The Soul of Anime

9780822353942: Paperback
Release Date: 11th February 2013

32 illustrations

Number of Pages: 256

Series Experimental Futures

Duke University Press Books

The Soul of Anime

Collaborative Creativity and Japan's Media Success Story

Drawing on ethnographic research including interviews with artists at some of Tokyo's leading animation studios, Ian Condry focuses attention on the collective social energy that has made anime a global cultural phenomenon.
Paperback / £20.99

In The Soul of Anime, Ian Condry explores the emergence of anime, Japanese animated film and television, as a global cultural phenomenon. Drawing on ethnographic research, including interviews with artists at some of Tokyo's leading animation studios—such as Madhouse, Gonzo, Aniplex, and Studio Ghibli—Condry discusses how anime's fictional characters and worlds become platforms for collaborative creativity. He argues that the global success of Japanese animation has grown out of a collective social energy that operates across industries—including those that produce film, television, manga (comic books), and toys and other licensed merchandise—and connects fans to the creators of anime. For Condry, this collective social energy is the soul of anime.

Note on Translations and Names ix
Introduction. Who Makes Anime? 1
1. Collaborative Networks, Personal Futures 35
2. Characters and Worlds as Creative Platforms 54
3. Early Directions in Postwar Anime 85
4. When Anime Robots Became Real 112
5. Making a Cutting-Edge Anime Studio: The Value of the Gutter 135
6. Dark Energy: What Overseas Fans Reveal about the Copyright Wars 161
7. Love Revolution: Otaku Fans in Japan 185
Conclusion. Future Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Cultural Action 204
Acknowledgments 218
Notes 221
References 227
Index 237

Ian Condry is Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of Hip-Hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of Cultural Globalization, also published by Duke University Press.

"Does anime have a soul? In The Soul of Anime, Ian Condry explores the lives and work of the creators and consumers of one of Japan's great contributions to popular culture. Condry shows how the genre has moved from the margins to a place of respect and influence. This is a book that will appeal to all the otaku out there, as well as to those with a more moderate love of anime in all its forms."

Eric Nakamura, President, Giant Robot

"Through an exploration of multiple dimensions of the anime object, from studio production to fan production, piracy, remix, and virtual idols, The Soul of Anime issues a bold challenge to our understanding of the social side of media. Ian Condry's attention to the singularities of this universe takes us far from the normative horizon of analysis of fans and commodities, highlighting how intimacy arises from impersonal affective life. The social side of anime is the soul of anime, and the dark energy of fans is nothing other than the psychosocial stuff, the vibrant matter, of this emerging constellation."

Thomas LaMarre, author of
The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation

(Starred Review) “This book is highly recommended for all lovers of Japanese history, Japanese culture, anime, manga, and animation.”

Sally Bryant
Library Journal

“It’s a pleasure to have Condry guide us through the complex and ultimately rewarding world of anime.”


“An anthropologist by training, Condry bases his arguments in part on fieldwork consisting of interviews with studio personnel and direct observation of working practices.  One may question (as the author himself does) how representative these anecdotes are, but they stimulate numerous intriguing interpretations. . . . Condry writes thoughtfully and occasionally displays wry wit. His book contains much of value to scholars of Japanese popular culture.”

Alexander Jacoby

“Condry is no armchair theorist – there can be few Westerners who’ve explored the industry as energetically as he has. . . . For readers who do like amassing anecdotes, The Soul of Anime offers oodles of them, often gained first-hand by the intrepid author, ploughing through the anime multiverse.”

Andrew Osmond
Manga UK

“Get this if you’re interested in the depth of anime, the pioneers and renowned figures within the anime movement (yes, of course including Miyazaki), and significant anime milestones. . . . For the serious anime lover who wants to move from fan to expert . . . this is a must.”

Gini Koch
It's Comic Book Day blog

"For students and teachers who wish to gain a full understanding of the inner workings of the world of anime and to do serious research of their own in this area, a careful reading of ... Condry's ... book is definitely a must." 

Michael McCaskey
Journal of Japanese Studies

“Superb critical, historical, and ethnographic study of the anime phenomenon; a model of cross-media analysis.”

Science Fiction Studies

“Part of the appeal of the book is the many popular assumptions about anime it disavows and the new information it provides. … In addition, his work underscores the fact that the production process has really only begun with an animation’s release: fans’ ‘consumption’ of animation is inherently productive as they draw existing characters into storylines of their own invention, compete to produce the best subtitles of their favorite shows, and do innumerable other creative things with animated worlds and characters that ultimately determine not only their success but also their global reach.”

Elise Edwards
American Ethnologist