Some challenges of locating and accessing books on anime

ApocalypseJapanese animation came to the U.S. in the summer of 1961, with the theatrical release of Alakazam the Great (Saiyuki), Magic Boy (Shonen Sarutobi Sasuke), and Panda and the Magic Serpent (Hakujaden). It took over 30 years for the first English-language books on anime – Helen McCarthy’s 1993 Anime!: A Beginner’s Guide to Japanese Animation and Antonia Levi’s 1996 Samurai from Outer Space: Understanding Japanese Animation to appear

another thirty-five years for the first English-language book on anime – Antonia Levi’s 1996 Samurai from Outer Space: Understanding Japanese Animation – to appear.

But over 50 more books on anime have been published since those first ones.

Obviously, these books are diverse in their styles, approaches, and purposes. Some, likeĀ Anime Classics Zettai!: 100 Must-See Japanese Animation Masterpieces, Anime Explosion: The What? Why? and Wow! of Japanese Animation, and The Rough Guide to Anime are general introductions, intended for the casual reader. Others, such as Understanding Manga and Anime are essentially tools, meant specifically to aid public and academic librarians. And of course, there are the scholarly monographs and edited essay collections – Anime from Akira to Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation; Anime’s Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan, Cinema Anime: Critical Engagements with Japanese Animation, and many more. But, almost all of these books, regardless of their differences, have one thing in common – straight-forward, descriptive titles that almost always include the word “anime”. And what that means is that a reader who is trying to access these books, whether on Amazon or in a library catalog, should be able to locate them without too much difficulty simply by searching for the word. Continue reading

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Using Google Scholar in Anime/Manga Studies

Since its launch ten years ago, in October 2004, Google Scholar, Google’s “free service [that] helps people search scholarly literature” has made a major impact on how we search for and access academic publications. Some things about Google Scholar are certain. Students at all levels from high schools to graduate departments – rely on it. Educators and professional researchers accept it. And library and information science scholars work to understand, analyze, and describe it. So, how does Google Scholar hold up as a research tool for anime and manga studies?

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Researching Anime/Manga Scholars

When conducting research on any topic, there are certain things that any researcher must keep in mind. One of these things has to do with the basic design of bibliographic access systems – library catalogs, scholarly databases, subject bibliographies. These systems are tools for locating “bibliographic units” – books, book chapters, and individual journal articles. So, they are great when a researcher is looking for, for example, journal articles on the classic anime Neon Genesis Evangelion – a search for “Neon Genesis Evangelion” in the EBSCO Academic Search Premier database retrieves records for three articles. These three are by no means all the English-language articles that have been published on Evangelion, just the ones that have appeared in the journals covered by this particular database. But, locating these three can be a start.

Often, though, a researcher is looking for information not about individual articles, but rather, their authors. What is an author’s academic background and research interests, what other work has he or she done, where is the author currently teaching – finally, how can I contact the author? Do resources exist for this kind of research? Continue reading