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"Anime Essentials: Every Thing a Fan Needs to Know" by Gilles Poitras

A fine book welcoming new fans into the endless world of anime.

It all started from Sailor Moon, then got a huge dive into Pokémon and will never regret doing so. Of course, during my elementary school days, the dudes who weren't nerdy enough to absorb this cool hobby did nothing but yap and talk about why sports is better than anime. Not only has the FBI proven that sports is corrupt, but those who've got their feet wet on anime went on to succeed with their academics over these jealous dudes. I received my college degree; they still haven't. I win!

Looking to capitalize on my nostalgia, besides 8- and 16-bit video games, I looked at how Pokémon was doing. Very well, apparently. I then wanted to launch [back] my video production website dedicated to all my video work I've done since 2001, and in addition, discuss some TV shows and movies—an idea originally brought up here on The Seeds of Books. (That website can be found here.) Besides the usual, I thought it would be fun to watch and review various anime shows and movies that I have never ever seen before. However, I decided to learn some things about it before I start yapping about how good/bad the anime I watched was.

I couldn't have started at a better place than this book. Poitras' writing is very gentle, almost like you're talking to the king of all anime groups (which seems like it is). Author Poitras knows exactly what he's talking about, despite being around the block time and time again, let alone online, socially, in conventions and in stores. Like every starter, learning the original history was my biggest fascination. Japanese animation began before the days of TV, appearing commercially in Japan. After World War II, with movie theaters destroyed, manga was the cheapest and quickest form of entertainment that didn't need projectors to be shown. As soon as the industry recovered, animation was still being shown spiking its popularity up to the decade where Japanese households finally owned televisions. It's amazing that even after a brutal world war, the country still got back up and continued to work. Brilliant dedication, Japan.

You also learn about the animators like Osamu Tezuka, and of course, Hayao Miyazaki, and the technological growth of creating animation. As for the growth and popularity of anime, it wasn't until the eighties where it flooded in the US, then up around the nineties, anime sought world domination. Good thing.
The "Anime Genres" chapter was a great read. Aside from the usual genres you find here in the US such as comedy, drama and horror, there are also sports, girls' shows, boys' shows, science fiction (being the most popular), crime, romance, and for the mature, homosexual themes, and hentai. If porn seemed to be a sensuous thing for men and some women, here in the US, here's something I never knew before:

"Some X-rated anime are based not on manga but on pornographic video games. Several tasteful erotic manga in Japan are made by and for women, so there is a very non-Western, non-male-centered view of the erotic that enters into some of the stories, and from there into anime." (Poitras, 2001, p.51)

Well, there you go.

The chapter on what makes anime unique was also well done. Having been familiar with hilarious expressions and reactions from Pokémon, from the big eyes, huge sweat drop and that vein popping on the forehead, portray the emotion of the character—chara—during the scene. It doesn't require a lot of thinking to know and associate the chara's feelings/reactions and the cool, yet often times hilarious, drawings that elaborate their personality. To the beginner, it sounds complicated and difficult to visualize when read on paper, but watch enough anime and it isn't too difficult to figure out what's going on and how/what the chara is feeling as shown on their face.

There's also a chapter on how to be a fan. This seems like more on how to be a HUGE fan and showing your city and state how dedicated and passionate you are! I really don't find anything wrong with that, however, that was excellent. From launching a social group and keeping it active, you can learn it all from here. Great tips!

The chapter on anime controversies was another I needed to get at. The endless argument of English-translations or subtitling likely kept many up all night; it's like asking which professional editing softwares are better: Adobe Premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer; or like that argument on which is the best console: Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3 or Microsoft XBox 360. As for the translation-subtitle controversy, I personally don't have a side to choose—still in the process of familiarizing the history and more before delving deeper in the anime universe, so sorry to those who love to start arguments—but they both have their valid reasons. Another thing I was interested in was the cutting of certain scenes. We've all seen this when a movie, made for theaters, gets air time on TV. Without having to purchase the DVD or going out and spending money on tickets, you'll likely pinpoint certain scenes together that don't look consistent. I understand some scenes are too violent, sexual and some are tedious and unnecessary, but having witnessed this on movies and some TV shows, compared to its release on VHS/LD/DVD/Blu-Ray, I can see why many are angered by this. Count me in.

Lastly, and I'm glad it was included, the last chapters provide a simple list of anime shows and movies to check out. This is great since authors writing about the subject they talk about sometimes leave the readers in the dust like, "well that's all I have to say so think about it and goodbye!" No, author Poitras gives you a decent list of anime to start off with, along with other books/manga to check out. For me, I have heard of hits like Oh My Goddess!, Mobile Suit Gundam and Ranma ½, so my curiosity was on the right track apparently. Will definitely check them out, and review them on our website!
Even having some exposure to anime, I thought I knew enough until I read this book. In fact, I have only watched Sailor Moon (though I've forgotten it by now), Pokémon and the hit film Spirited Away. That's it. On the other hand, in an effort to really plunge in, here are the anime I picked up earlier this year for fanatical pleasure, eventually for review:

- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
- Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat
- Disgaea
- Summer Wars
- Wandaba Style
- Domo
- Love Hina (plus the three movies)
- Magikano
- Shuffle!
- Negima!? Magister Negi Magi (plus the Spring & Summer Specials)
- HamTaro

Yeah, that's a chunk but it should get me going. A lot of you may disagree on some titles, while some wouldn't bother with some of these titles, however again, I'll just go along with the flow and judge for myself. Although, yes, I will keep this book as a reference to check out more.

Beginner to anime or not, look no further. Brilliant book.





  • Accessible to those wanting a gentle introduction to all-things anime.
  • Introduces various genres and the deep messages behind anime.
  • Mentions names of big Japanese producers (i.e. Hayao Miyazaki).
  • No mention of Funimation?
90% (A-)
Fan Rating
Title Anime Essentials: Every Thing A Fan Needs To Know
Author(s) Gilles Poitras
Description Anime is Japanese animation...an avant-grade artistic medium and a pop culture phenomenon, with hundreds of millions of fans and just as many opinions on what it's all about

If you're new to Japanese animation, you're beginning to understand that it's a lot more than Sailor Moon and Pokémon: there's drama and comedy, gender-bending and culture tweaking, complex characters and giant robots—sometimes all in the same movie!

Anime's not just entertainment: it's a whole culture, with clubs, codes, conventions, and collectibles.

Even if you're a seasoned fan, you probably still have questions about navigating this enjoyably infuriating terrain. How did it all start? What's the deal with fanzines? Where can I find the stuff I want right now? What's the difference between Fushigi Yugi and Mysterious Play, anyway?

Relax, young otaku. Gilles Poitras is here to help.

Anime Essentials: Every Thing A Fan Needs To Know includes:
  • a brief history of the rise and rise and rise of anime in the English-speaking world
  • the Code of Fansub Ethics
  • tips on how to start a club and keep it fun
  • a guide to anime genres, subgenres, voice actors, directors, studios, and distributors
  • sensible talk on erotic, gay, and hentai anime
  • a Con Survival Guide: the mobs, the masquerade, the madness
  • notes on the sub/dub controversy and other flame wars
plus the pleasures and pitfalls of buying toys, cards, garage kits, and everything else
plus the best books, magazines, and web sites
plus the 41 must-see anime titles (with advisories!)
plus over 100 clips and photographs

Whether you're a curious beginner or an obsessed connoisseur, this book is absolutely...

Dedication "This book is dedicated to all the anime fans who have stayed up nights discussing the significance of the Macross Valkyrie transformation..."
ISBN 1-880656-53-1
Book Dimensions Width: 7.0″
Height: 9.0″
Depth: 0.38″ (3/8″)
Page Count 128
Contents Introduction, ten (10) chapters, Subject Index
Book Design © 1991 Gainax/Youmex
Author Photograph --
Published December 01, 2000
Publisher Stone Bridge Press (www.stonebridge.com)
Copyright © 2001 by Gilles Poitras
Printed in United States of America
Book Format Paperback, Library Binding
Quoted Reviews "Advice on how to become an obsessed fan by an obsessed fan." Robert Woodhead, AnimEigo

"Gilles Poitras's enthusiasm is infectious, and his librarian's eye for all the fascinating details that make anime distinctly Japanese is the perfect entrance into what can seem like a mysterious world." Corey Oser, Northern California Japan Society

"When Gilles's first book 'The Anime Companion', came out, I was blown away by the vast amount of information that he wasn't telling us at our regular anime club meetings in Berkeley. He gave me the first autographed copy. Wow! And now he's got a new book? Maybe he can sign this one too, and I can sell it on eBay. But just his signature I mean. I'd never sell this book. Its information is just too darn valuable." Ryan Omega, Author of 'Anime Trivia Quizbook'
Best Seller's List --
Other Gilles Poitras lines in San Francisco Bay Area, and has degrees in Library Science and Religious Studies. He maintains several anime-related web pages and is a frequent contributor to anime magazines and newsletters. He is the author of The Anime Companion: What's Japanese in Japanese Animation?
Library of Congress
Cataloging-in-Publication Data
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