The recent book Japanamerica by Tokyo University lecturer Roland Kelts is a very thought provoking and insightful analysis of the way Japanese popular culture has invaded the US mainstream. Kelts brings to the book his passion for manga and anime, a sharp sense for cultural theory, and his bicultural Japanese and American background to illustrate the significance of the US-Japan cross cultural relationship. The book covers ground ranging from issues of cultural taboos to differences in copyright laws.
Last month, when I was talking with author and anthropologist Ian Condry at his Hip-hop after-party, I asked if he had read Japanamerica. He said, "Yeah, actually Roland was here earlier but he had to go. I would have introduced you to him!"
Maybe it's not such a coincidence. The community of Japanese pop culture scholars and specialists must not be all that huge.
I got in touch with Mr. Kelts after the event over email and we made plans to get together. Unfortunately, due to his busy tour schedule promoting the book, we weren't able to meet this time around. We did have brief phone conversation today though. He told me about his upcoming trip to Australia and a panel discussion at UC Berkeley with legend of Japanese animation, Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke).
He also told me that he thought the Werewolf blog was very exciting. That was definitely nice to hear. I hope to get a chance to meet with him next time he is in town.