This introduction to the special issue “Manga Culture and Critique” takes as its point of departure a stark contrast to English-language comics discourse, namely that in contemporary Japan manga is only rarely expected to serve as a means of social critique, at least insofar as the by now predominant notion is concerned, i.e. manga as entertaining graphic narratives first serialized in magazines, inviting readers’ affective investment and fans’ participation in more ways than reading. The special-issue articles, however, consider more notions of manga: single-image satirical cartoons on the one pole, “AMO (anime-manga-otaku) culture” on the other. And even if focusing on serialized fiction, they illuminate the vital difference between gendered genres as well as between mainstream and alternative productions. In its general pursuit of socio-critical impacts of manga culture, this special issue concentrates not only on “manga as critique” as tied to a political, and as such societal, stance, but also on manga “criticism,” that is, the reviewing of specific primary and secondary texts, including the already existing body of theoretical accounts. As outlined in the introduction, through the individual discussions of cartoons, graphic narratives, and related criticism, this special issue demonstrates the potential of textual analyses shaped by media-studies concerns, and it suggests to conceptualize manga not as something beyond critique, but as a challenge to widen the very notion of critique, to go beyond traditional biases between text and context, aesthetics and society, affect and reason.


critique, graphic narratives, manga studies, media culture, postcritical readings

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)