Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)

Module JPNS2181: Introduction to Anime: Aesthetic, Technology, Seriality

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Japanese)

JPNS2181: Introduction to Anime: Aesthetic, Technology, Seriality

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap 45 Location Durham


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • to acquaint students with a major genre of non-Western serial media in its historical technical and cultural dimensions
  • to acquaint students with the specificities of anime’s visual aesthetics
  • to examine the technology behind anime’s global proliferation
  • to offer students an introduction to key concepts in animation studies, media theory, visual culture, and anthropology
  • to engage students in curatorial projects tied to formative assessment presentations


  • A variety of anime
  • A variety of anime-related artifacts, physical and virtual
  • Theoretical texts in animation studies, media theory, visual culture and anthropology
  • Anime, or ‘Japanese’ commercial animation, has become the object of sustained academic interest in fields such as media, communication, cultural studies and beyond. Not only is anime a rare case of non-Western media with a truly global audience, but the dynamic proliferation of its visual aesthetics is one of the most prominent features of contemporary Internet cultures. But what exactly is anime? What are its visual conventions, narrative tropes and technical specificities? In what ways are these aspects connected with broader media genealogies both within and beyond Japan?
  • By using examples from Japanese animated films, TV series and shorts, this module interrogates these and other issues through the aid of debates emerged at the crossroad of film and animation studies, media theory, visual culture and anthropology. Its aim is to provide Japanese as well as Visual Culture students with basic tools to critically engage with the historical, technical and cultural dimensions of this diverse form of non-Western serial aesthetic. The module is organised in lectures and a series of interactive seminars. The lectures are designed to introduce students to key Japanese and international perspectives on anime, while the seminars will provide them with a unique opportunity to put their knowledge into practice through a collective curatorial experience, the Kimetsu no yaiba project.
  • The Kimetsu no yaiba project is an experiment in collective and co-creative curating. The project centres on Kimetsu no yaiba (Demon Slayer), the anime TV series that hit Japan and the world as a storm since its release in 2019. Through the seminars, the series will work as a case study, or testing ground, to engage with the issues raised by the lectures and create something new in the form of an original ‘virtual’ exhibition. Instead of assuming some pre-given categories of Japanese culture, we will start from our embodied sensations and affective reactions to Demon Slayer in order to understand what claim this series makes upon us, soliciting us to actively construct particular ideas about Japan and Japanese culture through its visual aesthetic. A close reading of this series at the technical, narrative and cultural level will provide us with all we need to produce a co-curated, original anime exhibition.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students will have an understanding of the historical, technical and cultural dimensions of anime
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module, students will be equipped with tools of media theory, animation studies, anthropology, and visual culture that allow them to better analyse non-Western media in a global age
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module students should have enhanced research, communication and argumentation skills, written and oral

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module is taught and assessed in English. English translations of required reading in Japanese will be available
  • Short-fat delivery either in Term 1 or in Term 2, i.e. 2x lectures (weekly); 1x seminar (weekly)
  • Summative Assessment: Students will be assessed via two essays, one of 1500 words and another of 3000 words
  • Formative Assessment: Students will deliver a presentation in seminar and receive feedback from the instructor
  • Seminars will focus on collective and co-creative curating, with students working toward a virtual exhibition

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Weekly 2 hours 20
Seminars 10 Weekly 1 hour 10
Preparation and reading time 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay 1 Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 1,500 words 100% Yes
Component: Essay 2 Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3,000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Seminar presentations

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University