Anime Book Review: Anime Mania: How to Draw Characters for Japanese Animation

Anime Mania: How to Draw Characters for Japanese Animation provides tips on how to draw in an anime style, and includes some interviews with anime professionals at the end.

Anime Mania: How to Draw Characters for Japanese Animation
Written by: Christopher Hart
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Release Date: July 1, 2002

This book is definitely aimed at teenagers and young adults, with the writing style and the advice the author chose to include. For the different character types and the creatures, Hart shows the steps needed to draw the desired object, as well as what the finished product looks like. The author also goes into basic character construction, how to draw characters in different poses and performing various actions, and how to draw special effects.

Near the end of the book, Hart includes tips on how to make pencil sketches, how to draw clothes and costumes on characters, and different kinds of character groups. There is also an example storyboard included, information on backgrounds, information on equipment used by animators, and information about going to art school. There are even brief interviews with the international relations manager at a Japanese animation studio, an American who works as a director in Japan, as well as with a Japanese director.

Personally, I think Hart does a good job explaining the basics of drawing. However, for a book that claims to teach readers how to draw characters for Japanese animation, I feel the book doesn’t entirely show how to draw in an anime style. While it’s evident the drawings that are included are inspired by anime, many of the pictures feel like the author is simply inserting some elements of anime drawing into his own drawing style (with the author’s own drawing style being more prevalent of the two styles). Also, with the way Hart treats the various character types, it comes across in the book that there is only one way to draw each character type, and that there is no room for creativity.

By the time I finished reading Anime Mania: How to Draw Characters for Japanese Animation, I thought it would be a good resource for young people who want to learn how to draw anime-inspired drawings for a hobby. This is especially true by the time you read the interviews in the back of the book. The people who are interviewed make it clear that the anime industry in Japan is hard to break into, and that the pay, especially starting out, isn’t the best. Personally, I would recommend this book to people who are interested in learning to draw anime-inspired characters as a hobby. While the information and advice about going to art school to become an anime animator is interesting, it realistically isn’t going to help most readers of this book.

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