Reframing Disability in Manga

Paperback: $30.00
ISBN-13: 9780824889876
Published: February 2021
Hardback: $80.00
ISBN-13: 9780824882365
Published: May 2020

Additional Information

238 pages | 15 b&w illustrations
  • About the Book
  • Reframing Disability in Manga analyzes popular Japanese manga published from the 1990s to the present that portray the everyday lives of adults and children with disabilities in an ableist society. It focuses on five representative conditions currently classified as shōgai (disabilities) in Japan—deafness, blindness, paraplegia, autism, and gender identity disorder—and explores the complexities and sociocultural issues surrounding each. Author Yoshiko Okuyama begins by looking at preindustrial understandings of difference in Japanese myths and legends before moving on to an overview of contemporary representations of disability in popular culture, uncovering sociohistorical attitudes toward the physically, neurologically, or intellectually marked Other. She critiques how characters with disabilities have been represented in mass media, which has reinforced ableism in society and negatively influenced our understanding of human diversity in the past.

    Okuyama then presents fifteen case studies, each centered on a manga or manga series, that showcase how careful depictions of such characters as differently abled, rather than disabled or impaired, can influence cultural constructions of shōgai and promote social change. Informed by numerous interviews with manga authors and disability activists, Okuyama reveals positive messages of diversity embedded in manga and argues that greater awareness of disability in Japan in the last two decades is due in part to the popularity of these works, the accessibility of the medium, and the authentic stories they tell.

    Scholars and students in disability studies will find this book an invaluable resource as well as those with interests in Japanese cultural and media studies in general and manga and queer narrative and anti-normative discourse in Japan in particular.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Yoshiko Okuyama, Author

      Yoshiko Okuyama is professor in the Department of Languages at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • This important, groundbreaking work makes a strong case for manga as an effective medium for depicting the realities of living with a disability and educating the general public—not just manga fans—about it. My teaching would be enriched by the addition of manga that do a good job of representing disability, and this book gives me all the information I need to find and properly contextualize such works. Professor Okuyama's book would also be a wonderfully useful resource on queer narrative and anti-normative discourse in Japan.
      —Sharalyn Orbaugh, University of British Columbia
    • With a focus on manga that promote greater understanding and awareness of disability and its sociocultural dimensions in Japan, Reframing Disability in Manga shows how this popular culture medium can serve as a powerful agent of social change. Theoretically astute and informed by Yoshiko Okuyama’s many interviews with activists, authors, and editors, this book is a fascinating study of representations of disability in Japanese graphic novels and a significant contribution to disability studies scholarship.
      —Ann Schmiesing, University of Colorado Boulder
    • Each chapter focuses on a particular disability: deafness, use of a wheelchair, blindness, autism, and “gender identity disorder” (in Japan, the latter often falls within the framework of disability rights instead of trans rights). Okuyama does a skillful job of introducing her selected manga titles, many of which are only available in Japanese, while framing them within comparative discourses on disability and pop culture from Japan, the US, and the UK. The book includes 15 black-and-white manga covers, one for each title discussed.
      —B. A. Robinson, Rollins College, CHOICE, 58:8 (April 2021)
    • Overall, Reframing Disability in Manga is a wide-ranging read that transcends the specificity of anime and manga studies. . . . [It] makes a strong argument for manga as a potential agent of change and medium for raising awareness and educating various audiences in a more authentic and empathetic way. For scholars dealing with social activism, media representations, or diversity and inclusion, it is a very fruitful introduction to the Japanese context. For the broader subject of Japanese popular culture research, it is a most needed addition.
      —Alice Teodorescu, H-Japan, H-Net Reviews (November, 2022)
  • Supporting Resources