Database for Animation Studies

11 Fundamental Books for Anime Journalist

Ryota Fujitsu

The title states that this list is for “anime writers,” but my main objective is to present 11 books that will give you a quick grasp of production techniques and the history of so-called commercial anime (i.e. anime that gets major distribution via TV and movie theaters). I picked these publications as an introduction to the basics, and there are also many must-read pieces about specific titles that you can find in magazines and mook publications.

Ryota Fujitsu
Animation critic

Anime critic. Worked as a newspaper journalist and weekly magazine editor until 2000, when he went freelance. Author of Anime Hyouronka Sengen (Anime Critic Manifesto) (Fusosha) and TV Channeru ha Itsumo Anime (TV Always Has Anime) (NTT Shuppan). Has also contributed to numerous magazines, mook publications and Blu-ray booklets. Lecturer at Tokyo Polytechnic University.


The fact that I’m compiling this list means that this list will have nothing to do with “academism.” That is to say, I picked books to understand “anime history” and not the history of animation, and I focused on commercial books that probably haven’t gotten much attention in academic circles. However, I excluded my own books, and I also deliberately left off some standard references. The list is in chronological order based on publication date.

Initially I was thinking about “10 References That Shaped Japanese Animation Studies,” but I revised this list to references from early animation studies through the early 1980s. I’ve grouped the list into five parts: (1) Works in the early 1960s including translations that were the “classics” of their time; (2) Works in line with the legendary F&FF circle that are as a fundamental references for animation proper; (3) Experimental cinema, experimental animation, and original works; (4) Film history and animation history, and (5) Film and visual studies, which are fundamental to this area of research (+x are listed as titles only).