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I'm a second year graduate student in English and Medieval and Renaissance Studies. One of my hobbies is of course anime and Japanese fan culture. Of course, my favorite thing to do is combine my two loves--academia (though my love for this is currently waning) and anime. I've currently gotten myself embroiled into a gloriously complicated literary research paper on Revolutionary Girl Utena. My focus is gender construction and play within the anime series and film. It's much more complicated than "Utena is a girl who wants to become a prince and fights with a sword." As with any academic paper, I need sources to back me up or help me elaborate and prove my point. I had to go on a massive search of the internet and library catalog and stacks to find my resources. I'm sharing some of my sources so that others interested in writing on anime can find starting points and for otaku interested in learning more about the history and exploring deeper the themes seen in anime and manga. I'm going to list the sources and write a brief summary for each which include my opinion about their usefulness. Note each of these sources usually has an introduction or preface explaining why they chose to write on anime/manga and the importance of doing so--very beneficial if you need help in justifying writing about anime for a class. These are just some of the books I found. Search terms are tricky for finding books; some successful combinations I used were: anime and gender; japan, gender, & anime; japan, manga, anime; shojo/shoujo, manga, gender; japanese animation; japan & comics. Japan and comics tend to generate the most results. 

 
From Akira to Howl's Moving Castle 2nd Ed. - Susan Napier - 2003 
 
This book has been my best friend since the day I chose Utena as my topic! Napier is more than a fan, she's a professor of Japanese literature and culture at the University of Texas. She's an excellent writer and very plugged into the academic world. She's very accessible to readers and does a thorough job of exploring a variety of themes in a large range of animes. I HIGHLY recommend this as a starting place, especially since she includes references and a bibliography which you can later raid for use in your own essay. 
 
Anime Explosion! The What! Why? & Wow! of Japanese Animation - Patrick Drazen - 2003
 
I don't like this book much; it reads more like a piece of fanwork that just looks at the surface themes of anime. The writing is easy to read, but lacks the sophistication and quality of Napier. Drazen makes large, sweeping cultural statements without all the necessary references or academic credit to back them up. He does have footnotes with sources which you can use as a springboard. Drazen brings up good ideas, but doesn't really go anywhere with them. He spends more time summarizing animes than analyzing them. This book could be helpful if you're looking for a topic to write about. 
 
Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams Japanese Science Fiction from Origins to Anime - 2007
 
This is a collection of various essays written on anime by different writers. The focus is obviously technology and the science fiction genre in anime. Some of the essays connect the anxieties about technology viewed in anime into larger social concerns. This a very easy to read yet professional text. 
 
Mechademia - 2006 - Present
 
This is a really cool academic journal devoted to anime, manga, and Japanese pop/fan culture. I have an entire blog post devoted to discussion of this. There are currently four volumes. The quality of the essays is a mixed bag. However, all the essays do succeed in probing deeply into anime, manga, and Japanese pop culture. 
 
Dreamland Japan Writings on Modern Manga - Frederik L. Schodt - 1996
 
I haven't had a chance to read/skim this yet, but the topics appear insightful. There's a large chapter entirely devoted to Osamu Tezuka. Schodt is an interpreter, translator and writer who is fluent in Japanese. He's written a lot on anime and manga. 
 
Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics - Frederik L. Schodt - 1983
 
This book is pretty old, but looks to be full of merit. The a forward is written by Osamu Tezuka. :) 
 
Comics and Idelogy - 2001
 
Collection of essays mainly focused on comic books, but has a section devoted to manga and the ideology of gender. 
 
Animation in Asia and the Pacific - Edited by John A. Lent - 2001
 
A look at animes across Asian countries and their development and popularity in other countries like the U.S., UK, and France. There's even a chapter on Vietnamese animation--reminds me of the post where Gia mentioned something about Vietnamese comics vs. Japanese manga a while back. 
 
Japanese Visual Culture - Edited by Mark MacWilliams - 2008
 
Another large collection of essays on manga and anime with interesting topics.
 
Manga Sixty Years of Japanese Comics - Pal Gravett - 2004
 
What initially caught my eye was the large scale color images in the book. I would say 85-90% of the information is relayed through visual art. I believe this to be more a history book chronicling the manga tradtion and the trends within it. Very nice! The pictures alone make it worth checking out!
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