Mimi Okabe

Mimi Okabe Instructor


I recently obtained my PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta where I completed my SSHRC funded research, “Manga, Murder and Mystery: Investigating the Revival of the Boy Detectives in Japan’s Lost Decade.” My research advances new insights in Japanese Studies as it explores children’s mystery stories appearing in Japanese manga, focusing on how the global figure of the boy sleuth has changed over time. It traces the literary figure over the course of Japan’s “lost decade” to explore broader social expectations of youth in contemporary Japan. More importantly, it discusses the disappearance of this figure from Western literature, extending and problematizing the image of the boy detective in Japan’s thriving manga culture to not only keep the genre alive but also to invigorate it in a genre that I refer to as shōnen tantei manga (boy detective manga).

In Winter 2017, I designed and taught my dream course entitled “Sherlock Holmes & the Transcultural Imagination” at the University of Alberta, which I won in a department competition. I'm a former member of Edmonton’s Sherlockian Society, The Wisteria Lodgers, and a board member of The Bootmakers of Toronto: The Sherlock Holmes Society of Canada. If I wasn't a scholar, I think, I'd most likely be a sleuth. To learn more about why I love detective stories, click here!

Primarily, my research focuses on adaptations of literary classics in contemporary Japanese visual culture, encompassing graphic narratives and video games. As a comparativist, I often explore transnational and transcultural aspects of these media forms through various methods and approaches. As a feminist scholar, I’m passionate about exploring questions of gender inequality within games cultures and industries, and I’m currently doing research with Dr. Rockwell (U of A) and his team that builds on my previous work on women and game development. For more info about my research interests and teaching, see my monthly blog!

I was born in Miyagi, Japan but immigrated to Canada when I was 11 months old. I've lived in Ontario for the majority of my life. I'm a bilingual speaker of Japanese and English and I'm currently studying to achieve Level 5 proficiency in Mandarin Chinese with Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì (HSK) and preparing to write the Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française (DALF- C2). I also have a purple sash in Mantis Style Kung Fu from the Niagara Kung Fu Academy. I'm a self-proclaimed foodie (@mimirellaz) and collect anything related to Sherlock Holmes and Aoyama Gōshō’s Meitantei Konan--I currently have up to 95 volumes of the original manga series and counting! You can also find me on twitter.

What is your favourite thing about teaching?

Some of my favorite things about teaching include, being able to connect with my students; making learning fun, accessible and meaningful; and learning to become the best instructor that I can be. (cue in Pokémon theme song, “I wanna be the very best…”).

What is the last book you read and loved?

I study manga and video games, so I read lots of different stories on a daily/weekly basis and play games when I can. I am currently reading the popular manga series Kimestsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer) by Koyoharu Gotōge. If you aren’t reading it, you should! My favorite console game is BotW (Can’t wait for #2!).

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I would love to revisit London, England and Germany. I would also love to make time to travel more in Europe and explore all the places in the world where Sherlock Holmes went.

What three words best describe your experience as a teacher?

Memorable, constantly learning and FUN! (It’s important to have fun).

What would be your dream course to teach?

Another course on Sherlock Holmes, or anything related to mysteries and detective stories.