The Controversial Art of Reviewing

Last September I wrote an essay on the “Subtile art of writing a review/commentary” (in French, but it is also available in a machine-translated English version). It is an essay I wanted to write for a long time, explaining how I was approaching the writing of a book or movie review — which I did for twenty years for a magazine. The funny thing is that I discovered a few weeks ago that I had already written that article in 2009 (in English) and forgot about it! I was checking out some old hard drives looking for something and stumble upon this article that I had written for a special issue (PAX #3) of the magazine I was working for, but we stop publication before it was released. It is based on the guidelines I wrote for our staff writers. My views on how to write a review have not change much since then. I thought it would be interesting to share it with the readers of this blog.

Reviewing a media product (wether it is a book, a manga, an anime series or a live-action movie) might seems an easy task, but in reality it is far from being simple. In fact, we are all doing it when we express an opinion to friends, but it is usually done in an emotional and very imprecise manner: “it was so bad, man” or “it was really cool.” In opposition, a professional reviewer—someone who does it for a living—must do his/her best to remain objective, precise and rigorous.

I admit that, if I always try to be an objective and precise reviewer, I am rarely rigorous. I am lazy and tend to keep my reviews short, introducing the subject and expressing my opinion in the most elementary manner. Today everybody is a critic as they can easily post what they think of this or that on their blog , but what makes the appraisal of a professional reviewer more interesting and valuable is experience. I’ve spent about two decades watching videos or films and reading books related to the subjects I review. I have therefore developped a methodology to assess the subject, an understanding of its workings and a set of criteria that—I hope—better equip me to examine and judge a particular media product.

In this article I have attempted to explain how I approach the writing of a review, what I think a review should be and what aspects of a medium I take in consideration when writing a review. I wanted to talked about this for a long time as I think it can offer interesting insights to both our readers and would-be reviewers.

First, there is two types of reviews: the basic or elementary review (the one I tend to favour) and the exhaustive review.

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Alita: Battle Angel trailer

James Cameron had been talking about this project for a long time and now it seems that it is finally a reality! Cameron is writing and producing; Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) is directing. The cast includes Rosa Salazar (Alita), Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, and Keean Johnson. It is scheduled for release on July 20, 2018. The teaser/trailer is available now on Youtube:

It is, of course, based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga Gunnm (銃夢 / Ganmu / lit. “gun dream”) which was translated in America as Battle Angel Alita. It was originally published in Japan by Shueisha in Business Jump magazine between 1990 and 1995, and was compiled in nine tankōbon (but republished later by Kodansha). The English version is published by Kodansha USA and the French version by Glénat. There was an animation adaptation in 1993.

Interesting facts: Cameron was first inspired by the manga when he created the TV series Dark Angel in 2000. Also, it seems that the main character will be entirely CGI animated and that Rosa Salazar is playing the role through motion-capture.

It looks quite interesting and visually faithful to the original. I can’t wait to see it and hope I won’t be disappointed.

Sources: AnimeLand, ICv2, IMdB, Wikipedia.

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34e Festival du Film japonais de Montréal

ConsulatGeneralDuJapon-logo

Comme a chaque année la « Japan Foundation » de Toronto et le Consulat Général du Japon à Montréal ont le plaisir d’offrir gratuitement des projections de films japonais. Veuillez noter que la bande originale japonaise est sous-titrée en anglais. Les places sont limitées et seront attribuées selon le principe « premier-arrivé, premier-servi », sans réservation préalable.

L’événement aura lieu les vendredi 20 octobre et samedi 21 octobre à la Cinémathèque québécoise (335, boul. de Maisonneuve Est, près du métro Berri-UQAM).

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Plus de détails après le saut de page >>

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Weekly notable news (W42)

Not much happened this week. Same old, same old, as we say. Some aberrations at work keep exasperating me (but there’s only 552 more weeks to endure). On the way back from a doctor’s appointment, my wife and I walked through the mountain to admire the colours of fall. It was superb and I wonder why we don’t do this kind of walk more often. We’ve also spent time watching more of the American presidential insanities, two excellent animated features (Miss Hokusai and Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha Movie 1: The Red Desert! It’s Beautiful) as well as a new episode of Poldark. For my part, I’ve also started a promising new series (Westworld) and watched the season finale of Halt and Catch Fire. And I probably did a zillion other things (like updating my anime & manga bibliography) that I can’t even remember. But, does it really matter?

However, I do remember that I managed to find some time to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world. I therefore share with you a few notable news & links that I came across lately (in no particular order):

 

Funnies


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Otaku & other popular (sub)culture phenomenons

Many elements of the Japanese teens subculture are generated, influenced or more often simply expressed by anime & manga: otaku, enjo k?sai (teenage prostitution), hikikomori, kar?shi (overwork death), idols, cosplay (as well as various fashion styles like gothic lolita, kogal or ganguro), hentai (including yaoi [“Boys’ Love”, i.e. manga showing romantic relationships between male characters], yuri [“Girls’ love”], lolicon [underage love], panchira [panties shots] and burusera [stores for panties & school uniforms fetishists]), manga café, kawaii, moe — just to name the few that quickly come to mind. Also, Japanese (pop)culture is having (as it often had in the past, i.e. “japonisme”) a great influence on our western culture (and particularly, lately, on the teen pop-culture, with the so-called Japanification).

Therefore, this is a subject particular enough to deserve a separate entry in my “Anime & Manga Bibliography”.

Index

The essentials
More anime & manga references
Otaku & other popular (sub)culture phenomenons
Japanese culture
Japanese drama & cinema
Japanese economy, geography & history
Japanese language
Japanese literature
Various others

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Otaku & other popular (sub)culture phenomenons

(Collectif). Cosplay Girls: Japan’s live animation heroines. Tokyo, DH Publishing (Cocoro books), 2003. 96 pg. $30.00 US. ISBN 978-0-9723124-2-0.

 

(Collectif). Eastern Standard Time: A Guide to Asian Influence on American Culture from Astro Boy to Zen Buddhism. Boston, Mariner Books, 344 pg. $24.95. ISBN 978-0-395-76341-X. See the review in PA.

 

(Collectif). Japan Edge: The Insider’s Guide to Japanese Pop Subculture. San Francisco, Cadence Books, 1999. 200 pg. $19.95 US / $29.95 Can. ISBN 978-1-56931-345-8.

 

AZUMA, Hiroki (Translated by Abel, Jonathan E. & KONO, Shion). Otaku: Japan’s database animals. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2009. 144 pg. ISBN 978-0-8166-5352-2.

 

BARRAL, Étienne. Otaku: Les enfants du virtuel. Paris, Denoël (Impacts), 1999. 314 pg. ISBN 978-2-207-24319-2.

 

KELTS, Roland. Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. Hampshire (UK), Palgrave MacMillan, 2007. 242 pg. $14.95 / $17.25 Can. ISBN 978-1-4039-8476-0.

 

MACWILLIAMS, Mark W. (Ed.). Japanese Visual Culture. Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime. Armonk NY, ME Sharpe/East Gate, 2008. 352 pg. ISBN 978-0765616029.

 

WEST, Mark I. (Ed.). The Japanification of Children’s Popular Culture: From Godzilla to Miyazaki. Lanham, Scarecrow Press, 2009. 294 pg. ISBN 978-0-8108-5121-4.

 

WICHMANN, Siegfried. Japonisme: The Japanese influence on Western art since 1858. New York, Thames & Hudson, 1981. 432 p. ISBN 978-0-500-28163-7.

Next: Japanese Culture

More Anime & Manga References

We continue our “Anime & Manga Bibliography” — started with the “Essential References” — with more useful anime & manga references.

The books we own are on a yellow background. We have added pertinent links for those who want further details about the listed references.

Index

The essentials
More anime & manga references
general
anime
manga
anime & manga-related merchandizing
Otaku & other popular (sub)culture phenomenons
Japanese culture
Japanese drama & cinema
Japanese economy, geography & history
Japanese language
Japanese literature
Various others

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More Anime & Manga References

General

[Collectif] Le petit monde de la japanim’ et du manga (Animeland Hors-Série 5). Paris, Anime Manga Presse, 2003. 260 pg. 8,50 €. [in french]

 

BRENNER, Robin E. Understanding Manga and Anime. Libraries Unlimited, 2007. 356 pg. ISBN 978-1591583325. $40.00.

 

LUNNING, Frenchy (Ed.). Emerging Worlds of Anime and Manga (Mechademia 1). Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2006. 184 pg. ISBN 978-0816649457. $19.95.

 

LUNNING, Frenchy (Ed.). Networks of Desire (Mechademia 2). Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2007. 184 pg. ISBN 978-0816654826. $19.95.

 

LUNNING, Frenchy (Ed.). Limits of the Human (Mechademia 3). Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2008. 184 pg. ISBN 978-0816652662. $19.95.

 

LUNNING, Frenchy (Ed.). War/Time (Mechademia 4). Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2009. 338 pg. ISBN 978-0-8166-6749-9. $21.95.

 

LUNNING, Frenchy (Ed.). Fanthropologies (Mechademia 5). Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2010. 380 pg. ISBN 978-0-8166-7387-2. $24.95.

 

LUNNING, Frenchy (Ed.). User Enhancement (Mechademia 6). Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2011. 320 pg. ISBN 978-0-8166-7734-4. $24.95.

 

LUNNING, Frenchy (Ed.). Lines of Sight (Mechademia 7). Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2012. 302 pg. ISBN 978-0-8166-8049-8. $24.95.

 

LUNNING, Frenchy (Ed.). Tezuka Osamu: Manga Life (Mechademia 8). Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2013. 320 pg. ISBN 978-0-8166-8955-2. $24.95.

 

LUNNING, Frenchy (Ed.). Origins (Mechademia 9). Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2014. 320 p. $24.95 US. ISBN 978-0-8166-9535-5.

 

LUNNING, Frenchy (Ed.). World Renewal (Mechademia 10). Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2015. 272 p. $24.95 US. ISBN 978-0-8166-9915-5.

 

MACWILLIAMS, Mark W. (Ed.). Japanese Visual Culture. Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime. Armonk NY, ME Sharpe/East Gate, 2008. 352 pg. ISBN 978-0765616029.

 

PATTEN, Fred. Watching Anime, Reading Manga. 25 Years of Essays and Reviews. Berkeley, Stone Bridge Press, 2004. 384 pg. ISBN 978-1880656921. $18.95 US.

 

SCHMIDT, Jérôme. Génération manga: Petit guide du manga et de l’animation japonaise. Paris : Librio, 2004. 94 pg. ISBN 978-2290333150. € 2.00. [in french]

 

SCHODT, Frederik L. Astro Boy Essays (The). Berkeley, Stone Bridge Press, 2007. 156 pg. ISBN 978-1933330549. $16.95 US.

 

Anime

[Collectif] Kaboom!: Explosive Animation from America and Japan . Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2005. 160 pg. ISBN 9781875632329.

 

BROPHY, Philip. 100 Anime (BFI Screen Guides). British Film Institute, 2008. 271 pg. ISBN 978-1844570843. $19.95.

 

CAVALLARO, Dani. The anime art of Hayao Miyazaki. Jefferson NC: McFarland, 2006. 204 pg. ISBN 978-0-7864-2369-9. $35.

 

CAVALLARO, Dani. Anime Intersections: Tradition and Innovation in Theme and Technique. Jefferson NC: McFarland, 2007. 210 pg. ISBN 978-0-7864-3234-9. $35.

 

CAVALLARO, Dani. The Cinema of Mamoru Oshii: Fantasy, technology and politics. Jefferson, McFarland, 2006. 248 pg. ISBN 978-0-7864-2764-7.

 

CLARKE, James. Animated Films. London, Virgin Books, 2004. 298 pg. $24.95 US / $37.50 Can. ISBN 978-0-7535-0804-4.

 

DRAZEN, Patrick. Anime Explosion! The What? Why? & Wow! Of Japanese Animation. Berkeley, Stone Bridge Press, 2003. 376 pg. ISBN 1-880656-72-8. $18.95 US.

 

KANNENBERG, Gene. 500 Essential Graphic Novels. The Ultimate Guide. New York, HarperCollins / Collins Design, 2008. 528 pg. ISBN 978-0061474514. $24.95 US / $26.95 CDN.

 

LAMARRE, Thomas. The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2009. 385 p. ISBN 9780816651559. (see back cover)

 

LEDOUX, Trish (Ed.). Anime Interviews: The First Five Years of Animerica (1992-97). San Francisco, Cadence Books, 1997. 192 pg. ISBN 1-56931-220-6.

 

LENT, John A. (Ed.). Animation in Asia and the Pacific. Bloomington/Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 2001. 270 pg. ISBN 978-0-253-34035-7.

 

LEVI, Antonia. Samurai From Outer Space. Understanding Japanese Animation. Chicago, Open Court, 1996. 169 pg. ISBN 0-8126-9332-9.

 

McCARTHY, Helen. 500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide. New York, HarperCollins / Collins Design, 2008. 528 pg. ISBN 978-0061474507. $24.95.

 

McCARTHY, Helen. Anime! A Beginner’s Guide to Japanese Animation. London, Titan Books, 1993. 64 pg. ISBN 1-85286-492-3. £6.99.

 

McCARTHY, Helen. The Anime! Movie Guide. Movie-by-Movie Guide to Japanese Animation. Woodstock, The Overlook Press, 1997. 285 pg. ISBN 0-87951-781-6. $17.95 US.

 

McCARTHY, Helen. Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation. Berkeley, Stone Bridge Press, 1999. 240 pg. ISBN 1-880656-41-8.

 

MANGELS, Andy. Animation on DVD: The ultimate guide. Berkeley, Stone Bridge Press, 2003. 578 pg. $24.95 US. ISBN 978-1-880656-68-X.

 

NAPIER, Susan J. Anime: From Akira To Princess Mononoke. Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation. New York, Palgrave, 2001. 312 pg. ISBN 0-312-23863-0. $16.95 US / $23.95 Can.

 

NAPIER, Susan J. Anime: From Akira To Princess Mononoke. Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation. Updated Edition. New York, Palgrave, 2005. 356 pg. ISBN 978-1403970527. $17.95 US / $23.95 Can.

 

NARGED, Sid. Anything I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned from Anime. Townsend MA, Narged, 2008. 100 pg. ISBN 978-0-9793080-3-1. $12.95 US.

 

OMEGA, Ryan. Anime Trivia Quizbook 1. Berkeley, Stone Bridge Press, 2000. 176 pg. ISBN 1-880656-44-2. $14.95 US.

 

OMEGA, Ryan. Anime Trivia Quizbook 2. Berkeley, Stone Bridge Press, 2000. ISBN 1-880656-55-8. $14.95 US.

 

OSMOND, Andrew. Satoshi Kon: The illusionist. Berkeley, Stone Bridge Press, 2009. 128 pg. $18.95 US. ISBN 978-1-933330-74-7.

 

POITRAS, Gilles. Anime Companion (The). What’s Japanese in Japanese Animation? Berkeley, Stone Bridge Press, 1999. 163 pg. ISBN 1-880656-32-9. $16.95 US.

 

POITRAS, Gilles. Anime Companion 2 (The). What’s Japanese in Japanese Animation?. Berkeley, Stone Bridge Press, 2005. 154 pg. ISBN 978-1880656969. $18.95 US.

 

WIEDEMANN, Julius (Ed.). Animation Now! Köln, Taschen, 2004. 576 pg. ISBN 978-3-8228-2588-3.

 

Manga

(Collectif). Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Manga. Hackensack, Salem Press (Coll. Critical Survey of Graphic Novels), septembre 2012. 400 pages, 2.5 x 20.3 x 26.7 cm, $195 US / $226.20 CND, ISBN 978-1587659553. Available as ebook (electronic format). Readership of 14+. (See short sample).

 

(Collectif). Osamu Tezuka Exhibition. Tokyo, The National Museum of Modern Art, 1990. 352 p.

 

ALLISON, Anne. Permitted and Prohibitted Desires: Mothers, Comics and Censorship in Japan. Hardcover: Boulder, Westview Press, 1996. 224 pg. ISBN 0-8133-1698-7. Paperback: Berkeley, University Of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21990-2.

 

INGULSRUD, John E. & ALLEN, Kate. Reading Japan Cool: Patterns of Manga Literacy and Discourse. Lanham (NY), Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield Publ.), 2009. 230 pg. ISBN 978-0-7391-2753-7.

 

KINSELLA, Sharon. Adult Manga: Culture and Power in Contemporary Japanese Society. Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 2000. 228 pg. ISBN 0-8248-2318-4.

 

MASANAO, Amano & WIEDEMANN, Julius (Ed). Manga Design. Koln, Taschen, 2004. 576 pg. ISBN 3-8228-2591-3.

 

ORSINI, Alex. Naoki Urasawa: L’air du temps. Montélimar, les moutons électriques (vol. 8 de la «la bibliothèque des miroirs-BD»), mai 2012. 252 pages, 17 x 21 cm, 63 € / $56.95 Cnd, ISBN 978-2-36183-076-2. Lectorat de 14 ans et plus.

 

PEETERS, Benoît. Jirô Taniguchi: L’homme qui dessine (Entretiens). Paris, Casterman, 2012. 192 pg. 20 €. ISBN 978-2-203-04606-1.

 

SIGAL, Denis. GraphoLexique du Manga: Comprendre et utiliser les symboles graphiques de la BD Japonaise . Paris: Eyrolles, 2007. 160 pgs. 17 €. ISBN 978-2-212-11791-2. Recommanded for adults. See my comment.

 

Anime & manga-related merchandizing

MOSS, Marie Y. Hello Kitty® Hello Everything! 25 Years of Fun! New York, Abrams Books, 2001. 72 pg. $17.95 US / $26.95 Can. ISBN 978-0-8109-3444-2.

 

SIGNORA, Guglielmo. Anime d’Acciaio: Guida al collezionismo di robot giapponesi. Bologna, Kappa Edizioni, 2004. 480 pg. € 32,00. ISBN 978-88-7471-067-4. [in Italian]

 

STEINBERG, Marc. Anime’s Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2012. 314 pg. ISBN 978-0-8166-7550-0.

Next: Otaku & other popular (sub)culture phenomenons

Weekly notable news [week 31]

Here are a few notable news & links that I came across this week:
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Funnies

Non Sequitur: Monday, March 21, 2016 (The two-party detour)

Dilbert: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 (The Elbonian Religion)

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