Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
The Anime Companion 2: More... What's Japanese in Japanese Animation? is a book by Gilles Poitras, and it was published in 2005. The book is a companion to Poitras' 1999 book, The Anime Companion: What's Japanese in Japanese Animation?
Like the first volume, this book is also an encyclopedia to Japanese references that appear in anime that non-Japanese viewers may not understand or be familiar with. The book opens with an introduction that explains what is new in this volume of the book, as well as explaining how to use the book and giving acknowledgments to individuals that Poitras wants to thank.
Like the first volume, the first actual page of the book shows and explains the icons and abbreviations used in the book. Entries in the book include buildings, structures, landmarks, clothing, culture, entertainment and games, food and drink, geographical features, history, nature, people, religion and belief, sports, and weaponry and war.
Most of the entries have examples from anime or manga (but many times, there are examples from both). Sometimes, Poitras will include some asides in the text, such as fire as a weapon, explaining what a "Totoro" is, explaining the expressways of Japan, and other topics that don't fit into the main body of the book. There are also a number of illustrations and still pictures from anime programs to help illustrate some of the entries.
One of the main issues I had with the first volume was how much Poitras seemed to rely on only a few anime titles to use as examples in the book. Poitras actually addresses this criticism in the introduction of the book. The explanation Poitras gives is that he hasn't necessarily gone out of his way to explore a particular show, but "it's just that some works have more material to work with."
For some of the entries for The Anime Companion 2, I felt that Poitras missed some obvious examples for some of the entries. The most glaring one to me was the entry for the Yamato battleship. There is a still from Space Battleship Yamato included to illustrate the entry, but this anime is never mentioned in the actual write-up for the entry. There are references to Moldiver and Ranma 1/2 in the written portion of the entry, but it's not mentioned in the write-up that the battleship is a major component of the Space Battleship Yamato anime series.
However, I have to say that the citations for the anime episodes are a lot clearer in this volume when compared to the citations for The Anime Companion. In the first book, Poitras was having to use videotapes for his citations; for some series, this created a nightmare for citations. With this volume, however, Poitras was able to use DVDs for his citations. In the entries for this volume, Poitras also uses citations from The Anime Companion when he is using a word that appeared in the first volume.
The Anime Companion 2 also includes maps, an English-Japanese reverse lookup glossary, a listing of entries arranged by category, and selected references.
Overall, this is a good book for anime fans, and it is an excellent companion for The Anime Companion. This book is a worthwhile addition to anyone's anime reference library, especially if they already have The Anime Companion: What's Japanese in Japanese Animation?
In order to write this review, I checked out a copy of this book through the King County Library System.