People often ask me for help with choosing topics for essays and thesis assignments. Anime gives us many, many topics to write about. Sometimes too many. So here is a list of ideas and links to articles I’ve written that have sources you may find useful.
1.Manga and American Comics
Contrast the different themes found in Manga and American Comics. Manga features heroes who overcome their challenges with help from friends. American comics have heroes who overcome challenges through their personal grit and ability. Discuss this difference.
You can also compare art styles: the muscles of American heroes and impossible poses against manga styled bodies. Compare the fixation of bust size in American female heroes and manga. Speaking of bust size this may help. Anime Breasts looks at the relationship of breast size and character personalities.
2. Goku vs. Superman
Look at the cultural differences between these two iconic heroes. Compare how each represents the ideals of their respective societies. This will let you write about Japanese Confucian ideals and American Judaeo-Christian ideals. For an idea, check out my article about this topic.
3. Anime and Homosexual/Transgender Concerns.
Look at how anime explores homosexuality and transgender concerns. Anime often features transgender and ambiguously gendered characters. Look into how these characters hurt and/or help homosexual and transgender identity.
These articles will help:
4. Manga as literature
I wrote a thesis on this in grad school where I argued how manga helps readers explore issues in their lives, develop literacy skills, and explore sexual identities. Literature does all this and more. You can write a similar argument. You may read the paper, What has Cat ears, homework and a love for bishie?to give you an idea of this topic and see my 21 sources.
5. The Influence of Disney on Anime
The work of Walt Disney impacted Astro Boy and other anime/manga. Explain this impact and compare and contrast the art styles. See:
6. The Influence of Anime on Disney
In recent years, Disney has begun producing works that resemble anime more than classic Disney. Examine this trend. Sorry, I don’t have any articles here on JP about this topic, yet.
7. Explain Anime’s Visual Language
Anime’s visual language works….when you understand it. Explain the symbols anime uses to express character emotions. Contrast the methods with how Disney characters express those same emotions. Argue for how anime is more effective (or not!). See my article about Anime’s Visual Language for ideas on emotions you can write about.
8. Objectifying Women in Anime
Kill la Kill was a great anime that caused a stir about objectification of women in media. The anime doesn’t. In fact, it satirizes fan service and other objectification. Kill la Kill provides a good case study of the problem. Look at how women are objectified in anime and use Kill la Kill to point these problems out. See these articles to help you:
9. Explore the Folklore of Tanuki
Write about Japanese tanuki folklore and how relates to anime. Explain how Studio Ghibli’s movie Pom Poko is one more story in a long line of tanuki stories that show the conflict between change and tradition. I touch on this topic in my book Tanuki: The Folklore of Japan’s Trickster.
10. Explore the Folklore of Kitsune
This isn’t exactly anime related, but you can relate the folklore of the Japanese fox back to Naruto and other popular anime. My eBook, Come and Sleep: The Folklore of the Japanese Fox
covers all there is to know about kitsune folklore, including her origins in Chinese stories and in Ainu stories. Yeah, this is a shameless plug for my book. But you can find some of the stories in Project Gutenberg and other online sources.
I hope these essay ideas help. The links I post should help you get started with your own research. Anime and manga are as legitimate a story telling medium as movies and literature. It is fine to write about them. Manga and anime draw from old Japanese traditions in literature and art. They are also international mediums that pull from Disney. So don’t worry about exploring these art forms. It is identical to writing about Beowulf and Toy Story.
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It is that time once again: back to school. That means essay writing! Part of the librarian profession is offering research help and writing instruction for high school and college students. Librarians are teachers at the core of the profession.
So, it is time I did my part! This article will give you ideas for future writing assignments and show you how to read (and use) references and citations. I will provide writing ideas and links to articles relating to the topic. You are welcome to cite me; however, I have already done some of the research legwork in my short bibliographies. I hope the articles will provide a good spring board for your essay assignments.
Understanding and Using Citations
JP uses a loose form of citation based on APA (American Psychological Association) citation. The citation format emphasizes the date of the article.
Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number(issue number), pages. http://dx.doi.org/xx.xxx/yyyyy
–from Purdue Owl
By the way, that url looking thing is called a Digital Object Identifier. It works like a blog post’s permalink. You can paste the DOI at this website to link to the article. For example this citation:
Suzuki, Michiko (2006). Writing Same-Sex Love: Sexology and Literary Representation in Yoshiya Nobuko’s Early Fiction. The Journal of Asian Studies. 65. p.575. doi:10.1017/S0021911806001148.
You can paste that gobblygook (excluding the period) after doi: into the website to find the article. Give it a try! Why not use a regular hyperlink? Well, DOI links do not change even if the location of the article changes. Hyperlinks, as we all know, can break. It is a true permalink.
Most citations have the same components as APA. There are many styles with APA, Chicago, and MLA being the most common.
The point of citations isn’t to protect you from plagiarism. The point is to make it easy to find the articles. One of the easiest ways to search articles using citations is to use the author’s last name with a part of the title in quotation marks. This works in Google and in most library databases. For example typing the following into Google:
Suzuki “Writing same-sex love”
Will give you the article on the first page (in the second link when I did it).
Citations also give you the journal or periodical name. You can search for that journal, narrow the list down to the issue and volume, and find the article that way. Quotation marks around anything in search engines tells the software to use “all of these words” as a single unit.
When to Cite in Text?
You must cite a source whenever you use it. This includes whenever you paraphrase, use a statistic, or idea. Basically, if it is not from your experience or accumulative knowledge, you need to cite. Quoting is only a small part of citing a source. For example, take a look at this sentence from one of my articles here on JP. Although, the statement does not quote or even paraphrase, I had to cite it because the information was not my own.
Guys are expected to be well rounded in art, music, literature, and more just like in feudal Japan (Sughara, 2002).
APA uses parenthetical citation. The style you use will vary based on your teacher/professor’s requirements. Do you have the cite after every sentence? What if you are using multiple sources that have similar information? What I tend to do is to write the paragraph and end with a multiple citation that looks like this: (AuthorOne, 2001; AuthorTwo, 2011; AuthorThree, 2013). If you start using ascending order of the dates with this method, keep using ascending order each time you do it. If you use descending date order, keep using that order. This method is only recommended for relatively short paragraphs that reference the ideas of several authors. With longer sections it is best to cite after each set of sentences that have the author’s ideas.
As you can see, citing sources is not really that complicated. Basically, if the thought is not your own you need to cite it.
I can’t know what types of assignments you will have. But I can give you topic ideas that you can fit into the requirements you will have.
Geisha – History and Life
This idea looks at the history of Geisha and how they have become one of the best known symbols of Japan. Geisha are not prostitutes; they are living reservoirs of Japanese culture. You can look into how Japan might look if geisha did not keep traditional Japanese culture alive.
Geisha – The Art of a Life
This idea narrows down on the arts of a geisha from their kimonos to kanzashi to the arts they practice. You can relate how geisha are similar to Native American spirit people. Both try to keep their heritage alive.
Traditional American Genders Roles vs Traditional Japanese Gender Roles
This topic looks at the similarities and differences between men and women in America and the United States. World War 2 served as turning point for both cultures. The war changed the roles women played in society, opening the doors for equal voting rights and female careers.
The Hypocrisy of Societal Expectations for Women
This looks at how societies expect conflicting characteristics from women in Japanese (and perhaps American) society. Women are expected to be sexy but those that try are often called sluts. Japanese women are taught to be submissive but also oversee the household.
How Anime and Manga Empower Girls
Look at how anime and manga breaks female gender roles. Using Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena. you can write about the how such stories shape self-image. Utena presents an opportunity to explore same-sex relationships between girls.
Teen Girl Psychology and Yaoi
This topic looks at how yaoi fills the needs of teen girls to be entertained and explore different relationship dichotomies. It looks at various ways yaoi explores increasing interests in sex and relationships.
Character Stereotypes in Anime and Manga
This looks at various tropes found in anime and manga. You can explore why these stereotypes are common and contrast them against stereotypes found in other comics.
Note: These articles are my own thoughts and observations. With most of these, I did not research anything with the exception of There is Personality in the Blood . These articles might provide a starting place for your own considerations about manga and other literature stereotypes.
Hair Color and Character Stereotypes
Other Essay Ideas
- Cherry Blossoms as a Symbol of Japan
- The Invasion of Pokemon and its Role in American Childhood
- Anime Blogging and How it Improves Writing
- What it means to be Otaku
- How Mickey Mouse Changed the Face of Manga
- Why are American Cartoons for Children and Japanese cartoons for Adults?
- Moral Lessons found in Anime and Manga
- An Analysis of Joseph Campbell’s Hero Story and Bleach
Offering a Helping Hand
Hopefully, this short list of ideas will give you a starting point for your school/college assignments. As a librarian, I am here to help. If you need help choosing a topic (and that can be hard, I know), proofreading, or research help, let me know. Your local librarian is also available to help.
You can email me: webmaster [at] japanpowered [dot] com. Darn spammers make us write emails this way, ’tis sad.
Oh, you are also welcome to send me questions about manga, anime, and Japanese culture. I am open to article ideas.
You can also message me on JP’s Facebook page. I will do my best to offer help or point you to the information you need.
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