Interpreting Anime

by Christopher Bolton


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"Having just completed Interpreting Anime, I come away convinced that Christopher Bolton is simply the best scholar writing on anime at the current moment. His readings apply a gamut of approaches, from postmodernism to gender studies to individual texts, but they remain accessible and consistently fascinating, inspiring a deeper appreciation of this protean medium. The book is an intellectual joy to read." —Susan J. Napier, Tufts University

"A remarkable book, Interpreting Anime explores how to approach this genre in an intelligent, insightful way. Christopher Bolton's readings are sophisticated without being overwrought or turgid--they are well argued, but leave room for the reader to speculate, contest, and take them further." —Michael Dylan Foster, University of California, Davis

"In his brilliant, acute, and always accessible Interpreting Anime, Christopher Bolton applies deep knowledge of Japanese aesthetic traditions, global media culture, and posthumanist theory to close readings of some of the most artistically ambitious and culturally significant works of the artform. Showing anime fans the beauties of theory and scholars the profundities of anime, Bolton recounts a specifically Japanese history of cyborg art, while offering insights into that most neglected and ubiquitous category of experience, fiction itself." —Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, DePauw University

"intelligent and understandable. …Highly recommended." —John Lent, Choice

"The analytical processes in each chapter are readable, thorough, and compelling, making this text accessible and persuasive. …Overall, Bolton has crafted a meaningful contribution to the scholarship of reading, one able to transcend its subject matter—anime—and speak to readers everywhere, those who seek as full, as complete an engagement with their texts as possible."
 —Timothy Iles, The Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies

"Absolutely invaluable." –Mikhail Koulikov, Anime and Manga Studies Blog

"Provides an excellent illustration of the way in which theory can be utilized in the analysis of anime. …There is no doubt that this book will find a home in the reading lists of most courses on anime, and provide both students and teachers of the subject with encouragement and stimulation." —Thomas E. McAuley, East Asian Journal of Popular Culture

"Bolton explains complex webs of theory patiently, lucidly, elegantly and concisely. …[Interpreting Anime] dares go deeper than the stories in anime, but its discussions have the rhythms of good stories themselves." —Andrew Osmond, Blog

"The sheer variety of historical, theoretical and cultural contexts examined in relation to anime in Bolton’s book is instructive. …Despite these films being some of the most studied within the history of anime scholarship, each chapter in Bolton’s book reveals fresh nuances, or brings new potential theoretical meanings into focus for the reader." —Rayna Denison, Screen

"I would…characterize the Akira chapter as essential reading for the deftness with which Bolton manages the cultural frames." —Steven Holmes, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts

"Bolton's methodological innovations…offer new readings of foundational texts alongside detailed analyses of heretofore critically overlooked titles." —Deborah Shamoon, Monumenta Nipponica

"Bolton succeeds in providing a range of templates for critical analysis of selected texts, producing an excellent primer from where to begin further interpretations of anime in its many modes and guises." —Lauri Kitsnik, Film Studies

"Bolton’s brilliant book joins a growing collection of outstanding academic works about Japanese animation, such as those by Anne Allison, Jacqueline Berndt, Ian Condry, Thomas Lamarre, and Susan J. Napier, as well as works in Japanese by Murakami Takashi, Otsuka Eiji, and Azuma Hiroki, most of which are rarely translated. That these texts converge in Bolton’s study is one of its major strengths. Being both a Japanologist and a comparatist, Bolton is able to read and bring together rich Western texts like Lamarre’s, Lacan’s, and Jameson’s with scholarly works written in Japanese, sometimes to corroborate or complement each other and at other times to challenge prevailing Western views on anime and Japanese culture." —Chris Reyns-Chikuma, SFRA Review

"Bolton’s knowledge of Japanese culture, his analyses of key anime, and his readable writing style add up to a worthwhile and edifying read that may be laying the groundwork for future anime studies." —William B. Covey, Journal of Film and Video

"Interpreting Anime varies significantly from many similar discussions in Japan studies by the well-substantiated explanation of its choices ... Because of its rigor which allows for discussion and supplementation, it will prove highly stimulating in Japan studies courses on popular culture and anime." –Jaqueline Berndt, The Journal of Japanese Studies

"Along with his lucid and accessible language, Bolton’s well-balanced and sophisticated discussion makes this study an ideal choice for students and scholars who want a good overview of academic approaches to anime as well as for fans who seek more knowledge about the socio-cultural contexts of Japan. ...Bolton’s book brings our attention back to anime’s epistemological value." —Kumiko Saito, Science Fiction Studies

"Refreshingly bold …By merging formal and narrative-based analysis, Bolton’s book maintains, much like anime itself, a sense of joy and wonder, and even playful experimentation, alongside its meta-textual and analytical framework." –Julia Alexsyeva, Animation