Books about anime and manga certain to please


POSTED: Tuesday, December 01, 2009

We're in the middle of one of the most cherished seasons for feature writers: the holiday gift guide season.

I'd be remiss if I didn't join in on the fun. Over the next few weeks, I'll be suggesting gifts for the anime and manga fans (or would-be fans) in your life.

I actually kicked off my series of gift guides Thursday in “;Otaku Ohana”; as part of “;The Great Manga Gift Guide,”; a project by a number of manga bloggers — 21 as of Sunday — to recommend manga worth sharing in the wake of The New York Times leaving manga off its graphic novel gift guide. You can check out the full post at http://www.hsblinks.com/1e8, but to summarize, I suggested 10 series with 10 volumes or fewer: “;20th Century Boys,”; “;Azumanga Daioh,”; “;Black Jack,”; “;Disappearance Diary,”; “;Leave it to PET!,”; “;Oishinbo,”; “;Pluto,”; “;Summit of the Gods”; and “;Yotsuba&!”;

Today, though, I offer a few books that aren't manga, but are still worth checking out:

» ”;Schoolgirl Milky Crisis: Adventures in the Anime and Manga Trade,”; by Jonathan Clements (Titan Books, $14.95): Clements knows what goes on behind the scenes in anime and manga production, having been a translator and industry insider for nearly 20 years. This collection of essays, written for the now-defunct Newtype USA and other publications, offers some revealing insight about the inner workings of the business.

» ”;The Art of 'Ponyo'”; (Viz, $34.99): “;Ponyo”; might not be the best Studio Ghibli film, but the studio still consistently features some of the most lavish, whimsical 2-D animated art in the industry. This book, like the “;Howl's Moving Castle”; and “;Spirited Away”; books before it, lets readers appreciate those individual frames of art — as well as behind-the-scenes sketches and stories — without having to keep pausing the DVD.

» ”;The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga,”; by Helen McCarthy (Abrams ComicArts, $40): Speaking of art showcases, this could well be the definitive English art book about the esteemed anime and manga creator. Having visited the “;Tezuka: Marvel of Manga”; exhibit in 2007 when it was on display at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco — an excellent exhibit in its own right — I can say that looking at this book was like visiting that exhibit all over again. Informative and enlightening.

» ”;The Otaku Encyclopedia,”; by Patrick Galbraith (Kodansha International, $19.95): Everything you wanted to know about the people, places and terms in fan culture in 248 rather compact pages, from “;AA”; (an abbreviation for “;ASCII Art,”; images made from letters and symbols) to “;zokusei”; (a term used to describe character attributes in role-playing games).

» ”;The Rough Guide to Manga,”; by Jason S. Yadao, and ”;The Rough Guide to Anime,”; by Simon Richmond (Rough Guides, $18.99 each): You didn't think a book roundup would neglect my own book, did you? But I really do think my book and the companion anime volume by Richmond are great guides for neophytes and veterans alike, containing profiles of 50 essential series, historical background and key industry resources.

Check back next week, when I'll offer some anime suggestions.


Pups on the Road

Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga, co-creators of the online comic “;nemu*nemu,”; will be at the St. Andrew's Priory School Holiday Fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the school, 224 Queen Emma Square. For more information, visit http://www.nemu-nemu.com.


Jason S. Yadao is the author of Rough Guides' “;The Rough Guide to Manga,”; available now. For more anime and manga news and commentary, check out “;Otaku Ohana”; at blogs.starbulletin.com/otakuohana. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jsyadao or e-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).