University College for Interdisciplinary Learning

Introduction to Japanese Animation and Film

Course Code


Course Details

  • Level: 2
  • Credit load: 20


This course introduces students to a representative range of feature length animation from Japan in the context of social and political history. Films, and some excerpts and episodes, made from the 1940s to the contemporary period, and several live-action films with overlapping themes are incorporated into the syllabus. Principle works by what might be described as the 'auteur' animation directors, including Takahata Isao, Matsumoto Leiji, Tezuka Osamu, Miyazaki Hayao, Oishi Mamoru, Otomo Katsuhiro, Anno Hideaki, Kon Satoshi, and Shinkai Makoto, are explored.

The breadth of anime as a medium is such that this introductory module is necessarily selective and excludes the large volume of anime series appearing on television and in straight to video format (OVAs).

Through the semester students will consider the themes and expression of anime in the context of both postwar history and social change, looking in particular at the emergence of key themes: monsters, war, apocalypse, girl heroines, nuclear power, and the psychological syndromes of contemporary Japan.

While students with a personal interest in animation will find much to engage with and deepen their grasp of the social and cultural context and meanings of animation genres, this course requires no previous experience of animation and prior knowledge of animation series not on the syllabus will not be an advantage in course assessment.


Summary of Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of major trends and formations of animation and contemporary culture in Japan in the context of the postwar environment
  • Demonstrate critical understanding of key analytical concepts related to the study of animation and film in contemporary Japan
  • Knowledge of several key genres and cultural themes within animation
  • Construct ideas and arguments from own research and apply knowledge to finding solutions to authentic real world problems.
  • Have honed their skills for reasoned presentation, discussion and argument



  1. Two essays, equally weighted at 40% of the final grade
  2. A paired presentation of 15-20 minutes, followed by questions and discussion. Weighted at 20% of the final grade


This course is only open to undergraduate students.

University College course units are available to take on programmes which have 'free choice' options available to them, (i.e. programmes which allow you, as part of the degree programme, to take a number of credits from subject areas outside of your home school). As these courses are credit bearing, you must enrol by following the standard procedure for your school when adding units outside of your home school.

If you are not sure whether you will be able to enrol in University College courses, please contact your School Undergraduate Office to find out whether these options are available for your degree programme.


Dr. Sharon Kinsella

Teaching and Learning Methods


Biweekly Lectures
1 - 12Tuesday09:00 - 10:00
Film Screening
1 - 12Tuesday15:00 - 17:00
1 - 12Wednesday 11:00 - 10:00
1 - 12Thursday 15:00 - 16:00

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