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Anime book for beginners

Tuesday 19th November 2013


Hugh David reviews a new introduction to Japanese animation

Anime bookThe availability in the 21st century, to that small percentage of humanity that has access, of all sorts of knowledge online, has not yet removed the need for actual published works. It has, however, curbed the need for introductory texts of the sort Oldcastle Books, Britain’s oldest independent publisher, specialise in with their well-known imprint Pocket Essentials and the more film-studies-centric sister imprint Kamera Books. Nevertheless, when faced with a trawl through Anime News Network’s online database or the comprehensive doorstop that is the Anime Encyclopedia, some might find the thought of a brisk 150-plus-page subject overview very appealing.

Authors Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc’s resumé does not strike the committed anime fan as making them obvious names to be taking on such a mammoth task. Other than their previous book on Studio Ghibli, they have mostly covered classic cult cinema topics such as David Lynch and John Carpenter. However, the inclusion of books on Horror Films and Jackie Chan in their bibliography suggests they are of that group of Westerners whose interest was sparked by the genre titles making their way West in the nineties. As such, they may well be the ideal people to write an introduction; after all, many a fan was created through seeing Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Wicked City and many a further genre classic from the Manga Entertainment vaults.

The book is very simply structured. A two-page definition of the term “anime” is followed by a 26- page potted history of the medium, a two-page glossary and a further 21 pages highlighting ten key anime directors. The second half of the book provides short entries for selected anime works from 1928 to 2009. While this could be regarded as comprehensive, the listing of the earliest titles seems slightly perfunctory. The list is fairly catholic; few would argue with any inclusion, although towards the end some titles seem to have been included simply to ensure subgenres such as yuri and yaoi are at least mentioned in the book. Eight pages of full-colour stills, a half-page of references and a half-page of further reading round out the volume.

The book, then, certainly does what it says on the tin. It is ideal for complete newcomers, GCSE/A-Level media studies students looking to kick-start a look at the medium or journalists cribbing for an article while on deadline. Who it is not for are specialist academics conversant in the field or established anime fans. The former will pick holes in the first half of the book, the latter in the second. Certainly the Amazon Kindle version is worth the £6.98 price, and might make a nice present to a younger sibling getting into the older fan’s passion, but at £16.99 for 150+ pages the print version there are many, many more books out there that do a much better job for much less.

Anime by Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc is out now from Kamera Books.

MANGA UK GOSSIP

Akira (the Collector\'s Edition) Triple Play Edition (incl. Blu-ray, Dvd, Digital Copy)

£22.49
sale_tag
was £29.99
Iconic and game-changing, Akira is the definitive anime masterpiece! Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark cyberpunk classic obliterated the boundaries of Japanese animation and forced the world to look into the future. Akira’s arrival shattered traditional thinking, creating space for movies like The Matrix to be dreamed into brutal reality.

Neo-Tokyo, 2019. The city is being rebuilt post World War III when two high school drop outs, Kaneda and Tetsuo stumble across a secret government project to develop a new weapon - telekinetic humans. After Tetsuo is captured by the military and experimented on, he gains psychic abilities and learns about the existence of the project's most powerful subject, Akira. Both dangerous and destructive, Kaneda must take it upon himself to stop both Tetsuo and Akira before things get out of control and the city is destroyed once again. 
AKIRA The Collector’s Edition features both the original 1988 Streamline English dub and the 2001

Pioneer/Animaze English dub!

FEATURED RELEASE

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