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Re: Utena and Academics

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  • crimsonlotus20
    Hello Haruchin, Starting with the proviso that theology is most certainly not my field of specialisation, I must, first and foremost, convey Erica s excellent
    Message 1 of 11 , Dec 1, 2007
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      Hello Haruchin,

      Starting with the proviso that theology is most certainly not my
      field of specialisation, I must, first and foremost, convey Erica's
      excellent recommendation of the www.animeresearch.com website, which
      is a starting point for that very odd convergence between academia
      and anime.
      Utena ought to be a very fertile ground for an academic, or even
      a theological/philosophical inquiry, inasmuch as I understand Utena
      is often read as a gnostic tract. In this respect, there is much
      which could, no doubt, be considered. However, there is one crucial
      issue which I think needs to be addressed: that is, that Western
      religious symbology and motifs are frequently used in a fetishistic
      rather than substantive fashion in anime series. A rather good
      example of this would be Evangelion, wherein the Christian mystical
      and apocalyptic imagery comes in thick and fast, but is generally
      devoid of any real significance aside from the purely visual. Much
      like a rhapsodic song whose lyrics are based on sonority rather than
      sense, many anime series use religious symbols as a stylistic
      flourish rather than a plot foundation.
      The problem with Utena/Gnosticism is that Gnosticism does not have
      an easily identifiable doctrine, but rather, a vast and diffuse set
      of myths/allegories which make for a very complicated cosmology
      indeed. Something makes me doubt that Ms. Saito took courses in
      hermeneutics in order to fully grasp the Gnostic Gospels...but the
      whole point of academia is to put words in other people's mouths, so
      all I can say is that the more conjecture, the better. I believe an
      academic article on Shakespeare's Hamlet is published every week in
      one journal or another, so if someone could write about Graeco-Roman
      constructs of femininity and Strawberry Panic! or Gnosticism in
      Utena, this would no doubt be a welcome change.

      --- In Yuricon@yahoogroups.com, Haruchin <haruchin@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      > So, I finally took the plunge and bought the first disk of Utena
      the TV series. Watched the first episode a couple of days ago.
      >
      > I am *so* glad I watched the film first. That may sound insane, but
      the film was so... I'm struggling to find the right words now, but
      I'll plump for 'surreal'... that it prepared me for anything that
      might have been done with the same characters in more or less the
      same universe. The TV series now feels incredibly down to earth and
      straightforward.
      >
      > And is also very very good. I'm not sure what I was expecting.
      Utena has been hyped as the ultimate yuri series, and one of the pure
      classics that every anime fan should see, so I was a little worried
      about expectations. I needn't have worried. It's confident, well-
      written and well-acted. I can't wait to see the next episode. Sadly,
      it'll have to wait until my thesis is finished, but that does mean
      I've suddenly got even *more* motivation to get those couple of
      thousand words of conclusion finally written and the damn thing
      submitted. After all, I've got six episodes of Utena to watch! It
      might end up being a marathon... :)
      >
      > Slightly off topic - I don't know whether it's seeing more
      academically inclined reviews here (I've been reading your stuff with
      interest, Crimsonlotus, even if I've been lurking rather than
      replying), or actually having a day job working with academic
      journals, but I've been wondering about writing an academic article
      that has an anime slant. My field of academics is theology, and how
      religious themes and imagery are used in anime is a fascinating thing
      to watch. Anyone know if there would be a forum for an article on
      theology and anime? I ask because I doubt the usual theological
      journals would be interested - it would have to go to the other side
      of this particular combination. Any thoughts?
      >
      > Haru
      > _________________________________________________________________
      > Telly addicts unite!
      > http://www.searchgamesbox.com/tvtown.shtml
      >
    • Haruchin
      Thanks very much for the URL, Crimson. I ll definitely check that site out. I hear what you re saying about religious imagery often not reflecting a real
      Message 2 of 11 , Dec 1, 2007
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        Thanks very much for the URL, Crimson. I'll definitely check that site out.
         
        I hear what you're saying about religious imagery often not reflecting a real religious interest or theme in the anime. Evangelion is certainly a good example of that. As a theologian it was often very annoying to see so many religious themes (not to mention iconography, but that's another discussion) just thrown into the mix without actually using them; especially when the series' real philosophical point was so poorly expressed. It's all a bit of a missed opportunity as far as I can see.
         
        Still, the use of imagery as fetish aside, there are many genuinely theological themes in anime that would certainly support academic exploration. I wouldn't want to limit the scope of enquiry to be Christian theology (although that is my area of expertise) or even Western theology in general - Buddhism and Shintoism are used liberally in anime, which makes them fertile ground for further discussion. I've not watched enough of Utena to develop any ideas about overarching themes (looking forward to watching more than one episode!), but I'll definitely look out for any Gnostic overtones. If one was to explore that particular area, I believe one would have to focus on a particular variety of Gnosticism, rather than risking losing oneself in the myriad of different ideas gathered under that very inclusive umbrella term. Restricting oneself to Valentinian Gnosticism or that of Basilides for example might be more fruitful than using a much more generalised overview. I think one has to be careful in these kind of enquiries to do a little projecting as possible. That is, I think it possible to use the anime source material as a kind of focusing device, where one takes the themes raised and then explores them without suggesting that the author was an expert on that particular area of academic study. For example, it might be the case that Ms. Saito has never heard of Valentinus, but that doesn't mean that her work might raise interesting questions that can be further explored through reference to Valentinus' beliefs.
         
        For myself though, I think I would like to explore themes rather than focus on particular historical theologies. My area of theology is Christian systematics, which means I'm interested in the construction of theologies. Unlike our historical or biblical brethren, we systematic theologians go about exploring and constructing theology through a study of broad themes - creation, redemption, salvation. One of my favourite anime series, and it is probably my favourite for just this reason, has a surprisingly well developed doctrine of sin and redemption. Haibane Renmei is a wonderful example of a series with well-realised religious themes, and I would love to use it as my focusing device to further explore ideas of the meaning and reality of sin, and the process of redemption. I think it also has something to say about the state of salvation, but that is more of an afterthought, since the focus of the story is the process of coming to salvation and less about the state itself.
         
        It's good to know that a forum for such discussion does exist though - I would hate to get caught up in this kind of study and then discover that there was no audience for it at all. I know for a fact that I would get laughed out of town if I tried to talk about religious themes in any kind of popular media in the vast majority of academic theological journals. It's the nature of academia, I suppose, to equate "popular" with "shallow". Though I accept that plenty of popular media is indeed nothing more than shallow entertainment, there are examples of particular works, in a variety of different fields, having far more to say than simply being caught up in the business of entertaining a given audience.

        Anyway, food for thought. Once my thesis is completed I might start putting a little something together.
         
        Haru


        Get closer to the jungle. I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!
      • Erica Friedman
        To: yuricon@yahoogroups.comFrom: haruchin@hotmail.co.ukDate: Sat, 1 Dec 2007 11:54:46 +0000Subject: RE: [Yuricon] Re: Utena and Academics ... You also may want
        Message 3 of 11 , Dec 1, 2007
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          To: yuricon@yahoogroups.com
          From: haruchin@...
          Date: Sat, 1 Dec 2007 11:54:46 +0000
          Subject: RE: [Yuricon] Re: Utena and Academics

          > Thanks very much for the URL, Crimson. I'll definitely check that site out.
           
           
          You also may want to join the anime-manga research ML : http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amrc-l (I believe. Y!groups is down right now and I can't confirm.) This groups is engaged in academic research and dialogue about anime and manga on many levels.
           

          Cheers,

          Erica

          Yuricon - "For real women who like their women...animated."
          http://www.yuricon.org
          Hungry for Yuri? Have some Okazu: http://okazu.blogspot.com

          "World Shaking" Fanfic - http://www.worldshaking.net
          The Fanfic Revolution - fanficrevolution.blogspot.com





          Share life as it happens with the new Windows Live. Share now!
        • Zyl
          Haruchin, There are quite a few academics in the UK who have done work with a anime/manga slant, though not from a theological angle: Dr Sharon Kinsella -
          Message 4 of 11 , Dec 1, 2007
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            Haruchin,

            There are quite a few academics in the UK who have done work with a
            anime/manga slant, though not from a theological angle:

            Dr Sharon Kinsella - http://www.kinsellaresearch.com/ (feminism)
            Dr Roger Sabin - http://www.shef.ac.uk/ibds/sabin.htm (media and
            cultural studies)
            Dr Nicola Liscutin - http://www.soas.ac.uk/events/event37645.html (nationalism)

            Further afield, there's of course Dr Matt Thorn -
            http://www.matt-thorn.com/ (cultural anthropology)

            As for publication venues, if you can weave in an international angle
            to it, you can consider:

            Millennium: Journal of International Studies (http://www.e-millennium.ac)
            see their 2001 special issue on aesthetics and International Relations:
            http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/mpg/mjis/2001/00000030/00000003

            as well as their 2000 special issue on religion and IR:
            http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/mpg/mjis/2000/00000029/00000003;jsessionid=3f6ua74jajfdl.henrietta

            Cheers,
            Zyl


            On Dec 1, 2007 2:54 PM, Erica Friedman <alecto_fury@...> wrote:
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > ________________________________
            > To: yuricon@yahoogroups.com
            > From: haruchin@...
            > Date: Sat, 1 Dec 2007 11:54:46 +0000
            > Subject: RE: [Yuricon] Re: Utena and Academics
            >
            >
            > > Thanks very much for the URL, Crimson. I'll definitely check that site
            > out.
            >
            >
            > You also may want to join the anime-manga research ML :
            > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amrc-l (I believe. Y!groups is down right now
            > and I can't confirm.) This groups is engaged in academic research and
            > dialogue about anime and manga on many levels.
            >
            >
            > Cheers,
            >
            > Erica
            >
            > Yuricon - "For real women who like their women...animated."
            > http://www.yuricon.org
            > Hungry for Yuri? Have some Okazu: http://okazu.blogspot.com
            >
            > "World Shaking" Fanfic - http://www.worldshaking.net
            > The Fanfic Revolution - fanficrevolution.blogspot.com
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > ________________________________
            > Share life as it happens with the new Windows Live. Share now!
            >
          • Ellen Kuhfeld
            ... From: Yuricon@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Yuricon@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Haruchin Sent: Saturday, December 01, 2007 5:55 AM To: yuricon@yahoogroups.com
            Message 5 of 11 , Dec 1, 2007
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              -----Original Message-----
              From: Yuricon@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Yuricon@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Haruchin
              Sent: Saturday, December 01, 2007 5:55 AM
              To: yuricon@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: RE: [Yuricon] Re: Utena and Academics

              Thanks very much for the URL, Crimson. I'll definitely check that site out.
               
              I hear what you're saying about religious imagery often not reflecting a real religious interest or theme in the anime. Evangelion is certainly a good example of that. As a theologian it was often very annoying to see so many religious themes (not to mention iconography, but that's another discussion) just thrown into the mix without actually using them; especially when the series' real philosophical point was so poorly expressed. It's all a bit of a missed opportunity as far as I can see.
               
              Still, the use of imagery as fetish aside, there are many genuinely theological themes in anime that would certainly support academic exploration. I wouldn't want to limit the scope of enquiry to be Christian theology (although that is my area of expertise) or even Western theology in general - Buddhism and Shintoism are used liberally in anime, which makes them fertile ground for further discussion. I've not watched enough of Utena to develop any ideas about overarching themes (looking forward to watching more than one episode!), but I'll definitely look out for any Gnostic overtones. If one was to explore that particular area, I believe one would have to focus on a particular variety of Gnosticism, rather than risking losing oneself in the myriad of different ideas gathered under that very inclusive umbrella term. Restricting oneself to Valentinian Gnosticism or that of Basilides for example might be more fruitful than using a much more generalised overview. I think one has to be careful in these kind of enquiries to do a little projecting as possible. That is, I think it possible to use the anime source material as a kind of focusing device, where one takes the themes raised and then explores them without suggesting that the author was an expert on that particular area of academic study. For example, it might be the case that Ms. Saito has never heard of Valentinus, but that doesn't mean that her work might raise interesting questions that can be further explored through reference to Valentinus' beliefs.
               
              For myself though, I think I would like to explore themes rather than focus on particular historical theologies. My area of theology is Christian systematics, which means I'm interested in the construction of theologies. Unlike our historical or biblical brethren, we systematic theologians go about exploring and constructing theology through a study of broad themes - creation, redemption, salvation. One of my favourite anime series, and it is probably my favourite for just this reason, has a surprisingly well developed doctrine of sin and redemption. Haibane Renmei is a wonderful example of a series with well-realised religious themes, and I would love to use it as my focusing device to further explore ideas of the meaning and reality of sin, and the process of redemption. I think it also has something to say about the state of salvation, but that is more of an afterthought, since the focus of the story is the process of coming to salvation and less about the state itself.
               
              It's good to know that a forum for such discussion does exist though - I would hate to get caught up in this kind of study and then discover that there was no audience for it at all. I know for a fact that I would get laughed out of town if I tried to talk about religious themes in any kind of popular media in the vast majority of academic theological journals. It's the nature of academia, I suppose, to equate "popular" with "shallow". Though I accept that plenty of popular media is indeed nothing more than shallow entertainment, there are examples of particular works, in a variety of different fields, having far more to say than simply being caught up in the business of entertaining a given audience.

              Anyway, food for thought. Once my thesis is completed I might start putting a little something together.
               
              Haru


              Get closer to the jungle. I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!

            • Ellen Kuhfeld
              ... From: Yuricon@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Yuricon@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Haruchin Sent: Saturday, December 01, 2007 5:55 AM To: yuricon@yahoogroups.com
              Message 6 of 11 , Dec 1, 2007
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                -----Original Message-----
                From: Yuricon@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Yuricon@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Haruchin
                Sent: Saturday, December 01, 2007 5:55 AM
                To: yuricon@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: RE: [Yuricon] Re: Utena and Academics

                Thanks very much for the URL, Crimson. I'll definitely check that site out.
                 
                I hear what you're saying about religious imagery often not reflecting a real religious interest or theme in the anime. Evangelion is certainly a good example of that. As a theologian it was often very annoying to see so many religious themes (not to mention iconography, but that's another discussion) just thrown into the mix without actually using them; especially when the series' real philosophical point was so poorly expressed. It's all a bit of a missed opportunity as far as I can see.
                 
                Still, the use of imagery as fetish aside, there are many genuinely theological themes in anime that would certainly support academic exploration. I wouldn't want to limit the scope of enquiry to be Christian theology (although that is my area of expertise) or even Western theology in general - Buddhism and Shintoism are used liberally in anime, which makes them fertile ground for further discussion. I've not watched enough of Utena to develop any ideas about overarching themes (looking forward to watching more than one episode!), but I'll definitely look out for any Gnostic overtones. If one was to explore that particular area, I believe one would have to focus on a particular variety of Gnosticism, rather than risking losing oneself in the myriad of different ideas gathered under that very inclusive umbrella term. Restricting oneself to Valentinian Gnosticism or that of Basilides for example might be more fruitful than using a much more generalised overview. I think one has to be careful in these kind of enquiries to do a little projecting as possible. That is, I think it possible to use the anime source material as a kind of focusing device, where one takes the themes raised and then explores them without suggesting that the author was an expert on that particular area of academic study. For example, it might be the case that Ms. Saito has never heard of Valentinus, but that doesn't mean that her work might raise interesting questions that can be further explored through reference to Valentinus' beliefs.
                 
                For myself though, I think I would like to explore themes rather than focus on particular historical theologies. My area of theology is Christian systematics, which means I'm interested in the construction of theologies. Unlike our historical or biblical brethren, we systematic theologians go about exploring and constructing theology through a study of broad themes - creation, redemption, salvation. One of my favourite anime series, and it is probably my favourite for just this reason, has a surprisingly well developed doctrine of sin and redemption. Haibane Renmei is a wonderful example of a series with well-realised religious themes, and I would love to use it as my focusing device to further explore ideas of the meaning and reality of sin, and the process of redemption. I think it also has something to say about the state of salvation, but that is more of an afterthought, since the focus of the story is the process of coming to salvation and less about the state itself.
                 
                It's good to know that a forum for such discussion does exist though - I would hate to get caught up in this kind of study and then discover that there was no audience for it at all. I know for a fact that I would get laughed out of town if I tried to talk about religious themes in any kind of popular media in the vast majority of academic theological journals. It's the nature of academia, I suppose, to equate "popular" with "shallow". Though I accept that plenty of popular media is indeed nothing more than shallow entertainment, there are examples of particular works, in a variety of different fields, having far more to say than simply being caught up in the business of entertaining a given audience.

                Anyway, food for thought. Once my thesis is completed I might start putting a little something together.
                 
                Haru


                Get closer to the jungle. I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!

              • Ellen Kuhfeld
                I faintly believe (I never watched the whole thing) that the Seven Deadly Sins were characters in Full Metal Alchemist. Ellen Rose
                Message 7 of 11 , Dec 1, 2007
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                  I faintly believe (I never watched the whole thing) that the Seven Deadly Sins were characters in Full Metal Alchemist.
                   
                  Ellen Rose

                • mantennashowers@aol.com
                  There were a set of characters, all artificial beings created through alchemy, named after each of the deadly sins. I m more inclined to think that reference
                  Message 8 of 11 , Dec 1, 2007
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                    There were a set of characters, all artificial beings created through alchemy, named after each of the deadly sins. I'm more inclined to think that reference comes from the history of alchemy, from when people mentioned Christian and Greco-Roman theological concepts in passing, rather than a specifically theological reference- more rooted in Christopher Marlowe's Faust.



                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: Ellen Kuhfeld <ellen@...>
                    To: Yuricon@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Sat, 1 Dec 2007 8:23 am
                    Subject: RE: [Yuricon] Re: Utena and Academics

                    I faintly believe (I never watched the whole thing) that the Seven Deadly Sins were characters in Full Metal Alchemist.
                     
                    Ellen Rose


                    More new features than ever. Check out the new AOL Mail!
                  • crimsonlotus20
                    Zyl, Interesting recommendation. I take it you must be affiliated to the LSE, because Millennium is infamous for publishing anything remotely associated with
                    Message 9 of 11 , Dec 1, 2007
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                      Zyl,

                      Interesting recommendation. I take it you must be affiliated to the
                      LSE, because Millennium is infamous for publishing anything remotely
                      associated with IR, but with enough post-modern, post-strucutral 'far
                      out there' elements to piss off shallow American
                      positivists/empiricists. Good thing that it's student-published, too,
                      so I suppose there is an article out there called "Images of Alterity
                      in Anime: the Japanese lens of new Occidentalism" or something to
                      that effect. I would write it, if I had the time and/or inclination.

                      Regards,
                      MdG

                      --- In Yuricon@yahoogroups.com, Zyl <zylelt@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Haruchin,
                      >
                      > There are quite a few academics in the UK who have done work with a
                      > anime/manga slant, though not from a theological angle:
                      >
                      > Dr Sharon Kinsella - http://www.kinsellaresearch.com/ (feminism)
                      > Dr Roger Sabin - http://www.shef.ac.uk/ibds/sabin.htm (media and
                      > cultural studies)
                      > Dr Nicola Liscutin - http://www.soas.ac.uk/events/event37645.html
                      (nationalism)
                      >
                      > Further afield, there's of course Dr Matt Thorn -
                      > http://www.matt-thorn.com/ (cultural anthropology)
                      >
                      > As for publication venues, if you can weave in an international
                      angle
                      > to it, you can consider:
                      >
                      > Millennium: Journal of International Studies (http://www.e-
                      millennium.ac)
                      > see their 2001 special issue on aesthetics and International
                      Relations:
                      >
                      http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/mpg/mjis/2001/00000030/00000003
                      >
                      > as well as their 2000 special issue on religion and IR:
                      >
                      http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/mpg/mjis/2000/00000029/00000003;
                      jsessionid=3f6ua74jajfdl.henrietta
                      >
                      > Cheers,
                      > Zyl
                      >
                      >
                      > On Dec 1, 2007 2:54 PM, Erica Friedman <alecto_fury@...> wrote:
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > ________________________________
                      > > To: yuricon@yahoogroups.com
                      > > From: haruchin@...
                      > > Date: Sat, 1 Dec 2007 11:54:46 +0000
                      > > Subject: RE: [Yuricon] Re: Utena and Academics
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > > Thanks very much for the URL, Crimson. I'll definitely check
                      that site
                      > > out.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > You also may want to join the anime-manga research ML :
                      > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amrc-l (I believe. Y!groups is down
                      right now
                      > > and I can't confirm.) This groups is engaged in academic research
                      and
                      > > dialogue about anime and manga on many levels.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > Cheers,
                      > >
                      > > Erica
                      > >
                      > > Yuricon - "For real women who like their women...animated."
                      > > http://www.yuricon.org
                      > > Hungry for Yuri? Have some Okazu: http://okazu.blogspot.com
                      > >
                      > > "World Shaking" Fanfic - http://www.worldshaking.net
                      > > The Fanfic Revolution - fanficrevolution.blogspot.com
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > ________________________________
                      > > Share life as it happens with the new Windows Live. Share now!
                      > >
                      >
                    • Shane
                      They are in fact the major enemy for the heros. And as the title suggest it is deep in the theories, beliefs, and symbolism that come with Alchemy. There is
                      Message 10 of 11 , Dec 1, 2007
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                        They are in fact the major enemy for the heros. And as
                        the title suggest it is deep in the theories, beliefs,
                        and symbolism that come with Alchemy. There is also
                        many religious themes in use with the Ishvalans
                        (Ishbalans?, who happen to be a race of desert people
                        that believe in monotheism and think alchemist are
                        traitors against Ishbala, their god. If you read the
                        manga then the series brings in a very Chinese type of
                        people call the Xing. We really haven't seen enough of
                        them yet to know what their religion is if they have
                        one but their Alchemy has different principals then
                        the other alchemy shown in the series.

                        Back to the anime and the resulting movie there are
                        many historical yet alternate reality themes in the
                        show and the government of the main character's is a
                        fascism with their leader being called Fuhrer King
                        Bradley.

                        This makes for a series that not only has religious
                        undertones but moral and political as well.

                        ~Shane

                        --- Ellen Kuhfeld <ellen@...> wrote:

                        > I faintly believe (I never watched the whole thing)
                        > that the Seven Deadly
                        > Sins were characters in Full Metal Alchemist.
                        >
                        > Ellen Rose
                        >
                        >
                        >



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