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The Anime Companion
Gilles Poitras
Strong Bridge Press, 176 pages

The Anime Companion
Gilles Poitras
Gilles Poitras says in his The Librarian's Guide to Anime and Manga:
"Anime, as defined by common fan usage, is simply any animation that is made in Japan. In Japan the word simply means any animation. Modern anime dates from the 1960s with the work of Osamu Tezuka, best known in the US for 'Astro Boy,' Tetsuwan Atom in the original Japanese. Incidentally he never made a penny from his anime, he funded his anime production from his income from writing and drawing manga.

While anime is sometimes erroneously referred to as a 'genre' it is in reality an art form that includes any genre that can be found in cinema or literature. The evaluation of anime titles should be done with all the care that goes into evaluating movies or novels, even more so since it is much harder to get good reviews of anime to aid the selection process."

Gilles Poitras Website
Gilles Poitras: "The Librarian's Guide to Anime and Manga"
Strong Bridge Press Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

Robin Pen, friend, critic, and bon vivant, believes that anyone who doesn't like anime just doesn't like science fiction. That has kind of worried me, but there is hope -- The Anime Companion has given me a reason to watch, if only to pick out the particulars in every cell.

There is more in this little paperback than you could learn from a course on Japan and It's People in a semester of lectures. Let me be honest here; I don't like anime but I devoured this book.

Now, you, too, can become an expert in all things Far East.

Or, in other words, find a whole new way to annoy your friends and get invited to fewer parties. But, you will learn something about another culture. You can actually be knowledgeable about a foreign culture; do something to dispel that "Ugly American" image.

Watch an anime film for a few minutes. Behind all the action, there is a wealth of detail. Poitras has broken it all down for us, in encyclopedia format. Encyclopedia entertainia, that is. Everything you may have wondered about or never even noticed is divided into 14 categories, each with a concise definition of the term. But, the most helpful and entertaining portion of each entry is a short list of anime and manga scenes where the item appears.

Curse the insidious Poitras! Now I have an irresistible urge to find a copy of Urusei Yatsura just so I can run a visual scavenger hunt to find every bit of minutia. A recent visit to my favourite Japanese restaurant was even coloured by my new-found intelligence on the utensils, decor, and food items. How much my husband appreciated the snippets of information, you would have to ask him.

As much fun and informative as that aspect of the manual is, it is the personal sidebars provided by Poitras that answered most of my questions. Why do the characters in Anime has so many different and unnatural hair colours? What are the heroes always getting out of those vending machines?

Why is every character in anime left-handed? These are the little tidbits that give you that "insider" feeling. The author's asides are like an intimate Q&A session where no one gets to ask those pathetic in-episode-number-blah questions.

Anime and manga fans are going to love this book. The Anime Companion is your own personal guide, your passport expert status. Of course, if you really want to earn that high rank, you should check out a few of the volumes in The Anime Companion's extensive reference list. Poitras has done all the heavy lifting for you; now, all you have to do is pick up this compact goldmine. Maybe sample some of the works he found invaluable. Learning a little something never hurt anyone.

Copyright © 1999 Lisa DuMond

Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. She co-authored the 45th anniversary issue cover of MAD Magazine. Previews of her latest, as yet unpublished, novel are available at Hades Online.

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