Anime super-fans Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy, authors of the 1200-page, 1.1 million words of The Anime Encyclopedia: Revised 3rd Edition: A Century of Japanese Animation, will be answering questions about Japanese animation, comics, and fandom. Why does the world need an encyclopedia of anime? Is print dead? Why have they got such big eyes? What’s so wrong about Tenchi Muyo? What’s the worst anime ever? The best? the craziest? How much is too much? Is there a tentacle limit? Is there hope for the future? What is the flight velocity of an unladen swallow? All these questions, and more, can be answered or at least sarcastically dodged by the authors of the biggest book on anime to be found in any language, including Japanese.

As proof, witness JC's blog here

And Helen's proof here:

EDIT: Thanks, everybody, for your questions. Very tired now, and going to bed.

Comments: 188 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

Indekkusu9 karma

What do you think of Manga-Anime Guardians initiative forcing pirate sites to shutdown?

What are your thoughts on Fan-subbing and Scanlation and the future of those practices.

Jonathan_Clements9 karma

I'm still trying to get my thoughts in order about the Manga-Anime Guardians. At one level, it reminds me of JAILED, which was a similar initiative in the USA about 16 years ago. It came in with a huge fanfare, but suffered a backlash among fans with entitlement issues, and so soon started to operate below the radar.

What I find most amazing about the Manga-Anime Guardians is that they have produced this piece of artwork showing a bunch of anime characters all hanging out together. There's Naruto there, sitting with Luffy from One Piece, and Boy Detective Conan... and I'm thinking to myself, that must have been an utter, utter negotiatory nightmare to get all those creators to sign off on it.

I don't follow the fansubbing world -- one would hope that they are dedicating themselves to all sorts of obscurities now that so many things are being simulcast. Yes, yes, I know, one would hope.

I am equally ignorant about the scanlation world. I know that prices have fallen so far in manga translation that it's very difficult to make a living as a professional at it any more. I haven't translated manga for years, mainly because the last time someone offered me a translation job, they were paying $18 a day.

Jonathan_Clements6 karma

Okay, I'm calling it. It's 2am for Helen, 4am for me. Time for bed. Thank you, everybody, and thank you to Reddit for setting this up.

susakuchanticleer5 karma

the biggest book on anime to be found in any language, including Japanese.

The comment had me wondering: How would you characterize the Japanese and Chinese markets for books about anime and manga?

Jonathan_Clements5 karma

The Chinese market for books about anime and manga is relatively small. The Japanese market generates a lot of books, but I hear gripes from Japanese author that the circulation is relatively low. I won't name him here without his permission, but a colleague of mine in Japan was complaining recently that he will work for a year on a book, there'll be 1200 copies printed. 800 will sell, mainly to libraries, and then it's gone in a matter of months with no reprint.

Certainly, very many of the books I was using in my own research were second-hand, because they were no longer available in shops. So I would characterize the market as small, and certainly only a fraction of the market for anime and manga themselves.

helencmccarthy1 karma

I don't know that either of us is able to do that - I certainly am not - but I know one thing for sure, the Japanese market is broader than ours. And they also have lots and lots of gorgeously unscholarly lightweight books packed with pictures.

helencmccarthy4 karma

You have to remember that not all Chinese are huge anime and manga fans. There are periodical waves of backlash across other Asian countries against Japanese product and for local product... but fandom does what it wants, regardless of national pride.

Jonathan_Clements3 karma

There is that point. Anime is off-air in China, and people are reluctant to be associated with it. However, scratch the surface of any student gathering, and you will soon unearth a bunch of Naruto, One Piece and Fairy Tail fans, who are watching illegal downloads.

The term in Chinese for it all is dongman, which combines characters for animation and comics. The term is nicely ambiguous -- it doesn't have to mean works from Japan, and many of the dongman magazines contain nothing but local comics. The term is also used to refer to game-related art and costuming.

makka_kit5 karma

What (if anything) do either of you think about the animated series Kill la Kill? - it was noted in the Encyclopedia 3rd Edition, but I'm more talking about that the series seems to be sharply divisive when it comes to the topics of women and fanservice.

Jonathan_Clements11 karma

I think I might disappoint you, makka-kit, when I say that Kill la Kill didn’t make that much of an impression on me. I did notice the fan-service, of course, but it didn’t strike me as any more or less fan-servicey than that in, say, Queen’s Blade. The transformation scenes were plainly a wobblier, bawdier variant on Sailor Moon, itself a homage of sorts to Cutie Honey. I don’t like fan service in general. In fact, I don’t even like the term fan service. It’s not just about the objectification, it’s the implication that if the show sucks, it’s the fans’ fault!

PurposeDevoid4 karma

Hi there!

To Mr Clements, I understand you have lived in China, the UK, been to Japan a lot and currently live in Finland? What are your favourite things about each country you've lived in or been to that stand out from the others?

To Mrs McCarthy, your wikipedia states:

McCarthy was the first English-speaking author to write a book about anime, in addition to being "the first person in the United Kingdom to run an anime programme at a convention, start a dedicated anime newsletter, and edit a dedicated anime magazine."

What are the big changes you feel have happened to anime, both in general and in the UK since you first got interested in anime ?

Jonathan_Clements12 karma

In China, the food, the bookshops, and the fact that I speak enough of the language to communicate on a human level.

In Japan, the civility and the culture. Honestly, I come from a place where people stare at you if you read a book on the train. My first train trip in Japan, when I was just 20 years old, and suddenly everybody else on the carriage had their nose in a book. I knew I’d found my people. Oh, so yes, the bookshops, too. I am sensing a pattern here.

In Finland, the women. You would not believe your eyes.

susakuchanticleer1 karma

Piggybacking off of this, how would you rank your current proficiency in all the languages that you've studied?

Jonathan_Clements2 karma

I have been shuttling to and from China for three years now, so my Mandarin is very swift. A girl from Chengdu told me yesterday that I have even lost my Taiwanese accent, which I had up until about 2012.

This has crowded out my Japanese, which is now very rusty. I wonder if I have even tried to speak more than a few sentences recently except for the occasional moments at Scotland Loves Anime when the interpreter is indisposed. It comes back when I am in Japan, but takes a while to ramp up when I am out of the immersion.

The other languages I have studied are not really worth discussing if we are talking about professional levels of proficiency. Although recently I have had to translate a Latin song into Chinese, discuss Chairman Mao in Finnish, and read a French book about Christian daimyo.

LaocoonUeda4 karma

For Jonathan Clements:

  1. What was it like getting a PhD about anime?

For Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy:

  1. How much anime do you actually watch on a daily/weekly basis? Do you have the time to follow any currently airing shows?

  2. (If you were to make a guess) what do you think will be the next major trends in academic writing on anime and manga?

Jonathan_Clements9 karma

For me, the PhD was an excuse to spend five times as long writing a book as I usually allow myself. It was an absolute joy, in part because I deliberately went to a faculty of applied design and engineering, so I could avoid getting bogged down in cultural studies! I was able to concentrate on how the actual industry worked, and that was fascinating, as was learning about the theory of history itself. I’d been writing history books for a decade and never really thought through some of the implications of certain ideas. The theory chapter in the PhD itself was much longer than the one that appeared in the book version. If you are interested, you can download it here for free:

At the moment, I am watching exactly zero anime… sort of having a holiday from it after the completion of the Encyclopedia. After finishing the first edition, I don’t think I watched anime for a whole year. Instead, I developed a fetish for live-action drama serials, which evolved into the Dorama Encyclopedia.

Regarding academic trends, what I would like to see would be people taking the methodology I used for Anime: A History and writing a bunch of chapters that could have appeared in the book, but didn’t. Alternate anime histories if you like: the history of anime as seen through stop-motion; the history of anime from an art-house perspective; the history of anime as seen through a particular studio’s output and activities.

I would also like to see people using the actual materials that the industry itself generates, like the creator memoirs I used, or the in-house newsletters that many studios published. I think that Miyazaki’s anthologies Starting Point and Turning Point were a real breath of fresh air, and I would like to see more people concentrating on what the creators actually say and do.

However, what I suspect will continue to happen in academia, and I know I am going to get into trouble for saying this, is more essays by people who ask some fans what they think of some shows they have seen, or more navel-gazing about fandom. It’s not that I am down on fandom studies – I have been a reader of Henry Jenkins ever since I reviewed Textual Poachers for Anime UK 20 years ago. But it seems that fandom is often more interested in studying itself than the things it purports to be a fan of.

soracte2 karma

I'm a PhD student but not a historian and not working on anime, and I saw Allan Megill's work mentioned in the introduction to Anime: A History. His stuff was a useful read for me and helped me work out where what I'm doing might sit methodologically, so thank you for letting some of the theory stay in the introduction in the book version of the thesis!

Jonathan_Clements4 karma

I've been very animated ( by Megill, too, so much so that I taught a class on his Errors of Historical Practice last time I was in Xi'an. The Chinese got very excited about it, too, so I am doing my bit to spread the word about him.

kappakin3 karma

Any reccomendations for less well known anime movies? Just about every list out there is the same, made up of just about every Ghibli film, Akira, the Vampire Hunter D movies and a couple other well known movies. So what are the best, most obscure movies you have found?

Jonathan_Clements7 karma

Depends how obscure you want to be. I am a big fan of Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors (1945), which was probably the first ever feature-length Japanese cartoon, and features a bunch of cute animals invading Singapore. There’s no English subbed edition (yet, but I hold out hope for 2016), so that’s pretty obscure.

Poor Studio Ghibli. It’s not their fault that they make it onto everybody’s list of favourites. One of the movies I was proudest of finding was Like a Cloud, Like a Breeze, an obscure TV movie featuring design work by Ghibli’s Katsuya Kondo. I tracked down a copy in French at great personal expense. At the time of the publication of the 2nd edition of the Anime Encyclopedia in 2006, literally nobody on the internet was talking about it or knew anything about it, so I knew I was breaking new ground for the English-speaking world.

I suppose a question I should ask is “obscure for whom”? I am personally a big cheerleader for Fuse: Memoirs of a Huntress, for example, but it’s only “obscure” because it hasn’t had a DVD release in English yet. It’s been well represented on the festival circuit.

niea_4 karma

Fairly sure Fuse has been/is being released by NisA.

Jonathan_Clements3 karma

Ah yes, I see it on Amazon. Well, there you go.

HarlockOfArcadia3 karma

  1. The introduction of the Encyclopedia has a lot to say about the niche interest anime and the rise of a business model constituting a "closed circle of consumption" serving small and shrinking group of fans. While the possible consequences of that discussed in the book don't seem to spell doom, it certainly sounds like an unhealthy direction. Do you think the Japanese anime industry is sufficiently aware of this, and is there anything substantive you think could & should happen for things to shift in a better direction?

  2. In the thematic entry on translation, there's a statistic that "Subtitled releases appeal to roughly 10% of the anime-buying market." How did you manage to measure this?

Jonathan_Clements7 karma

I think the Japanese industry is well aware of it, and is taking steps to make the best of it with crowd-funding for smaller, more bespoke shows, and "events", not just concerts, but film screenings which also offer the chance to buy the DVD -- essentially selling the same film to someone twice.

The 10% statistic is based on the sales figures in the UK anime market from the days of VHS, when dubs and subs had to be put on separate tapes.

Kronicen3 karma

Hello Mr. Clements. Huge fan of your work!! Ihaven't read anything from Ms. McCarthy.

I've got a few questions for both of you.

1.) After so many years, do you still watch as much as possible or do you only watch what you like?

2.) Favourite and worst anime??

3.) Macross or Gundam?

Jonathan_Clements9 karma

  1. I certainly watch “as much as possible”, although things get prioritised if there’s paid work involved. So if I’m writing sleeve notes, or articles, or introducing films at a festival, they jump right to the front of the queue.

2a. As I once said in Newtype USA: “For its wartime echoes and its maudlin pathos; for its superb voice-acting and peerless script; for its kamikaze students and its red-haired Russian bad girl; for the misleadingly dumb beginning, which lurches into a gripping space war drama; for all these things and more, Gunbuster is my favorite anime.”

2b. Worst anime? Oh, that’s very hard, because after the first few thousand, one develops a sense of there being a crackle of static and white noise, born of all the things you’ve turned off without finishing, or done your best to scrub away with mind bleach. It seems unfair to single out any single title as the worst, particularly when you also reach a Worst Event Horizon, where something can be so bad that it’s good again – e.g. Sins of the Sisters. So “worst” needs to be not necessarily terrible, but not terrible enough...

  1. Macross. A song can save the world.

helencmccarthy4 karma

As much as possible - and sometimes as much as necessary... it can feel like a holiday or it can feel like "oh dear, another four hours of porn..."

My favourite anime is still My Neighbour Totoro. Worst is still The Gigalo. I may have to dig out my eyeballs with spoons if I ever see anything worse...

Macross AND Gundam. But not in the same universe. And what's wrong with Legend of Galactic Heroes?

Jonathan_Clements5 karma

Actually, yes, The Gigalo is still a benchmark of unexcellence. I mean, the distributor couldn't even spell the title correctly.

__U_WOT_M8__3 karma

What do you think of the savior of anime, Inferno Cop?

Also, what genres do you enjoy watching the most?

What's your favorite anime?

Jonathan_Clements2 karma

I confess I haven't seen Inferno Cop. Does anime need saving?

Genres, Genres... Hmm... Propaganda! I think one of the reasons that Gunbuster is my favourite anime is that it reminds me a lot of the spirit of the wartime cartoons.

__U_WOT_M8__4 karma

I confess I haven't seen Inferno Cop.

You should watch it right now. It's absolutely perfect in every way.

Propaganda! I think one of the reasons that Gunbuster is my favourite anime is that it reminds me a lot of the spirit of the wartime cartoons.

What are some other propaganda anime that you like?

Jonathan_Clements6 karma

I'm being only slightly facetious when I say propaganda. I enjoy the wartime anime for the glimpse they offer of a different world, but also things like The Plane Cabby's Lucky Day (1932), which wasn't intended as propaganda at the time, but certainly pulled no punches in spreading an imperialist message. I'm also very interested in the development of the "kids stuck in WW2" sub-genre, which I've always identified as a creative reaction to the Anne Frank exhibition that was run in Tokyo in the late 1970s. Barefoot Gen and Grave of the Fireflies very swiftly set a high benchmark for films in that genre, but are swiftly swamped by many lesser works. Sometimes it seems that every city in Japan has a WW2 anime about it. Quite often they are obscure and only shown in the town museum.

tomedragon3 karma

For both of you, there would seem to be a large number of manga, sci fi and anime titles 'consumed' on a regular basis. How do you keep track of all the different titles, plots and themes? Do you keep massive notebooks or are you both just really good at remembering everything you have seen or read?

Jonathan_Clements5 karma

I've been maintaining an old-fashioned Excel spreadsheet since the first edition, which lists some pertinent details, and has a data line pointing at wherever I've filed my sources. And I try to review everything I see. If I am not getting paid to, I will write about it to someone in an email, and file that.

tomedragon3 karma

I have been reading a lot of anime commentary and history(Schodt, Patten and your own individually published works for a start). How much history and commentary about anime exists in Japan? Is there a critical title that either of you find cries out for English translation and publication?

Jonathan_Clements7 karma

Ooh, good question. There is a lot written about anime in Japanese. So much, in fact, that my doctorate (and the spin-off book Anime: A History) was based almost entirely on Japanese-language memoirs and diaries published by animators and other industry figures. I summarise some of my reading in these blog posts: Of the books I mention, I would say Tsugata and Takahashi’s Anime-gaku is the one that would transform academic understanding if it were translated, because it would allow many non-Japanese scholars to catch up with Japanese academia almost overnight.

violaxcore2 karma

So in my spare time, I've been trying to track down data on women making anime (tracking down directors, series composers, character designers, etc). Have you noticed any trends involving, not just the number of women in the industry as animators, etc, but also in those lead creative roles?

(As a side note, does your book contain information that would be helpful in collecting such data?)

Jonathan_Clements3 karma

There isn't a thematic entry on women in the anime business, at least not in this edition, but there is some coverage of gender issues in Anime: A History. As you probably know, the anime business is at least 50% female, but the ladies tend to be hidden in the lower echelons.

I can't say that I have seen any trends. Women are still often kept as colourists, because "they have a better eye for it", which can often mean they don't get promoted to keys or directors. Women are also still chivalrously sent home with the last train, which can often mean that only the young men get to say that they worked hard on that all-nighter, and hence deserve a promotion.

letthisbeanewstart2 karma

I was just wondering if Anime Planet would be a good title for a magazine?

Jonathan_Clements10 karma

Ha! Are you aware of the misery and pain that goes into choosing the title of an anime magazine? There were weeks and weeks of fighting over Manga Max, and dozens of rejected titles. My advice, which nobody ever heeds, is to do everything you can to keep the words anime or manga out of your magazine title, because they become limiting. If your magazine is called Anime Planet, then people will complain if you cover manga. You’ll be called names if you run an article about a live-action film. I’m getting flashbacks…

The first three genre magazines I think of – Newtype USA, Otaku USA and Neo (in the UK), all avoid using the words anime and manga. But I bet Helen has something to say about this, because she’s the one who came up with Anime UK…

tomedragon2 karma

Mr. Clements, you have written several books on Asian history. What is an Asian history topic you wish was discussed more in Western schools?

Jonathan_Clements6 karma

That’s a big area, but I’ll pick something that certainly tends to take a lot of people by surprise. The fact that 140,000 Chinese labourers were shipped to Europe in WW1 as part of China’s support of the Allies. They worked in factories, they maintained roads, they did laundry, they DUG many of the trenches, and they were the poor sods sent out onto the battlefields to clear up corpses and wind up barbed wire. They are largely forgotten by history, although there is a monument to them in Vancouver.

There is an awesome book about them called The Chinese Labour Corps, by Gregory James, and it was the best book I read last year. It's massive as well -- it actually has 100 more pages than the Anime Encyclopedia.

Locadoes2 karma

  1. How come Japan become so well known for it animation and storytelling than China or South Korea?
  2. Is there any estimates of the consumers of anime/manga worldwide?
  3. Who are the most important Japanese and non-Japanese individuals in Anime/Manga's history?

Jonathan_Clements5 karma

These are some very deep and involved questions, but I shall try to be succinct. One explanation for Japan's primacy is that the Chinese and the Koreans are too busy doing all the grunt-work on "Japanese" cartoons to train up at the higher echelons of the animation business. There are many great artists and animators in China and Korea, but many of them are still stuck in the daily grind of in-betweening, rather than learning how to be good keys.

It's also worth bearing in mind that Japan has a 120,000,000 population that makes it easier to target a small niche and still have it make money, compared to Korea. Of course, China has a much larger population, but they've had other priorities up until the last decade. They're catching up fast.

Yes, there are estimates of the consumers of anime and manga worldwide. As we note in the Anime Encyclopedia, there was a "fingerprinting" experiment undertaken by several Japanese companies in 2009-2010, to see how many times a show was illegally downloaded or hosted. 21 new anime titles were secretly marked and then tracked. In the space of just four months, they were duplicated 25,000 times and viewed 28.7 million times. This suggests that the revenue from the anime business could be up to 20 or 30 times larger than it is, but only if those "informal" viewers could be persuaded to part with $1 each...

Who is the most important individual in Anime/Manga's history? You are.

By which I mean that I could type here for hours about the importance of Tezuka, or the rantings of Miyazaki, or the transformations of Gainax, the contributions of Carl Macek, or the difference that Fred Ladd made, but after a while, it's just noise. So instead, I say you are, dear Reader. The decisions you make, the purchases you buy, the ratings you generate, will steer what happens in the anime world for the forseeable future. So choose wisely...

WildeBiscuit2 karma

Hi there! I enjoy listening to you, Jonathan, during Scotland Loves Anime each year. But for both you and Helen, I was wondering if either of you had any thoughts to share on Puella Magi Madoka Magica & The Tatami Galaxy? (Two of my favourite anime) Also, I'm curious whether either of you have ever watched what I feel is the rather underrated Hanasaku Iroha? (Another favourite of mine.)

Jonathan_Clements5 karma

I have not seen Hanasaku Iroha -- in fact, at a recent Scotland Loves Anime event, I had trouble even pronouncing it.

Our thoughts on Madoka Magica and Tatami Galaxy are in the Anime Encyclopedia of course, but I shall add a couple of things. One is that I wrote an entry on Madoka Magica for the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, which you can read here:

I am a sucker for alternative timelines, so of course I love the idea behind Tatami Galaxy, that the hero's life is transformed through something so simple as the hobby he adopts.

I was at a Japanese university, and attempted to join the Shogi club. But they wouldn't let me and my friends in, because there were no Japanese members. There's an anime plot right there -- we should have rounded up five or six quirky Japanese girls to make up the numbers. Instead, we just gave up.

But maybe I should have joined the kendo club... No, maybe I should have joined the literature club... No, maybe...

mergerr2 karma

By no means I intend to offend anime fans or supporters, but what do you find so special and entertaining about this genre of animation? I could never get into it, and has always seemed very corny and farfetched. On another note, where do you think the fetish for it that some fans have, stem from?

Jonathan_Clements13 karma

Well, corny and farfetched anime are corny and farfetched, but anime is an entire medium. You might as well ask us what we find so special and entertaining about "books", or "films". Trust me (and trust a whole bunch of angry reviewers), we have plenty of anime we can't stand. We are not apologists for the whole genre by any means. In fact, in the eyes of some of our detractors, we despise almost all of it.

Everybody's taste is different, and I am sure there is an anime for you, mergerr, you just haven't run into it yet. There are thousands of anime, and I bet there is one out there with your name on it.

As for the fetish... even though modern fans have often grown up with anime/games/manga as the norm in their lives, I think there is still a sense of resistance and defiance. Many anime fans are still created out of a sense of pushing back against the Disney machine or similar home-grown modes of storytelling. Sometimes, this means they simply accept the cliches of the Bandai machine instead, or something similar, but nevertheless, I think many anime fans are looking for something different, and certainly find it.

This doesn't mean anyone should watch The Gigalo.

mergerr2 karma

Thank you very much for your thorough response. Sometime I'll give some other pieces of work a chance. I'm a huge boxing fan and I have heard there is a show that revolves heavily around that. Can't remember the name of it right now though.

Jonathan_Clements4 karma

Tomorrow's Joe was the classic boxing tale, but Hajime no Ippo is the more modern one.

buakaw2 karma

Have you watched Shirobako? How accurate is its depiction of the anime industry?

Jonathan_Clements2 karma

I haven't, but looking at the episode synopses, it looks scarily accurate.

wafflingwaffle2 karma

Hi there! I haven't had the opportunity to read either of your works, but I'm really digging your responses in this thread.

  1. Given the accessibility of streaming services like Crunchyroll and the recent success of shows like Attack on Titan, do you think we'll see more focus on Western markets in the coming years?
  2. What do you make of anime's current business model (which depends on prohibitively expensive blu-ray sales)? Do you think the medium will every move past its dependence on otaku culture?
  3. Any recent shows that have impressed you?

Jonathan_Clements6 karma

Actually, no. I think there may be lip service paid to Western markets, but the Japanese industry is still very much concentrating on its domestic fans, and only regarding foreign markets as an afterthought. This is a reversal of the big production spike of the mid-noughties, when no Japanese shows would go into production without 50% foreign investment. Now we have returned to a state where foreign money is expected to make about 10% of an anime's costs back.

Not all the medium depends on otaku, of course, but much of the anime that foreign fans like derives from the otaku market, and the does indeed rest on very expensive blu-ray sales. I don't see that changing. In fact, I see elements of it taking root abroad, as increasing numbers of anime shows don't get a packaged-goods release without crowd-funding or advanced subscriptions.

What does "recent" mean in this context? I shall resort to quoting myself from the Anime Encyclopedia, regarding the matter of Archenemy & Hero (2013): "If you are the kind of viewer who welcomes the idea of a scantily-clad, red-haired academic instituting a policy of social reform, then this is most definitely the anime for you, as it is for 50% of all anime encyclopedists."

ChaseReynolds1 karma

I loved Dragon Ball Z. Should I watch Dragon Ball GT? I hear it is bad, but I want to continue the mythology.

Jonathan_Clements1 karma

Of course you should continue!

BrickSalad1 karma

Okay then, I'd like to see you answer some of the questions you suggested! Particularly these three:

Why have they got such big eyes? What is the craziest anime ever? And is there hope for the future?

Thanks for this AMA and the encyclopedia. You're living the life I would have if I discovered anime just a bit earlier. Though I'm perfectly happy with my career path, I'm still a bit jealous of you two ;)

Jonathan_Clements2 karma

We have Disney and the Fleischer brothers to thank for the big eyes, not only because Tezuka imitated them, but because of the usefulness they offered from a craft standpoint. It's not merely a stylistic decision, it's vital in conveying human emotion, particularly when limited animation budgets mean you have less frames to do it with.

Craziest anime ever...? I shall start what will doubtless be a long argument with Helen by suggesting Cutta's Story, which was funded by the Yamaguchi Prefecture tourist board and features a pelican fighting off Iraqi tanks with his built-in death ray.

No, there is no hope for the future.

exedore_us1 karma

Why do you think we don't see true poverty in anime anymore? The last series I can think of with non-middle class (even lower-middle class) main characters is Brigadoon, which was over a decade ago. Is it simply the fact that poor people can't buy a Lawson's worth of merchandise?

Jonathan_Clements5 karma

Certainly, wish-fulfilment and merchandise favours privileged pretty boys and little princesses, but what about Tokyo Godfathers, made four years after Brigadoon?

Also, I think it depends where you look. Poverty, albeit usually fleeting, is often a feature of World Masterpiece Theatre anime, such as Les Miserables, remade in 2008.

helencmccarthy2 karma

Although in A Dog Of Flanders extreme child poverty reaches its logical conclusion - on Christmas Eve, too.

Jonathan_Clements3 karma

What is it with you and the spoilers tonight!?

[deleted]1 karma


Jonathan_Clements6 karma

I'm guessing never. Unless they want to promote the manga, but if the light novels have finished, that reduces the chances of an anime version being made as part of the media mix.

Of course, one should never say never. Trigun got a movie spin-off a decade after it finished, brought about by the popularity of the show in the English- and Spanish-speaking world. But I don't see Spice and Wolf having quite the same size of fanbase.

vigalovescomics1 karma

What is your opinion on the work of Hiroyuki Imaishi?

Are you a fan of any key animators?

Is there anything you wish still remained since the old days of fandom?

Jonathan_Clements2 karma

I don't have an opinion on Hiroyuki Imaishi and lack the artistic sense to distinguish one key animator from another.

I'm not sure there's anything from the old days of fandom that I particularly cherish. Possibly the prices! As Helen and I frequently harangue today's fans, they've never had it so good.

But when were the "old days" of fandom? Our Fandom entry in the Anime Encyclopedia begins in 1923...

iRTimmy1 karma

Who are some of your favorite directors and why?

EDIT: Specifically in the anime medium.

Jonathan_Clements1 karma

I will begin with a boring and predictable answer and say Hayao Miyazaki, because he is able to think and shoot as if his camera is the eye of a child. He has a real appreciation for how the world looks when you are only three feet tall, and actually incorporates this even in the design of the Ghibli Museum, which is a very different experience at child's-eye level than it is at adult's-eye level.

I shall also admit to an admiration for Gisaburo Sugii, who seems to be able to work in any genre. He is unphased by the Tale of Genji, but also unphased by Streetfighter II, for which he set the benchmark by which all successive beat-em-ups have been judged.

Tadahito Mochinaga for his crazy life, and his incredible experiences in China.

Eiichi Yamamoto for his tell-all memoir.

Satoshi Kon, for his kipple and urban clutter.

WildeBiscuit1 karma

Thank you! My last question would be whether both of you have seen any romantic anime which you'd recommend, or at least thought noteworthy in some regard? (It's a genre which I haven't seen anime do so well in yet)

Jonathan_Clements2 karma

Well, I shall plump for Makoto Shinkai. One is the Garden of Words, which is an offbeat romance because it may (or may not) be essentially platonic.

The other is 5cm/second, which was inspired by my favourite Haruki Murakami short story, and has a fascinating angle, which essentially reaches for telling a guy's life story through all the ex-girlfriends he leaves behind him.

Oh what the hell, Voices from a Distant Star as well. Time dilation as an allegory for the emotional distance between people.

WildeBiscuit1 karma

Ha thank you, I totally did not know that about 5cm/second. I've read a few of Haruki Murakami's novels (The Wind Up Bird being my favourite) though not his short stories. I'll see if I can spot which story was the inspiration! I'll check out Shinkai's other works too (I've only seen 5c/second and Children Who Chase Lost Voices, which I rather liked too.)

Jonathan_Clements1 karma

It's not common knowledge re: 5cm/second. I asked Shinkai about it myself when he came to Edinburgh. He confirmed that, yes, it was inspired by a particular Murakami short story, and that nobody else had noticed before. It seems that Murakami fans and anime fans don't cross over a whole lot.

On which note, I wrote the Haruki Murakami entry in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, which might offer a few clues:

helencmccarthy1 karma

Some of the best romances in anime are in other genres. The moment in Record of Lodoss War when (redacted at the request of my distinguished colleague) ... a whole slew of moments in Sailor Moon ... the ending of Rose of Versailles (spoiler: a lot of people die because it's the French Revolution, and we all know how THAT ended)... wait, am I giving a kind of doomed historic vibe here? For a modern romance that works try Nodame Cantabile.

Jonathan_Clements1 karma

Erm... spoilers!

helencmccarthy1 karma

I do love your River Song impression.

Jonathan_Clements1 karma

Not now, Sweetie.

GGProfessor1 karma

When "defending" my fondness for anime, I often make a point that I'm a fan of animation as a whole. But I feel that animation in the west is largely held back - it feels like there are hardly any shows that don't market themselves as a comedy first and foremost. We seem to have gotten away from the idea that "animation is just for kids" with the success of shows like The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy, and Archer (among so many others), but even shows that have more to offer than just comedy (Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and Bojack Horseman come to mind) seem to be presented as "comedy first, story and drama second."

I love the anime industry because it doesn't seem to limit the medium like most mainstream western animation does. Do you want a intense action and political drama with giant robots? Anime has that. Do you just want to relax and laugh watching cute girls do cute things? Anime has that, too. Want to relax and laugh with giant robots? Anime can do that for you, as well. Cute girls piloting giant robots with intense battles and political intrigue? You bet anime has that. And that's just a very small fraction of the genres and subject material has to offer - and it already feels more broad in genre and subject matter western animation.

What do you think of this? Am I overlooking western animation or selling it short? Am I perhaps giving anime more credit than deserves? I'd be interested to hear what you think sets anime apart from the rest of the world's animation, if anything.

Jonathan_Clements2 karma

I think Japanese animation certainly makes the best of what it has. As the father of a young child, I find myself sitting through a lot of cartoons, and I am impressed by the ability of Pixar and DreamWorks to continually surprise me with things I haven't noticed before on the 100th viewing.

Anime certainly has a broad range of niches, factions and sub-genres. The sheer variety it offers means that, hopefully, there is something for everybody. I wonder how it would perform if it had Pixar's or DreamWorks' budgets...

BuddyLeetheB1 karma

Personally, among all the anime you must have seen over the years, what's your absolute favorite anime? Which ones are the most valuable to you?

And also, what do you think about Naruto/Naruto Shippūden, a series that seems to sharply divide the general anime fandom?

helencmccarthy7 karma

The most valuable to me are the ones that give me a personal moment of delight. When I saw Escaflowne first, I didn't know whether to cry or cheer - it was like a journey back in time to the first time I saw Macross. When I saw - no, still when I see Night on the Galactic Railroad I am moved almost to tears. We dig for those nuggets of real feeling and when we find one, it's a joy.

I'm not the best person to comment on Naruto. It has never moved me and it's not intended to. I look at it as a clever artefact with no relevance to me whatsoever, like one of those marvellous multigear mountain bikes or a Swiss army knife. I can see it's made for its purpose but it never engages me.

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Jonathan_Clements3 karma

We mention our favourites elsewhere in these threads, although I am tempted to give a different answer every time just to show how diverse anime can be. Because Helen's mentioned Patlabor now, and I had forgotten how much I adored Patlabor TV.

Naruto, for me, was also meh. Fortunately, we are not obliged to pick winners, as I think it passed both of us by. I certainly didn't foresee it going on as long as it did. to my mind, a ninja in orange is going to present a pretty easy target before he gets to episode 100.

But every show is someone's first encounter with something. There's a six-year-old boy somewhere who's just about to see his first transforming robot show, and he's going to think it's the most awesome thing ever. If Helen and I sound jaded sometimes, it's because anime often works on a two-yaer product cycle, so we keep seeing the same stuff rolling around again and again. It's nice that she mentions Escaflowne, because I do remember when that turned up in 1996. I was getting a bit burned out in anime, and then Escaflowne came along and I remembered all the things that made me love anime in the first place.

titanshita1 karma

Do you recomend any anime blogs or twitter feeds (other than your own)?

Jonathan_Clements4 karma

I read Anime News Network religiously, particularly Answerman and that new column they run that isn't Schoolgirl Milky Crisis at all.

Not about just anime, but Japan in general with some very interesting reviews, is , run by Kathryn Hemmann.

There's often some very good work over at , which has been motoring along very nicely for four years now.

Will try to think of some more... Drawing a blank at the moment, but it's already past midnight here in Finland, so I am fuelling myself mainly on coffee. Getting some more right now...

exedore_us1 karma

Joe vs. Ippo in the ultimate anime boxing match. Would they make it to the 10th round, and who would win?

Jonathan_Clements1 karma

Oh, Joe would win in the last moments of the tenth round...but then [SPOILER!].

PBTUCAZ0 karma


Jonathan_Clements3 karma

Jung Freud.

Across523170 karma

How in the hell did you end up becoming an expert on anime? What made you decide to turn this into a career instead of a hobby? What were the steps you took?

helencmccarthy6 karma

Jonathan's experience is different than mine because he's from second- (or maybe even third-) wave UK fandom.

I was introduced to anime as anime - that is, as a distinct Japanese artform - by my then new boyfriend Steve Kyte. He'd been to Europe and picked up some Mazinger Z material in Spanish. Seeing the manga and the merchandise, I was blown away. Then I realised it was similar in stylistic and narrative terms to some of the TV material I'd seen in France. (I went to a French school so I was unusually Francophile for a Northern teenager.) I was intrigued by the way the image was allowed to carry so much of the narrative.

So I went on a hunt for more information and found that apart from a few insubstantial and patronising mentions in books on world animation, there was nothing written in English. I decided that had to change.

That was 1981. The book I wanted was The Anime Encyclopedia. Twenty years later Jonathan and I wrote the first edition, and now another fourteen years on here's the third.

Isn't that magically ironic? I've spent over half my life looking for the book I ended up writing myself...

And I didn't actually decide to turn into into a career. I just started writing about it and haven't yet found a reason to stop. I've always felt that if other people would write the books I wanted, I'd just get my coat. But they don't.

Jonathan_Clements4 karma

Yes, I never really thought of myself as an anime fan. I was a Japan fan. Until I came back from my studies in Taiwan and Japan, and ended up working for Anime UK magazine, my specialist subject was very different: the Japanese space programme! And if I had been sent to the Far East only a year later, then I am pretty sure my specialist area would have been airports. No, really. I would have got very excited about the logistics of Chek Lap Kok in Hong Kong, and Kansai Airport in Osaka, both of which were under construction by then.

Very simply, this turned into a career because people were prepared to pay me for it. I also wrote a Dorama Encyclopedia with Motoko Tamamuro, but there's no 2nd or 3rd edition of that because not enough people bought it!