Thursday, August 10, 2006

Science Writing Takes on Anime
I have discovered an interesting trend. If I wander around a Barnes & Noble for long enough while killing time, especially in the science section, I will eventually find something extremely interesting, but which I never would have considered looking for on purpose. This past weekend's discovery was The Science of Anime, by Lois H. Gresh and Robert Weinberg. I finished it on the plane back from Michigan, and let me tell you, it is the unusual work of nonfiction that can keep me engrossed through a layover in Cincinnati's Comair terminal.

I've decided that these authors must have one of the coolest jobs on earth, up there with puppeteering for the Jim Henson Company and being a Lego model builder. Seriously, they get to watch all the pop culture sci-fi/fantasy TV shows they want, and read all the books they want, and then talk in depth about the plausibility of the science behind the concepts. If you look at the other books they've co-authored, they've also written books on the science behind superheroes, supervillians, James Bond, the computers of Star Trek, and Stephen King. Ms. Gresh on her own has also looked in depth at the worlds of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the His Dark Materials trilogy, the Eragon books, and Dragonball Z. A dream job, I tell you.

The Science of Anime covered a lot of science I already knew, already being a sci-fi geekess, but it also went into a very interesting run-down of the history of manga and anime in Japan, as compared to (and as influenced by) comics, comic books, and cartoons in the US. It also, unfortunately, gave me a very, very long list of anime I have not yet seen and now really want to. If only I could convince myself to be financially irresponsible enough to reinstate my Netflix account... It also offered some interesting thoughts on why anime both is and is not popular in the US, citing mainly cultural differences that make US mass audiences uncomfortable. Some of these thoughts seemed to concur with my earlier musings on the differences between Eastern and Western attitudes towards robots. They even mention a lot of the same examples I did, including the play RUR, which I couldn't remember the name of at the time.

In any case, it was one of the more entertaining nonfiction reads I've stumbled across, so I figured I'd share. And I'll have to look for more of their books at the library.

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