|▪||PUBLISHED BY:||UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA PRESS|
|▪||REVIEWED BY:||HOLLY ELLINGWOOD|
The very first in what will be a series of annual books exploring not only what anime and manga are, but what they mean in the larger context of social commentary and global trends; Mechademia volume 1 proves to be an intriguing look into the wider and more complex influences of the growing worlds of anime and manga. In this collection of essays, reviews and commentaries from various contributors, Mechademia explores the historical, social and even socio-economic aspects of both anime and manga.
Diverse and intellectually compelling, Mechademia holds chapters that cover a wide range of topics to explore, each having to do with anime and/or manga with the exception of one article on video games. There are some heavily academic essays on the globalization of manga, its effects on millennial capitalism, its effects on youth culture both in Japan and its influence in the West, and investigates the history of manga on several levels. The book even holds an anime and manga timeline for easy reference for the reader. There are chapters that explore the history and influences of cosplay, video game interactivity, the history and use of superflat imagery in Japan, and how multiplanar imagery has affected the evolution of anime and the emotional impact of visual imagery.
Other chapters look at specific bodies of work such as that of Mamoru Oshii and Mori Minoru. Others investigate the role of female characters in anime and manga and looks at shows such as Revolutionary Girl Utena and Sailor Moon. Off the beaten path there is an essay exploring the emergence and history of werewolves in anime and manga. The only essay that really didn’t seem to fit was the one on video game interactivity. It didn’t seem to tie in strongly enough with the rest of the book and therefore why it as included is unknown. However, as can be seen from the eclectic range, Mechademia strives to give a diverse array of topics on the subjects of anime and manga.
The collection being so varied means there is something within to interest any reader curious about anime and manga. Whether it is longtime fans of the genres, academics, or people new to this booming trend, there is something for everyone in this book. There is much here that even longtime connoisseurs of the genre will be surprised to learn. The book also contains some images in black and white, others in color to add to the details explored in this collection. At times thought provoking, other times reflective, it is an interesting cerebral addition to the literary world.
Mechademia is a diverse collection of essays, reviews and commentaries exploring anime and manga. Its strong academic bent may put off some potential readers but give it a chance and peruse through the many varied topics. You’ll discover a treasure of knowledge and insights into the worlds of anime and manga that will surprise even longtime fans of the genres.