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Frames of Anime: Culture and Image-Building

University of Hong Kong Press, 2010 hkupress

ISBN 978-962-209-098-9 (paper), ISBN 978-962-209-097-2 (hard)

"Frames of Anime provides a wonderfully concise and insightful historical overview of Japanese animation; more importantly, Tze-yue G. Hu also gives the reader a much-needed frame of reference — cultural and historical — for understanding its development." — Harvey Deneroff, Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta, Georgia

"This is a valuable study that transcends most of its predecessors by situating Japanese anime in its cultural context and providing detailed insight into the lives and works of some of Japan’s most prominent animators and their struggles to establish it as a legitimate form of cinema and television media. Its authorship by an Asian scholar also conversant with Chinese and Southeast Asian cinema and comic book culture gives it a unique comparative character." — John Clammer, United Nations University


The publication offers an in-depth historical and cultural study of anime, a popular form of Japanese animation. The first part dialectically discusses the roles of the visual language in Japanese culture. From the usage of the Chinese characters in the Japanese language to the arrival of photography in Japan – the early chapters explore the process of image-building in Japanese society. Interwove with the account is the discursive probe into the strands of cultural thinking and the momentous advent of modernization and westernization tides that swept Japan from the mid-17th century. The later chapters detail the rise and growth of the animating medium in 20th century Japan and emphasize the close relationship of the economy, patrons and people in the continual self-sustainment and nurturing of anime and its related art form manga. The final chapter examines the popularity of anime in Asia and cautions the intervention of government and business forces in trying to adopt the anime model without paying due attention to its indigenous Japanese origins.

To date, the monograph has received commendable reviews in Animation Journal and Asian Anthropology and is credited for “going beyond the work currently available in English, and making a significant contribution to animation studies literature” and “…the book also opens up quite a lot of interesting directions for anime research”.[1] The subject of animation crosses boundaries and disciplines. Frames of Anime not only expounds and investigates the multi-layered contextual aspects of a far-eastern animated art-form; it is also based on first-hand research materials enhanced by personal interviews, non-English primary sources and the application of Eastern and Western perspectives in analysis. In addition, the book contains rare illustrations which support the insights presented. It is currently adopted as a textbook for seminar discussions in several universities in Asia. The book is the runner-up to the Society for Animation Studies’s Norman McLaren - Evelyn Lambart Award for Best Book on Animation 2011.

[1] Please see Animation Journal Vol. 18 2010 (pp. 86-88) and Asian Anthropology Vol. 9 2010 (pp. 148-151). See more reviews of the book at:

- Spectator Issue 32.2 Fall 2012 or access at

- Japanese Journal of Animation Studies 2012, Vol. 12, No. 1A , pp. 63-65.- Journal of Japanese Studies 2012 38(2), 447-449.

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Mike Henry
Mike Henry
Feb 08, 2021

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