No matter how much you think you know about anime, there is always someone who knows more. Someone has always seen more shows than you, someone always knows more trivia than you, and that someone will often smugly show off their knowledge. Lucky for the rest of us then, that the two people who know more about anime than probably anyone outside of Japan teamed up and wrote a reference book.
The Anime Encyclopaedia is exactly what it says on the cover, an encyclopaedia covering nearly every anime film, series and straight-to-video release prior to 2001. As with all encyclopaedias the entries are listed alphabetically by title and each entry details the year the anime was made (or started in the case of longer series); alternative and Japanese titles; important staff such as writers and directors; the company that produced it; the length in minutes plus number of episodes (if applicable) and a description including a synopsis, information and trivia.
The book may not be exhaustive but it may as well be, covering as it does everything from the well known (Pokémon, Ghost in the Shell) to the incredibly obscure (public information anime Laws of Divorce and Inheritance for example). Pretty much every anime from before 2001 that you can possibly think of are included and the wealth of information on each often makes for interesting reading. Clements and McCarthy make a great team, delivering huge amounts of information in a friendly and non-patronising way as well as throwing in the odd anecdote, tonnes of background info and interesting opinions on most of the anime covered. There are several images scattered throughout the book, which helps to break up the text, and the authors - who don't shy away from any anime genre - have used three symbols to indicate anime which contain excessive sex, violence or bad language.
The book is pretty much comprehensive up until 2001, and in a way that is probably the only drawback. The thing is that anime has exploded since the publication of this book, and increasingly the series being released in the UK and US are from the last couple of years, meaning they're not covered. Also, the information given about an anime varies in length and depth depending on the importance of it back in 2001, so whilst there is a huge amount of information given for Neon Genesis Evangelion and Akira, more recent series like One Piece gets a mere half column and Spirited Away just ten lines. Many titles are listed by the name they were most commonly known by at the time, therefore you won't find anything listed under Neon Genesis Evangelion, but you will under Evangelion. This can be a bit annoying, but just a quick glance at the index - which includes not only the listed titles but all of the alternative and Japanese titles - is all you need in order to find the correct page.
The book can't help the fact that shows like Beyblade
became huge after it was written, but as a reference book it really does need an
update. As it is though I would still highly recommend it, it is written
well enough that you can sit down and read it rather than just refer to it every
now and again, and much of the information provided you would be hard pressed to
find anywhere else. It is probably the most essential anime reference book
available, and is a must buy for any self respecting anime fan, but a revised
and updated version would be nice.
A hefty amount, starting with a lengthy forward from the authors explaining the abbreviations, categories, omissions and criteria they use, followed by a note from the publishers. As with any true reference book there are acknowledgments and a bibliography of sources, as well as truly extensive indexes of studios, people and anime titles. The book is rounded off with a number of blank pages for Viewing Notes, something that seemed a bit pointless, author biographies and page advertising the other anime reference books available from Stone Bridge Press.