Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Review: Anime: A History by Jonathan Clements

Japanese animation is at the nexus of an international multimedia industry worth over $6.5 billion a year, linked to everything from manga to computer games, Pokémon and plushies. In this book, Jonathan Clements sets out to chronicle the production and reception history of anime, from a handful of hobbyists in the 1910s to the Oscar-winning Spirited Away and beyond. Casey Brienza finds this book to be a magisterial effort that will prove invaluable for scholars, particularly in the social sciences, who are interested in the political economy of anime production.
From the body of the review:
Nevertheless, the great strength of this book is the scale of its ambition. Clements’ wealth of experience and expertise in the subject has resulted in a work that reads less like first monograph revised from a PhD thesis and more like the logical culmination of a long career in and around the anime field. I was hugely impressed by the level of detail, particularly the pages devoted to early examples of animation in Japan which can be traced solely through information about their exhibition and even then, precisely what was actually screened remains controversial. He also gives important attention to rather unconventional animated products such as instructional videos (now lost) produced for the Japanese military during the Second World War and to animated advertisements produced for early Japanese television.

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