Francesco-Alessio Ursini

Panel 1F: Transcoding Japan
Session 1 – July 1, 11:00 – 13:00

Japanese Space Opera and Intermediality

 Intermediality is often used as a label that encapsulates the interconnectedness of different media and formats (Jensen 2016). Within modern practices of storytelling, intermediality has emerged as an artistic practice that allows the development of multi-layered narratives and the collaboration of ensemble-like creative teams (ibid.). Intermediality also permits authors to practice complex forms of world building, defined as the process of developing rich fictional worlds in which narratives take place (Jameson 2005). Within the broad genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy, world building has become a foundational practice that allows multiple creators and fans to collectively shape fictional worlds and stories across a wide Gamut of media (Wolff 2013). 

The goal of this presentation is to discuss how intermediality has shaped the creation of complex Space Opera narratives within the Japanese artistic milieu. Japanese comics (manga) and animation (anime) have a long history of interconnectedness that can be traced back to Tezuka Osamu’s foundational role in both media. From the ‘70s and Leiji Matsumoto’s work on Yamato and Captain Harlock, intermediality has become a foundational characteristic of Japanese Space Opera works. We discuss some well-known “sagas” and their respective worlds (e.g. Gundam, Ginga Eiyū Densetsu ‘The Legend of the Galactic Heroes’) and analyse how these sagas present early examples of highly interconnected narratives exploiting access to multiple media to weave complex world-building narratives. 


Francesco-Alessio Ursini is a Distinguished Research Fellow in Linguistics, Sun Yat-sen University (China). His work in Linguistics focuses on spatial categories and their relation to non-linguistic representations, and typological universals that can gleaned from cross-linguistic patterns. His work in Comics Studies focuses on world building techniques and narratological strategies involving the use of space (“where” stories take place), as well as issues of intertextuality.