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Comics Worth Reading reviews Mechademia 5

By Ed Sizemore
Comics Worth Reading

lunning_mechademia5 coverI can’t thank Mechademia enough for including “World and Variation: The Reproduction and Consumption of Narrative” by Eiji Otsuka. Otsuka is a leading thinker about anime and manga as well as a manga author himself (The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service). Steinberg points out in the translator’s introduction that Hiroki Azuma’s Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals can be seen as a reaction to Otsuka’s work. You can see that immediately in this essay.

Otsuka argues that what attracts consumers to products is not necessarily the product itself, but rather the narrative behind the product. We buy the toy, DVD, poster, etc. because they are signifiers of the larger story, and by owning them, we can participant in that story ourselves. It’s a marvelous article and a must-read for those any serious fan of Japanese pop culture. It makes me hunger for an entire book of Otsuka’s writings.

Let’s face it, “Speciesism, Part II: Tezuka Osamu and the Multispecies Ideal” by Thomas LaMarre was an easy sell for me. LaMarre begins by looking at the vision of a multicultural empire the Japanese Imperial government preached during World War II. He then explores Tezuka’s own post-WWII stories that wrestle with and ultimately reject this utopian vision. It’s a fascinating study. LaMarre is becoming one of my favorite scholars. ...

Mechademia 5 is another solid issue. There is even some value to Condry’s article. It highlights the problems fans are going to have making the transition to scholars. The temptation is to use your training to justify old habits. However, such scholarship will only serve as fodder for critics that doubt the legitimacy of manga and anime studies. Fans who can’t be objective and critical of even their own practices may need to pursue another field of study. I look forward to the next issue of Mechademia and the ways it will excite and challenge my own thoughts. Mechademia has never failed to do that. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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