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Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews Kindle Edition
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material presented. It is, however, like many other books of this type, dated. Also, Patten is dealing with
anime and manga in general, so specific titles/series are not dealt with except where needed to illustrate
the point being made. I guess you could label this as a history text, of sorts, dealing with the medium
during a certain time period, by way of the observations of one individual who was in a position to do so.
If you are interested in that sort of perspective, it's worthwhile.
By rights, maybe this book should be four stars instead of five, but I couldn't resist because it filled in a point of interest for me I've wondered about for years. I wrote an Amazon review a few years ago on the anime classic, Spirited Away. In the review I compared the movie to a life changing animated film I had seen as a boy. I've never been able to recall the name, and because of the era, I thought it American or perhaps a Chinese production. I've always looked for it to show up on TV, or in video, hoping I'd recognize the title or the plot. I knew little more than the type of film, plot, and name of the main character.
My dad took me to the film, and I thought it must have been because he was interested in its philosophy. My dad had visited China, and India during WWII as a Cryptographer. After the war, he brought home some items from China, and a good deal of Eastern Philosophy. What I didn't realize is that the movie he took me too, was in reality one of the earliest anime shown in the United States. It was a dubbed film called Magic Boy, that was shown in a limited release in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in June of 1961. Strangely enough, it was another limited release anime, Princess Mononoke, that sparked me to begin collecting anime and manga in 1999. Little did I know that my childhood had been influenced greatly by the earliest film of the anime genre to hit the US. Perhaps I was destined to become an anime lover!
My point here is that this book helped me find out that fact. When I read in the book about the early anime films, I suddenly realized they were from the era when I saw that film. There were three titles, released in the US about then. I looked up the pictures, plots from the web, and got a dead-on match with the film, Magic Boy! As I've read further in this book I find more things I knew little about, milestones that brought about the popularity of anime and manga. As a kind of a time-line, (based on the dates of the articles collected in the book) you can see the growth of anime and manga in the US. You can see as well why there is still a great deal of resistance to it's becoming mainstream, even today.
Just to speak to that issue, inject a little of my own philosophy to a theme expressed in many of the books articles. The answer I speak of is that viewing anime, and reading manga, is justified by the main reason many avoid it. It's new, and its different! While many anime and manga are generic SciFi or Fantasy, often they contain elements of the Japanese culture. If you've watched one too many episodes of some reality show, the same rehashed episode of a sitcom for the 50th time ,you know you too long for something new. Despite cultural differences, most anime stories are easy enough to relate to, we're all humans and many of our goals are the same regardless of culture.
One more thing on the book, this is a good read to put somewhere (you know where I mean) to read in small bursts, periodically. Since it's a collection of anime reviews and small articles, you can read one or two at a time, and pick it back up later. It's not a book you have to read in long sittings.