The Waseda Symposium on Demon Slayer (鬼滅の刃)

Bryan Hikari Hartzheim's picture
Call for Papers
January 9, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Film and Film History, Japanese History / Studies, Popular Culture Studies


Title: “Suspensions of Concentration: Kimetsu no yaiba and Blockbuster in the Year of the Global Pandemic” 

Date and Time: 15 March 2021 (09:30–17:30 JST)

Place and Format: Online/Webinar


The research project “Location of Anime: Institutions, Disciplines, and Fields” was originally planned as an international symposium/seminar at Waseda University’s Brussels Office in collaboration with its partner institution, the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Fall 2020. Unfortunately, we had no choice but to cancel the event due to COVID-19. In the beginning, there was no plan to hold any alternative event online because we were too exhausted from a seemingly endless series of Zoom meetings and other online affairs. While contemplating the discontinuation of the project for good, a blockbuster anime movie was released in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 劇場版「鬼滅の刃」無限列車編 or Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train was first shown on October 16, 2020, and as of this writing, it is the second highest-grossing film in Japan ever. Regardless of whether it surpasses the number one film Spirited Away or not, the significance of Demon Slayer the Movie is undeniable. Intrigued by both the film itself and the wide-ranging social phenomena it has created, we have decided to reorganize the original project by focusing on Kimetsu no yaiba or Demon Slayer.


The main objective of our project remains the same, i.e., the investigation of the location of anime. This one-day online symposium is an attempt to accomplish this objective by exploring a wide range of issues that are concretely related to Kimetsu no yaiba yet have implications beyond the single media franchise. The following are examples of possible topics for presentations and discussions: the anime industry and media mix, fan culture, cosplay and social media, anime songs and music, voice acting and actors, genre systems, intertextuality, action and spectacle, speed and kinetic dynamism, narrative motifs, iconography, visual style, historical imagination, the political unconscious, affect, violence, censorship, gender and authorship, transnational reception and consumption, labor and marketing, COVID-19 and the culture industry, etc. By scrutinizing Kimetsu no yaiba in relation to these and other issues, we will collectively reflect on the location of anime in its broadest sense. 


We invite papers that critically discuss any aspects of the Kimetsu phenomena including—but not limited to—the list of topics mentioned above. Please send a paper title, an abstract of approximately 250 words, and a short bio to by January 9, 2021




Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto (Waseda University)

Bryan Hartzheim (Waseda University)


This symposium is generously supported by Waseda University’s grant for international research collaboration, Waseda Brussels Office, and the Graduate School of International Culture and Communication Studies. 

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