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Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke:…

Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese…

by Susan J. Napier

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312238630, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:08 -0400)

Japanese animation, known as anime to its fans, has a firm hold on American pop culture. However, anime is much more than children's cartoons. It runs the gamut from historical epics to sci-fi sexual thrillers. Often dismissed as fanciful entertainment, anime is actually quite adept at portraying important social and cultural issues such as alienation, gender inequality, and teenage angst. This book investigates the ways that anime presents these issues in an in-depth and sophisticated manner, uncovering the identity conflicts, fears over rapid technological advancement, and other key themes present in much of Japanese animation.… (more)

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