Otaku World Reviews:
The Anime Companion

Reviewed by Dov Sherman

Anime Companion: What's Japanese in Japanese Animation?
written by Gilles Poitras
published by Stone Bridge Press

 * Excerpt from the Anime Companion
 * The Anime Companion Web Supplement

What's that thing on the little shelf in the Tendo Dojo? What are those little fish-shaped pastries that Nuku Nuku likes to much? What's with that whole nosebleed thing anyway? Japanese anime is Japanese and, if you didn't grow up in Japan, a lot of the cultural references are going to go right past you. The Anime Companion: What's Japanese in Japanese Animation? has the answers.

Simply put, The Anime Companion is a handbook to Japanese culture, written for fans of Japanese anime. The format is that of a simple, alphabetic glossary, each entry annotated with pointers to anime which display a given cultural reference. It's a lot of fun to browse through, picking up bits of Japanese info on everything from red bean cakes to Turkish baths. Entries tend to be short and to the point and many are accompanied by stills from various anime (such as Maison Ikkoku's Kyoko and Godai sitting at a kotatsu or yakisoba cooking on a griddle in Tenchi Muyou). On the downside, since entries are listed by Japanese name, it can be difficult to locate information for things you've only seen but for which you don't know the name. However, the cross-referencing appendices in the back of the book, listing all entries in English, Japanese, or by category (clothing, games, mythology, etc) can make locating information fairly simple. In addition, The Anime Companion is interspersed with rants, asides, and trivia quizzes on a variety of entertaining bents. You can read about Poitras' thoughts on the renaming of food in English adaptations and discover the anime references in Star Trek.

The Anime Companion is a great little handbook for fans of Japanese anime who want to learn more about the culture that spawned the medium and permeates the shows we love so much.

An illustrated glossary to Japanese culture in anime
Great for showing off your knowledge to other otaku