Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
Anime Explosion! The What? Why? & Wow! Of Japanese Animation is a book written by Patrick Drazen that was published in 2003. The book contains two sections. The first section is labeled as, "Interpreting Anime," and this includes 16 chapters. The second section is labeled as, "Films and Directors," and it includes 13 chapters. There is also an afterword, a bibliography, and an index of names and titles.
In the "Interpreting Anime" section of the book, topics such as conventions of anime, Japanese folktales, gay and pseudo-gay themes in anime, the way of the warrior, the way of the teenage girl, the Japanese mother, religion in anime, idol singers in anime, nature in anime, war and anti-war themes, and birth and death and rebirth are covered. In the second section of the book, you will find chapters devoted to Windaria, The Wings of Honneamise, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Giant Robo, the films of Studio Ghibli, Sailor Moon, Escaflowne, Evangelion, Please Save My Earth, Pokemon, Plastic Little, works by Masamune Shirow, and Key the Metal Idol.
At 357 pages, Anime Explosion! was a longer book than I had anticipated. However, it does include some informative and interesting insight into anime, as well as into some of the anime series and films that have been released. The chapter on war and anti-war themes was very interesting, especially since the author admits in the text that he was writing that particular chapter in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States. This fact adds a layer to that chapter that wouldn't have existed if the attacks had not happened. Since I haven't seen all of the films and series that are talked about in the book, I learned a bit from reading about them. By the time I finished some of those chapters, I found myself wanting to watch some of the films and series.
In some respects, Anime Explosion! does read a little like a college textbook, but it is not dry and boring reading. Also, while some of the information included in this book can be found in other anime books, Patrick Drazen tackles some of them a little differently.
Anime Explosion! is a good read, regardless of whether you are new to anime fandom or have been interested in anime for a while and consider yourself to be an otaku. Personally, I believe that Anime Explosion! would be a worthwhile addition to anyone's anime reference library.
In order to write this review, I checked out a copy of the book through the King County Library System.