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Anime Explosion! The What? Why? & Wow! of Japanese Animation Paperback – October 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Stone Bridge Press (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1880656728
  • ISBN-13: 978-1880656723
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #856,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book is useful not only as a reference to Anime, but also as a rewarding guide to some aspects of contemporary Japanese culture." Niagara University Library: Monthly Book Spotlight, June 2003 -- Review

About the Author

Patrick Drazen has lectured on Japanese pop culture at the University of Chicago and Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he earned a Masters of Arts degree. He has been published in Channels of Communication and the Journal of Pop culture. He and his wife live in Chicago.

More About the Author

An interest in Japanese comics and animation has led to decades as an independent scholar, author, lecturer and researcher. Appearances include MC at the 2006 Smithsonian Anime Marathon.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
What most newcomers to Japanese anime (neo-otaku) miss out on is the culture that lies behind the films. Since anime owes some of its roots to American comics and animation there is a lot of common ground, and it is possible to skate along for some time before the viewer begins to sense that there is a whole subtext going on with which they have no connection. This is the point where a loyal addict starts reading about anime in between watching DVD's of their favorite episodes.
Patrick Drazen's 'Anime Explosion' is the perfect book to begin a deep dive into anime. It begins with history and then follows key themes and genre. This discussion alone is well worth the price of admission because it reveals where American and Japanese viewpoints diverge. This helps the viewer to 'get' many things that used to leave one vaguely confused and dissatisfied. He also dispels a few urban legends about anime in the process. If you are like me, you got focused on the Christian imagery in Evangelion, but completely failed to realize that the real legendary context is from Japanese myths like Kojiki. It is all a bit like getting a viewpoint adjustment.
The second major part of the book discusses, particular films, directors, composers. Drazen does not make the mistake of trying to cover everything. He makes the right decision - that the reader will benefit more from Evangelion, Escaflowne, Ghibli and Shirow in some depth than from a lot of little tidbits that are more appropriately to attempts at encyclopedic coverage. These are like practice sessions that gradually hone the reader's ability to see the how and why of what is Japanese in anime. And this helps us vastly increase our ability to enjoy Japanese animation. Which has come a very long way from its origins.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jim Yahei on December 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Many have tried to write an introduction to anime in the past, but Drazen's is the first to really give a good sense of the staggering breadth of the anime field. He covers a lot of ground and demonstrates an in-depth knowledge of the background *behind* anime. A little copy-eding would not have gone a miss though; one passage implies that Jubei Yagyu was one of the Seven Samurai! Still an excellent intro to anime though, and an ideal stepping stone for climbing on to Stone Bridge's lofty Anime Encyclopedia.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Michael Valdivielso on April 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
The author starts off with the history of anime and manga then gets into folktales, hardcore anime, themes, the Way of the Warrior and the Way of the Teeenage Girl, Japanese mothers, Christianity, Shinto, Idols, nature, war and anti-war themes, birth, death and rebirth, giant robots, Sailor Moon, Pokemon and so much more.
SOME of the things that the author presents as facts are wrong. For example, on page 122, says "Long ago, two members of the interplantary noble house of Jurai traveled to Earth: Tenchi Masaki's mother...and grandfather Yosho-" which is wrong. Achika, Tenchi's mother was born on Earth. Yosho had been on Earth for over 700 years guarding the Masaki Shrine. As he was chasing the dangerous pirate-demon, Ryoko, I DOUBT he brought a baby along for the ride.
Also, at the end, the author tells you the book is based on his own favorites. What happened to list of resources, the titles of anime and manga and history books we should read? If you want to be told what to watch and read DON'T buy this book. This author wants you to think. How un-American.
Oh, the afterword is also kind of weak.
I would suggest this book for a person who just entered the world of anime. It is newer than most and VERY detailed.
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32 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
The book appears at first to be an in-depth review of the anime phenomenon and claims to offer insights into the Japanese understanding of the medium. Unfortunately, once one starts asking questions of his assumptions, the whole structure crumbles. This book operates under the fallacy that what you see in anime reflects the values of the Japanese people (just like "South Park" reflects American values, right?), so we get concepts like "yasashii" thrust at us, and claims like "harmony is the most important thing to the Japanese." He overlooks the concept that the Japanese are not a monolithic people and seems to indicate that all the Japanese think alike on an issue.
Actually, the author seems to base his theory that anime is great on the basis that it's not American and his praises of Japan frequently revolve around knocking American moral values (there are quite a few asides to the evils of "conservative America")
Similar to Susan J Napier's book on anime, this book takes the author's preconceived notions and forcs examples to fit them, even when they don't have the meaning he tries to make them convey.
This would be more tolerable if his writing style was not so imperious, giving the impression that these views were solid and immutable facts instead of opinions
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By E. Egao on April 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
I ordered this book as a resource for a paper I wrote in school, and I found a number of glaring problems with it. I admire Patrick Drazen in his effort to create an informative book on the subject of anime, but I cannot laud him for it.

1. Much of the information on individual series seems to be incorrect. Perhaps Drazen is offering his interpretation of the events in those series, but overall, it seems that he watched some of them from the corner of his eye while writing the book.

2. There are some major grammatical errors in this book. While not everyone's perfect, it is a seemingly professional publication, and these errors lead me to believe that the author didn't have anyone read over his material to check for errors or inconsistencies, at least not anyone who cared about his book being accurate in any respect.

3. Drazen offers a lot of material, but very rigidly from his own point of view. The book is obviously from a male perspective (which may attribute to his inconsistencies in the descriptions of some of the more girly shoujo titles of anime, but still doesn't account for his errors in the rest); Drazen also sticks to what he likes, giving a sort of authorial sneer to any series mentioned that wasn't in his immediate favorites.

Overall this book is very poor for accurate, unbiased information on the subject of anime. I hate to say so because I don't know of any book that isn't. I think Drazen would have done much better to have collaborated, and certainly to have passed the manuscript around to some of his informed buddies. Did no one catch on to the outstanding errors before this was published?

Better luck next time, authors on anime.
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