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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I read this book after a Village Voice critic called it "a Wired Magazine article on steroids," and Ain't It Cool News said that it was "an imperative resource." Then Bookforum called it "an amazing ride," and The Boston Globe raved.

Then: Even Pete Townshend of The Who endorsed it!

I am skeptical of books trying to capitalize on trends, and very...
Published on February 7, 2007 by Alex Carson

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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Misleading title
Despite the subtitle, there's very little information on Japanese pop culture's adoption by America since World War II. Most of the material covers the phenomenon from the business angle and so there's very little about the actual genres, the major creators, or their impact on the American consciousness other than half a chapter on American fandom. While focusing on the...
Published on May 21, 2009 by Mark Graham


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, February 7, 2007
By 
Alex Carson (Berkeley, CA USA) - See all my reviews
I read this book after a Village Voice critic called it "a Wired Magazine article on steroids," and Ain't It Cool News said that it was "an imperative resource." Then Bookforum called it "an amazing ride," and The Boston Globe raved.

Then: Even Pete Townshend of The Who endorsed it!

I am skeptical of books trying to capitalize on trends, and very skeptical of books on Japan. But the chorus of praise from so many different voices was enough for me.

This book is written in lucid, carefully crafted prose--telling you everything you need to know about transcultural entertainment and the psychological and spiritual traumas embedded in pop culture, and also precisely what makes Japan so sexy to Westerners in the 21st Century. It is also hip and smart, and very accessible. I only wished it were longer.

The author is no geek, but a writer of considerable talent and range. Get Japanamericaa now.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, perhaps overreaching, June 5, 2009
This review is from: Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. (Paperback)
I bought this book after seeing the author speak at the 2009 anime festival in Seattle. He has a significant and enlightening story to tell about the emergence of anime and manga in America. He describes how the American version is distinct from the original, and which personalities made it what it is today.

I found the first half fascinating, the next quarter interesting, and the final quarter of the book difficult to digest and even harder to gain much credence. Personally, I think anime is what it is, and where it goes next cannot be predicted. By the end, I also thought, for all its elegance and fascination, anime is more attitude than it is substance.

Nevertheless, this major cultural movement defies casual inspection, and this book is an excellent guide for the inquisitive.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific!, December 26, 2006
By 
These are heady days for anime and manga as they occupy the mainstream spotlight. Japanophilia is on the rise. But how could a very singular culture (anime and manga riding the cultural tsunami wave) explode into an American phenomenon? Even the Japanese seem to be dumb founded.

Roland Kelts topical book _Japanamerica_ provides that answer. Clocking in at 223 pages (HC) it's a cultural treatise on steroids. _Japanamerica_ provides an intimate insider's look and overturns some long held myths. Highly recommended for the otaku and non-otaku alike.

Being a huge fan of anime, manga and all things Japanese for a long time, I loved this book!

A bibliography for the curious would have been useful.

Here's hoping for a sequel on the "world-wide" effects of Japanese pop culture.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Anime, December 28, 2006
Americans like to think that our culture sets the standard for the rest of the world; however, Kelts takes us beyond our narrow cultural lens to understand the pervasive influence of Japanese aesthetics on the US. Kelts has an engaging and provocative writing style that educates and entertains. This book will satisfy a wide group of readers, including students of popular culture, Japanophiles, and "otaku." As a member of the first group, I couldn't put it down.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gets his analysis spot on...for the most part, December 9, 2011
By 
Brian Maitland (Vancouver, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. (Paperback)
Although I nearly busted a gut when the author stated "Japan is one of the most efficient and industrious nations on Earth." Anyone who has worked in any J-company will know that's not true unless you consider a phalanx of people taking days on end to complete simple tasks most Westerners could do in well under a minute. The funny thing is throughout much of the rest of the book he refutes that but showing how Japanese anime makers have the worst business sense outside their own island nation bubble and how inefficient (and inept) their business models are.

The book though is on the whole a fantastically well-researched and his salient points are well taken. Being an editor for J-co's, I appreciated the dig at Japanese unable to grasp the idea that it might be worth their while to spend enough dough to get their Japlish proofread and cleaned up into readable English copy. Thanks for that, Roland.

Although the concentration of this book is on anime, it touches on everything from video games to cos play. Kelts also is able to bridge that gap in understanding that many Westerners who don't "get" J-pop culture on where the weirdness and dicotomy comes from and how it fits right in within J-culture without dire social consequences (i.e., Japan's urban centers are extremely safe yet a lot of manga contain far more graphic sexual and violent images than mainstream American audiences would be able to handle).
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Misleading title, May 21, 2009
By 
Mark Graham (allentown, pa United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. (Paperback)
Despite the subtitle, there's very little information on Japanese pop culture's adoption by America since World War II. Most of the material covers the phenomenon from the business angle and so there's very little about the actual genres, the major creators, or their impact on the American consciousness other than half a chapter on American fandom. While focusing on the post-Pokemon era, Kelts ignores the decades of interest in Japan stimulated by Godzilla films, the giant robot series like Ultraman and early animes such as Star Blazers. He even fails to mention the enormously popular Transformers--originally a Japanese concept. To my surprise he also ignored the way in which anime and manga have already affected American animation and cartooning--an influence so obvious and pervasive that it surely deserved some mention here. In fact, most of the book is about the anime/manga business in Japan, not the United States. Kelts interest in anime/manga appears to be less for its aesthetic or cultural qualities and more for its changing role in a twenty-first century global economy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb discussion of Japan and the US, beyond anime and manga, June 2, 2008
By 
Jazz fan "blops12" (New York, New York United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. (Paperback)
As an American who is fascinated with Japan, but frustrated with books about the relationship between the two countries, I found Roland Kelts' "Japanamerica" to be a welcome breath of fresh air. Kelts focuses on the growing popularity of manga and anime among Americans, and the "mobius strip" of give and take between the two cultures, but his focus inevitably widens to address the broader mutual fascination between these two worlds. I love the fact that, as an American with a Japanese mother, Kelts avoids the two hazards of Japanophilia and Japanophobia. There is a refreshingly grounded and sensible middle ground in his analysis, a realism that seems to lighten things up and make it all more accessible and welcoming. Perhaps best of all - and this is a miracle in the world of cultural analysis - Kelts is delightfully unpretentious and his prose is as clear and comprehensible as it is filled with fascinating ideas and observations. Never for a moment do we doubt that Kelts knows what he's talking about it - and he brings it all across with infectious enthusiasm.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre at best, December 13, 2010
This review is from: Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. (Paperback)
The author should have gone with a completely different title. Period. I think there is a lot more to be said about Japanese pop culture than anime, which is the sole focus of this book. Not only does the entire book focus on the rise of Japanese animation, but it is over-glorified within these pages. Kelts focuses more on a select few names, mainly Hayao Miyazaki, and doesn't deviate in to other popular anime, especially ones popular within America (with the exception of Pokemon); something I think would be important for a book discussing the Japanese pop-culture "invasion" of the U.S. Interestingly, another reviewer mentioned that Americans over the age of thirty don't know what Gundam or an Otaku is, yet Kelt's 'Japanamerica' mainly references anime whose prime and/or debut was centered in their generation; we see anime getting its foot in the door, but where is the real invasion? Again, with the exception of Pokemon, the sole invasive property in the book. The majority of his arguments are centered on the economic aspects of anime; its rise in popularity but poor Japanese business model; the failure of the current system to produce wealth for the creators and the need to adopt an American perspective on the business of anime: wait, I thought this book was supposed to be about the Japanese influence on America, not the other way around...
I feel some of his points are moot. He argues that one can visit the lands focused on in manga and anime because they can visit Japan, the land from which it came, thus enhancing the experience. Exploring Japan is like exploring your favorite anime, but one can't do that with other forms of entertainment, such as with the Lord of the Rings trilogy (film); "You can't go to Middle Earth," he writes from an interview. "You can't get to Hogwarts." This is just one small example of his poorer arguments. He undermines both Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings because one cannot visit the lands seen IN THE FILM. Yet, you can visit the lands in anime and manga by simply visiting Japan, where the ideas originated. Really? In order to better experience Cowboy Bebop, focused in a futuristic outer space, I can just visit Japan? By this logic, I should be able to visit the UK (where LotR and HP were both originally written) to experience the two novels-made-in-to-film! Realistically, visiting Middle Earth and Hogwarts is more plausible than visiting many of the places centered in anime or manga due to recent theme parks and movie set exhibits. Again, this is just one example that stood out to me.
And finally, the writing was redundant in that by the time I hit the third chapter, I felt I was having deja vu every few pages. I'm surprised this book received as many 5-star reviews as it did. If I had the choice on whether to pick this book on Japanese pop-culture or another, I would go with the latter.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read, but has problems staying on target, December 6, 2008
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This review is from: Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. (Paperback)
The book is at its best when chronicling the history of the anime industry and the struggle of its major producers to develop a new, internationally-motivated business model without eroding their creative capital. It's worth reading for this reason alone.

It's at its worst when trying to explain the popularity of anime and the cultural confluences that have allowed it to rise into the American public eye, or the factors that might hamper it in the future. Here some of the connections the author attempts to draw fall flat. (Anime is more popular because of 9/11! Um, no.) Matters are not helped by the occasionally jarring non sequiturs he throws in. (For a book which looks down its nose at mindless cultural fetishism, 'Japanamerica' works hard to be one of the cool kids. What do Fox News and the burning of Dixie Chicks CDs have to do with the future of Japanese cultural exports? Realistically, nothing; they're mentioned only so that the author can demonstrate how cool he is by looking down his nose at them. One wonders what kind of America he grew up in such that those elements are representative.)

Overall, this is a worthy snapshot of the state of anime as a cultural phenomenon. I would give it four or even five stars if more of the book were given over to this. As it is, I'd say get the book but skip the preaching about how rape is no problem in Japan and Americans are either Japanophiles or record-burning, Puritan-descended rednecks. Also, take his praise for Bakshi's animated 'Lord of the Rings' with some salt.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insights into a complex phenomena, December 12, 2009
This review is from: Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. (Paperback)
PROS: A breezy, readable, yet informative look at how Japanese pop culture has become part of US culture, mixing theories, the big picture, and personal stories.

CONS: The book's approach makes it more useful for getting the big picture than direct research. Some theories may seem odd or vague.

SUMMARY: An interesting and thought-provoking book that can help you get a good picture of how Japanese culture has become prominent in the US, why it may have happened, and the future.

I picked up Japanamerica after I realized that despite my interest in things Japanese, there was a lot I hadn't understood - and I, geek that I am, hadn't given thought to how Japanese culture was affecting the U.S. This may seem to be an odd statement, but I'm USED to the fact it's become prominent and hadn't given thoughts to why.

So with this book having good reviews, I picked it up.

Japanamerica is a journey - in some cases literally - through the world of Japanese Pop Culture in Japan and America, the fused world of "Japanamerica". Mixing visiting historical places and persons, talking to individuals, and speculation, author Roland Kelts asks just why and how Japanese Culture is big in America, and what it may mean.

This is a phenomenally difficult task quite frankly, and he does a good job of it.

Kelts approaches his subject in several ways, mixing them together throughout the book:

* The development of and traits of Japanese media companies.
* The history of the U.S. interests and how those intersected with Japanese products.
* The changing relations and technologies that made this possible.

The author handles these by using a mix of history, interviews, statistics, and speculation. Much as it's hard to break out one factor from another, Kelts doesn't really try - the entire "Japanamerica" phenomena is studied from its facets as opposed to broken down.

Thus the book looks at everything from the way Japanese media companies have developed the ability to produce effective niche media, to the effect of Star Wars and 9/11 on American media interests, to contrasts of artistic styles between Japanese and American aesthetics. The structure of the book itself is personal, almost like a story, and thus there are no "hard answers", so much as look at the players and their interactions.

I found the book to be very informative, mostly because of this approach - without overarching theories or simplistic answers, the book invites you to discover what's going on through the eyes of Kelts and the people he talks to. You don't go to this book for a list of answers - you go to it to get a feel for what's going on.

The book succeeds quite well, its only major flaw being that when the author hints at definite theories - he believes 9/11's impact had a big effect on American culture that primed it for certain interests - that the book seems to falter. It disrupts the nuanced approach, though thankfully these moments are few.

I can't classify this as a must-read because of the specialized subject matter - I myself am glad I bought it and learned quite a deal. I would say it is best for:

* Those working in industries that have a heavy presence or strong relations in Japan like animation, manga, or video games. There are some wonderful cultural, historical, and practical tidbits help you get a big picture of your industry.
* People who are general Japanese pop culture enthusiasts, especially anime and manga, who have a general curiosity of how the cultural fusion of "Japanamerica" came about.
* Anyone interested in working in Japan because of their hobbies.
* Those who work with anime conventions and similar events - it'll give you a lot of ideas for panels and so forth.
* It's also a good gift, though be warned the author does take time to discuss some of the seedier aspects of Japanese pop culture, which could shock some, despite his approach.

I hope Kelts continues to write on these subjects. This was a useful and informative book - that now I have to lend out to a few friends . . .
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Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S.
Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. by Roland Kelts (Paperback - November 13, 2007)
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