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Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1403984760
ISBN-10: 140398476X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The influx of Japanese art and fashion into the American cultural mainstream gets an entertaining treatment from Kelts, an essayist and lecturer at the University of Tokyo, who interviewed many of Japan's leading culture gurus over the past three years. Kelts is clearly most interested in the world of anime and manga (from Pokémon to Princess Mononoke), as his readers will most likely be. A primary theme is that of the Japanese paradox: how has such a strictly defined and rigid society produced pop art that is, compared to its American counterparts at least, wildly imaginative and boundary bursting? Kelts's belief is that one directly created the other, that anime and manga's wild and kinetic structures, hyperaddictive apocalyptic story lines and surprisingly emotional content (not to mention sex and violence unheard of in American pop culture) could never flourish in an openly permissive and individualistic society that had not experienced nuclear devastation. Although the book grasps too eagerly at its subject's grander implications, it still effectively conveys the cross-Pacific cultural dissonance. Kelts has a sharp grasp of his subject and is on sure ground when discussing the history of the form, especially the impact of Disney on postwar Japanese animators or the reverential awe in which American animators hold such filmmakers as Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away). (Dec.)
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Review

“[This] tells the incredible story of the way...Japanese entertainment and popular art...continue to grow and draw two very different worlds together.” ―Pete Townshend, The Who

“Embrace the world of otaku in Roland Kelts' comprehensive study of how Japanese pop culture enchanted the West, from Speed Racer and Pokémon to cosplay and hentai manga.” ―Wired

“If you wish to understand the nuances of otaku-dom, or are just hentai-curious, Japanamerica is a broad primer” ―The Village Voice

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (November 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140398476X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403984760
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: 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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