Call for Papers: Anime, Religion, and Theology

Call for Papers: Anime, Religion, and Theology

Proposal Due Date: February 15th, 2022

First Submission Date for Contributors: August 15th, 2022

Editors: Roberto J. De La Noval and David Armstrong

Today it is impossible to overlook the presence of Japanese animation, ‘anime’ for short, in the Western entertainment ecosystem. Since the 1990s, when many landmark anime such as Pokémon, Dragon Ball, and Sailor Moon aired in English for the first time, anime has been here to stay. The success of television shows like Cowboy Bebop, Naruto, and Attack on Titan, as well as films like Ghost in the Shell and Spirited Away, has left an indelible impact on Western pop culture. This success is attributable in part to the breadth of the themes explored through this medium: the nature of the self, sex, gender, classical Japanese mythology, philosophy, history, and Eastern and Western religions. We therefore invite abstracts for papers on the relationship between anime, religion, and theology for the upcoming volume, Anime, Religion, and Theology, to be published in the Theology, Religion, and Pop Culture Series (Lexington Books: Fortress Press).

Methodologically, approaches based in religious studies, theology, or interdisciplinary use of both are encouraged. We seek analyses of the religious content of anime series and films, as well as essays that bring theological lenses to the medium, its genres, or individual works, and seek to make constructive theological arguments using these resources. We also welcome approaches that are able to analyze anime’s relationship to religion and theology in the context of Japanese culture, history, and aesthetics more broadly. We also strongly encourage submissions written from the perspectives of those religions, philosophies, and cultural movements indigenous to South and East Asia that have exercised the most profound influence on Japanese culture and therefore on anime and its themes, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Shinto.

The focus of the volume is on anime, that is, films and television series, but we welcome contributions that analyze the manga for these animated properties if the anime adaptation is partial or not yet complete.

Possible themes include but are not limited to:

  • The animated medium as a site of religious thought and exploration
  • Anime, Japanese cinematic culture, and changing roles for religion and philosophy in postwar Japan
  • Mythological influences in anime
  • Representations and uses of South and East Asian religion in anime
  • Representations and uses of Western religions in anime
  • Reception of anime films/series or the genre of anime by religious commentators, East and West
  • Otaku culture and new religious movements
  • Deities and divinities (especially Japanese classical mythology)
  • Cultic practice and personal/community formation
  • The nature of the self, consciousness, and transcendence
  • Death, afterlife, and eschatology
  • Impermanence and the natural world
  • Religion and society
  • Religion and technology
  • Atheism and nihilism
  • Theodicy and the problem of evil
  • Buddhist and Christian engagement in anime (Nirvana; rebirth; atonement and sacrifice)

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Religious symbolism and gnosticism in Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • Nihilism and self-identity in Cowboy Bebop
  • Escape from suffering (samsara) in Naruto, Evangelion, Code Geass, and Attack on Titan
  • Religion and society in Attack on Titan, the works of Gen Urobuchi
  • Political theology in Code Geass
  • The afterlife in Angel Beats, Death Parade, The Flower We Saw That Day
  • Theological anthropology in Beastars
  • Shinto in Mushi-shi
  • Nature, supernature, and religion in the films of Hayao Miyazaki, Mamoru Hosoda, and Makoto Shinkai
  • The nature of sacrifice and love in Fullmetal Alchemist
  • Theological anthropology and the non-human world in Gurren Lagann
  • Saint Young Men and the depiction of the Buddha and Christ
  • Catholicism in Vinland Saga, Kids on the Slope, Narcissu: Side 2nd, Spice and Wolf
  • Sin in Haibane Renmei

Proposals should be between 300-700 words. Please attach a CV and abstract of your proposed chapter. Chapters length will be determined at a later date, based upon the number of accepted proposals. The editors plan to respond to proposals no later than March 15th, 2022. Please send proposals to animeandtheology@gmail.com

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