This question is not asking about a course that teaches how to create manga or anime, but a curriculum of a course similar to English literature. Such course would teach the history and culture of anime and manga by studying representative works of different periods and genres and their cultural and social impact.

The answer should consider the following:

  • No previous manga and anime exposure nor Japanese language required.
  • The course should take one or two semesters (8-16 weeks). Each week, students should spend 3-4 hours at school weekly and some additional time doing homework.
  • The format of the course should be lectures + seminars, where lectures take form of presentations by the lecturer and seminars consist of reading, watching and analyzing selected works. Homework should be just about reading and watching the selected works to prepare for seminars.
  • The course would probably be best suited for online education, but that should not be a limiting factor for the answer.

After finishing the course, the students should:

  • know what anime and manga is, where it began and how it become popular
  • have watched and read the most notable examples works in anime and manga (not necessarily full series)
  • understand different periods, genres and styles of both anime and manga
  • catch the obvious references to the anime and manga classics in other tv shows, movies and books and graphic novels
  • be able to select manga and anime for themselves that they could read/watch and enjoy

What format should be given in the answer?

  • A syllabus of the course
  • Each week's description should have a title (such as: "History of Manga and Anime" or "Miyazaki's work and influence") and description itself, a short paragraph and notable recommended works to read and watch.

Existing courses

The following courses can serve as an inspiration:

  • 2
    This would still fall under the subject of art history, but I imagine that it would have an deeper emphasis on the history, development, and cultural significance of Japanese animation. I would expect there to be analysis of anime's origins and it's cultural influences... particularly though WWII, post-WWII, and the mid to late-20th century (with a focus towards Japan), touching upon notable examples of anime and the influence of artists/producer on the medium and industry in a historical context.
    – кяαzєя
    Commented May 19, 2014 at 15:31
  • Just curious, is there even university courses for western comics?
    – noko
    Commented May 19, 2014 at 22:47
  • 1
    Relevant meta post: meta.anime.stackexchange.com/questions/982/…
    – Logan M
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 4:25
  • 1
    @noko The closest I can found is this one course Coursera has (coursera.org/course/comics).
    – user2435
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 20:34
  • I'm reopening this question on a trial basis. To all answerers: Try to keep your answer objective, and cite sources whenever possible. Think about what you would like to get out of the course if you were a student enrolling in such a course
    – кяαzєя
    Commented May 25, 2014 at 20:26

1 Answer 1


Some Notes Before Reading

This is an imaginary course that I have created. I think it gives a broad enough overview of the subject for a single term, but I think it could be extended easily to a two term course if a more in-depth knowledge was required.

I'm assuming 1 hour lectures twice a week, enough time in seminars to do full screenings, and a knowledgeable lecturer. There are 8 weeks to a semester, as described by the original question.

The course could be an elective for new students studying film, media studies or a similar subject.

It could be easily enough adapted for an online course through discussion forums and recorded lectures/seminars.

Course Syllabus

Week 1: Introduction to Anime/Manga Culture

  • Lectures
    • A - Introduction to course and its aims, Brief overview of syllabus and related items
    • B - Anime vs Cartoons, Brief description of differences and history
  • Seminar - Watch an episode of both a distinctly "cartoonish" show and an distinctly "anime" show - (Suggested Looney Toons Vs Cardcaptor Sakura) . Discuss and follow up with a less clear-cut comparison (Suggested: Avatar: The last Airbender)
  • Homework - N/A :)

Week 2: Anime in the Western World

  • Lectures
    • A - Mainstream anime - Ghibli, Pokemon
    • B - Broader interest - Crunchyroll, Vertical Publishing
  • Homework - Watch and review one student-chosen translated animated film that displays distinct cultural differences from western shows.
  • Seminar - Watch lecturer-chosen film and have an interactive discussion cultural differences and etc with the class (Suggested: My Neighbour Totoro for both its popularity and contrast of culture [beliefs in spirits, etc])

Week 3: Genres of Anime/Manga and their development

  • Lectures
    • A - Anime/Manga genres & their associated tropes & features
    • B - Gekiga Movement, Moe and the history behind some of these genres
  • Homework - Read and review a work by a Gekiga author (Suggested Osamu Tezuka)
  • Seminar - Screenings of episodes of well-known titles within different genres. (Suggested "Sailor Moon", "Naruto", "Gundam")

Week 4: Anime & Manga during Wartime

  • Lectures:
    • A - Background information about Japan & WWII
    • B - Manga as a political medium
  • Seminar - Screening of "Grave of The Fireflies", "The Wind Rises", or other suitable item
  • Homework - Read lecturer-selected war-themed manga from this period (Suggested MW by Tezuka).

Week 5: The evolution of Artistic style

  • Lectures:
    • A - History of artistic style - Humble beginnings to 1999's
    • B - Recent Changes in style - 1990's to Present
  • Seminar - Comparing and contrasting recent shows with ones from different time periods (Suggested: "Saru Masamune", "Doraemon", "Ranma 1/2", "Akira", "K-on")
  • Homework - Essay comparing a modern anime to a pre-1990's anime

Week 6: The anime production process

Note: Week 6 could be replaced with extended discussion of week 5 if the lecturer so desired

  • Lectures:
    • A - Acquisition of an anime, pitches, support. Second half of lecture to describe the production process
    • B - Production process cont., Sales & Promotion
  • Seminar - An inspection of different works, analyzing the reasons why they greatly succeeded or failed (Suggested "Neon Genesis Evangellion", "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water" for successes)
  • Homework - Write report on contributing factors to anime commercial success

Week 7: Akibahara, Otaku and the obsessive culture surrounding anime

  • Lectures
    • A - Cosplay, Conventions
    • B - Otaku, Social stigma, "Weeaboos"/"Wapanese"
  • Seminar - Screenings of convention recordings (both East & Western) and otaku interviews (There are several documentaries that cover this topic) - With optional discussion afterwards.
  • Homework - N/A

Week 8: The increasing ubiquity of anime

  • Lectures:
    • A - Anime stylism in government posters, advertisement, increasing appearance in everyday japan
    • B - Revision Lecture (Assuming an exam at the end of term)
  • Seminar - N/A
  • Homework - N/A


Personally I would have a 50:50 ratio of coursework to exam marks in order to attain a final grade. This exam would consist of a 2 and a half hour exam covering topics from each section of the course. Coursework would be graded on the quality of the deliverables, with additional marks for novelty.

With an online course, this may be adjusted to suit the setup accordingly.

Suggested Additional Reading Materia

  • Selected volumes of http://mechademia.org/
  • Anime: A history by John Clements
  • A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, ZEN, and the Tea Ceremony by Hector Garcia
  • Starting Point by Hayou Miyazaki
  • A Drifting Life by Yoshiro Tatsumi

What will I get out of this Course?

The students will, after this course, be able to:

  • Appreciate differences between anime and western media
  • Understand the culture around the media
  • Understand the genre types within the media
  • Be able to identify and discuss the different periods of anime
  • Recognize many anime references within other media
  • be kind, i wrote this in one go :P Commented May 28, 2014 at 23:09
  • Somethings to consider: What academic subject would your course fall under? Art? History? Film? Language? When someone take this course (summer? as an elective? would it be offered online [e.g. vis Coursera])? How does everything tie in at the end? How do you access your student's progress? Do the students interact with one another? In class outside of class? Take note that college semesters are 14 and 16 weeks. Summer semesters are shorter and more varied; with some lasting from 3 or 4 weeks to 10 or 12 weeks.
    – кяαzєя
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 13:07
  • I took a semester to be 8 weeks as described in the question above. I'd imagine the course could be an elective for new students studying film, media studies or similar - but it could be easily enough adapted for an online course through discussion forums and recorded lectures/seminars. Assessing students will be a combination of homework and a final written exam covering all topics Commented May 29, 2014 at 14:06
  • 1
    Impressive work! I upvoted just for the image of a bunch of college students sitting around watching K-On. I don't envy the teacher who has to explain the meaning of the name "Azu-nyan", though.
    – Torisuda
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 17:30
  • WAIT A MINUTE!! Where's the month long module on hentai, tentacles and fan-service?
    – Suman Roy
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 13:15

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .