Second Arc

The Mechademia series continues twice a year from the University of Minnesota Press, edited by Frenchy Lunning and Sandra Annett. Mechademia: Second Arc is a scholarly journal devoted to the study of East Asian popular cultures, broadly conceived. To subscribe to the journal and order back issues, if available, see the journal page at the University of Minnesota Press. Because the print run for each issue is small, subscribing through the Press is the only guaranteed way to obtain physical copies of the journal.

Current & Back Issues

Vol. 11.1: Childhood

Vol. 12.1: Transnational Fandom, guest ed. Andrea Horbinski

Vol. 12.2: Materialities Across Asia, guest ed. Stevie Suan

Vol. 13.1: Queer(ing), guest ed. James Welker

Vol. 13.2: Soundscapes, guest ed. Stacey Jocoy

Vol. 14.1: Science Fictions, guest ed. Takayuki Tatsumi

    • Coming autumn 2021

Vol. 14.2: New Formulations of the Otaku, guest ed. Susan Napier

    • Coming spring 2022


Calls for Papers

All submissions should be sent to the Mechademia submissions editor. Please indicate the title of the volume you are submitting to as follows: “Submission–[volume name]” in the subject line. Submit two copies of your article as either a Word document or a PDF. One of these copies should be anonymized: do not include your name anywhere in the article (named citations of your own work are acceptable, provided you do not use first-person language to discuss the work in question).

Submissions should be 5,000-7,000 words and follow the Mechademia Style Guide, which is based on the Chicago Manual of Style. Figures are limited to eight per essay; image permissions are the responsibility of authors upon acceptance.

Vol. 15.1: Modes of Existence, guest ed. Sylvie Bissonnette (due 15 August 2021; published autumn 2022)

This volume of Mechademia: Second Arc seeks original essays on Souriau’s and Latour’s approaches on fictional modes of existence to bear on the multitudes of fandom’s love affairs with fictional characters found in anime, manga, video games, performative genres, cosplay, etc. While the focus of this issue remains on Japanese culture, topics addressing global fan practices connected with founding forms of Asian works are also welcome. 

Souriau and Latour explore the relations between multiple modes of existence, including their psychological, spiritual, physical, and fictive inflections. Japanese fiction is certainly swarming with metamorphic entities. Visible and invisible beings, cyborgs, and chimeras unsettle traditional manners of being, question the stability of spatio-temporal relations, and stir up passions. But which aspects of the work of fiction can compel a fan to fall in love with it? Can this attraction be summoned by the quality of the drawings of manga, the charism of a video game avatar, the particular voice of the author, or the vividness of anime characters?

Fruitful transfers between modes of existence inform fan practices. Cosplay enables fans to embody popular characters and share their creation with others. Fans gather in the public space to restage key moments from an anime. Dynamic exchanges happen between players and their videogame avatars and Pokémon hunting invites crossings between reality and fiction.

Souriau and Latour’s overviews of the implications of the modes of existence touch upon everyone’s responsibility toward building a better future. They evoke the creative contribution of individuals who participate in the achievement of projects larger than themselves. Similar aspirations compel some fans to perpetuate the legacy of their favorite manga characters by writing about them on online forums or by remediating works they admire.

Topics for essays drawing on Souriau/Latour’s approach include but are not limited to:

  • Affect and embodied responses toward the multiplicity of beings or modes of existence of characters in anime
  • The coexistence of the modes of existence as experienced by various fan practices
  • Avatarial impersonations or massive-multiplayer videogames at the intersection between modes of existence
  • The world in the making and fan creativity bearing on the modes of existence
  • Otaku or fans’ experience with intersecting modes of existence as depicted in works of fiction
  • The manners of being of various beings in anime and manga and their power to transform fans’ lives
  • Cosplay and the collaborations and conflicts informed by communities of humans and nonhumans
  • Living our togetherness and fans’ responsibilities in the era of the Anthropocene

Vol. 15.2: 2.5D Cultures, guest ed. Akiko Sugawa-Shimada (due 1 August 2021; published spring 2023)

The 2.5-Dimensional culture is an emerging phenomenon in Japan and beyond. The “2.5-Dimension (nitengo jigen, hereafter 2.5D)” is a fan-led term to refer to the space between two dimensions (the fictional space where our imaginations and fantasy work) and three dimensions (reality, where we physically exist). It originally indicated voice actors of anime (seiyu) because seiyu ensouls two-dimensional, fictional characters, prompting us to convince that they “exist” with physical bodies. However, the long-running hit Musical Prince of Tennis (2003-ongoing), a character-oriented theatrical adaptation of the manga/anime Prince of Tennis, has widened the scope of 2.5D to include theatrical adaption of manga/anime/games, as well as other anime-related cultural products. What links these anime-related performances is the way in which they are exercised in the space between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional through human bodies, evoking a quality of “virtual corporality” (Sugawa-Shimada, 2019). In recent years, 2.5D works have tremendously increased, including cosplay, contents tourism (pilgrimage of anime-related “sacred sites”), seiyu/character concerts such as Love Live! (2010-ongoing), and Ensemble Stars Dream Live! (2017-ongoing), virtual YouTubers (V-Tuber) such as Kizuna Ai, and so on.

Since the 2000s when “hybrid reality” (de Souza e Silva, 2006) was created by dissemination of the internet, social media, and the development of imaging technique such as VR and AR, reality and fiction have blurred, affecting our perception of reality, virtuality, and even body. In this milieu, the 2.5D culture has been nurtured, especially by the deep commitment of fans. As Henry Jenkins (2006) suggests in his convergence culture theory, the migration of fans who are enthusiastically in search of entertainment experiences they want is very important for the 2.5D culture. Fans migrate through the “real” world, the cyber world, and the fantasy world, experiencing the 2.5D space in the hybrid reality/fantasy. Their 2.-D experiences could pose some questions in relation to neoliberal sense of existentialism, posthuman bodies, and even sexuality and the fetishism of AI characters.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • The 2.5D and character-driven convergence culture
  • 2.5D stage plays
  • Cosplay as 2.5D culture
  • Virtuality and corporality in 2.5D culture
  • The 2.5D culture fans and fandom
  • The 2.5D culture and gender
  • The 2.5D and the posthuman
  • VR, AR images and the body
  • Contents tourism as 2.5D culture
  • Vocaloid and fetishism towards 2.5D objects
  • Voice actor/character concerts
  • Idolatry of 2.5D actors
  • 2.5D culture and neoliberalism

Vol. 16.1: Media Mix, guest ed. Marc Steinberg (due 1 July 2022; published autumn 2023)

Vol. 16.2: Media Platforms and Industries, guest ed. Bryan Hartzheim (due 1 July 2022; published spring 2024)

Vol. 17.1: Methodologies, guest ed. Jacqueline Berndt (due 1 July 2023; published autumn 2024)

Vol. 17.2: Cosplay, Street Fashion, and Subcultures, guest ed. Masafumi Monden (due 1 July 2023; published spring 2025)