do presentations based on all the different multimedia and online fan activities that anime produces: cosplay, fansubbing, anime  conventions, fan fiction, et cetera. This semester we’re going to focus on environmentalism in feature films, screening Miyazaki’s Nausicaa and My Neighbor Totoro.  For a TV series we will see Full-Metal Alchemist and Death Note.  We're also doing a section on girl sub-cultures, the live action film Kamikaze Girls with its manga and novel versions. 

This is kind of a silly question, considering the pervasiveness of anime, but why is it more important than ever to study anime in global culture? Well, I like to focus on anime as a great example of global media.  Anime was influenced by Disney at its inception, and now anime basically runs all of Saturday morning children's television. Increasingly, anime plots are popping up on many live action television shows and feature films in the US. You find a lot of people working in Hollywood are actually anime fans.   To me, anime provides  some of the most expansive and thoughtful versions of science fiction ever made. With the increasing popularity of science fiction now in Hollywood television and feature film, its influence is even greater.

What can a student expect from this course that is unique? Students will see some of the most profound and beautiful films made about the nature of technology, of childhood, of war and dystopian futures.  The students are very opinionated. It's a very motivated, high-participation course. We get kind of a unique sense of anime as a narrative form with the way it deals with seriality, the way it's adapted from basically comic books, how that adaptation happens, and the varied range of drawing styles and visual styles, We do a little anthropology of Japan and American fandoms.

Tell me about the media that you'll be engaging with, in particular what you'll be watching.We do look at Pokemon, which is a perennial favorite, and it's had such an impact on things. We're doing Wolf Children and Summer Wars, by the director Mamoru Hosada, who has won a couple of Japanese Academy Awards. We do Ghost in the Shell 2 and a look at the Ghost in the Shell franchise. Full-Metal Alchemist is going to be the series that we focus on. Then, there will be Miyazaki. Satoshi Kon is one of my favorite directors, so we always do him. But the class is really open both for people who don't know anything who might just have a casual interest in animation, as well as the more engaged, Manga-readers.