Anime aus der Perspektive der Japanischen Kunstgeschichte

Anime aus der Perspektive der Japanischen Kunstgeschichte

26.02.2016 - 03.06.2016

Rämistrasse 71

Kalender Import

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Anime aus der Perspektive der Japanischen Kunstgeschichte

Anime as Seen through Japanese Art History 

Vorlesung, FS2016
Fridays 12:15-13:45
Rämistrasse 71, Zürich

Kunstgeschichte Ostasiens 
Universität Zürich

Abteilung für Kunstgeschichte Ostasiens
Kunsthistorisches Institut
Gablerstrasse 14, Museum Rietberg
CH Telefon Sekretariat: +41 44 634 28 31-8002  Zürich
Telefon Direkt: +41 43 344 58 81  Telefax: +41 43 344 58 84

Course Abstract:  

In recent years, the field of Japanese anime (“animated movies”) and manga (“cartoons”) have become increasingly popular, not only in the western world, but as a globe-wide phenomenon.    Not only are groups of dedicated fans enjoying them, but are actively interacting with the characters and their creators through conferences, blogs, and costume acting (kosuplē) – recently a museum of anime and manga has been created and the anime studios of one director has become a major tourist attraction in Japan.

In the middle of this popular enthusiasm, scholars have started to address the art historical issues of the anime, with leading figures such as Tadashi Kobayashi claiming a direct connection between anime and the illustrated handscrolls of the twelfth century and the woodblock print of the nineteenth century.  The anime have, in a sense, become imbedded into the history of Japanese art.

In this series of lectures, we will take a critical look at such claims, and look at a number of other art historical aspects of anime using the methods and theories of the discipline.  We will look at issues of receptions from the past, the functions of traditional art and architecture within the anime, political uses of anime, its references to the West, as well as themes such as those dealing with religion (Buddhism, Shintoism, and also Christianity) and the occult, use of space and material culture, references to performing arts, its use as an underground art form, and so on.  The important relationship between anime and manga and those with its contemporary counterparts in the West will also be examined carefully.

As the primary reference material of the course we will study the remarkable body of anime of Japan, starting with classic works such as The Village Festival (1930), The Monkey Masamune (1930), Song of Spring (1931), going into war-time propaganda of Momotarōs Sea Eagle (1942), and into the present and the critically acclaimed works of Miyazaki Hayao, such as Totoro (1988), Kiki (1989), and Ponyo (2008).  The younger generation of Japanese anime makers will also be discussed, such as the works of Satoshi Kon, Mamoru Ishii, and Katsuhiro Ōtomo.

Course Outline 

Feb 26(Fr): Class 1. Introductions.

OLATandsyllabus. Preparingeachclass.
How to find the Handapparat.  The format of the final exam.


Mar 4(Fr):Class 2.  Historical Survey I: Basic Ideas and Techniques   

Highlighted source:The Roots of Japanese Anime  (1930-42)

Comment on OLAT Forum

Mar 11(Fr):   Class 3. Historical survey II: Basic Ideas and Techniques

Highlighted source: Appleseed Ex Machina  (2007)


Comment on OLAT Forum
Mar 18 (Fr): No class this week. Attend part of the
    International Symposium: Katagami in the West 


Held all day in room KOL-F-118
Apr8(Fr): Class 4. Influences and Receptions: Europe and Japan’s Past
Highlighted source: Kiki’s Delivery Service(1989) 


Comment on OLAT Forum
Apr 15(Fr):


Class 5. Intermedia Arts: Manga, Music,and other Forms

Highlighted source: Millennium Actress (2002)

Comment on OLAT Forum

Apr22(Fr): Class 6. Visions in Blue: Anime and Eroticism


Highlighted source: PerfectBlue  (1998)

Comments on OLAT Forum

Apr 29(Fr): Class 7. Living by the Sword: Anime and the Culture of the Samurai


Highlighted source: Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)

Comment on OLAT Forum

May 6(Fr): Class 8. Sailor MoonAstroBoy, and Popular Culture in Anime


GuestLecturebyProf. Dr. AlfredMesserli, UZH

Comments on OLAT Forum

May 13(Fr): Class 9. The Apocalyptic Future: After the Destruction
Highlighted source: Akira  (1988)

Comment on OLAT Forum


May 20 (Fr):    Class 10.  What of Identity: Robots, Cyborgs and Humans  



Highlighted source: Ghost intheShell  (1995)

Comment on OLAT Forum

May 27(Fr): Class 11. The Shinto Gods: Pollution and the Environment


Highlighted source: Spirited Away (2001)

Comment on OLAT Forum

June 3(Fr): Class 12. Final Exam during classtime

Please note: the lectures will be held in English. The exam at the end of the semester can be written in a number of languages, including English, German, French, and Japanese.    

Further informations (including for UZH Students taking the course):

  • People in Charge 
    Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen
    Villa Schönberg, Gablerstrasse 14
    CH-8002 Zürich
    Office Hours: Wednesdays, 15:00-17:00
    Tel: (043) 344 5881
    Email: thomsen@khist.uzh.chTutor:  Lisa Dermont ( (for technical questions):  
    Natasha Fischer Vaidya (
    Anna Hagdorn (
    Alina Martimyanova (
  • Relevant Texts 
    Suggested outside reading will be announced in class and on the OLAT site (   Some of the texts will be uploaded to the  OLAT site.  In addition, a number of books and articles are located in the Assistants’  Room of the Villa Schönberg.  For directions on how to get there, please contact the KGOA Abteilung assistants at (043) 344 5882.  A number of the texts can also be found in the ZB or the AOI Library of the university.
  • The following texts are recommended for the course:
    -Steven Brown, ed. Cinema Anime.  New York and Basingstoke, GB: Palgrave  – Macmillan, 2006
    -Helen McCarthy.  500 Essential Anime Movies.  New York: Collins Design, 2008
    -Susan Napier. Anime: From Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle. Updated edition. New York and Basingstoke, GB: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005
    -Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy. The Anime Encyclopedia.  (Revised and expanded version.)  Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press, 2006
    -Any of the Mechademia volumes from University of Minnesota Press
  • Class Format 
    The class will meet one time each Friday throughout the semester. Please refer regularly to OLAT ( for additional information, such as unusual meeting times, syllabus, contact information, Internet websites, etc.  This will also be the site to post OLAT Forum notes on the outside readings (see below).
  • OLAT Forum.   Students are encouraged to post his or her comments on the texts and/or the lectures on the OLAT Forum site.  You should feel free to look at the responses of other students and refer to them in your comment.  You are encouraged to be innovative and to practice the art history vocabulary learned from the classes and readings.  For technical questions, please see the assistants
  • Final exam.  To get credit for the course, you need to take the final exam.  The final exam will be given during the last week of class, at a time that works for the students and the instructor.  The exam can be written in a number of languages, including German and English. The exam will consist of 1) image identifications, 2) vocabulary word identifications, and 3) short essay questions.
  1. Each week, selections of images from the lecture will be selected and posted on the OLAT site – you are to study these carefully, as images on the Final Exam will be taken from these lists.
  2. You are also responsible for all the vocabulary words given on the vocabulary lists given throughout the course.  (All the vocabulary lists and image lists will be posted on OLAT)
  3. Essay questions will be asked about film clips from anime movies.   The questions will relate closely to major themes discussed during the semester.