December 18, 2006
Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. (Book)
Mainstream media reporting on anime and manga falls into two categories: Those that "get it" and those (sadly, still the majority) who "don't get it." Fortunately Roland Kelts "gets it" and the result is the first book-length study of the rise of anime and manga fandom in both Japan and the U.S. It reads like an extended news magazine article but manages to trace a lot of the moebius strip of Japanese pop culture feeding off of American pop culture and turning it into something new that American pop culture then embraces. —Marc Hairston

KamiChu! Vol. 4: Holiday Confessions (DVD)
KamiChu! is an innocent and fun little anime about a most reluctant junior high school girl with the powers of a goddess. It's a slice-of-life comedy/drama that doesn't over-complicate itself and a short series whose storyline and characters always feel quite genuine. —Aaron H. Bynum

Macross Vol. 7: Hell's Fury (DVD)
The first episode on this disc, which reunites Hikaru and Minmay, is wobbly in every way. But then the remaining four fire on most cylinders, if not all. Mecha action and growing menace are the backdrop to a soap opera that feels real as three characters stumble awkwardly through their relationship, each one failing to see or say the obvious in different ways. There's a reason why, as Macross or as Robotech, this series is considered a classic. —Emru Townsend

Paradise Kiss Vol. 1 (DVD)
Paradise Kiss Vol. 1 + artbox (DVD)
Emotional characters, slick and vibrant character designs, a good soundtrack and good series direction highlight this story Yukari, a girl struggling with her self-identity. While the over-arching motifs of high fashion and popular culture definitely outline the interests of the anime's often eccentric characters, Paradise Kiss is a sort of modern-day Cinderella tale in which Yukari has to define herself as an individual, in a number of contexts, before she is able to be perceived as someone socially relevant. —Aaron H. Bynum

Rumbling Hearts Vol. 1 (DVD)
Rumbling Hearts Vol. 1 + artbox (DVD)
This is a Japanese dorama (live-action drama) that somehow ended up as an anime series. Japanese audiences love tear-jearkers and this one delivers. It starts out as a typical teen romance when high school senior Mitsuki plays matchmaker to get her best friend, the shy Haruka, paired up with Takayuki, the guy Haruka has had a crush on for years. So far, pretty cute and pretty standard. But when Haruka is hit by a car while waiting for a date with Takayuki, he blames himself. Fast-forward three years. Haruka is still in a coma and the accident has so devastated Takayuki and Mitsuki that both have given up on their dreams of college, ending up in dead-end jobs. United by their grief, they end up falling in love and are just about to start moving forward with their adult lives together when Haruka wakes up from her coma. Cue the emotional meat grinder and be sure to keep the kleenex handy... —Marc Hairston

Scanner Darkly, A (DVD)
As a great job of rotoscoping (the A-Ha video Take on Me led me to studying animation) this is a cool choice. —Jeff Boman

Walt Disney Treasures: More Silly Symphonies (1929-1938) (DVD)
Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Pluto Vol. 2 (DVD)
Walt Disney Treasures: Your Host, Walt Disney (DVD)
The sixth "wave" of the Disney Treasures Series. Each release offers an insight into what made Disney, well, Disney. Of particular interest is the "Your Host, Walt Disney" series which offers an interesting look at the public persona of perhaps the most influential figure in the development of the popularity of animation. —Noell Wolfgram Evans

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