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500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide Paperback – January 6, 2009

3.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Design (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061474509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061474507
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,792,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book describes 500 anime. Its definition of "movie" (from the title) is flexible enough to embrace OVAs (direct-to-video animation), OVA series and even a few TV series. The author restricted her title selection to those that have had some English language release somewhere in the English-speaking world.

It's organized by sub-genre, such as SciFi, Fantasy, "History, Politics and Life", and "Action"; Perhaps the oddest is "Love and Death" (which includes both "Grave of the Fireflies" and "Orange Road".) Within each of these categories, there are 10 "best" titles (listed alphabetically), each of which get two facing pages of text and pictures. This is followed by the "best of the rest" within that genre, which are given less space (a page, or even half a page.) There are color-coded marks at the page edge letting you know which section you're in. The break between the top ten and the rest isn't obviously marked, other than the alphabet recycles. (Sometimes the categories seem coin tosses, e.g. placing "Voices of a Distant Star" under "Robots and Mecha" instead of "SciFi" or "Love and Death")

Each title has a few bright pictures from the anime, a few basic creator credits (director, writer, music, animation and designers) and a few paragraphs text of varying length and depth (what's it about, and sometimes a brief critical assessment.) Each also has a rating, 1-5 stars.

There's an index by anime title near the back (though a more general index by director or writer isn't available.) It's a little confusing that the table of content at the front lists genre sections by page number, but the index at the back references titles by the anime anumber (1-500.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a nicely organized and finely printed volume, but the author's choice of what is essential is often mystifying. Her ratings make things even more mystifying in light of what she leaves out. Why include lower-star rated titles when clearly good titles are omitted? For instance, a big omission is the two-part Rurouni Kenshin OVA "Trust" and "Betrayal." I would think that anyone who has a decent amount of anime under their belt would agree: those are essential viewing--and do not necessarily require watching the TV series or reading the manga to understand. But the author opted to omit them, presumably in favor of some anime she regards as not so great. ("A Wind Named Amnesia" is another glaring omission--it may not be great; but it's way more essential than some of the other titles included. The omission of "Twelve Kingdoms" is among the other absurdities.) Then there are the several titles that clearly belong in no book of recommendations, such as "Ninja Resurrection" (which doesn't even have a real conclusion).

To some point, yes, this is a matter of taste. But any author undertaking such a book has to step back a little from personal taste and idiosyncrasy and use a finer critical eye. Also, applying a little practical thought to the choices/ratings would, in some cases, have been more useful. What good is featuring as "best" something like "Samurai X: Reflection (Director's Cut)" when it's very likely to be a frustrating watch for someone who hasn't seen the whole Rurouni Kenshin series and read the manga?

Also, her ratings in some cases seem less well-considered or classy than an intentional attempt to buck the norm. Rating "Spirited Away" lower than "Pom Poko"?
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Format: Paperback
I think this is a great book - it's certainly given me a lot of ideas for directions in which to expand my anime horizons.
The book is a collection of opinions and recommendations. The value of this sort of thing depends on the author, and as it happens Helen MacCarthy is very knowledgeable and just basically has good taste. Of course there's room to quibble about specific judgments (I was a bit sad there was no room in the book for the original six-part "Magic Users' Club" - aww), but any author who says "Kiki's Delivery Service" is greater than "Spirited Away" and that "Gunbuster" is more essential than "FLCL" is (in my opinion) making some classy calls.^^
One little fault I find with this book - the author gives "star ratings" to each entry as well as a little write-up. It's often not clear from the text why the film under consideration has received one star (say) rather than five.
Beautifully illustrated, this book is sure to give ideas to the casual anime viewer and to anyone who wants to expand their knowledge of anime classics and recent anime history.
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