Our original research project “Location of Anime: Institutions, Disciplines, and Fields” was planned as an international symposium/seminar at Waseda University’s Brussels Office in collaboration with its partner institution, the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Fall 2020.
Unfortunately, we had no choice but to cancel the event due to COVID-19. In the beginning, there was no plan to hold any alternative event because we were too exhausted from a seemingly endless series of Zoom meetings and other online affairs. While contemplating the discontinuation of the project, 劇場版「鬼滅の刃」無限列車編 or Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train was released on October 16, 2020. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, this anime movie became an instant blockbuster, and eventually surpassed Miyazaki Hayao’s Spirited Away (2001) to become the highest-grossing film ever in Japan. Intrigued by this blockbuster phenomenon and the wide-ranging social effects the movie and the original manga have created, we have decided to reorganize the original project by focusing on Kimetsu no yaiba or Demon Slayer.
The main objective of our project remains the same, i.e., the investigation of the location of anime. This two-day online seminar is an attempt to accomplish this objective by examining a wide range of issues that are concretely related to Kimetsu no yaiba yet have implications beyond the single media franchise. Through presentations and discussions at the seminar, we will explore such topics and questions as the anime industry and media mix, fan culture, cosplay and social media, anime songs and music, voice acting and actors, genre systems, intertextuality, action and spectacle, speed and kinetic dynamism, narrative motifs, iconography, visual style, historical imagination, the political unconscious, affect, violence, censorship, gender and authorship, transnational reception and consumption, labor and marketing, COVID-19 and the culture industry, etc. By scrutinizing Kimetsu no yaiba in relation to these and other issues, we will collectively reflect on the location of anime in its broadest sense.
While it is our intention to maintain and expand a global network of anime scholars, this international seminar is organized specifically for the purpose of fostering a collaborative research on anime among Japan-based and Europe-based scholars. In addition to in-depth discussions on the main topics of the seminar, we will also spend some time considering the original theme of this Japan-Europe joint research project: “Location of Anime: Institutions, Disciplines, and Fields.” Our hope is to cultivate collectively seeds of new ideas that can be developed into future cooperative research projects or partnerships.