Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke
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First edition cover, published in 2001
|Author||Susan J. Napier|
|Media type||Print (paperback)|
|Pages||311 pp (first edition)|
|LC Class||NC1766.J3 N37 2001|
Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation is a scholarly book which uses techniques of literary criticism on anime by Susan J. Napier published in 2001 by Palgrave Macmillan. It discusses themes of shōjo, hentai, mecha, magical girlfriend and magical girl anime using select titles. It also discusses some aspects of the English-speaking anime fandom. The book has been translated into Japanese, and had four editions, before a revised fifth edition was published in 2005 as Anime from Akira to Howl's Moving Castle: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation.
The book uses literary criticism to discuss themes and ideas present in select anime titles and attempts to categorise anime into three types - apocalyptic, festival, and elegiac. The book is split into five sections. In the first, Napier asks why anime is important as a topic of study. In the second, Napier looks at the representation of the human body in anime, looking at "monstrous adolescents", pornographic anime and cyborgs. In the third, Napier looks at representations of females, the girl, the magical girl and magical girlfriends. In the fourth section, Napier examines historical-themed anime.
The "monstrous adolescent" is often a quick-tempered or psychologically disturbed child with remarkable and world-changing powers, which were usually a result of scientific experiments, revolutionary technology, or human-caused pollution. These children have the power to improve or alter the world, but because of their personality the child is often on the verge of destroying it completely. The source of this create/destroy idea is usually traced back to the effects of Hiroshima and the capabilities of nuclear power and atomic bombs. The theme of the "monstrous adolescent" explores society's fears of ever-growing technology, the rebellious actions of children, and the apocalyptic scenarios that are suggested by combining these two themes.
Titles discussed in the book include Grave of the Fireflies, Ranma 1/2, Akira, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell, the Oh My Goddess! OVAs, Bubblegum Crisis, Legend of the Overfiend, Sailor Moon, Video Girl Ai, Urusei Yatsura, Cutie Honey, La Blue Girl, Wicked City, Twin Dolls, the works of Hayao Miyazaki, Serial Experiments Lain and Revolutionary Girl Utena.
The book has been criticised for its scholarly nature and "dryness", as well as the limited choice of titles presented. Napier also does not include discussion of the anime industry. It was praised for not trying to make there be just one reading of all anime. It was criticised for not examining the graphical stylistic conventions of anime and for seeming to excuse the patriarchy. It has been noted that she focusses on the narrative qualities of anime, covering ideas, images and themes presented, but that as of 2006, the book is still current and timely, and has an accurate tone when it talks about anime fandom. The clear language of the book has been praised.
There are some factual errors in the book when describing plot summaries and descriptions of series. The book does not engage with the history of anime, or attempt to discern why anime is a distinct medium, or discuss the hallmarks of different formats of anime, such as TV series as opposed to OVAs or animated movies.
The book has been described as "a great textbook for undergraduates" and is used as a course text by university subjects which focus on East Asian cinema, examining Japanese cyberpunk, examining the supernatural in Japanese fiction, depictions of the apocalypse in Asian cinema, gender studies in East Asia and courses on animation itself.
- UT Feature Story - An Anime Explosion: Challenging themes, complex characters make Japanese animation a global phenomenon
- Anime: From Akira to Princess Mononoke | Book Review | Entertainment Weekly
- Animefringe: Reviews - Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke
- Anime from Akira to Mononoke - Review - Anime News Network
- William O. Gardner- Attack of the Phallic Girls
- Project MUSE
- Review: Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation by Susan J. Napier The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 61, No. 2 (May, 2002), pp. 727-729
- MODERN EAST ASIAN CINEMA ASIA 177/HRS 177
- Tokyo Cyberpunk Course Description
- PU_EAS 318: The Supernatural in Japanese Fiction
- CINE407 Representing the Catastrophic
- Hum 203
- Cartoon Culture > Course Materials > Overview
- Anime from Akira to Howl's Moving Castle at the Palgrave Macmillan website.