Bibliography

As I tend to read a lot of more “academic” texts when it comes to studying anime, fandom, and interpretation, I thought it might be a good idea to throw up a list of all the things I’ve either read/seen so that anyone else interested in these types of ideas has a place to start. If you have any questions about a book I haven’t reviewed yet (or something that’s not on this list), don’t hesitate to comment below or send me an email (eyeforaneyepiece[at]gmail.com).

Texts are approximately organized by category (best association) in roughly best-to-worst order. They are labeled based on how much of them I’ve read and how much I like/recommend them in the context of studying anime and anime fandom:

  • Completed in it’s entirety = (C), completed various selected chapters = (S). Reviews are hyperlinked.
  • Amazing/highly recommended = [A], Very good/recommended = [VG], good/useful = [G], neutral/interesting = [N], bad/”there are better books out there” =[B], very bad/useless = [VB]. Books also marked with an [R] are good as reference texts, but are not necessarily things that should be read cover-to-cover. Essentially, if a book is an [N], I don’t think you need to read it unless you’re really interested in the topic. If it’s lower, then I actively disliked the text and think it isn’t really that useful.
  • Books marked with an asterisk (*) should be read more critically, as these are most often insightful because they represent specific viewpoints rather than because they are factually correct. Books I highly recommend are bolded and highlighted in red.
  • I’ve also peppered areas of the list with general comments [LIKE SO].

Hope this list is useful!

Otaku/Fandom Stuff

  • Otaku: Japan’s Database Animal (Hiroki Azuma) (C) [A] [WAY MORE DENSE THAN IT NEEDS TO BE BUT IS STILL A PRETTY SEMINAL TEXT.]
  • Otaku Spaces (Patrick W. Galbraith) (C) [A] [PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING GALBRAITH HAS WRITTEN IS VERY GOOD AND WORTH READING.]
  • Otaku no Idenshi: SF manga no sekai [tr: Genes of the Otaku] (Shin’ichirou Inaba) [Japanese] (S) [VG] 
  • The Otaku Encyclopedia (Patrick Galbraith) (C) [VG]
  • Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential: How Teenage Girls Made a Nation Cool (Brian Ashcraft & Shoko Ueda) (C) [VG] [EXTREMELY READABLE.]
  • Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World (Mizuko Ito, Daisuke Okabe, Izumi Tsuji) (S) [G]
  • Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination (Anne Allison) (S) [G]
  • Popular Stories and Promised Lands: Fan Cultures and Symbolic Pilgrimages (Roger C. Aden)
  • Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the U.S. (Roland Kelts)
  • Pikachu’s Global Adventure: The Rise and Fall of Pokemon (Joseph Tobin)

Anime Stuff

  • Anime’s Media Mix (Marc Steinberg) (S) [A] [JUST AS GOOD AS AZUMA’S BOOK WITH A FOCUS ON TRANSMEDIA ANIME MERCHANDISING.]
  • The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation (Thomas Lamarre) (S) [A] [INCREDIBLY DENSE AND OVERLY ACADEMIC BUT A VERY ENRICHING READ.]
  • From Impressionism to Anime: Japan as Fantasy and Fan Cult in the Mind of the West (Susan J. Napier) (C) [G] [A BIT DISJOINTED BUT A GOOD PERSPECTIVE.]
  • The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan’s Media Success Story (Ian Condry) (C) [N] [INTERESTING ANTHROPOLOGICAL WORK BUT NOT VERY INSIGHTFUL.]
  • Cinema Anime (Steven T. Brown)
  • Tokyo Cyperpunk: Posthumanism in Japanese Visual Culture (Steven T. Brown)
  • Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation (Susan J. Napier)

Manga Stuff

  • Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (Scott McCloud) (C) [A] [A CLASSIC. THE BITS ON TEZUKA AND MANGA ALONE MAKE THIS WORTH THE READ.]
  • Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga (Frederic L. Schodt) (C) [A] [MOSTLY A “HISTORY OF MANGA” BOOK, BUT EXTREMELY WELL DONE.]
  • Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan (Jolyon B. Thomas)

Society, Culture, and “Society at Large”

  • How To Do Things With Cultural Theory (Matt Hills) (S) [A] [A BIT THEORETICAL, BUT VERY THOROUGH.]
  • Modernity At Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Arjun Appadurai) (S) [VG] [GREAT STUFF, BUT PROBABLY ONE OF THE DENSEST BOOKS I HAVE READ.]
  • Bowling Alone (Robert D. Putnam) (S) [N]*
  • The Postnational Self: Belonging and Identity (Ulf Hedetot & Mette Hjort)
  • Metaculture: How Cultures Move through the World (Greg Urban)
  • Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (Joseph S. Nye, Jr.) (S) [G]* [I HAVE A BIT OF A THING FOR (HATING ON) SOFT POWER, AND THIS IS THE BOOK ON IT.]

Literary Theory and Philosophy

  • The Pooh Perplex (Frederick Crews) (C) [VG] [IF YOU WANT AN EXAMPLE ON HOW MUCH OUR OWN BIASES CAN COLOR OUR INTERPRETATION OF STORIES, THIS IS IT.]
  • Existentialism: A Very Short Introduction (Thomas R. Flynn) (C) [G] [IN GENERAL, I’VE FOUND MOST OF THE BOOKS IN THIS SERIES TO BE QUITE GOOD.]
  • Modernism: A Very Short Introduction (Christopher Butler) (C) [G]
  • Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction (Christopher Butler) (C) [G]
  • The Consolations of Philosophy (Alain de Botton) (C) [N]
  • Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Stephen E. Bronner) (C) [N]
  • The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction (Terry Eagleton) (C) [B]
  • Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Catherine Belsey) (C) [N]
  • Postmodern Pooh (Frederick Crews)
  • How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines (Thomas C. Foster)
  • The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media (Walter Benjamin)
  • Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays (Frederick Crews)

Modern and Historical Japan (and it’s Portrayal to the West)

  • A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present (Andrew Gordon) (C) [A] [THOROUGH WHILE BEING QUITE READABLE, WHICH IS HIGH PRAISE FOR A TEXTBOOK!]
  • Japan Emerging: Premodern History to 1850 (Karl F. Friday) (C) [A] [R] [THE COLLECTION OF ESSAYS IS ACTUALLY A NICE FORMAT FOR SOMETHING OF THIS SCOPE.]
  • Sources of Japanese Tradition (ed. William Theodore De Bary et al.) (S) [A] [R]
  • Sources of Chinese Tradition (ed. William Theodore De Bary et al.) (S) [A] [R]
  • The Great Wave: Gilded Age Misfits, Japanese Eccentrics, and the Opening of Old Japan (Christopher Benfey) (C) [VG] [EXCELLENT READ.]
  • Warlords, Artists, & Commoners (George Elison and Bardwell Smith) (S) [VG] [R]
  • You Gotta Have Wa (Robert Whiting) (S) [G]
  • Sources of Japanese History (David Lu) (S) [G] [R]
  • Historical Perspectives on Contemporary East Asia (ed. Merle Goldman and Andrew Gordon) (S) [G] [R]
  • Anthology of Japanese Literature (Donald Keene) (S) [N] [R]
  • Japan’s Competing Modernities: Issues in Culture and democracy, 1900-1930 (ed. Sharon Minichiello) (S) [N] [R]
  • Imperial Formations (ed. Ann Stoler et al.) (S) [N] [R]
  • Japan’s Quiet Transformation: Social Change and Civil Society in the Twenty-First Century (Jeff Kingston)
  • Japan: In the Land of the Broken-Hearted (Michael Shapiro)
  • Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of WWII (John W. Dower)
  • War without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War (John W. Dower)

Religion/Folklore

As you can imagine, these texts are useful when viewing anime (since they inform the  cultural backdrop to help frame shows against) but are difficult to directly relate to studying of fandom. The ratings below are mostly based on a combination two things: 1) how important the text is to understanding the associated religious framework it discusses, and 2) how well each text helps you grasp the relevant information necessary to understand the historical/cultural/religious backdrop in modern Japan today that anime is framed against.

Note: I haven’t read many of texts related to Shinto as well as more “traditional” Japanese folklore. I hope to remedy this someday since it’s actually much more relevant in most anime, but for now see this bibliography.

Confucianism:

  • The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Compilation (tr. Roger T. Ames & Henry Rosemont, Jr.) (C) [VG]* 
  • Confucius: The Secular as Sacred (Herbert Fingarette) (C) [VG]* [THIS BOOK HAS HAD A HUGE IMPACT ON CONFUCIAN STUDIES, SO I WOULD ADVISE READING IT.]

Daoism:

  • Tao Te Ching (Laozi) (C) [VG]*
  • Zhuangzi (Zhuangzi) (S) [VG]*

Japanese Folklore:

  • Shugendo: Essays on the Structure of Japanese Folk Religion (Miyake Hitoshi) (S) [VG]

Japanese Buddhism:

  • The World of Buddhism: Buddhist Monks and Nuns in Society and Culture‘s “This World and Other Power: Contrasting Paths to Deliverance in Japan” (Robert Heinemann) (S) [VG]
  • How to Raise an Ox: Collected Writings of Dogen (tr. Francis Cook) (S) [G]
  • Kukai: Major Works (tr. Yoshito Hakeda) (S) [N]
  • Japanese Mandalas (Elizabeth ten Grotenhuis) (S) [N]

Buddhism in general:

  • Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Damien Keown) (C) [VG]
  • Buddhism in Practice (Donald Lopez) (S) [G]
  • The Buddha in the Robot: A Robot Engineer’s Thoughts on Science and Religion (Masahiro Mori) (C) [G]* [CAN A ROBOT ACHIEVE ENLIGHTENMENT?!?!?!]
  • Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience (David Mitchell) (C) [G] [R]
  • The Lotus Sutra (tr. Burton Watson) (C) [N]*
  • The Buddha: A Short Biography (John S. Strong) (C) [N]
  • Basic Buddhist Concepts (Kogen Nizuno) (C) [N]
  • Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction (Damien Keown) (C) [B]

(Modern) Japanese Aesthetics

For more information on this, I think the Wikipedia page is an okay place to start. For more detailed information, check out: this website, this sample syllabus, this discussion of the Tea Ceremony, and this essay (read very critically). There tends to be a bit of cultural essentialism plaguing the study of this type of thing, so beware of falling into the same trap!

Note that I’ve read most of these texts focused on mono no aware (trying to understand all that cherry blossom imagery we see in shows!) and wabi sabi (as it relates to the tea ceremony), which somewhat colors how I review material associated with Japanese aesthetics.

  • Modern Japanese Aesthetics: A Reader (ed. Michael Marra) (S) [VG] [R]
  • On the Art of Noh Drama (tr. Reimer and Yamazaki) (S) [G]
  • Japanese Hermeneutics: Current Debates on Aesthetics and Interpretation (ed. Michael Marra) (S) [G] [R]
  • Japanese No Drama (tr. Royall Tyler) (C) [N]
  • Superflat (Murakami Takashi) (C) [VB] [THIS IS PRETTY MUCH INCOMPREHENSIBLE BULLSHIT.]

Scholarly Articles

I have broadly grouped these articles as well as possible based on how they relate to ideas surrounding interpretation and fandom. Note that since academic journals are whatever, not everything listed here might be freely available. I usually have copies of the articles though, which I’m happy to share for personal use.

Note: Out of all the academic discussion surrounding anime, the best collection by far is Mechademia. For anyone interested in this type of stuff, I’d advise that to be the first place to start looking!

Discourses on fandom:

  • “Undoing International Fandom in the Age of Brand Nationalism” (Koichi Iwabuchi) (C) [VG] [A VERY CRITICAL AND IMPORTANT ARTICLE ON FANDOM STUDIES.]
  • “Japan’s Gross National Cool” (Douglas McGray) (C) [G]* [THIS ARTICLE IS JUST PLAGUED WITH PROBLEMS, BUT HAS BEEN EXTREMELY INFLUENTIAL.]
  • “Reconsidering East Asian Connectivity and the Usefulness of Media and Cultural Studies” (Koichi Iwabuchi) [C] [G]
  • “The Animalization of Otaku Culture” (Hiroki Azuma) (C) [G] [A SHORTER VERSION OF AZUMA’S BOOK.]
  • “The Cool Brand, Affective Activism and Japanese Youth” (Anne Allison) (C) [N]*

History (otaku):

  • “Progress against the law: Anime and fandom, with the key to the globalization of culture” (Sean Leonard) (C) [VG] [IF YOU EVER WANTED A “HISTORY OF ANIME IN AMERICA”, HERE YOU GO!]
  • “An Unholy Alliance of Eisenstein and Disney: The Fascist Origins of Otaku Culture” (C) [VG] [A HISTORY OF WHERE MANGA AND ANIME DREW THEIR AESTHETICS, MAINLY TARGETED AT DECIMATING ART HISTORY-CENTRIC NARRATIVES THAT TRY TO ASCRIBE OLDER FORMS OF ART TO NEW FORMS OF MEDIA.]
  • “The Pitfall Facing the Cool Japan Project: The Transnational Development of the Anime Industry Under the Condition of Post-Fordism” (Yoshitaka Mori) [C][VG] [LET ME TELL YOU HOW UN-“JAPANESE” YOUR ANIME IS.]
  • “Globalizing Manga: From Japan to Hong Kong and Beyond” (Wendy Wong) (C) [N] [ESSENTIALLY A “HISTORY OF MANGA IN EAST ASIA” PIECE]

History (Japan/East Asia):

  • “Chinese History and the Question of Orientalism” (Arif Dirlik) [C] [VG]
  • “Europe’s “Discovery” of China and the Writing of World History” (Edwin J. Van Kley) [C] [VG]
  • “Of Civilization and Savages: The Mimetic Imperialism of Japan’s 1874 Expedition to Taiwan” (Robert Eskildsen) (C) [G]
  • “Tradition and Innovation in Modern Japanese Painting” (Hugo Munsterberg) (C) [G]
  • “Japan 1868-1945: Art, Architecture, and National Identity” (Christine Guth) (C) [N]
  • “Modernity in Japanese Painting” (C) [N]

Interpretive frameworks:

  • “Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” (Fredric Jameson) (C) [A] [MINUS THE CAVEAT THAT THIS HAS MARXIST LEANINGS, THIS IS PRETTY MUCH THE BEST INTRODUCTION TO POSTMODERNIST THOUGHT AVAILABLE.]
  • “Murakami Haruki and the Naturalization of Modernity” (Carl Cassegard) (C) [G] [A GOOD SUPPLEMENT TO JAMESON, WHICH TRIES TO APPLY WALTER BENJAMIN’S WORK TO UNDERSTANDING MURAKAMI.]

Aesthetics:

  • “Tarrying with the Negative: Aesthetic Vision in Murasaki and Mishima” (John Wallace) (C) [G]
  • “The Transformation of Tea Practice in Sixteenth-Century Japan” (C) [N]
  • “The Microcosmic Space Created by Sen Rikyu” (Hayakawa Masao) (C) [N]

Consumption and consumer culture:

  • “Daydreams.” (Alexander Zahlten) [C] [G]
  • “A short History of MSG: Good Science, Bad Science, and Taste Cultures” (C) [N]

Things as Bishoujo

Besides the more academic stuff above, I also have a small collection of “random things turned into bishoujo” books that were worth every penny. I’m always looking to grow this collection, so if there are any titles out there not listed here, let me know!

  • “Countries of the World” Girls
  • Constitution Girls
  • Element Girls
  • Astro Girls
  • Physics Girls
  • Mineral Girls
  • Weather Girls
  • Dictator Girls
  • Kawaii Security

Last updated: 06/18/2015.

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