Mini book reviews: three important books on the impact of Japanese popular culture plus one

I’ve been reading several interesting books on both the cultural and economic significance of Japanese popular culture, ranging from a general overview, to the business of manga, to the importance of Pokémon to children’s culture worldwide. All of these books are recommended.

Pikachu’s global adventure: the rise and fall of Pokémon (Joseph Tobin, ed. 2004) is a collection of essays about the cultural and economic significance of Pokémon, especially as an overarching brand (or as Henry Jenkins would explain as an example of convergence culture). The book pre-dates the release of the Wii, yet covers the first years of the phenomenon. In a footnote, the reason for Brock’s absence for a year from the television show is explained — the producers were concerned that his features would be perceived as too Asian or foreign in the U.S.;  kids loved Brock and he was brought back.

Roland Kelts, Japanamerica : how Japanese pop culture has invaded the U.S. (2007) — the title is truly inaccurate — the book is an overview of Japanese popular culture and why certain elements of Japanese popular culture are interesting to Americans, but not an examination of the impact of manga and anime outside of Japan.

Sharon Kinsella, Adult Manga (2000) is an excellent overview of the cultural production of  manga, including discussions of the business (publishers, authors/artists, editors), mainstream manga (including on politically significant manga), Doujinshi (amateur manga), economic charts!, and even the legal regulations of and censorship efforts surrounding manga. Highly recommended.

Since I haven’t been able to find another place to mention Anne Elizabeth Moore’s Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity here it is: The chapter on Star Wars marketing and fan culture is recommended for its discussion of the deflector shield Lucasfilm places around Star Wars.

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