Millennial Monsters Book Review

September 6, 2007 at 11:06 pm (littleconqueror, Uncategorized)

That’s right a book review! Ah! In any case, Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination is written by Anne Allison, and attempts to explain one question: How the hell did Japan become a huge factor in kids and young adult culture, and in particular, the toy industry?

Anne Allison, a professor of cultural anthropology, writes a very convincing argument in explaining the increase of Japanese culture, arguing that Japanese anime have three qualities that make them in particular appealing: one an attractive way for kids to deal with the rapidly changing world, where nothing is certain, and the old guarantees of the previous generations no longer exist in this globalized world; two, the shows and figures constantly change, which keeps giving new value to the product; and three, the goods have a sense of techno-animalism–in essence, the goods, the Japaneses franchises become legit friends for the consumer, who is increasingly becoming more alone even as the world grows smaller. After stating her thesis, she begins by describing the history of Japanese toy making, looking in particular to how the industry not only survived but thrived after World War II. She then looks at two of the biggest properties, Gojira, or Godzilla, and Tetsuwan Atamo, aka Astro Boy. She shows us what they meant to Japan, and how they did in Japan and America, before carefully analyzing four of the biggest properies to come out of Japan during the 1990’s: Power Rangers, Sailor Moon, Tamogochi and Pokemon. And she does go through the details. Not much is left uncovered, although some chapters are stronger than others (such as the ones on Power Rangers and Pokemon).

Granted, it is a tough read. While a bit less than 300 pages, it’s extremely academic. It’s not dry, to say, but it’s definitely reads like a paper. Points are repeatedly made over and over again, so it can be repeitative, and some of the terms used can be tough to figure out as times (then again, that just may be due to my lack of knowledge). Still, if you’re interested in why Japnese Action figures, culture and anime are becoming more and more dominant in the American frontier, then this book does an excellent job in explaining why.

Score: 4/5. If you’re interested, buy it!

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2 Comments

  1. airviper said,

    We read books? I had no idea. Good review though.

  2. littleconqueror said,

    Thanks. Just to say, in case anyone has lots of free time, just track me down and you can borrow the book.

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