Interpreting Anime

by Christopher Bolton

For Instructors

Blood-C library scene

Interpreting Anime is designed for faculty, students, and sophisticated fans, and it can function either as an introduction to anime studies or as a way of extending your own thinking about this medium. It also grows out of my own teaching, and for instructors planning a course that incorporates anime, the book has a number of features designed to make it useful in the classroom:


Each chapter focuses intensively on one or two feature-length films or short (2-hour) series that can be covered in a week of class. These include some of the most canonical titles from the first 25 years of the current anime boom, and cover many of the medium's most important directors and studios.

Critical Breadth.

The book strikes a balance between discussing the cultural and historical contexts in which these works appeared, the technological and industry contexts in which they were produced, and a range of critical theory-based approaches. All these are presented in a clear, jargon-free way that tries to shed real light on the works at hand.

Close Reading.

Above all, the book emphasizes and models careful close reading of anime's formal elements—visual, aural, and structural—in the service of helping readers build their own interesting, original interpretations.

Other Popular Media.

The media comparisons in each chapter introduce readers to a range of other visual and literary media (from 18th-century Japanese theater to contemporary manga), providing a broader, richer understanding of Japanese popular culture than students might get from anime alone.


Each chapter of Interpreting Anime is freestanding, for faculty who want to teach just one or two films; but the chapters also build on each other to give readers of the whole book a strong sense of how anime and anime studies have grown and changed over the last three decades.

If you adopt the book for your own class, I am eager to have your feedback. Please see my home page for my contact information.