To say that anime fans were obsessive may be considered a rather sweeping generalisation, but given the fact that fan is a contraction of fanatic and the Japanese have a special word for these people (otaku) it may not be so sweeping after all. One of the problems I have noticed with the anime fans is they seem to lack any form of discrimination or self censorship. Anime, or to give it its full name animeshon, a Japanese corruption of the word animation, is just that – Japanese animation. And like any animation from anywhere, there is good animation and there is bad. In the world of 2D animation there is doubt that Japan is still the leading light, if not the only torchbearers, but they do produce a lot of stuff that does require an in-depth understanding of the culture from where it originated. For Western audiences one of the best resources comes from US publishers Stone Bridge Press with titles such as Anime Explosion, The Anime Companion, Anime Essentials and the daddy of them all The Anime Encyclopedia by Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy.
Clements is a regular at the SCI-FI-LONDON Festival, and his book is considered to be the absolute authority on anime. The first edition was a huge success, but with Japan’s prolific anime studios constantly creating new stories and characters a revised and expanded edition has been published. It looks at the phenomenon that is anime from 1917 all the way up to as practically possible to today. Listing films, TV series and OAVs in alphabetical order, complete with synopses, date of release and a selection of credits it does give you more information than you could ever fully digest, no matter how geeky you are. The book also lists background to major studios, directors and other creatives. Interestingly, Makato Shinkai, often hailed as the next Miyazake, does not have an entry under his name, even though his films are listed, an oversight that will no doubt be rectified in a future edition. In spite of the book having over 3,000 entries, I am sure that the truly obsessive anime fans will find some of the more obscure titles they like missing, but to my mind the book contains more information than most people with more than a passing interest in the genre will ever need.
Jonathan Clements will be giving a presentation on 20 Years of Production IG before the screening of GHOST IN THE SHELL: SOLID STATE SOCIETY on Friday May 4. So bring your copies along and get them signed.