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500 Manga Heroes and Villains Paperback – January 1, 2006
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From the Back Cover
500 Manga Heroes & Villains
An illustrated guide to the global manga phenomenon, showcasing 500 of the genre’s leading heroes and villains
The worldwide explosion in the popularity of manga—the Japanese cartoon art genre—and anime, which is its sister genre in films, has been phenomenal. Many in the West think of manga as a modern invention based on a unique style of animation for children, but its true origin dates back almost 800 years to crude drawings on Japanese temple walls. In 1702, the Japanese artist Shumboko Ono produced a book in which he used many of those drawings, and the tradition of Toba-e—as this art was originally known—began to develop into the style as we now know it. Today, manga comics are widely recognized as an important literary genre in Japan.
With manga’s growing popularity in the West, many books on the subject are appearing in Europe and America—not only translations of original Japanese manga and instructional guides for artists, but also scholarly books documenting the details of manga’s Japanese origins. Now 500 Manga Heroes & Villains breaks brand-new ground, becoming the first book to focus exclusively on the genre’s most popular characters. It presents 500 famous manga heroes and villains created between 1890 and the present day. Faithful full-color reproductions of characters are accompanied by thumbnail histories giving details of their lives in Japanese comics, dates when they first appeared, and major events in the history of manga comics. Fifty key characters, including Astro Boy, Akira, Lupin II, and Pok©mon are shown and discussed at length in special spotlight pages. You’ll also find feature articles on the most famous manga artists.
Packed with facts and color illustrations 500 Manga Heroes & Villains is an essential and accessible reference tool for first-time enthusiasts and manga historians alike.
THE AUTHOR Helen McCarthy is one of the foremost experts on manga and anime outside of Japan. She is a former editor of Anime UK imagazine and the author of several other books on the subject, including Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation, The Anime Movie Guide, and The Erotic Anime Movie Guide, which she co-authored with Jonathan Clements. She was given the Japan Festival Award for outstanding contributions to the understanding of Japanese Culture. Helen McCarthy currently lives in London.
About the Author
Helen McCarthy is one of the leading experts on manga outside Japan. She has written previous books and articles on the subject and was editor of Anime U.K. magazine. She was given the Japan Festival Award for outstanding contributions to the understanding of Japanese culture.
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While this book has its merits, I found it difficult to read, appreciate and use as a reference. By titling it "500 heroes and villains," it gives the illusion that it provides lot of content, or at least a lot of manga reviewed in this volume. But really, the author just dissected several characters from a few manga and split them up into 'groups' based on their roles in the various series.
Splitting up the heroes and villains for each series and talking about them in separate sections of the book makes it harder to understand the relationship dynamic between these 'good' and 'bad' characters' and how they drive the plot of the various series. The result is a disjointed critique that is difficult to cross-reference or refer to as a resource for discovering new manga series or understanding the history of manga.
Also, there are a lot of listings and descriptions of characters without illustrations to accompany them. I would rather that the author had concentrated on fewer series and provided illustrations for each entry rather than jamming in a lot of entries w/o accompanying artwork. Without artwork to illustrate the various points she's making about each character, it's like a cookbook without pictures of food. it does the job, but does it really entice you to cook the dish, much less think its worthwhile to do so?
Entries jump from decade to decade, describing a character from a series from the 1970's next to one introduced in 2002. This is because the author opted to list characters alphabetically by name.
Again, this is a bizarre way to organize this book. Most readers relate to a manga series by its title, not by its individual characters' names. For example, most fans of "Bleach" by Tite Kubo would look for "Bleach" vs. looking up Ichigo Kurosaki, the name of the lead character, much less try to find him in the "Heroes" section.
I'm tempted to sell this book back -- but there are things in here that aren't available in other similar books. I'll just gnash my teeth anytime I try to refer to it -- but I wouldn't recommend it for either the casual manga fan or the reader looking for insight into the evolution of manga and why it's so special and unique compared to Western comics.
However, I think the author mixes Klaus up with Bannai when calling Klaus a "police chief sent to trap him" (him being Dorian) and "a cop", which is a bit of a turn-off. The weight put on the three superpowered teenagers also makes me think that the author only checked out the first book - after the second story they never again appear in the series. And, technically, the three appears long before Klaus, not after, which the "things get even more complicated" (when they show up) implies.
This makes me slightly unsure as to the amount of research to this book. Still, it is entertaining to read.
I was very disappointed.
Great acquisition for anime and manga fans.