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Reading Japan Cool

Patterns of Manga Literacy and Discourse

John E. Ingulsrud and Kate Allen

Japanese animation, video games, and manga have attracted fans around the world. The characters, the stories, and the sensibilities that come out of these cultural products are together called Japan Cool. This is not a sudden fad, but is rooted in manga—Japanese comics—which since the mid-1940s have developed in an exponential way. In spite of a gradual decline in readership, manga still commands over a third of the publishing output. The volume of manga works that is being produced and has been through history is enormous. There are manga publications that attract readers of all ages and genders. The diversity in content attracts readers well into adulthood. Surveys on reading practices have found that almost all Japanese people read manga or have done so at some point in their lives. The skills of reading manga are learned by readers themselves, but learned in the context of other readers and in tandem with school learning. Manga reading practices are sustained by the practices of other readers, and manga content therefore serves as a topic of conversation for both families and friends. Moreover, manga is one of the largest sources of content for media production in film, television, and video games. Manga literacy, the practices of the readers, the diversity of titles, and the sheer number of works provide the basis for the movement recognized as Japan Cool. Reading Japan Cool is directed at an audience of students of Japanese studies, discourse analysts, educators, parents, and manga readers. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 244Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-2753-7 • Hardback • March 2009 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
978-0-7391-2754-4 • Paperback • February 2010 • $34.99 • (£23.95)
978-0-7391-3507-5 • eBook • February 2010 • $34.99 • (£23.95)
John E. Ingulsrud is professor in the Department of International Studies at Meisei University in Tokyo. Kate Allen is professor in the School of Global Japanese Studies at Meiji University in Tokyo.
Part 1 Chapter 1. Manga in the Discourse of Japan Cool
Chapter 2 Becoming Manga-Literate
Chapter 3 Structural Features of Manga
Chapter 4 Basic Categories of Manga–Age and Gender
Chapter 5 Scope of the Book
Part 6 Chapter 2. The Nature of Manga Discourse
Chapter 7 Distinctiveness of Manga
Chapter 8 Origins of Manga
Chapter 9 The Study of Manga
Chapter 10 Summary
Part 11 Chapter 3. Manga in the History of Literacy
Chapter 12 Literacy in Japan
Chapter 13 Learning to Read
Chapter 14 Summary
Part 15 Chapter 4. The Literacy Practices of Reading Manga
Chapter 16 Becoming a Manga Reader
Chapter 17 Communities of Readers
Chapter 18 Readers as Manga Collectors
Chapter 19 Readers as Manga Creators
Chapter 20 Summary
Part 21 Chapter 5. Strategies for Comprehending Manga
Chapter 22 Strategies Used to Read Manga
Chapter 23 Coping with Difficulties
Chapter 24 Summary
Part 25 Chapter 6. Reasons for Reading Manga
Chapter 26 Reading Manga for Pleasure and Unintentional Learning
Chapter 27 Reading Manga for Relaxation
Chapter 28 Shifting Preferences of Manga Readers
Chapter 29 Gendered Preferences of Manga Readers
Chapter 30 Summary
Part 31 Chapter 7. The Effects of Literacy
Chapter 32 Too Little Effect–The Discourse of Literacy Crisis
Chapter 33 Too Much Effect–The Discourse of Media Control
Chapter 34 Mitigating the Effects–Engaging the Communities of Practice
Reading Japan Cool offers a rich, yet accessible discussion of manga in their social, cultural, and intermedia context. Drawing on an innovative blend of textual analysis and literacy research, this book takes us from the origins and semiotics of manga to the literacy practices and reading strategies of its young and adult readers. Lucidly written and well documented, this is likely to become a standard reference in the new field of academic manga research.
Jannis Androutsopoulos, King's College London

In North America, few people today remember, or know, how popular and influential comics once were. Nor are they aware how a once-thriving industry came to be stigmatized, marginalized, and nearly destroyed. To see what happens when comics become a truly mainstream media today, we have to look to Japan. In their new book, John Ingulsrud and Kate Allen meticulously and dispassionately analyze patterns of comics literacy in Japan. In the process they not only drive a few stakes in some old American myths about comics, but also shed light on an increasingly important aspect of modern Japanese society. Kudos to them for a very important and fascinating book!
Frederik L. Schodt, author of Manga! Manga!, Dreamland Japan, and The Astro Boy Essays