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Book Review: Anime
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Anime by Colin Odell & Michelle Le Blanc, Kamera BooksAnime
Paperback | Kindle Edition
Written by Colin Odell & Michelle Le Blanc
Kamera Books
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Cover Price: $24.95

Okay, two confessions: First, and if you’ve read my reviews before, you probably already know this, but, I’m an unabashed anime fan. Second, and this may not be as apparent to you as a reader, but I’m also a history freak. It almost doesn’t matter what kind of history it is, as long as it deals honestly with the subject matter and I come away with new knowledge and insights that I didn’t have on the subject before, I’m in. So, being both a fan of anime and history, that means that any book that deals in the history of anime is going to catch my attention; but having been a fan of anime for nearly twenty-two years, that also means that I have high standards for what that book has to say about the matter.

That’s why I’m so excited about this new book, Anime, co-written by authors Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc. It’s a short read – only about 148 pages in all – but it has the distinction of being a history book that is both entertaining to read and also highly informative. Ever wonder what the very first OVA was? A hint for beginners: It wasn’t Tenchi Muyou. This book will tell you. When was Studio Madhouse first started, and what name did Gainax go by before they called themselves Gainax? Read and find out.

Distributed by Trafalgar Square Publishing, the book takes on the subject in three very compelling sections. The authors begin with a comprehensive introduction, going over the origins and history of the medium, tracing it back to the e-maki (picture scrolls) of the Heian period and the woodblock prints of the Edo period all the way to the present day. They discuss the medium’s markets and demographics, describe the overall style, then briefly discuss the phenomenon of anime in the western hemisphere, something that some of us, at least, are very grateful for.

The second section is a listing of key anime producers. The list is by no means complete – space limitations dictated that necessity – but it is nonetheless comprehensive and highly informative. Beyond the obvious authors such as Hayao Miyazaki and Osamu Tezuka, Odell and LeBlanc cover such luminaries as Rintaro, Mamoru Oshii, and Hideaki Anno, among many others. There’s a lot of meat for the anime history buff in this section, so much so that space limitations keep me from expounding too much on the subject.

Lastly, there’s a listing of anime titles from the earliest days (Momotaro the Undefeated) through recent times (Summer Wars, Full Metal Alchemist). Again, space limitations dictate that this is a partial listing, but its sweep of the various genres that this mind-boggingly huge medium has touched is wide enough to give the aficionado, as well as the beginner fan, an idea of how vast this medium has become.

Not since author Helen McCarthy’s masterful book on Hayao Miyazaki have I come away this informed about the medium I love so much. I highly recommend this book. Both the beginning anime fan seeking to find out more about where this medium came from, and the experienced fan looking for titles he or she may have overlooked will find this book a valuable resource. Anime will be available beginning in April. Now go forth and learn.

Anime by Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc, Kamera Books

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