Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
Anime Essentials: Every Thing a Fan Needs to Know is a book by Gilles Poitras, and was published in 2001. The book has an introduction and 10 chapters, all of which are framed by the anime Otaku no Video (the cover for the book is also from Otaku no Video). Throughout the book, screen shots from the anime are included under the title "Lessons From Otaku no Video." Below each screen shot is an explanation of the context of the shot in the anime, and how it ties in to the topic being discussed in that part of the book. There are also occasional screen shots and pictures from other anime properties as well.
In each chapter, when Poitras comes to a term that needs to be defined, or has other notes to include to explain concepts, there is a break in the text. After putting a line of dots in bold print, the term or concept will be listed underneath. The explanation for the term or the concept is in a different font from the rest of the text in the book.
In Anime Essentials, Poitras explains how anime is released, looks at the eras of anime, explains various anime genres, talks about anime conventions, connections with manga, how to be a fan, controversies in anime, anime merchandise, recommends some anime titles, and also includes a listing of some print and online anime resources. One of the most interesting things Poitras did in the book is to break out the "generations" of American anime fans, as to when they became aware of anime. I had never seen this done before, so I found this section to be of interest. However, I have to question why Sailor Moon was given a generation, but that Dragon Ball Z did not. While Sailor Moon helped bring more awareness to anime to young girls, Dragon Ball Z is also an important milestone. Outside of that, however, I think Poitras did a good job breaking down the generations of American anime fandom. I also question why Poitras did not include Dragon Ball Z among the recommended anime titles section of the book.
Anime Essentials is a fairly quick and easy read, and is definitely geared more toward anime newcomers than to seasoned anime fans. However, I still found some sections of the book enjoyable. Not only did I learn something from the American anime fan generations, I also learned a bit about the anime merchandise that is released in Japan.
In the end, while Poitras brought biases with him when writing this book, the bias is nowhere near as obvious as what Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy brought with them when they wrote The Anime Encyclopedia. I would definitely recommend Anime Essentials to someone who is just starting to wade into anime fandom, or to those who are still early on in their anime fandom.
In order to write this review, I had to check out a copy of this book through the King County Library System.