You may come for the Astro Boy
or Afro Samurai
, but you'll stay for the innovative ways that Ian Condry
's new book brings together analyses of transmedia practice, collaboration, and materialities of democracy. The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan's Media Success Story
(Duke University Press, 2013) is based on ethnographic fieldwork in a range of spaces of anime production that include studios, toy factories, fan conventions, and online communities. What results is a fascinating exploration of how the social aspects of media generate successful anime tv programs and films, forms of labor, and ways of thinking about masculinity, love, and modern life. Condry argues that collaborative creativity has been central to producing the social energy necessary for the global success of Japanese anime. For Condry, it also helps explain a broader "globalization from below" whereby new forms of media emerge from local and grassroots efforts to appeal to and impact a diverse range of audiences. Through a series of case studies that observe contemporary and historical anime production practices from different angles, readers of The Soul of Anime
are offered a window into the many forms of labor necessary to produce the many different media that collectively make up anime production, from the painstaking production of handmade storyboards to the conceiving of innovative characters and worlds that serve as platforms for the creation and circulation of anime stories. In addition to all of this, there are little boy samurais with wind-up keys in their heads, gods that speak only in rap, egg-shaped characters that get hard-boiled when stressed out, mega-robots, men who want to marry 2D anime character-ladies, and a cameo by Samuel L. Jackson. Enjoy!