Understanding Manga and Anime

By Whatley, Edward | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

Understanding Manga and Anime


Whatley, Edward, Reference & User Services Quarterly


Understanding Manga and Anime. Robin E. Brenner. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2007. 333 p. $40 (ISBN 1-59158-332-2).

In the introduction to her book Understanding Manga and Anime, author Robin E. Brenner states that the intended audience for the book "may include librarians selecting titles for their collections, parents purchasing for their children, or simply new readers wondering what those giant sweat drops appearing above the characters' heads are all about" (x). This extensive, detailed survey of the world of Japanese comics (manga) and animation (anime) will indeed meet the needs of readers from any of the above categories. The book joins a list of many that provide overviews of the history and culture of manga; however, this particular work stands out from the others due not only to its informative content but its user-friendly organization.

The book initiates readers into the world of manga and anime by giving a brief history of each and discussing their unique visual vocabulary, such as the sweat drops mentioned above that indicate a character's feelings of "nervousness and embarrassment" (54). Brenner then delves deeper into the aesthetics of manga to discuss many of its typical elements such as nudity, graphic violence, and homosexuality, whic many western readers would not expect to find in a comic, and places these elements within a proper cultural context to help new readers understand the prevalence of such "questionable" content. …

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