Tomes of Miscellany

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W A R N I N G !

This review does not represent the opinions of the general public. It reflects my personal thoughts and opinions on the book.

That said, on to the review!

Title: The Anime Companion
Author: Gilles Poitras
Publisher: Stone Bridge Press
Format: Paperback
Copyright Date: 1999

Have you ever seen something on television that you've found interesting but you have no idea what it is or how to find out more about it? Maybe you were watching Japanese anime and you saw something that no one ever mentions, like a dog statue outside a train station. Or a plaza filled with stalls and kiosks selling everything from souvenirs to hot food. Or maybe characters in the anime mentioned a book or a person that you are completely unable to identify or relate to, like the basis for a play or movie. Or maybe you're just curious about the Japanese culture in general. Well, then The Anime Companion is definitely a book for you, whether you're a die hard anime fan or just someone with a general interest in the Japanese culture. This book highlights some of the more frequently referred to, mentioned, or depicted things Japanese in anime today, from that dog statue that appears in Tenchi Muyo in Love and Marriage to that row of kiosks that appear--again--in Tenchi Muyo in Love and Sakura Wars and Sakura Wars 2.

I admit, I don't usually review non-fiction books, but I just had to make an exception in this case. You see, this book has been invaluable in furthering my reclamation of my Japanese heritage, and it's also helped me understand some of what I'm seeing in the anime. Having been to Japan, I can also learn more about some of the places I visited, such as Tokyo Tower and Asakasa Jinja (that row of kiosks and stalls). It's also helped me to know what some of those things I've seen around Honolulu are all about, like the manekineko ("beckoning cat") and the one-eyed daruma. And, it's even helped me in writing my fanfiction. So it's a very useful book.

One of the really good things about this book is that it's helped me to understand some of the things I knew a little about before but not enough, such as the history of Amaterasu, the main female goddess in Shinto religious belief. I'd learned something about her in one of my college courses, but now I know more. Then there are those beads that Onikirimaru was after. Now I know what their religious significance is. And outside of anime, I have learned more about things that appear in the samurai programs I watch, many of which have to do with religion, like the mikuji that are tied around tree branches or the shimenawa that appear around trees and rocks and in front of caves and shrines. And since I now understand what these things represent, I have a better understanding of why things happen in certain anime. Those things aren't just for decoration but have a deeper significance to the scene and to the story. Great, isn't it?

Anime isn't for everybody, but for those who enjoy it and want to know more about what they're seeing, then The Anime Companion is definitely worth buying and reading. Use it the same way you'd use an encyclopedia or dictionary. Use it as a research book for a project on Japan. I assure you: the knowledge you glean from this text is worth the price!

Rating: Thumbs up! Get the inside info on the things you see on anime videos!

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