Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle

By Susan J. Napier [Palgrave/St. Martin�s Griffin]

Books Reviews Anime
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Anime from <i>Akira</i> to <i>Howl’s Moving Castle</i>

Reissue of informative anime book proves essential reading for anyone interested in the genre

While some anime fanatics may wonder why a reissue warrants a full five stars, I can say I know something they don’t. This book is a necessary and entirely welcome update containing some 75 pages of new material. If you’ve never read the first edition, this new version is essential. If you owned and liked the first edition, the bad news is that you’ll need to buy it again.

Though I’ve always been more of a fringe fan of anime than a diehard junkie, I found the first edition informative and entertaining, and I am thrilled to see it made current. The world has changed a great deal in the five years since Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke appeared, and much has changed in anime cinema.

Most people I know have by now come to the realization that the term “anime” refers to more than cute cartoons about cute young girls with cute big eyes, even bigger boobs and (sometimes) cute superpowers… though even that subgenre, shojo, has evolved. Complexity of character and even a sweeping symbology have now shouldered into previously entertaining but emotionally vapid territories, due in large measure to the growing importance and success of recent films by Hayao Miyazaki.

Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle have not only been the most popular big-screen anime imports of the West, but also have changed the production of the art form at home in Japan. Napier gives us interesting news from that home front that’s scholarly and masterful yet written with flair. If you have even a passing interest in anime, this book deserves a spot in your library.

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