- Paperback: 311 pages
- Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2001 edition (May 2, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312238630
- ISBN-13: 978-0312238636
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 30 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation 2001st Edition
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Although packaged as a book for general readers, Anime: From Akira to Princess Mononoke is a dreary academic study that showcases the clichés of "higher" criticism but tells the reader little about the art form. The potentially interesting points that Susan Napier raises (e.g., Are characters with blond, pink, or purple hair really perceived as Japanese?) are ignominiously buried in arcane jargon. And she too often discusses other authors' theories instead of anime itself. In a section on Ranma 1/2, she refers to various books, but in a footnote she cites only a single published interview with series creator Rumiko Takahashi. If Napier regards the Ranma series as significant, why didn't she interview the artist?
The text is riddled with errors, which suggests that the author hasn't watched the films carefully. For example, she cites a "brilliant" essay referring to the loss of all electrical power in Japan (a symbol of "modernization under the patriarchal system") in episode 3 of Neon Genesis Evangelion. No blackout occurs in this episode. In episode 6, however, all the electricity in Japan is requisitioned to power a superweapon. From Akira to Princess Mononoke is the sort of book churned out by professors to satisfy publish-or-perish rules. --Charles Solomon
'This is a riveting and inspiring book. One that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and from which I have learned a great deal. As a source of concrete information about Japanese animation it is invaluable...On publication it will be the only in-depth, sophisticated study of Japanese animation available in the English language.' - Sharon Kinsella, Research Fellow in Japanese Studies, Cambridge University
'This book...is informative, well-written, insightful, and yet entertaining - an unusual combination. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it...Napier's study...is both generous and critically insightful, based on a thorough knowledge of most of the important genres of anime. I think that this tone of enthusiasm for the material, combined with scholarly rigor, will make the book appealing to a wide audience.' - Sharalyn Orbaugh, Associate Professor of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia
'...Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke...provides an essential toe-dip into the tsunami of Eastern films that have influenced modern blockbusters such as The Matrix series.' - The Times
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First - it was first published in 2000 which means that the anime scene has already changed greatly. In fact, many of the points made in the book would have been outdated by the time it was printed.
Second - she seems to focus a lot of sex. Now that may be because much of her information, and the anime she selected to view, came from University students or stores who supplied students. The idea that pornography is a _major current_ within the world of anime is a interesting but flawed statement. Erotic anime makes up a small corner of the anime produced in Japan and it has greater sales abroad than in its homeland. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Non-Japanese would be the main target for this type of anime - which means trying to understand the Japanese male-female relationship via adult anime is also flawed. But it might tell us alot about American and European college students.
She has tons of interesting points to make but the foundations she builds to hold them up seem weak and shaky. For example, she talks about men's insecurity and their need for Mecha using sci-fi shows where most of the pilots are female. She uses sources about American Superheros to talk about Japanese characters.
Also, while she did mention a Tenchi movie, she seems to skip the Tenchi Muyo! TV shows. What about Dominion Tank Police, Gall Force, Martian Successor Nadesico, Wings of Honneamise, any of the Gundam shows or even Dirty Pair? I don't think she even once writes about CLAMP!
In other words, while she does get into detail about a few areas of anime, she is far from covering it all. So buyer beware and buy it used.
I would also suggest _The Erotic Anime Movie Guide_ by Helen McCarthy and Jonathan Clements for the history and true understanding of erotic anime. For understanding mainstream anime I would suggest _Anime Explosion_ by Patrick Drazen, _Samurai From Outer Space_ by Antonia Levi and _The Anime Companion_ by Gulles Poitras. ^_^
For anyone creating a university-level course on anime, Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke is a must-assign book, encompassing issues from technology to history to bodies. Almost all of the anime series and films used as case studies are well-known, popular, and important works in the anime canon - from Ranma 1/2 to Ghost in the Shell to Princess Mononoke to Grave of the Fireflies - which should also be included in a critical studies course on Japanese animation. The appendix focuses on Western audiences' reception of anime, which helps anime initiates to understand the appeal of anime outside Japan (specifically, in the States).
This is by far one of the best books written on anime, ranking with Helen McCarthy's Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation and Frederik L. Schodt's Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics. In fact, Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke is a great compliment to these two other books in a critical studies course on Japanese animation.
On the other hand, the author seems a little bit over obsessed with gender issues. So for example 'Ghost in the Shell' is a masterpiece that addresses questions about human identity in the face of transforming technology, but the author misses most of the symbolism and focuses on the which characters are female and why. I found myself angry when the author insisted on applying this gender based analysis to 'Grave of the Fireflies', the story of an orphaned boy and his baby sister slowly succumbing to poverty in World War II Japan.
If you are someone like me who used to watch these films and is interested in looking at them with an in depth approach, I'd have to recommend this book, even with the reservations about the gender based analysis
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