Anime Book Review: The Rough Guide to Anime

The Rough Guide to Anime is a book that contains an introduction, acknowledgements, seven chapters, a glossary, and an index. The introduction covers some of the very basics of anime.

The Rough Guide to Anime
Written by: Simon Richmond
Publisher: Rough Guides
Release Date: June 1, 2009

The first chapter of the book chronicles the history of anime, which is covered in seven sections. The ending of the chapter goes into the future challenges and the new directions of anime. Within the chapter, some properties from each of the eras are highlighted, and there are also some boxes included within the text that provide additional information for the reader concerning some of the topics discussed in the chapter. There are also still images of various anime sprinkled throughout not just the first chapter, but throughout the whole book.

The next chapter goes into the fifty “must-see” anime, and includes several obvious choices: Akira, Astro Boy, several of the Studio Ghibli films, Macross, several of Satoshi Kon’s works, and Mobile Suit Gundam, among others. This chapter also includes boxes with additional information. As I read this chapter, I didn’t find myself wondering why particular titles didn’t appear in the list. For the time this was written, it was a comprehensive list. The only way this section will become outdated is if there are titles that have been released or will be released in the future that should be included in the list but aren’t because they didn’t exist at the time this book was written.

The third chapter goes into the history of the studios that have produced anime in Japan over the years, as well as highlighting some of the properties produced by the studios. It then goes into biographies of some anime directors and animators; this also includes an information box about some of the women who work in anime. Then, there are biographies for four Japanese voice actors, and a brief discussion of the music in anime. I was pleased to see the boxes about some of the women involved in anime, because that’s something you just don’t see much in books like this. I was happy to see some of the women in the industry getting their due.

Chapter four focuses on the connection between manga and anime, and includes a history of manga, and about how manga became some of the source material for anime. Then, there are biographies for some manga artists whose works have been adapted into popular anime series. I thought the manga artists that were selected for this section deserved to be featured.

The fifth chapter goes into the various genres that are represented in anime, and highlights some of the anime that fit into each genre. The sixth chapter talks about how anime has come to influence some American series, the European influences on anime, and the connections with the rest of Asia. The chapter also talks about merchandising tie-ins, as well as anime’s influence on art, fashion, and the theater. In this section, my favorite parts were anime’s influence on some American series and the European influences on anime. These tend to be topics that are ignored by many books written about anime.

The final chapter talks about various ways of being able to watch anime, and recommends various anime books, periodicals, and websites that readers can go to for additional information. There is also information on anime cons, and places of interest to anime fans in Japan.

Overall, I thought this book was very well-done, and is very informative. A lot of the book should be able to hold up over the test of time. The main exceptions would be the chapters featuring the fifty “must see” anime and the various ways of being able to watch anime. This book would have been published before simulcasts became a common way to view anime, so information on simulcasts will be missing from it.

There’s a lot of information included in the book, but it is written in such a way that it is accessible to the reader, regardless of whether the reader is already knowledgeable about anime, or is learning about anime for the first time. I also thought this book made itself stand out from other books about anime with some of the information that was included that isn’t found in other periodicals.

After reading The Rough Guide to Anime, I believe this book should be in the reference library of any anime fan.

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