The Soul of Anime

The Soul of Anime

Collaborative Creativity and Japan's Media Success Story

Book - 2013
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In The Soul of Anime , Ian Condry explores the emergence of anime, Japanese animated film and television, as a global cultural phenomenon. Drawing on ethnographic research, including interviews with artists at some of Tokyo's leading animation studios--such as Madhouse, Gonzo, Aniplex, and Studio Ghibli--Condry discusses how anime's fictional characters and worlds become platforms for collaborative creativity. He argues that the global success of Japanese animation has grown out of a collective social energy that operates across industries--including those that produce film, television, manga (comic books), and toys and other licensed merchandise--and connects fans to the creators of anime. For Condry, this collective social energy is the soul of anime.
Publisher: Durham [NC] : Duke University Press, 2013.
ISBN: 9780822353942
Branch Call Number: 791.4334 CO
Characteristics: x, 241 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


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Apr 21, 2018

In this “scholarly” anthropological study of animation, Mr. Condry details how anime is a multi-platform cultural phenomenon. Characters, he argues, are “celebrities” in the way that, after appearing in one TV show, movie, video game, or music video, they cross over to other shows, movies, games, etc., even appearing as brand-name mascots – while all the time being co-created and co-developed by fans as well as the original producers. This isn’t a particularly new concept in the US, where games spawn movies which spawn comics and TV shows (or in any other order) – but in the case of anime, the author argues, the process is taken a step further – characters are often developed (and chosen or rejected) long before storylines are invented, and some characters have no story at all. There is also the (rather disturbing) “moe” trend (parodied in the novel “Idoru” by William Gibson which is not mentioned in this book) where fans “fall in love” with and even want to marry virtual characters. This is one aspect (although an extreme one) of the increasingly fuzzy line between the real and the fake in the commercial world. Others include the “thingification” of the media (the blurring between entertainment, advertising, and products – copied to anime from – and back to – Disney); the idea of “fansubbing” where fans of particular anime add their own commentaries, translations, etc. and distribute them online; the fact that a Pokémon battle led to actual fisticuffs between Condry’s two sons, and that storylines in animated movies may have led to unrealistic expectations in recent wars. Interesting stuff, and rather frightening in its implications.
The cover of this book is also worth mentioning. Two icons of Japanese graphic art meet: a stereotypical anime giant robot wades into the water and encounters Hokusai’s Great Wave.


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