At least 10 universities offer majors or courses on manga and animation.
The pioneer was Kyoto Seika University, which established what is the only manga faculty in Japan in 2006. The faculty is fairly large. It has a capacity of 200 students per year.
When the predecessor to Kyoto Seika University began as a junior college in 1968, it was already offering classes on manga.
They were upgraded to manga courses in 1973 and a manga department was established in 2000.
The central government’s white paper on education took notice of the university’s endeavor “as one doing research on manga as a scholarly field.”
In the 2010 school year, a master’s program in manga studies starts at Kyoto Seika.
“As a university, we want to provide a path that will allow graduates to become connected to society,” said Keiko Takemiya, head of the manga faculty.
One example is more practical manga that covers everything from company histories to pamphlets provided by hospitals to patients to help explain certain diseases to educational materials that explain traditional arts and crafts.
The university creates such manga after receiving orders and has set up a business operation for that purpose. Graduates are recruited to draw the manga and between 50 and 60 orders are received a year.
Last spring, Kentaro Takekuma, a manga editor, joined the faculty as a professor.
Takekuma had been teaching manga at Tama Art University since 2003. Since 2008, he has been regularly self-publishing a magazine to provide his students with a forum for their work.
“Universities are different from publishing houses because they do not have a medium,” Takekuma said. “Beginners can be developed if they have a forum for expression.”
Universities offering manga courses are using different methods to widen their appeal.
Manga majors at Bunsei University of Art have Tetsuya Chiba as their professor. He is famed for his “Ashita no Joe” (Tomorrow’s Joe) boxing manga.
Chiba’s motto is to work up a sweat at least once a day, instead of being cooped up in a room. He often takes his students outdoors to play catch. The parents of his students, many of whom are his fans, appear more happy about such efforts than the students.
Editors have their own opinion about how effective universities are.
Shoji Maruyama, a deputy managing editor of the monthly magazine “Comic Zero-Sum,” has helped with university courses and accepted submissions from graduates.
“Universities are a place where it is possible to come into contact with talent so I will happily go if asked,” Maruyama said. “People who have studied manga in university create works based on their own thinking. That is attractive. I think more graduates will become professionals.”
However, Yukitoshi Sakaguchi, who is in charge of university entrance information at the Yoyogi Seminar cram school, believes only those programs with true value will survive.