Professor Ron Morse, as part of the Asian studies program, will start a new course on anime and manga at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, reports THE LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL.
"Most people stop reading comic books when they're six years old," said Morse. "It's more than childish stuff. It's a serious sociological critique."
The class was spurred by the growing influx of anime in the U.S. Morse comments that serious issues such as drug addiction, prostitution and murder make anime worth studying at a university level.
"It deals with real life content. It speaks to the problems that young people are grappling with," he said. "It's come of age and the timing is right and there is no question that it speaks to the youth culture of America."
The Tokyo Foundation, a Japanese private think tank, donated $170,000 for the program and appointed Morse, who taught a similar course at UCLA in 2003.
"(Anime) is pure Japanese culture; it's pure Japanese spirit," said Hiroshi "Hank" Nozaki, the foundation spokesman. "You study Japan by arguing that anime is different from studying THE SIMPSONS."
Morse's class will also feature lectures from some of Japan's premiere anime artists, whom the foundation will fly in for a week and send to anime clubs, colleges and high schools. Morse hopes the course will give an older audience a better understanding of the cultural influences impacting children.