Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
Samurai From Outer Space: Understanding Japanese Animation is a book written by Antonia Levi that was published in 1996. The book contains eight chapters, three appendixes, and some illustrations. The illustrations in the book include stills from Tenchi Muyo!, Ranma 1/2, Kimba the White Lion, Urusei Yatsura, Vampire Princess Miyu, Phantom Quest Corporation, Oh My Goddess!, The Wings of Honneamise, The Dagger of Kamui, Ninja Scroll, Astro Boy, Bubblegum Crisis, Giant Robo, and Battle Angel.
Even though this book was published in 1996, much of the information included in the book is still as relevant today as it was when the book was first published. Because of the book's age, there is a small number of anime referenced for examples, since at that time, not as much anime was being brought over to America. If you read this book, expect to find a number of references to such older anime titles as Ranma 1/2, Bubblegum Crisis, Star Blazers, Oh My Goddess!, Urusei Yatsura, and Tenchi Muyo! Also because of when the book was written, the author makes many references to Generation X in the text.
Samurai From Outer Space: Understanding Japanese Animation covers such topics as how anime became noticed in the United States, the reactions and reception anime received in the United States, the mythology behind the various gods, demons, heroes, and villains that appear in anime, the origin of mecha in anime, topics that are covered in anime that are generally taboo on American television, and the portrayal of women in anime.
Even though Antonia Levi is a college professor, she understands that she is writing for an audience that consists of more than college students learning about anime. She understands that she doesn't need to use a lot of big words and overly long sentences to get the information across to the reader. There's only one chapter that could even be seen as a "boring" chapter ("Other Gods, Other Demons"); however, this is only due to the fact that this particular chapter has a lot of information about Japanese history included in it to explain some of the character types that are frequently seen in anime.
Personally, I would recommend this book to anyone who is starting to become interested in anime. While the book itself is old, the information included in it is still helpful to people who read it today. I would also recommend this book to people who already have a familiarity with anime, because in some respects, it also gives a historical perspective of what the anime industry in the United States was like back in the mid-1990s.
In order to write this review, I checked out a copy of this book through the King County Library System.