Book Review (Posted on 07-09-2013)
It all started from Sailor Moon
, then got a huge dive into Pokémon
and will never regret doing so. Of course, during my elementary school days, the dudes who weren't nerdy enough to absorb this cool hobby did nothing but yap and talk about why sports is better than anime. Not only has the FBI proven that sports is corrupt, but those who've got their feet wet on anime went on to succeed with their academics over these jealous dudes. I received my college degree; they still haven't. I win!
Looking to capitalize on my nostalgia, besides 8- and 16-bit video games, I looked at how Pokémon
was doing. Very well, apparently. I then wanted to launch [back] my video production website dedicated to all my video work I've done since 2001, and in addition, discuss some TV shows and movies—an idea originally brought up here on The Seeds of Books. (That website can be found here
.) Besides the usual, I thought it would be fun to watch and review various anime shows and movies that I have never ever seen before. However, I decided to learn some things about it before I start yapping about how good/bad the anime I watched was.
I couldn't have started at a better place than this book. Poitras' writing is very gentle, almost like you're talking to the king of all
anime groups (which seems like it is). Author Poitras knows exactly what he's talking about, despite being around the block time and time again, let alone online, socially, in conventions and in stores. Like every starter, learning the original history was my biggest fascination. Japanese animation began before the days of TV, appearing commercially in Japan. After World War II, with movie theaters destroyed, manga was the cheapest and quickest form of entertainment that didn't need projectors to be shown. As soon as the industry recovered, animation was still being shown spiking its popularity up to the decade where Japanese households finally owned televisions. It's amazing that even after a brutal world war, the country still got back up and continued to work. Brilliant dedication, Japan.
You also learn about the animators like Osamu Tezuka, and of course, Hayao Miyazaki, and the technological growth of creating animation. As for the growth and popularity of anime, it wasn't until the eighties where it flooded in the US, then up around the nineties, anime sought world domination. Good thing.
The "Anime Genres" chapter was a great read. Aside from the usual genres you find here in the US such as comedy, drama and horror, there are also sports, girls' shows, boys' shows, science fiction (being the most popular), crime, romance, and for the mature, homosexual themes, and hentai. If porn seemed to be a sensuous thing for men and some women, here in the US, here's something I never knew before:
"Some X-rated anime are based not on manga but on pornographic video games. Several tasteful erotic manga in Japan are made by and for women, so there is a very non-Western, non-male-centered view of the erotic that enters into some of the stories, and from there into anime." (Poitras, 2001, p.51)
Well, there you go.
The chapter on what makes anime unique was also well done. Having been familiar with hilarious expressions and reactions from Pokémon
, from the big eyes, huge sweat drop and that vein popping on the forehead, portray the emotion of the character—chara—during the scene. It doesn't require a lot of thinking to know and associate the chara's feelings/reactions and the cool, yet often times hilarious, drawings that elaborate their personality. To the beginner, it sounds complicated and difficult to visualize when read on paper, but watch enough anime and it isn't too difficult to figure out what's going on and how/what the chara is feeling as shown on their face.
There's also a chapter on how to be a fan. This seems like more on how to be a HUGE fan and showing your city and state how dedicated and passionate you are! I really don't find anything wrong with that, however, that was excellent. From launching a social group and keeping it active, you can learn it all from here. Great tips!
The chapter on anime controversies was another I needed to get at. The endless argument of English-translations or subtitling likely kept many up all night; it's like asking which professional editing softwares are better: Adobe Premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer; or like that argument on which is the best console: Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3 or Microsoft XBox 360. As for the translation-subtitle controversy, I personally don't have a side to choose—still in the process of familiarizing the history and more before delving deeper in the anime universe, so sorry to those who love to start arguments—but they both have their valid reasons. Another thing I was interested in was the cutting of certain scenes. We've all seen this when a movie, made for theaters, gets air time on TV. Without having to purchase the DVD or going out and spending money on tickets, you'll likely pinpoint certain scenes together that don't look consistent. I understand some scenes are too violent, sexual and some are tedious and unnecessary, but having witnessed this on movies and some TV shows, compared to its release on VHS/LD/DVD/Blu-Ray, I can see why many are angered by this. Count me in.
Lastly, and I'm glad it was included, the last chapters provide a simple list of anime shows and movies to check out. This is great since authors writing about the subject they talk about sometimes leave the readers in the dust like, "well that's all I have to say so think about it and goodbye!" No, author Poitras gives you a decent list of anime to start off with, along with other books/manga to check out. For me, I have heard of hits like Oh My Goddess!
, Mobile Suit Gundam
and Ranma ½
, so my curiosity was on the right track apparently. Will definitely check them out, and review them on my other
Even having some exposure to anime, I thought I knew enough until I read this book. In fact, I have only watched Sailor Moon
(though I've forgotten it by now), Pokémon
and the hit film Spirited Away
. That's it. On the other hand, in an effort to really plunge in, here are the anime I picked up earlier this year for fanatical pleasure, eventually for review:
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
- Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat
- Summer Wars
- Wandaba Style
- Love Hina (plus the three movies)
- Negima!? Magister Negi Magi (plus the Spring & Summer Specials)
Yeah, that's a chunk but it should get me going. A lot of you may disagree on some titles, while some wouldn't bother with some of these titles, however again, I'll just go along with the flow and judge for myself. Although, yes, I will keep this book as a reference to check out more.
Beginner to anime or not, look no further. Brilliant book.
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