CentreTerm: Dr. Abbie Yamamoto explores the art of anime and manga
Anime and manga (Japanese animated films and graphic novels or comics) may sound like an unusual topic for a college class, but for Visiting Assistant Professor of Japanese Abbie Yamamoto, these are art forms she has explored thoroughly with her CentreTerm class, Manga and Anime: Form and Practice.
CentreTerm is an intensive three-week term between traditional semesters that allows Centre College students and faculty to dive headlong into a particular subject in depth, often exploring it in non-traditional ways. For Yamamoto, CentreTerm is the perfect opportunity to explore a popular but misunderstood element of Japanese culture and language.
“Coming from Japan, I grew up reading and seeing manga and anime characters everywhere,” she says. “When I started teaching, I came to know the subculture of American students interested in manga and anime but realized that, often, the American conception of manga and anime is rather limited compared to my experience with it.”
Though catering to a specific element of pop culture, the class was open to students who had no previous knowledge of the art forms.
“People with little background knowledge or exposure to manga and anime can learn a whole new world of media that combines visual and narrative techniques that have much in common with other visual and mixed media art forms,” Yamamoto explains. “Those who already have some familiarity can learn the history and some of the creative techniques that will deepen their appreciation.”
Students watched several anime films, read a large amount of manga, researched specific manga genres, read critical writing about the art forms, visited comic shops and bookstores where manga is sold, and even tried their hands at creating manga.
“The manga creation process is multi-faceted and is woven throughout the course,” Yamamoto explains. “It involves a lot of writing and drawing, but it is also often created in a team environment. We replicated this process by assembling a team of manga creators.”
For Yamamoto, CentreTerm is the perfect opportunity to explore this unique subject.
“Study of popular culture is very time-consuming because you have to read and watch so much to understand even part of the picture,” she says. “CentreTerm, while brief, offers more time than usual for students to completely immerse themselves in the manga and anime world.”
The CentreTerm course is Yamamoto’s first, and she has enjoyed experiencing many firsts along with her students.
“I hope that students develop an eye and sensitivity to the detailed work that goes into creating manga and anime,” she says, “and that they become sensitive to the larger social issues with which it is in dialogue.”
Learn more about CentreTerm.
By Mariel Smith