Dr Jonathan Clements is the author of many books on East Asian history, including biographies of Marco Polo, Admiral Togo, Khubilai Khan and A Brief History of the Samurai. His books are available in over a dozen languages, including Chinese editions of his biographies of the First Emperor and Empress Wu. He is the co-author of The Dorama Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Television Drama Since 1953 and The Anime Encyclopedia: A Century of Japanese Animation (both for Stone Bridge Press). His book Anime: A History (British Film Institute) received a 2014 CHOICE recommendation as one of the year’s outstanding academic titles, and was nominated for the Society of Animation Studies’ McLaren-Lambart Award for best scholarly book. He was a Visiting Professor at Xi’an Jiaotong University, China from 2013-19.
He has presented several seasons of the TV series Route Awakening (National Geographic), an investigation of Chinese culture and history. He has worked as a translator, voice actor, or dubbing director on over 70 anime, including Grey: Digital Target, Musashi: Dream of the Last Samurai and Sol Bianca. He was formerly the editor of Manga Max magazine, a contributing editor of Newtype USA, and is now a contributing editor to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, with special responsibility for China and Japan.
As a script writer, his work includes the online hybrid sf series Halcyon Sun and audio dramas for the Big Finish company, including the Doctor Who radio plays Immortal Beloved and Brave New Town. He has also written spin-off novels for Strontium Dog and Spartacus: Blood & Sand. He has been a consultant and talking head on numerous TV programmes, including New Secrets of the Terracotta Warriors (Channel 4), Treasures of the Jade Empire (Channel 4), Koxinga: A Hero’s Legacy (National Geographic) and Ancient Black Ops: The 47 Ronin (UK Yesterday/American Heroes). His biography of Empress Wu has twice been optioned for television.
Jonathan Clements is represented by the Fox & Howard literary agency.
Schoolgirl Milky Crisis (n.) 1. A stupid name for a generic anime
show, made up to protect the innocent in Jonathan Clements’
long-running insider columns about the Japanese comics and cartoons
business. (n.) 2. A collection of nearly two decades of articles,
speeches and interviews by Jonathan Clements on anime, manga, and
Asian culture, published by Titan Books. (n.) 3. This blog, containing
excerpts from the above and all-new material as when the Big Giant
Buy the book from Amazon Canada
Hello, I’m ever so sorry to trouble you but I stumbled upon an essay recently which referenced one of your columns in Neo magazine (covering the publication Dear+). It’s regrettable that I didn’t see the article when it was originally published or I’d have written this sooner.
I’ve made the assumption – based on the enormous popularity of your writings and the lack of visible comments on this page – that this form goes to you directly. If it doesn’t and this is posted in public, then please can all readers be aware that the following link contains imagery and wording which is absolutely NSFW:
I don’t especially agree with the first part of what the writer says about your column. That’s their own interpretation. However, I do have an issue with the excerpt they quoted directly – not just on a personal level, but also factually. If I’m understanding correctly, you are spreading the idea that females who love BL are actually indulging in the same kind of fantasy as a traditional stereotyped straight male lusting after his idealised ‘waifu’. I’m not saying that our fantasies are any less stupid and unrealistic, only that I most vehemently disagree with your reasoning.
It is very likely that girls of the type you describe exist out there; possibly they’re the kind you’ve spoken to most frequently. However, on behalf of the BL community who don’t fit into this generalisation (which would appear to be most people who read BL in both Japan and the English-speaking world, if my experience is anything to go by), I wish you would resist making such unfair remarks on a platform (Neo) which attracts a lot of newer fans. BL collectors are already on the receiving end of an awful lot of mockery and demonisation for their hobbies. It concerns me to think about the strange assumptions that those fans might be making from the part of the column that was singled out.
To be clear, never once in my years of reading BL has the thought crossed my mind that I want to become personally involved in a BL story or with the characters within one. Never. I’m not lying to myself, and I’m not knowingly hiding any dark side of the fandom where we all secretly entertain the idea of swooping on these boys who are playing around with one another in their youth. The slang in western fandom reinforces my belief that I’m not alone on this: teenagers throw around terms such as “OTP” and “shipping” to convey respect towards the bond between the characters they want to see getting together. And the same is true of original BL, such as that in Dear+. I was astounded to see it being proposed that the readers’ motives were more underhand.
It’s not unfair to say that BL doesn’t do anything to help the cause of gay rights. Yet I’m not sure why this is often brought up as a problem – it’s not presented as realistic. The frequent use of science fiction, historical and fantasy elements as well as fanciful real world politics are big hints that the reader shouldn’t be expecting anything approaching a sensible story. I do think that at the very least BL makes it easier for female fans to sympathise with and want to understand real gay men, even if the content of their fantasy is openly worlds apart from the reality of a homosexual relationship.
Perhaps the essay has treated your column unfairly, and there is more context earlier on (or in previous comments you’ve made) which gives reasons why you have concluded the entire genre is a vehicle for self-insertion. Perhaps you have read a few particularly strange stories in Dear+ which have given you this impression.
If that’s the case, please disregard this message entirely and have a nice day. If not, though, I beg you to reconsider your assumptions about the genre and its fans. I’m sure you know that human sexuality isn’t such a simple thing as the column makes it sound.
Thank you, Rain, for your long and considered response. Like you, I was confused by Kathryn’s reasoning in her opening paragraphs, which appeared to be jumping into a fight with a bunch of people I don’t know, about assertions I have never made, about works I have never seen. She then went on to quote a passage out of context, in which I speculate about a subtext that appears in some of the manga under review. There was a lot of umbrage directed against me in her comments section, by readers who were keen to be offended by the prospect of what my article might have said, although none of them got around to actually reading it.
There were some very interesting comments embedded in all of that, which is why I linked to it anyway from my blog here: https://schoolgirlmilkycrisis.com/2013/05/27/girls-who-like-boys-who-like-boys/ I did allude in my comments to some of the broader context of the original article, which is that it is just one in a decade-long appraisal of manga magazines in general. But I chose not to get further into an argument with people who, if they had actually read the article they were so angry about, would have realised they were already in agreement with much of it.
Kathryn herself did raise a very interesting point, quoting the wonderful Dan Savage on the fallacy of regarding homosexual relationships as a half-hearted parody of the heteronormative. I see where they are both going here, politically, but I disagree. I see a *lot* of BL-manga that is precisely that, and I take that to be a reflection of the interests of editorial and indeed of the implied reader. As you point out, however, I have also seen a lot of BL-manga that is not, and that fits the ideals set by BL-manga apologists. I have written about those, too, on multiple occasions.
The Manga Snapshot column is still ongoing in Neo magazine, and I remain extremely proud of it. My favourite reader’s letter was from a young man who wrote in to say that he grew up, closeted, in a small town in England, and that coverage of homosexuality in Neo was often the only lifeline he had to an outside world where he was not ostracised. I realise that you are likely to argue that this is precisely why I should cut BL-manga more slack than any other genre, as if it is some sort of protected cultural artefact, but I prefer to treat it the way I treat every other genre, with criticism and just a soupcon of snark. Sometimes, this forces me to say things that certain sectors will find unwelcome, such as my deconstruction of Waai! Boys in Skirts, which you can read here: https://schoolgirlmilkycrisis.com/2014/02/25/waai-boys-in-skirts/ . I don’t think anyone is served by my turning a blind eye to elements that do not match the grand narrative.
It has been three years since the original article on Dear Plus was published (and indeed, almost as long since you wrote your comment, which I have only just seen). I have only one regret about the article, which was my use of the word “lonely” to describe the readers. It was an off-hand dismissal, added more for euphony than semantics, but was obviously triggering for a whole bunch of readers who are not lonely at all. It’s a shame, however, that so few of them appear to have read any of the Manga Snapshot articles. Considering how much they have to say about pieces they haven’t read, can you imagine the fun we would have talking about pieces that they had?
I recently read your collection Zen Haiku and not only did I enjoy it but some of your commentaries were invaluable in my appreciation of the poems. Since I relied on your analysis with respect to a number of haiku, I wanted to give you due credit in a collection of my own which I intend to put up on Amazon sometime soon. Also I wanted to give you a heads of first. Anyways, thanks again and if you have any objections or questions feel free to let me know.
Hi, I am desperately trying to find the japanese version of a haiku written by Shiki.
Without my journey
And without the spring
I would have missed this dawn.
Is there any chance you could tell me where I could find it?
Hello Alex, I wrote that book twenty years and four house moves ago, so I don’t think I have any of the materials from its gestation. I do, however, remember doing most of the work in the library of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. I will be there again at the end of next month and I’ll see if I can look through the old haiku books that I got many of the poems from. It has been two decades, though, so there’s no guarantee that they will still be there.
I’m just back from SOAS, where I found the original of the poem in Asataro Miyamori’s Anthology of Haiku Ancient and Modern, Tokyo: Maruzen 1932. p.647.
Haru nareba kono
Hi! I’ve had a bit of a history with the Japanese culture and awhile back I did some research which lead me to Anne Allison (Duke), Sharon Kinsella (Oxford I believe) and Hirokin Azuma (Waseda); each of whom have been involved in the anthropological study of modern forms of Japanese escapism. I’ve not read your book. (I will check it out for sure), but can you share your thoughts on child idolization, the role of idols like Seiko Matsuda (1980’s), and your insights on the history of child porn and incest in Japan and how these might be reflected in Japanese animation/manga and the potential effects of normalization? If this is in the book please refer me! Thank you! Also have you heard of the Petit Tomato series in Japan (circa late seventies and eighties)? My Japanese husband was a fan of it and loved what is referred to these days a fan service.
I hope you see this Mr.Clements since I could not find your email anywhere: I am contacting you because of an enquiry I have regarding the Japanese Economic Miracle. I am currently working on writing my Extended Essay, a 400 words research paper compulsory for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. I am writing about the Japanese Economic Miracle and my research question is “To what extent did the American occupiers of SCAP create the perfect environment for ‘the American dream’ in 1950’s and 60’s Japan?” The aim of my research is to outline how much of the economic growth was caused by the policies enacted by SCAP contrary to fiscal policy carried out by Japanese post-war politicians.
I read you book “Modern Japan: All That Matters” and was wondering if it would be possible to interview you about the topic over email. If not, I would be very glad if you could direct me to someone with more intimate knowledge of the topic.
Thank you for reading. I hope to hear from you.
Sorry, Fredrik, I have been in China without my laptop and didn’t see this until it was, presumably, too late?
I just finished A brief history of the Vikings – really interesting.Re Odin on his eight-legged horse Sleipnir – it made be think of Eadweard Muybridge – was it always thought that the horse had 8 legs or was it the drawer’s concept of a 4-legged horse running – someone saw it and thought it was an 8-legged horse? Interesting…
One theory was that the “eight-legged horse” was actually an oblique reference to four men carrying a dead body, “riding the horse of Odin” being a poetic reference to human sacrifice.
I am currently finishing the last few pages of your Samurai history and I want to thank you for your amazing work. 20 years ago I married a Japanese woman here in Burnaby BC and we raised two kids and in 2012 at the age of 48 I decided to take a year off of my regular Canadian life and move with the family to Osaka Japan close to my wife’s parent’s home.
Best thing I ever did. Although I had visited for numerous one month stints, the experience of learning a little bit of the language and teaching a conversation class at a small school in Hotarugaike ended up being priceless in my understanding of the culture. In between classes I would walk and ride my bike mile after mile to explore places like Ikeda castle, Ibaraki-Shi, Minoh and all description of Northern Osaka neighbourhoods and streets. You mention happiness on your financial site, well when I was living in Japan I had days of despair, mostly from perceived slights, and other days of exhilaration for the smallest bit of kindness from a Japanese stranger walking me for 5 minutes to a lost subway entrance! You mention an episode in your book where Matsuo Basho visits the site of Yoshitsune’s last stand and writes ” The summer grasses, As if the warriors were a dream”. This thought has inspired me to use your book as a guide for future travel in Japan as we go back and forth. I was intrigued to see, having just discovered your vast oeuvre online, that you’ve also written a book about Finland. I will be purchasing that one next, as my mother and I are paid up members of the local chapter of Canadian Friends of Finland!
Best regards, as they are wont to say at my old English school,
Hey Jonathan, when is the US release date for your book “Christ’s Samurai: The True Story of the Shimabara Rebellion”? I’m finding conflicting info online and thought I’d go straight to the source.
I just finished reading “Silence” and came across your book as I am now engrossed about the subject of Church History in Japan. I can’t wait to read it.
Hello Israel. I understand that the official US release is on 4th April, but there are likely to be copies of the original UK printing that have already made their way to America. I imagine this is what has caused the confusion.
I first became aware of your work after reading A Brief History of the Vikings. Very excellent, (I might add, and should be required introductory reading.)
After exploring more of your work, I am really astounded by how prolific you are. I think I see a theme – something interconnected in much of your work.
As a journalist and documentary filmmaker, you interest me as much as your subjects for study. Where are you currently based? I would love to do an interview with you on your motivation and work.
I’ve read elsewhere that there was originally meant to be a sequel to your Doctor Who Unbound story Sympathy for the Devil. I think it was going to be called the Dark Palace. Did you write the script, and if so would it be possible to get a copy?
I wouldn’t normally ask, except I have a friend who is a big fan of the first story. After the horrible year he has had, I would love to surprise him with an e-copy for his birthday.
The Dark Palace was the original working title of my sequel to Sympathy for the Devil, and I worked on it for several weeks before a sheepish producer confessed he had just realised that one of its central plot elements bore a strong resemblance to a pre-existing episode of Dalek Empire. So I retooled it, and by the time we came around to the next pitch, it was called Engines of Virtue. But by the time we had reached this stage, licensor approvals were considerably more difficult. Doctor Who had come back on television, and it was no longer a forgotten legacy show that people could play with to their heart’s content. There were protests from the licensor that my Doctor was chummy with Chairman Mao (as if that were not something he had canonically boasted about in Mind of Evil) and a series of revisions that seemed arbitrary. Then it was whispered to a friend of a friend that the licensor would *never* approve Engines of Virtue, and that we were jumping through hoops to no end, simply to make others look busy. I resigned from the project, protesting that I was being asked to write Doctor Who “Bound”, and if that was the new rule, I would stop trying to do something different, and write for the mainstream Doctors instead (which paid twice as much). I’ll see if I can dig my pitch up for you. It was 14 pages long by the time I gave up, so quite detailed.
That would be fantastic. It would be great to read each version of the pitch if you still have them. Thank you for such a detailed reply.
Check your inbox.
as we were just talking about Sypmathy for the devil and “Dark Palace” for our podcast (www.whocast.de) I’d like to ask if it is possible to get a copy of the pitch too. I so loves sympathy and regeretting not being able to hear Dark Palace 🙂
I’ll see if I can dig it out, but the problem is that it’s a 14-page document for a show that was never made. So the producers never commissioned it, so it never happened, and even if they had, it is unlikely that I would have written it the way that I pitched it. I suspect, as well, that the Engines of Virtue pitch was over-written on the Dark Palace file, so the actual Dark Palace pitch may be lost… I will have to look in my old emails.
Okay, check your inbox.
Hi, Dr. Clements. I’m a huge fan of your Big Finish work! Your stories are some of my favorite Doctor Who out there, and I’ve bought copies of Sympathy for the Devil for multiple friends to get them into the audio dramas (it was one of the first I ever bought!). I’d love to read the pitch for your planned sequel, if possible.
I also hope your Death Note adaptation will get translated into English some day! I loved the show, and I’m sure your version is a blast!
Thank you for writing such fun stories that kindled my love for audio drama!
Hi I just want to say that Coxinga is one of my all time favorite books. It doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Thank you for your great work.
I liked your book on the Vikings. I especially enjoyed the last two paragraphs. I have never read an ending that paralleled our lives with our ancestors so acutely.
As a matter of fact your book inspired me to build an all steel and wood gate fashioned after a Viking ship.
Bit of a weird one, and sorry for contacting you via your website, but I have a book of quotations you compiled, Marks and Spencer’s “Little Book of Chinese Proverbs”.
There’s one quote in particular, “Life is but a smile on the lips of death”, attributed to Li Zhinfa, People’s Republic (on p.181).
It’s a beautiful, poignant quote — maybe my favourite in the book — but I can’t find any mention of “Li Zhinfa” online, other than three or four pages quoting the same phrase. I would like to know, who is Li Zhinfa? Is this a contemporary Chinese writer, who’s maybe yet to gain recognition outside of China? What’s the story here? I’d love to hear from you about it, any light you could shed would be much appreciated.
All the best,
I don’t know how that spelling error crept into the book — the guy you’re looking for is the poet Li Jinfa (李金發).
You can read more about him here:
I wrote The Little Book of Chinese Proverbs 20 years ago and I’m pleased that it still seems to be finding readers.
Brilliant, thanks Jonathan. I’ll take a look at the link and do some reading. Thank you for getting back to me, and have a nice Christmas.
Hi, have you heard of ww2podcast.com? You should check it out – would be great to hear an episode with you about Mannerheim.
I assigned your silk road book (which I love!) to my community college world history class this summer. As a bit of a lark I asked them what they would rename the book if given the chance, and they had some fabulous ideas. I told them they could be serious or playful. Here are a few they came up with:
Trading Silks: The Inter Weaving of Empires
The Gifts and Tragedies of the Silk Road
War, Intrigue and Trade on the Road of Many Colors
The Truth Behind the Silk Road: Trade, Treachery, and Tragedy
How the Silk Road Worked if you were Anything other than the Mongols
Riches and Ditches on the Long Road
The Silk Road: The Cat Got Out of the Bag
The Silk Road in Minute Detail
Hope you like them!
That’s wonderful to hear, Cheryl. I hope you and your class are aware that the hardback version of the Silk Road book is about 10,000 words longer than the paperback — there’s a whole bunch of extra information in there about some of the sites today. Just in case you were using the paperback and wanted to stay a few steps ahead of next year’s class.
I just wanted to let you know that I very much enjoyed reading your book A Brief History of the Martial Arts. It’s tough to find books based on verifiable history but your book is one of those few! I wanted to add a fact to any future edition you might publish. In your timeline you say that the Kung Fu TV series premiered in 1973, and that David Carradine starred “in a role originally intended for Bruce Lee.” As has been documented in the authoritative biography of Bruce Lee by Matthew Polly, this is not really true. Matthew and I collaborated on an article explaining the history of the Kung Fu TV show for Martial Journal, available here: https://www.martialjournal.com/the-truth-about-the-creation-of-the-kung-fu-tv-series/
Thanks, Richard. If there is a chance to lift that clause out in future, I’ll do so.
Can you tell me why Kitayama Eiga Seisakujo is recorded as only having made three films? Kitayama was considered prolific at Nikkatsu, yet his own company apparently only managed to make three films. Is it just that English sources about the studio are incomplete? I can’t even find when the studio officially closed, just that it was moved to Osaka after the Kanto earthquake and Sanae Yamamoto left in 1925. I’m surprised there’s so little information about the first anime studio.
Recorded where? The Bunkacho Nihon Eiga Joho System database lists Kitayama’s name on 14 films. Kitayama claimed to have made several dozen… but I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that it’s merely Anglophone sources that could be in error.
I think Kitayama gets pretty good coverage in my Anime: A History, and in the articles written in English by Nobuyuki Tsugata, who has, of course, written a whole book in Japanese about Kitayama with an eight-page chronology that includes probable production details, but Tsugata, like everyone else, has to struggle with films that are often unnamed, and projects that might have been mere graphics in other people’s films.
But in terms of historical memory, we have several issues here. One is that the Kanto Earthquake destroyed almost all the materials associated with Japanese film before 1923. Another is that a lot of Kitayama’s work was subsumed within Nikkatsu projects so merely because his office was providing footage or even completed films, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it was credited as the production house. There was a similar issue in the immediate post-war period, as detailed in Anime: A History, when the production company that made films for a film company only belatedly added its name to the credits when it was hoping to runaround its superiors and get contracts by cutting out the middle man.
Freddy Litten, in his book Animated Film in Japan Until 1919 gives extensive detail about Kitayama’s work across 16 or so pages, and notes that “for some reason, no records seem to exist of animated films made by Kitayama between 1924 and 1929”, and also that he himself finds it “plausible” that Kitayama left animation behind after 1924 anyway. Kitayama was certainly disheartened about the likely profitability of animated films by that point.
In addition, Litten is rather skeptical about the degree to which Kitayama can be trusted to provide a reliable account of his own work, and for this reason he regards some of Tsugata’s pronouncements about Kitayama to be overly credulous. He thinks that just because Kitayama claimed later in life to have made several dozen films, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he did, or that they were all “animated” by our modern sense of it (and certainly not “anime”, itself a term steeped in historicity and contention).
I certainly wouldn’t agree that Kitayama’s production house only made three films (a claim that I see is made by English Wikipedia, but come on, it’s Wikipedia) , but equally, I applaud Litten’s willingness to be prepared to question the veracity of claims made by early animators, often many years after the fact, bigging themselves up. I do recommend his book (link to my review below), for its use of new database materials, and his healthy mistrust of certain assumptions made in animator’s testimonies, by those animators themselves, about the impact and originality of their own work.
So the short answer to your question is I don’t know. But don’t assume that the Japanese know, either, because everybody is having to make deductions and abductions based not on the films themselves, but on the shadows and traces they leave behind in odd places.
Are you going to be lecturing or reading anywhere? We would love to attend more lectures by you.
– Bristol and Mark (from The Ship)
I was supposed to be back on The Ship for the Baltic, but of course, that hasn’t happened this year. So, at the moment, no lectures scheduled, although as for readings, I am the reader for The Emperor’s Feast audiobook, and next month I will also be recording audiobooks of my books on The Brief History of the Martial Arts and Khubilai Khan. Lovely to hear from you — hope you are well.
I’m currently working on a story that focuses on some of the earliest known animation techniques used by the three “Fathers of Anime.” Would you be willing to be interviewed to discuss the early history of anime, as well as some of the techniques used to produce some of the first animated shorts?
Sorry, my reply appears to have been eaten by the interwebs. Please send me an email address so we can talk offline. When you say “interview” do you mean by email or would you prefer filmed responses? I’m a bit busy this week but we can arrange something after that if you like.
hello Jonathan I run a YouTube channel call anime in UK where we take a British look at the world of anime I am currently writing my very first scripted video on the show Saiko Exciting what I know you did co host back in the day I’m writing to ask how this show came to be and what it was like working on it I have read your blog post about the consultion coming in and saying take the anime out of this show about anime. sadly only later shows from the run exist on YouTube I would like to know what the show was like when it was following it’s original vision any behind the scenes stories you would like to share would be great. I have enjoyed reading your work over all these years thank you for taking time out to read this message
Anime in the uk
Tim, I have responded to you in this blog post: https://schoolgirlmilkycrisis.com/2022/01/23/anime-in-the-uk/
Hope that helps.
hi Jonathan, im a big fan of your book “the Anime Encyclopedia”, i was wondering if there’s going to be a fourth edition in the future ? thanks for reading
Hello Nomi, there are periodic discussions with the publisher and my co-author, but work can’t begin until there’s a contract in hand, so even if I was suddenly told it was all systems go tomorrow, it would still take two years for a fourth edition to be assembled and printed. So I would say that even if there were a fourth edition, there is little chance of it showing up before 2026.
Thanks for your response, so as you and helen been talking and seem interested in a fourth edition of the book, you think is likely a new edition will come out in 2026 or later ? , thanks again for reading
I genuinely don’t know. A while ago we had an approach by a Spanish publisher, and we offered them a deal whereby the money they paid for the rights to the third edition would fund us to bring it up to date, and thereby create a fourth edition, the English version of which would then be ready to print. So that all sounded great, but then they went quiet.
Something similar came up with a big anime distributor, who wanted to buy the book to use on their website, which would have created a situation whereby we were being paid to update it. But they went quiet after we told them how much it would cost.
Helen and I are happy to write a fourth edition, but someone has to pay for it. It’s a big commitment of our time and energy, and we hardly do more than break even on our time. I think with the previous edition, we had an offer in hand, but had to wait several months to start because we have to shuffle around our other commitments.
The third edition stretches the limit of printing on demand at 1200 pages, so it would have to be two volumes, which is a further consideration for our publishers at Stone Bridge. An Anime Encyclopedia also drags the staff and finances of Stone Bridge away from all their other projects, so that has to be considered. The bottom line is that for as long as people like you are asking, there is a chance there will be a fourth edition, but until I see a contract in front of me that gives me a deadline, I can’t say for sure when that will be.
Have you consider setting a Go fund me page or other donation site ? I think people who bought the prevoius editions, anime fans, book fans and the community at large will be willing to help to finance the next edition, what you and helen did with the anime encyclopedia since 2001 ( before i was born ) is such a unique and wondeful thing, willing to take the time and effort to write a physical book of 1200 pages on Anime in this digital age is not something to take for granted, many people will think that a book like this is not useful anymore and maybe that’s why some publisher and distributors don’t have enough confidence on this project, but i think with the help of the community the next edition could happen sooner than later, thank you very much for your answers
We have talked about it, but the problem is that the bulk of the sales of the Anime Encyclopedia are to libraries that are less likely to get involved in a speculative scheme like Gofundme, which could lead to a “failed” crowd-funding that only made the book project less attractive.
Well that’s bad luck, however i hope someone will be interested in this project and help finance it, i hope you and helen can complete this long lasting project and sending you some good luck, thanks again for all you anwsers
Hello Jonathan, thank you for your amazing work!
I would like to ask a question about a statement you made. “An average anime fan watches anime for two to three years”. Do you think this statement still holds true after all these years? and especially after the recent COVID boom, although there seems to be a decline starting this year (which fits the timeline you gave). Or do you think it has gotten more mainstream and therefore the statement no longer applies?
I think a lot has changed over the years. My observations on the 24-month product cycle were based on the relatively short turnaround times of fads and obsessions in the anime press of 20 years ago, and I think we’d all agree that “average anime fan” is a tough thing to define. Certainly, the toy lines still tend to be retooled every couple of years, although sometimes these days it’s less about appealing to new fans than finding new things for the old fans to keep buying. It’s hard to prove an absence, and the only people that are around to argue about it are the ones who are still fans and don’t like the idea of giving up on it.
Part of the problem is deciding what a “fan” is — an eight-year-old devoted to One Piece? A twentysomething who’ll watch anything with X in it? A granny who loves Ghibli? Netflix think you are an “anime watcher” if you sit in front of a Japanese cartoon for only a few minutes, so while you, say, might have been a fan for years, your next-door neighbour might have been registered as a “fan” in some algorithm’s eyes for 360 seconds, and somewhere there’s a number-cruncher taking an average of those two scores.
I think there are certainly some fans who are avid anime viewers for much longer, but they can become a self-fulfilling echo chamber, because they keep reassuring each other that they are all in for life, unaware that thousands of others have come and gone, and just weren’t that into it in the first place. Aha, but were those people ever “fans”…? TL;DR — I don’t know any more. I don’t have access to the stats, and the rise of streaming has made them much harder to obtain.
As one of the titans of manga management in the 1990s I wonder if you recall the brief life of manga manga magazine- a slightly highbrow US/UK publication (I think) that had translated manga and essays- kind of looked a bit like sight and sound. I recently confused it with Manga Mania but it came out first in 1990 or 91 I think. Any help gratefully received.
You may be thinking of Manga Manga Manga, a magazine-shaped brochure for the ICA, to accompany the festival of the same name in 1990-1ish, which featured, IIRC contributions from Helen McCarthy among others. The only other contender I can think of would be Mangajin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangajin published between 1988-1997 in the US, and classy enough to fit your description.
I have recently read your book “a brief history of japan” and I enjoyed it a lot so I decided to read some of your other works and I was just blown away by how many there are. I have also stumbled across this website not too long ago and started reading the articles here and it’s incredible how many there are.
My question to you is, how are you so productive? Can you tell us(me) a little bit about your average daily workday? And how do you divide your time between all the different projects that that you are engaged in at any point in time?
Thank you for your answer in advance and please feel free to be as detailed as you want.
Hello Diamond siege
There is no grand secret to it, beyond the fact that I write for a living, and so unlike some authors who might have to scrape in a page of writing after a day at the day job, this is my day job. On books and articles, I have a daily target of 1000 words. But then once I am done I might reward myself by writing a film review or polishing an old email about my time in China, and that can generate an extra day’s worth of work somewhere.
I have been a full-time writer for 25 years or more, so that generates a large back catalogue. I update this blog on average twice a week, but it’s usually with something that was previously written for money, or in the case of my China diaries, a daily email to my family when I was on the road.
My daily workday, when the going is good, is that I am up and at my desk without any distractions. Family life has recently compelled me to get a flask, so I don’t even go down to the kitchen for any coffees, lest I be distracted by alarums and tasklets. 1000 words is the minimum, and if I am done by 11am, it’s up to me if I want to carry on, or run off and do something else. When I’m on an exciting book project, I can keep on going for hours. Sometimes, I am still up at 8pm writing one word at a time, but I still have to hit that thousand before the day is over.
It’s a bad time to disturb me, since the niceties of human life, like getting dressed and washing and whatnot, often have to wait until the day’s work is done.
Back in olden times, I could write seven days a week. But family obligations have demanded that I have weekends to be sociable, and currently I am on paternity leave of sorts, and only working three days a week. It means that next year (2024) I am liable to only be publishing two books. One, which I have just finished, is a history of Taiwan. The other, which will take me a working month sometime in 2023, is an update of my biography of Chairman Mao. The next project I have in mind is something quite major, and writing the proposal alone is going to take me a month to get everything right, so I don’t expect anyone will see that until 2025, even *if* publishers actually want to publish it.