Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Anime Encyclopedia Review

The third edition of The Anime Encyclopedia by Johnathan Clements & Helen McCarthy is a mixed bag, while it would be easy for me to praise it for it's exhaustiveness or the informative aspects of it with entries even showing the run time of each episode of a series and entries on important creators and studios and even definitions of technical terms and jargon. The other side of the coin is that it is less a clinical and detached reference and more and exhaustively detailed work that gives the authors opinions on the works in question from obscure early Anime to popular franchises at times this can be entertaining such as the criticism of Clannad being that it rots your brain makes you miss something you never had. It's much like having two older more knowledgeable Otaku give their opinions on Anime and while this fine in and of it's self the lack of objectivity and I realize that when it comes to criticism of art objectivity in criticism is very much a snipe hunt. This is ostensibly a reference work and as such should stick to mere facts and not editorializing this get particularly irksome when the author's world view becomes noticeable such as K-On!! Being labeled as objectifying women or making them into product this is simply an opinion and if one is writing a reference work they should keep their opinions out of it regardless of how the reader feels about concepts like “male gaze” and the like a reference work should have a modicum of dispassion to it and avoid reading their world view into what should be bare facts and data. While this may be the main criticism one could lobby against McCarthy and Clements my copy had some noticeable omissions now obviously something that covers a changing medium can not cover everything but the two that I noticed missing were My Little Sister Can't Be this Cute and the Irregular At Magic High School along with a hard to navigate index that sent me on a wild goose chase to try and find the Studio Deen produced Anime adaptation of the Fate/Stay Night Visual Novel. While numerous obscure Hentai titles were listed. This is not to say a reference work should not exist for Hentai but maybe it shouldn't be included in an already gargantuan book to say nothing about wither there is any artistic merit to be had in Hentai at all. While the editorializing neuters much of the helpful aspects of this tome as a reference work making it unusable in any college course except for the bare facts of a series. While other entries had obvious factual errors such as Yuu Watase being listed as the Mangaka behind YuYu Hakusho or YuYu's Mangaka Yoshihiro Togashi having his work listed as being serialized in Young Jump when it was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump something that a cursory glance of the Anime News Network Encyclopedia or even Wikipedia (as much of a mess of inaccurate information as that often is). Could be fixed I write this not to play “got ya” with the authors but that it's an easily correctable error now I understand the book is a huge under taking but this type thing is just sloppy and I would expect better from people like Clements and McCarthy authors who are known for their erudition. In conclusion The Anime Encyclopedia is to be commended for the breadth of it's reseacrch and sheer volume yet that volume has also seemingly lead to omissions, factual errors, and sloppy editing not to mention a font size that makes a compact new testament look gargantuan in comparison. Along with needlessly opinionated summaries of each entry. While useful for some technical background information the price tag of over $80 dollars is a bit much for merely technical information that one could find for free online. I feel bad speaking so ill of something tat should have been so good but honesty compels me to say these things and yes I am aware of the e-mail address at the beginning of the book were all readers can send correspondence, updates and correction to that however does not change the fact that in a 1136 page book that the authors who are the crème de la crème of the Anime Intelligentsia couldn't be bothered to fix at least two noticeable errors and lamely dismiss their own lack of objectivity in subsequent interviews.

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