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Book Review: The Anime Encyclopedia 3rd Revised Edition

When it comes to writing and talking about anime, there are few who can claim to be as knowledgeable as Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy. Writing about Japanese animation before most people even knew there was such a thing, the British writers are pioneers in the field. Separately they have edited some of the UK's most respected (and much missed) anime magazines including Anime UK and Manga Max and published numerous books- in McCarthy's case including the first book on anime in the English language. When they came together to pen the 2001 Anime Encyclopedia it was an instant must-have for fans.

The 2015 revised edition is the third iteration of the book. It features a considerable amount of new content- not least because there has been a veritable explosion of new anime since 2006's second edition. It's an incredible resource for anyone who wants to write about animation- or the more committed fan, with a level of detail in each entry that has made it the definitive print resource on the subject. In the third edition, this is truer than ever before, as it is expanded and revised to be even more thorough.
The thing that makes this is a must-have for even more casual fans, however, is also ironically the thing that turns other fans off.  'Encylopedia' suggests a dry and worthy factual tone, but this is not the case here. The entries here (where possible) also acts as reviews, with the authors offering their opinions on the films or shows in question. Sometimes these are in depth, other times they are little more than the odd withering comment. But then you'd probably make the odd sarcastic comment if you too had spent as long as they had wading through dodgy 'erotic' anime.

Overprotective fans may take against them for bashing their favourite shows or franchises but their opinions are always well thought out and argued. The writing is as witty and sharp as we've come to expect from the pair. You don't have to agree with their every opinion, but you have to respect it, and their experience on the subject is second-to-none. And you might come out with a whole list of new shows or films to check out.

If you only want the fact and not the opinion then that's all there too. The production information and insight here is more than enough to justify owning in itself. Besides the TV and film entries there's also listing for key figures, organisations and some priceless thematic entries.

The burning question though remains- in these days of wikis and IMDB, is there any need for a book like this? We'd offer a resounding yes, chiefly for the authors' unique insight. but also for the level of work put in. An awful lot of legwork went into researching this that goes way beyond a simple Google. The authors have access to resources (often in Japanese) that your average Wikipedia editor can only dream of.

At the same time, the new edition is adapted to the digital age. The physical edition (a hardback for the first time) is designed chiefly for libraries and universities and is priced accordingly, while the digital edition (Kindle etc) is aimed at the consumer. The digital edition makes the most of its format and allows readers to jump from the entry to online resources in a single tap.

The third edition of the Anime Encyclopedia is the best yet and remains the definitive book on Japanese animation in English. Highly Recommended.

The Anime Encyclopedia 3rd Edition is written by Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy and is available now in digital and Hardback from Stone Bridge Press

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