Cinema Anime
Emru Townsend · From fps #8 · June 26, 2006 | Critical media analyses are, at their best, revelatory works that present familiar productions in a new light, providing deeper understanding and maybe new interpretations. Despite the possible pitfalls—overlong, convoluted sentences that require multiple readings, impenetrable media-studies jargon and an unnatural fondness for the word "ontology"—it's often well worth the effort to read through collections of these essays.

The first two essays in Cinema Anime underscore this point nicely. In "'Excuse Me, Who Are You?': Performance, the Gaze, and the Female in the Works of Satoshi Kon," Susan Napier holds Kon's cinematic oeuvre up to Alfred Hitchcock's films and compares how they relate to their female (or at least feminine) characters. She ends on a laudatory note as she puts forth the idea that Kon's work suggests new possibilities for cinema as a whole. Antonia Levi's "The Americanization of Anime and Manga: Negotiating Popular Culture" puts anime fandom under the microscope, carefully examining how American fans filter Japanese culture through anime and manga.

Cinema Anime
Edited by Steven T. Brown
Palgrave Macmillan, 2006
256 pages

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It's no surprise that these are the two most engaging essays in the book. Napier and Levi both write clearly and concisely, with a minimum of jargon. (It's a talent they've both but to good use in their own books, Anime From Akira to Howl's Moving Castle and Samurai From Outer Space.)

Two other articles approach Napier and Levi's gold standard, but the remaining four are tough going. Some make the classic anime-centric mistake of ignoring what the rest of the world has been doing for years, in terms of theme or production.

Want to read the rest of this review?

You'll find it and many other articles in the June 2006 issue of fps, available for only $1.49 US.
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