Reviewby George Phillips, Aug 7th 2003
Animation on DVD
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
Animation on DVD is Stone Bridge Press's latest submission to anime fandom, although it aims at more than simply anime fans. While anime certainly makes up a segment of all animation on DVD, this reference book includes entries from other styles of animation, as well as professional and amateur DVDs.
In one sense, Animation on DVD is a brilliant work, as it pulls together over 1,600 entries, including pictures of DVD artwork, release information and other information regarding the disc. In another sense, however, Animation on DVD is doomed to a very limited shelf life and general usability for most animation fans. As its name suggests, "Animation on DVD" contains more than just anime. Claymation, Stop-Animation, Australian and Russian professional and amateur films are just a sampling of the other, non-anime features one can find in this work. Leafing through, one can easily find anime titles scattered amongst the book, although they appear to make up only a minority of all the entries.
Unfortunately, although some may find a reference of animation released in America useful, this book reads very much like an old "Web Directory" book published in the early 1990s. While it does a remarkable job collecting and briefly reviewing many titles, many of the titles will fall out of print over the years, resulting in a book that, although filled with at-a-glance reviews, has already dated itself and will soon no longer be beneficial to most readers.
Each entry in "Animation on DVD" consists of a general synopsis of the DVD, along with some basic information that can assist finding the DVDs in stores and catalogs. However, in many instances the DVDs were either not provided, or arrived too late for a review in "Animation On DVD", and as such a number of titles are lacking even a basic overview of the title. Even when a summary is present, oftentimes it is bare-bones, only covering the most general aspects of the title. A similar gripe with Stonebridge's earlier Anime Encyclopedia, the reviews are simply too small to capture the interest of the reader. In the back of the work is a guide to adult animation, which naturally includes various adult anime titles. In this section anime's dominence is clearly visible, as not a page goes by without an anime DVD or two being reviewed.
For the typical anime fan, however, the book fails in two aspects. The first failure is that anime has not remained idle since the book's publication. In 2002 alone there were over five hundred anime DVDs released in America, and this year is certain to see further growth. The second failure is that if the non-anime reviews are ignored, there's very little actual anime content in the book that cannot be found elsewhere in a more convenient form, such as on the Internet or in any of the major anime magazines.
If you were thinking of picking this book up only for its Anime content... don't; there are enough free resources online that provide most, if not all of the same information Animation on DVD provides. If, on the other hand, you enjoy animation not specifically from Asia, this reference book provides a wide selection of information that may prove useful.
Overall : B-
+ Lots of titles that should interest general anime fans