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:
- The Evangelion of Shojo: Revolutionary Girl Utena
- Homosexuality in Japan
- Pots, Cats and Lilies, but Nothing Changes?
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:
- Kill la Kill: A Feminist Anime or a Fanservice Feast?
- Kill la Kill – Exploring our Relationships with Clothing?
- Objectification of Women in Anime
- Is Otaku Culture Sexist?
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.