More than just comics: Monash Manga library is valuable source for researchers

More than just comics: Monash Manga library is valuable source for researchers

The Manga Library at the Monash Japanese studies Centre has one of the largest university-held manga collections with more than 7000 manga, covering all genres in Japanese, English and other languages.

And it's completely unique, no other collection of Manga at any university in Australia exists with the same level of depth and breadth of texts.

Monash University has a long tradition and history with Japanese studies. In fact Monash was the first Australian university to have a Japanese studies program, and the Manga Library is part of a strong and diverse Japanese studies portfolio.

Stephanie Luo, manager of the library says while this is one of the largest and most varied university-held collections, there is a common misconception about manga, that it is “just a comic.” But this is largely untrue.

“We’ve got a really interesting collection and I think manga is really just a visual form of information, whether it’s fiction or educational or scientific,” Ms Luo said.

The Manga Library at Monash has one of the biggest university-held manga collections.
A selection of manga from the Monash Manga Library at the Japanese Studies Centre

“There’s a manga for everything. We have some manga in here that’s about Japanese history, world history, we have some about political parties, and even translation literature.”

“Manga also has an application in a lot of research like linguistics, Japanese language and cultural studies,” she said.

The Monash Manga Library welcomes many visiting librarians from Japan, and visiting scholars who have an interest in Japanese culture or manga and use the library as a resource.

Dr Craig Norris completed his PhD on the cross-cultural appropriation of manga and anime in Australia and says the manga library played a critical role in his PhD thesis completion.

“The manga library in many ways is an excellent expression of what the thesis was setting up, and given my time working there shortly after the completion of the PhD, it was a space in which I got to apply and further refine a lot of the ideas I set up in this thesis,” Dr Norris said.

Other scholars like Dr Catherine Sell used the library as a resource for a journal article, Manga translation and interculture, where she examined the influence of translated manga on original manga created in languages other than Japanese, with consideration of these as intercultural texts, reflecting established intersection between the cultures at play.

“The core of my data collection involved textual analysis of books held by the Japanese Studies Centre Manga Library and the Kyoto International Manga Museum,” Dr Sell said.

Her book chapter The sound of silence, examines translation strategies for translating onomatopoeia and mimesis in Japanese manga, with particular focus on how ‘silent' mimesis (SFX terms which denote states of being or change that do not make noise in the real workd) are translated into English.

“We used the JSC Manga Library as a data source for this research, making use of 738 translated manga volumes from the library's collection, in order to analyse translation strategies and publication trends over time ranging from the 1980s to 2010s,” she said.

Dr Sell said in-depth analyses of 10 publications were also conducted, looking at both their Japanese source texts and English target texts to examine translation strategies used for the onomatopoeia and mimesis.

“I chose to use the library as a data source for my analysis because of the richness of its collection,” she said.

“It has more books than I could have otherwise accessed, and as my research involved looking at publication trends over time, the library was an especially invaluable resource for accessing publications that are no longer readily available for purchase.”

The library has also held numerous symposiums including the Japanese visual culture and the cultural flows of manga, and a Manga Translation workshop.

For now, the team at the Manga library is working on developing an online catalogue for their collection so seekers of rare manga titles will be able to potentially locate them within the manga library.

Study at Monash