Publications (as of April 2020)

Gough, S. (2020) Media mix and character marketing in Madoka Magica. East Asian Journal of Popular Culture, 6 (1). 59-76.
Access through Ingenta Connect.

This article examines the development of the media franchise Mahō shōjo Madoka magika/Puella Magi Madoka Magica from the perspective of the growth of character media ecologies. Originating as a 2011 anime series, Madoka Magica presented a critically acclaimed narrative featuring a dark, traumatic take on the magical girl genre of media. Outside this narrative context, however, Madoka Magica has developed into a vibrant array of media products, including manga, video games, character merchandising and cross-promotional brand marketing, with little to no reference in these products to the dark context of the chronologically prior characters. Characters who were brutally killed in one context become smiling ambassadors for convenience stores in another; the monsters fought against become cohabiting associates, if not allies, between texts. By focusing on the marketing, proliferation and malleability of the Madoka Magica characters, and the brand’s evident emphasis on the characters’ affective potential outside the narrative context of the original series, this article highlights the multiplicity of characters within the brand’s officially produced media mix. Examining the production of the brand as a totality of products becomes a staging point for future analysis into character marketing more broadly, and the divergent approaches to such marketing across a global context.

Gough, S. & Lee, A. (2020) Material Multiplicities and Sanrio danshi: The Evolution of Sanrio’s Media Mix. Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies, 20 (1).
Open access journal.

Since the early 1970s, Sanrio has come to emblematise the cute character merchandising industry, with characters such as the iconic Hello Kitty being sold through seemingly endless streams of clothing, stickers, video games, and backpacks. However, in 2015, Sanrio introduced a new character brand: the five handsome men of Sanrio danshi (Sanrio boys), who are both fictional, iconic characters that appear in Sanrio media and merchandise, yet also positioned as Tokyo-dwelling fans of Sanrio’s character merchandise themselves. In addition to appearing in traditional forms of media marketing, such as manga and anime, the fictional boys of Sanrio danshi uniquely “post” together from a Twitter account run by Sanrio, where illustrated images are shared as though they are photographs taken by the boys themselves in their “real lives.”  Through analysis of its varying texts, this paper argues that the Sanrio danshi media mix, and its blending of fiction and reality through the use of new media and multiple points of entry, presents a fascinating example of contemporary character marketing in Japan.  This paper thus considers Sanrio danshi as a character assemblage, and how the Sanrio danshi media mix signifies Sanrio’s crossing and expansion outside traditionally-assumed territories of consumption, production, and participation.


  • Gough, S. (2018) Review of Lamarre, Thomas, The Anime Ecology: A Genealogy of Television, Animation, and Game Media. electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies, 18(3). Open access journal.

Forthcoming publications

  • Gough, S. Japan’s Joan of Arc: Deterritorialising the Maid of Orleans Through Manga [in forthcoming edited collection ‘Drawing the Past: Comics and the Historical Imagination’, Goodrum, M., Hall, D., & Smith, P. (Eds.)., Mississippi University Press]
  • Gough, N. & Gough, S. Watchmen, simultaneity, and postmodern science education: the media and their messages [in forthcoming edited collection ‘Science x Education x Anthropocene’, Bazzul J., Wallace M.F.G., and Higgins, M. (Eds), Palgrave Macmillan]