Adaptation, or How Media Relate in Japan

Date: June 7th-8th, 2018
Location: 64 The Close, Norwich, NR1 4DH, England

The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures is pleased to announce a symposium exploring the complex media environment of contemporary Japan.  Scholars have been steadily adding new nodes to the map of modern Japanese media since anime became a popular culture force around the world in the 1980s and 1990s.  Where literature and cinema predominated in scholarly work on modern Japanese culture fifty years ago, today’s scholars examine anime, manga, magazines, video games, clothing and advertising as well as the older media of theatre and fine art.  This workshop is aimed at thinking through how these intertwined media can best be understood in an academic world divided by disciplines that are often based on specific media.  Consequently, this symposium’s speakers come from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds but are united in the time and space of contemporary Japan.

The symposium will take place at the Sainsbury Institute.  This event is free and open to the public.  To attend, please e-mail your name and affiliation to [email protected].


Thursday, June 7th, 2018
2:30pm:           Registration and tea
3:00pm:           Panel I

  • Alice and Adaptation in the Contemporary Japanese Media Environment,” Amanda Kennell, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures
  • “Rules of the Game: Transmedial Adaptation as Social Technology,” Thomas Lamarre, McGill University
  • Discussant: Griseldis Kirsch, SOAS

5:00pm:           Break
5:30pm:           Dinner

Friday, June 8th, 2018
9:30am:           Tea
10:00am:         Panel II

  • “Delivering Media: The convenience store as media mix hub,” Marc Steinberg, Concordia University
  • “Narita Minako’s Alien Street: Performance in two-dimensional manga space,” Nobuko Anan, Kansai University
  • “魔法使いは誰だ?    ーー『ハウルの動く城』を読む,” 小谷真理、作家と評論家
    (Who is the Magician? Reading Howl’s Moving Castle), Mari Kotani, Author and Critic

12:00pm:         Lunch
1:15pm:           Panel III

  • “日本の少女マンガにおける『とりかへばや物語』のバリエーションートランスジェンダーの描き方,” 押山美知子、専修大学
    (Drawing Transgender: Shojo manga variations on The Changelings, Michiko Oshiyama, Senshu University)
  • “Remaking Usagi Drop: Repetitious Remaking Within Japanese Media Franchising,” Rayna Denison, University of East Anglia
  • “Artists on the Margins and Questions for Media Theory: Lee Chonghwa’s ‘Asia, Politics, Art’ project,” Brett de Bary, Cornell University

3:15pm:           Tea break
3:30pm:           Panel IV

  • “Memory and 3.11: Kōno Fumiyo’s Hi no tori manga series,” Linda Flores, Oxford University
  • “The Politics of Memory in Japan’s Media Environment: The case of the United Red Army,” Chris Perkins, University of Edinburgh
  • Discussant: Nicole Rousmaniere, British Museum

5:30pm:           Break
6:30pm:           Dinner + wrap up


Panel I

Alice and Adaptation in the Contemporary Japanese Media Environment,” Amanda Kennell
Since Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland novels were introduced to Japan in 1899, adaptations of the two books have proliferated within Japanese culture.  Beginning with more than 400 translations of the books themselves, Alice has grown to be an integral part of contemporary Japanese culture.  Directors like Iwai Shunji (Hana and Alice, 2004), manga artists such as Yuki Kaori (Alice in Murderland, 2014-present) and even game companies (Idea Factory, Are You Alice?, 2011) have used the titular heroine to create a vast ocean of new variations on Alice.  Taking contemporary Japanese adaptations of Alice as a focus, this paper examines how stories grow and change through the process of adaptation by concentrating on the movement of young Alice through the contemporary Japanese media ecosystem.  In doing so, the paper shows that stories can be viewed as burrs, clinging to passing creatures as they spread to new climes.

“Rules of the Game: Transmedial Adaptation as Social Technology,” Thomas Lamarre
In the course of adaptation across media forms and platforms, a series that initially appears ‘excessively obvious’ (Bordwell) may transform into something ‘excessively enigmatic’ (Elsaesser). Tracking the serialization of Hana yori dango or Hanadan across manga, music, animation, and cinema in the 1990s, I propose to explore how a relatively straightforward manga series turns into something like a puzzle or a mind game. While the study of production (creative industries) and narration (patterns of storytelling) sheds some light on the formal features of this transformation, I will argue that transmedial serialization is best seen as social technology or subjective technology. It transforms interpretative practices into game-like procedures, or rules of the game. Inquiry into the subjective technology of transmedial serialization also allows for a better understanding of the sort of power formations that coalesce around transmedial serialization, especially when it also becomes transnational serialization, as Hanadan does in the 2000s.

Panel II
“Delivering Media: The Convenience Store as Media Mix Hub,” Marc Steinberg
The “media mix,” is a pervasive and indeed a structuring aspect of transmedia adaptation in Japan. Elements of the media mix are ubiquitous, indeed environmental. Yet what is the infrastructure of this ubiquity? In this presentation, we will explore one such infrastructure: the convenience store or konbini as a site of the logistical circulation of media and things. I will argue that the convenience store was one of the key reasons or “media” by which the media mix was disseminated. Japan has over 50,000 convenience stores operating nationwide, which translates into approximately one store for every 2540 people. Approximately 11 new stores open every day in Japan, and there are an estimated 16.7 billion visits to a convenience store per year, meaning each person visits about every three days. While convenience stores stock an array of items – from stockings through ice cream, beer, gum, toys and fried chicken – this presentation will focus on the types of media-related goods that the convenience store sells. These media in turn make the convenience store the site of media mix consumption as such, and also place the convenience stores as an advertising vehicle or promotional medium for media mixes. At the intersection of a logistical regime of just-in-time delivery, and a media regime of nation-wide ad campaigns, the ubiquitous convenience store is one of the main sites for the perpetuation of media franchising. In other words, this presentation will make the case that we must turn our attention to the sites of media retail to properly understand how media and people are made to relate within the media mix.

“Narita Minako’s Alien Street: Performance in two-dimensional manga space,” Nobuko Anan
This paper explores performance within girls’ manga by focusing on Narita Minako’s Alien Street (1980-84). Show business stories constitute a genre in girls’ manga, where readers can enjoy conventional romances between male stars and ordinary girls. However, there are pieces which delve into issues of identity by utilizing manga’s two-dimensionality. Manga, especially girls’, is not a visually realistic medium. For example, manga characters can disguise themselves easily—no one notices that the schoolboy next door is actually a famous pop star. As an unstated rule, slight changes in graphics can hide characters’ ‘true’ identity in this two-dimensional space.
Alien Street depicts a shift in performance of a boy who is a member of the royal family in a Middle Eastern country but lives in the US, a country with many foreigners (‘aliens’). To hide his status for political reasons, he is forced to perform different identities. However, after various episodes, he finally liberates himself from this forced performance. Instead, he starts to reveal the performative nature of identity categories to his audience (and to the readers); he becomes an actor and even performs a female role. Alien Street utilizes the two-dimensionality of manga to stage the ‘believability’ of the protagonist’s performance but also actively questions the believability of identity itself.

“魔法使いは誰だ?    ーー『ハウルの動く城』を読む,” 小谷真理
(Who is the Magician? Reading Howl’s Moving Castle, Mari Kotani)
英国のファンタジー作家ダイアナ・ウィン・ジョーンズの書いた『魔法使いハウルと火の悪魔』(1986年)は、2004年に日本のアニメ監督・宮崎駿によってアニメ化された。原作者ジョーンズは、スコットランドのバラッドである「タム・リン」伝説を好み、しばしばこの伝説を自身のファンタジー小説に取り上げているが、『魔法使いハウルと火の悪魔』の中にも「タム・リン」伝説の要素が含まれている。従来男性が女性を救済するヒーローが圧倒的多数であるジャンル・ファンタジーにおいて、ジョーンズはまったく逆の「女性が男性を救済する」というフェミニスト的な視点からこの伝説を再解釈して物語を書いたのではないだろうか。一方宮崎駿は、長きにわたって、家父長制文明の男たちを救済する女性キャラクターを造形してきた。それでは、宮崎はどのようにジョーンズの原作を読み、そしてどのようにアニメで表現したのか?  本論では日本の男性アニメ監督が、英国の女性作家の作品をどのように読み、どのように解釈したのかを、アニメという独特の表現形式を踏まえながら解析する。
(Howl’s Moving Castle, written by distinguished British author Diana Wynne Jones, was adapted into an anime work directed by Miyazaki Hayao.  Since Jones loves the topic of the legendary Scottish ballad of Tam Lin, Howl’s Moving Castle features it.  Tam Lin was taken captive by Fairy Queen and rescued by a young woman who had loved Tam Lin deeply.  Of course, Jones treated this topic from a feminist perspective.  In the meanwhile, Miyazaki has long created many female characters who rescued men in the patriarchal civilization. Then, how did Miyazaki read Howl’s Moving Castle and how did he adapt it into anime?  I would like to discuss the relationship between the two versions of Howl’s Moving Castle from the viewpoint of feminism, with special emphasis on the way the Japanese male director read and interpreted a British female writer’s fantasy.)

Panel III
“日本の少女マンガにおける『とりかへばや物語』のバリエーションートランスジェンダーの描き方,” 押山美知子
(Drawing Transgender: Shojo manga variations on The Changelings, Michiko Oshiyama)
(The Changelings, a story about half-siblings who were raised as members of the opposite sex, has garnered attention since the 1990s due to the rarity of works of classical literature that deal with transgender issues.  This presentation will illuminate the modern understanding of gender via an analysis of how three shoujo manga influenced by The Changelings depict transgender characters.  All three works lessen the male protagonist’s opposite-sex relationships, erase the female protagonist’s same-sex relationships, and affirm the female protagonist’s sexual subjectivity.  This presentation shows that the female protagonists are a projection of Japanese society at the time of the manga’s serialization, such that they reflect girls’ ideal of femininity.  Talk will be in Japanese.)

“Remaking Usagi Drop: Repetitious Remaking Within Japanese Media Franchising,” Rayna Denison
Unita Yumi’s manga Usagi Drop (2005-2011) charts the fish-out-of-water story of Daikichi, who ends up raising his grandfather’s daughter, Rin. This unusual tale of single father-daughter relations became the source text at the heart of multiple adaptations in Japan, from an anime remake (2011-2012) to a live action film starring Matsuyama Kenichi as Daikichi. This paper examines how this complex, and sometimes challenging, story was turned into a transmedia franchise. The franchise is unusual on three grounds: first, for its location within the josei (women’s) manga genre; second, for the compressed, sometimes overlapping timing of its remakes; and, third, for the insistent repetitions across the retellings of Usagi Drop, which would seem to indicate the key pleasures of the text. I argue that the uses of repetition across this franchise, be they narrative or aesthetic, challenge some of the existing takes on adaptation within media franchises, whose theorisation has tended to focus on how each new version adds to, or diverges from, the original text. In so doing, I hope to show how this unusual franchise might be indicative of the growing importance of franchising within Japan’s media culture.

“Artists on the Margins and Questions for Media Theory: Lee Chonghwa’s ‘Asia, Politics, Art’ Project,” Brett de Bary
My paper will explore the aesthetics/politics of sound, voice, and language in the “Asia, Politics, Art” collaborative project convened by Jeju-born poet and scholar Lee Chonghwa in Tokyo and Okinawa between 2006 and 2008.  Video, installation, performance, and mixed media works dealing with legacies of Japanese colonialism were among those produced for Lee’s project, primarily by young artists of Korean and Okinawan descent, operating with limited resources outside the circuit of major museums and art galleries in Japan.  Critical essays on these art works have been collected and published by Lee in Zanshō no oto (Still Hear the Wound, 残傷の音, 2009). The paper will ask what questions might be raised by considering the works of these minority artists in relation to larger discussions of media in Japan, where they remain a largely marginalized presence.  No doubt this marginalization is a symptom of pronounced tendencies towards ethnocentrism and nationalism in today’s Japan.  Yet my paper will not suggest that the opposition “outside”/“inside” can easily be solved or overcome by minority artists working in contemporary media.  Rather, I will suggest ways in which, in striving to evoke how precisely the same boundaries were negotiated and re-negotiated in a traumatic past, these works insist that, even in our age of global media, “outside”/“inside” is an inherently political distinction, demanding ever new forms of engagement and struggle.

Panel IV
“Memory and 3.11: Kōno Fumiyo’s Hi no tori manga series,” Linda Flores
More than seven years since the devastation of the Triple Disaster, the complex relationship between remembering and forgetting seems all the more salient.  As Japan looks to its future and the upcoming 2020 Olympics, the question of “fūka” (forgetting, or the weathering of memories) takes on new relevance in the face of ongoing issues such as radiation and reconstruction. This paper will address Kōno Fumiyo’s two-part manga series, Hi no tori (2014) and Hi no tori 2 (2016), which documents a cockerel’s search for his wife in the months and years following 3.11.  The narrative follows the protagonist through numerous towns in the disaster-stricken areas in varying states of recovery – from Kamaishi to Fukushima and beyond.  Employing Michael Rothberg’s theory of “multidirectional memory” I will argue that the Hi no tori series presents the collective memory of 3.11 as “a malleable discursive space in which groups do not simply articulate established positions but actually come into being through their dialogical interactions with others” (Multidirectional Memory, 5).

“The Politics of Memory in Japan’s Media Environment: The case of the United Red Army,” Chris Perkins
This paper analyses films about the United Red Army (Rengō sekigun, URA) in terms of the politics of cultural memory.  The URA was a radical New Left group that became notorious in early 1972 for two inter-related events known as the URA incident (Rengō sekigun jiken).  The first event was the Asama Lodge Incident (Asama-sansō jiken), a protracted siege lasting 10 days that was broadcast to the nation.  The second event was the emergence of news that, prior to the siege, the group had killed 12 of its own members during physical and ideological training exercises. In the aftermath of the incident, media coverage of the group produced what I call, drawing on the work of Jacques Ranciere, a particular aesthetic for sensing the incident characterized by madness and aberrant sexuality.  This aesthetic went on to delimit what was perceptible about the incident and the politics it came to represent, casting a shadow over the already dwindling Japanese New Left movement, but also having a lasting impact on political activism in Japan. After sketching out the core features of the incident and the dominant memory aesthetic, I discuss the ways in which cinema, as an aesthetic technology of cultural memory, has engaged with, reproduced and contested memories of the URA.  In particular I focus on the strategies deployed by two directors, Takahashi Banmei and Wakamatsu Kōji, as they contest the dominant memory aesthetic.  Through analysis of their films’ remediation of previous representations, narrative structure and framing, and the networks of discussion their films provoked, I discuss the very different ways in which Takahashi and Wakamatsu grapple with questions of narrativization, trauma, intergenerational connection, and political subjectivity.  In concluding I address questions regarding the URA’s ongoing relationship with Japanese society as the group goes through the process of aesthetic rehabilitation.


Nobuko Anan specializes in theatre and performance as well as visual arts in contemporary Japan.  She is the author of Contemporary Japanese Womens Theatre and Visual Arts: Performing Girls Aesthetics (Palgrave 2016) and a number of articles in journals including TDR and Theatre Research International.  After working at UK universities including the University of Warwick and Birkbeck, University of London for nine years, she has recently started a new position in the Department of Foreign Studies at Kansai University in Japan.  She received her PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies from UCLA.

Brett de Bary is Professor of Asian Studies and Comparative Literature at Cornell University.  Her research and publications focus on Japanese modern literature and film, critical, post-colonial, and feminist theory in Japan, and translation studies.  She is currently writing a book on translation as practice and theory in the works of Tawada Yōko, Morisaki Kazue, Lee Chonghwa, and Ukai Satoshi.  Most recently, she has co-edited and co-translated with Rebecca Jennison Lee Chonghwa’s Still Hear the Wound (Cornell East Asia Series, 2015).  For Traces: A Multilingual Series of Cultural Theory and Translation, she has edited Universities in Translation: The Globalization of Mental Labor (HKUP, 2010).  Deconstructing Nationality, which she co-edited with Naoki Sakai and Iyotani Toshio, was published by the Cornell East Asia Series in 2005.

Rayna Denison is a Senior Lecturer at the University of East Anglia, where she does research and teaching in the areas of contemporary Japanese cinema and animation.  She is the author of Anime: A Critical Introduction (Bloomsbury 2015), the editor of Princess Mononoke: Understanding Studio Ghibli’s Monster Princess (Bloomsbury 2018) and the co-editor of the Eisner Award-nominated Superheroes on World Screens (with Rachel Mizsei-Ward, University of Mississippi Press, 2015).  Her articles on Japanese cinema and animation can be found in a wide range of academic journals including: Cinema Journal, Japan Forum, the International Journal of Cultural Studies, Japanese and Korean Cinema and the East Asian Journal of Popular Culture.

Linda Flores is an Associate Professor in Modern Japanese Literature in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford and a Fellow in Japanese Studies at Pembroke College, University of Oxford. She received her PhD in East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her recent publications and projects include: intertextuality in 3.11 fiction; war brides in post war Japanese literature; perverse motherhood in the fiction of Takahashi Takako; and Hirabayashi Taiko and tenkō. She is currently editing a book provisionally titled Literature After 3.11.  She has recently co-organised a symposium at Oxford on the theme of utopia in postwar and contemporary Japanese literature.

Amanda Kennell is a Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures.  She is currently working on a book, Alice in Evasion: Adaptation/Carroll/Japan, about Japanese adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland novels from 1899 until today.  Her work has appeared in The Journal of Popular Culture, and she guest curated the Finding Alice in Japan (2015-2016) exhibit at USC Libraries.  She has held fellowships from the Andrew W Mellon Digital Humanities program, the Nippon Foundation and the Cassady Lewis Carroll Collection.  She received a PhD in East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Southern California, as well as an MA in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Pennsylvania.

Griseldis Kirsch is Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Japanese Culture at SOAS University of London. Her research interests include Sino-Japanese relations, war memory and censorship in Japan. She is author Contemporary Sino-Japanese Relations on Screen: A History, 1989-2005 (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015) and co-editor of the volume Assembling Japan: Technology, Modernity and Global Culture (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2015).

小谷真理 SF&ファンタジー評論家。元明治大学客員教授。日本SF作家クラブ(SFWJ)初代副会長(1999-2001)。日本ペンクラブ女性作家委員会元委員長(2003-2010) 。1994年『女性状無意識——女性SF論序説』で第15回日本SF大賞受賞。巽孝之との共訳ダナ・ハラウェイ他『サイボーグ・フェミニズム』(1991年)で第二回日本翻訳大賞思想部門受賞。他の著作に『聖母エヴァンゲリオン』(1997年)、『テクノゴシック』(2005年)などがある。2001年にアメリカのジェイムズ・ティブトリー・ジュニア文学賞の姉妹賞であるセンス・オブ・ジェンダー賞を日本に創設した。また日本のコスプレの第一世代にあたり、2003年より日本SF大会ではコスプレ小谷杯が設置されている。
Mari Kotani is a SF & fantasy critic, as well as an ex-visiting professor of the School of Information and Communication of Meiji University. She served as vice president of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan and chair of the Women Writers Committee of Japan PEN Club. Her first book, Techno-Gynesis: The Political Unconscious of Feminist Science Fiction (1994) won the 15th Japan SF Award, the Japanese Nebula, in 1994. Her second book, Evangelion as the Immaculate Virgin (1997) sold more than 80,000 copies and established the author as an authority on anime and feminism. She regularly publishes reviews and essays in Nihon-Keizai Shimbun and Hayakawa’s SF Magazine.  She is also well-known for translating Donna Haraway’s “The Cyborg Manifesto,” included in Cyborg Feminism: Haraway, Delany and Salmonson edited by Takayuki Tatsumi (1991), which won the 2nd Japan Translation Award. She also helped found in 2001 The Sense of Gender Award as the Japanese equivalent of the Tiptree Award. Being one of the first cosplayers in Japan, she also established in 2003 the annual Kotani Cup for celebrating the best cosplayers at the Japanese National SF Convention.

Thomas Lamarre teaches in East Asian Studies and Communications Studies at McGill University. He is author of numerous publications on the history of media, thought, and material culture, with projects ranging from the communication networks of ninth century Japan (Uncovering Heian Japan: An Archaeology of Sensation and Inscription, 2000), to silent cinema and the global imaginary (Shadows on the Screen: Tanizaki Jun’ichirô on Cinema and Oriental Aesthetics, 2005), animation technologies (The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation, 2009) and television and new media (The Anime Ecology: A Genealogy of Television, Animation, and Game Media, 2018).

Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere is IFAC Handa Curator of Japanese Art at the Department of Asia, British Museum. She is also the founding Director of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures and Professor of Japanese Art and Culture at the University of East Anglia. She received her PhD from Harvard University in 1998. Her research interests include Jōmon period to contemporary ceramics in East Asia and particularly Japan, East Asian trade networks, the history of archaeology and manga. She spent three years on secondment as a Visiting Professor in Cultural Resource Studies at Tokyo University (2006-2009). She is currently working on a book manuscript, Four Hundred Years of Japanese Porcelain. In 2012 she wrote Vessels of Influence: China and the Birth of Porcelain in Medieval and Early Modern Japan. In addition to her work at the British Museum, she is the Research Director of the Sainsbury Institute.

押山美知子 専修大学人文科学研究所特別研究員。2006年、専修大学大学院文学研究科日本語日本文学専攻博士後期課程修了、博士(文学)取得。2009年、『少女マンガジェンダー表象論』で第3回女性史学賞受賞。2017年、ユーリア・マゲラ編著『日露漫画論第2号』に「『ベルサイユのばら』と〈男装の少女〉オスカル」(『少女マンガジェンダー表象論』第三章第二節)がプシュコーワ・アナスタシアの手によりロシア語に翻訳され、再録された。
Michiko Oshiyama is a special researcher at Senshu University Humanities Research Institute. She was received her PhD (Letters) from Senshu University, Tokyo, Japan in 2006. She was awarded the third Female History Award for Shojo Manga Gender Representation Theory in 2009. Her “The Rose of Versailles and Oscar, ‘a girl character in male attire,’” was translated into Russian by Anastasiya Pushkova and re-published in Manga in Japan and Russia, vol. 2, edited by Yulia Magera in 2017.

Chris Perkins completed a joint honours degree in Japanese Language and Contemporary Society with Education Studies at Oxford Brookes University in 2004, with one year spent at Kitakyushu University as an exchange student. After this he worked as a teacher in Gifu for two years before returning to complete an MSc (distinction) in International Relations at Royal Holloway University of London in 2007, where he went on to complete his PhD thesis entitled “National Thinking and the Politics of Belonging in Contemporary Japan.” He joined the University of Edinburgh as a lecturer in January 2011. His work has appeared in journals including The European Journal of Social Theory, Global Society, Television and New Media, The Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, and Asiatische Studien, as well as in numerous edited collections. His book on media and memory of the left in Japan, The United Red Army on Screen, was published by Palgrave in 2015.

Marc Steinberg is Associate Professor of Film Studies at Concordia University, Montreal. He is the author of the books, Anime’s Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan (University of Minnesota Press, 2012) and a Japanese expanded version and translation Why is Japan a “Media Mixing Nation?” (Naze Nihon wa “media mikkusu suru kuni” nano ka) (Tokyo: KADOKAWA, 2015). He is the co-editor of Media Theory in Japan (Duke University Press, 2017), and a special issue of Asiascape: Digital Asia on “Regional Platforms.” His book, What is a Platform? is forthcoming from University of Minnesota Press in 2019.