(2009) Jonathan Clements, Titan Books, £9.99, Can$16.95, US$14.95, pbk, 395pp + index, ISBN 978-1-848-56083-3
The illustrations in this book are copyright 2008 by Steve Kyte (and very pretty/amusing they are too), and the text is also copyright 2008 Muramasa Industries Ltd for the most part, though some pieces herein are still copyright Rebellion (publishers of Judge Dredd Megazine and 2000AD) and Titan Magazines (publishers of Manga Max) and, as if all that were not confusing enough, the many articles and other pieces collected here are actually culled from nearly 20-years-worth of output from the prolific Clements. The majority of the work here is from sources such as Newtype USA, the Sci-Fi channel's UK website, NEO, Judge Dredd Megazine, Manga Max, Dreamwatch, SFX Total Anime, the Guardian, the transcripts of various talks and lectures given by Clements at various events, his sleeve notes for various DVD releases, and a few unpublished pieces. Aside from this busy career as a commentator, Clements is probably better known as the co-author of the Anime Encyclopedia and the Dorama Encyclopedia, the translator of over 70 anime and manga titles, sometime voice actor and/or dubbing director, writer of Doctor Who radio plays, and all-round authority on all things manga and anime. He even received a Japan Festival Award for "outstanding contributions to the understanding of Japanese culture". Needless to say he has also been used many times as a 'talking head' on various TV shows and as an interviewee on radio. Few (if any!) people could be more qualified to provide an informative, entertaining and often amusing insight into the world of manga and anime.
The reader will find herein many reviews, pieces of cultural commentary, interviews and profiles (and obits), behind the scenes 'insider' stories, and much more. Exploding the myth (and, for some in the mundane world, it still needs exploding) that manga and anime are all SF/Fantasy and Horror, involving ultraviolence and tons of explicit sex with tentacled demons and/or aliens, Clements examines all aspects of the trade, revealing the stories about how to play golf, the romance titles, the stories for the over-60s, the differences between Japan, China and Korea, not to mention the truth behind the not-so-glamorous lives of translators and voice actors. Often, and usually for legal reasons, he cannot name the comics or shows to which he is referring (though the astute readers will know exactly what he's referring to), hence Schoolgirl Milky Crisis. Of particular interest to me are the transcriptions of some of Clements' lectures and talks; those readers who are veterans of various comic and anime conventions will already know just how entertaining a speaker Jonathan can be, but we can't all be everywhere! The only (slight) problem that I can think of with this book is that the people who really need to read it, i.e. ignorant mundanes of the violence-and-tentacle-sex variety, are the very people least likely to bother. But, for the fans, this is an intelligent appraisal of a very wide field, both amusing and, frankly, amazing, as well as being very informative (with a useful index). Perhaps fans could buy it for non-fans... Recommended.
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