"Like a Wired magazine article on steroids ... Kelts throws out fascinating ideas. If you wish to understand the nuances of otaku-dom, or are just hentai-curious, Japanamerica is a broad primer. If you're seeking investment opportunities, it's practically a prospectus."
- R.C. Baker, The Village Voice
"From exploring the Japanese attitude toward pornography to a meeting with the creator of Pac-Man, Japanamerica is a fascinating ride."
"Embrace the world of otaku in Roland Kelts' comprehensive study of how Japanese pop culture enchanted the West, from Speed Racer and Pokémon to cosplay and hentai manga."
- Wired magazine
"[T]he personal stories [and] acute observations make this work precious ... a personal record of enlightening research on both sides of the Pacific, told with loving detail and complemented by the opinions of 'insiders'."
- Mariko Kato, The Japan Times
"Kelts's energetic survey covers the films of Miyazaki, Pokemon trading cards and anime action figures, as well as such exotic sub-genres as 'tentacle porn.' Japanamerica is entertaining and often enlightening."
- The Guardian (UK)
"A stimulating guide, acutely researched and engagingly written ... Kelts is well positioned to explore the roots and ramifications of a steadfast and, to many, mystifying trend."
- The Australian (Australia)
"Roland Kelts's Japanamerica is diligent, brisk and above all entertaining."
- 3AM Magazine (UK)
"Japanamerica is the book I have been waiting for. It tells the incredible story of the way the colorful and eccentric world of Japanese entertainment and popular art has enriched our lives in the West. But it also deals with why it has a poetry that has taken Americans many years to understand and feel able to echo. Japan's holocaust was equally traumatic to the ones experienced by many Americans, and perhaps more sudden, more extreme and more focused. This story shows how today we all use movies, comics, music, art and advertising to face our past and its traumas, rather than to escape. The Japanese methods of facing the past are restrained and unusual, but ultimately glorious, and mean more to us in our post-9/11 era than ever they could before. Roland Kelts, part American, part Japanese, brings real insight to the way this union of hearts and souls through entertainment will continue to grow and draw two very different worlds together.”
- Pete Townshend, The Who
"Kelts never skids into fanboy hyperbole, and Japanamerica accomplishes its goal in showing how anime and manga may someday become as popular an import in this country as sushi."
- The Boston Globe
"Japanamerica is an essential guide to the current state of anime production. By speaking to enough people and speaking to the right people, Kelts overcomes the most difficult hurdle in addressing this topic. Japanamerica is an imperative resource."
- Ain't It Cool News
"Japanamerica's nine essays focus on Japanese anime and manga and why, how and if they'll become equally popular in the US. Roland Kelts implies that their growing appeal to US audiences is partly due to a new consciousness as a result of 9/11."
- Playboy magazine
"Mainstream reporting on anime and manga falls into two categories: Those who "get it" and those who don't. Roland Kelts gets it, and the result is the first book-length study of the rise of anime and manga fandom in both Japan and the US."
- Frames Per Second magazine
"An entertaining treatment ... Kelts has a sharp grasp of his subject and is on sure ground."
- Publisher's Weekly
"Roland Kelts's Japanamerica is one of the few books aimed at a general audience to get it right. Kelts sees that cross-cultural influence is a two-way street."
- The Decatur Daily
"Pokemon, Totoro and more ... insights from artists, critics, readers and fans in Japan and the United States on how the Japanese pop phenomenon has also become popular in America."
- The Exeter News-Letter
"Japanamerica is a terrifically fun read for anyone with an interest in Japanese pop culture. Kelts has an easy-going style that's readily accessible and he has a wealth of fascinating information to share."
-- The Greenman Review
"Japanamerica is unique in that it encompasses both countries. [A]s a study of the global manga-anime-cosplay phenomenon, this book offers an insiders' view."
- Kevin McGue, Metropolis (Tokyo)
"Kelts reports on all levels, from the fan (or otaku), to the artists and animators, to the top people in the studios and production companies, and his writing style is highly readable and succinct."
- The Asian Review of Books
"Kelts' book delighted me. He deftly switches between cerebral perspectives on anime and colorful descriptions of the hipsters consuming it."
- The Asahi Weekly
"Roland Kelts sees deeply and writes elegantly; he gives us a unique and powerful vision of Japanese and Western culture."
- Daniel Bergner, author of In the Land of Magic Soldiers and God of the Rodeo
"The brain of Roland Kelts is not only a brilliant interpreter of places where Japanese and American culture meet, it is also one such important place."
- Matthew Sharpe, author of the NBC book club selection, The Sleeping Father, and Nothing is Terrible, Stories from the Tube, and the forthcoming Jamestown: A Novel
"As the step-mother of an anime-crazed teen, I read Japanamerica curious to understand the obsession. What I didn't expect was that Roland Kelts's intelligent and precise observations would shed so much light on my own cultural experience."
- Adrienne Brodeur, author of Man Camp, Founding Editor of Zoetrope: All-Story
"Roland Kelts is a keen observer of both American and Japanese pop culture, placing him in a unique position to discuss the rise of anime in America and the West."
- Martha McPhee, author of Bright Angel Time
"Japanamerica provides insight into the collision of Eastern and Western pop culture, and the aftermath that is this cutting edge phenomenon known as Anime."
- Joe Hahn, Linkin Park
"Nobody has penned a more personal, insightful volume on this subject. Kelts proves himself an astute and entertaining tour guide and a leading social observer."
- Animation Magazine
"Even if you think you've read it all already, you'll be surprised at how much has been left out of anime's story in the West. Fascinating, vital and surprising, this is one of the most essential texts to be written for the intelligent anime fan in years.
- Neo Magazine (UK)
"[Japanamerica is] by far the most interesting overview I've read on Japanese pop culture and I'd highly recommend it. The book offers so many fascinating tidbits that I finished it in a single sitting. Both newbies and hardcore otaku will get something out of it."
"Kelts guides the reader through the inner and outer world of Japanese pop culture with enough insight and sparkle to convert the curious and absolve the adult fan of that guilty pleasure feeling."
- The Brooklyn Rail
"A highly recommendable and thought-provoking survey. Kelts is perfectly suited to provide objective commentary without the usual insider/outsider depiction of Japan's relations with the West."
- Kyoto Journal
(Video) On being single in Japan for Al Jazeera TV
(Video) On sex in Japan for the BBC
On ghosts haunting the Japanese PM's residence for PRI's "The World" on NPR
Personal Interview with Colin Marshall for "Notebooks on Cities and Culture"
(Video) On China's Protests and Japan's Jingoism for HuffPost Live
On the China/Japan island dispute for NPR
(Video) On Smart Art for The World Economic Forum Conference in Tianjin, China
On Hiroshima and Nagasaki for NPR
(Video) On plastic and convenience: Trash talk in Tokyo, for National Geographic TV
On Japan 1 year after the Quake for NPR
On Japan's declining population (@ 36:00 mark) for Monocle 24 Radio's Daily Briefing
(Video) Closing thoughts on Japan for WNYC's/PEN's Global Cities: Japan
On HELLO KITTY & MR MEN (@ 37:00 mark) for Monocle 24 Radio's Midori House
"Pacific Rim Diary" on HARUKI MURAKAMI, 1Q84 in the US vs. Japan for The Madeleine Brand Show, KPCC/NPR
On HARUKI MURAKAMI, 1Q84 and Alice in Wonderland for the BBC's The Strand
(Video) Live interview with MAKOTO SHINKAI for The New York Anime Festival 2011
(Video) On Apocalypse in Japanese Art Live @ Otakon 2011
"Pacific Rim Diary" on post-3/11 Tokyo, Tohoku & US media missteps w/ABC's Akiko Fujita for The Madeleine Brand Show, KPCC/NPR
(Video) On Japanese Pop Culture in the US for Japan Day @ Central Park 2011
(Video) On Japan in NYC & Monkey Business for Japan Day @ Central Park 2011
(Video) Judging "America's Greatest Otaku" for TokyoPop @ 6:00 mark on Hulu TV
"Pacific Rim Diary" on 'Monkey Business,' monsters and Fukushima w/Motoyuki Shibata & Hideo Furukawa for The Madeleine Brand Show, KPCC/NPR
"Pacific Rim Diary" on the quake/tsunami and aftermath for The Madeleine Brand Show, KPCC/NPR
On Japan's apocalyptic art for Studio 360, WNYC/NPR
On Japan's 'gaman' spirit for Radio Live, Radio New Zealand
"Pacific Rim Diary" on humor and hurt for The Madeleine Brand Show, KPCC/NPR
On manga and anime in America (@ 29:00 mark) for Cultural Focus, National Radio Slovenia
On young Japanese men who don't want sex with real women for The Madeleine Brand Show, KPCC/NPR
On Tran's "Norwegian Wood" movie & novel by HARUKI MURAKAMI for The World
(Video) On "virtual girlfriends" in Konami's 'LOVE PLUS +' video game for The Alyona Show
(Video) Live interview with HAYAO MIYAZAKI for UC Berkeley/Cal Performances
On "miserable manga" for the BBC's The Strand
(Video) On "kawaii" for Japan Day @ Central Park 2010
On Japanese 'JAZZ OPERA' & Tamori for NPR's The World
On Toyota for NPR's On the Media
(Video) ABC's "Good Morning America" interview w/Margaret Conley
(Video) ABC's "World News Tonight" interview w/Diane Sawyer & Brian Ross
On the Manga industry crisis for MONOCLE Radio w/Tyler Brule
On the Anime industry crisis for ABC Radio
(Video) NTV's News Zero interview w/Sho Sakurai
(Video) Anime: Drawing a Revolution (documentary film)
(Video) In Akihabara w/Kurt Andersen
On Japanese youth culture for Studio 360
On learning Japanese for The World
On Haruki Murakami for The World
On KAWAII for ABC Radio
(Video) On Seattle TV
On Speed Racer for Morning Edition
On ANIME PULSE
(Video) On Appleseed II: EX MACHINA
On Toyota for The World
On "manga diplomacy" for On the Media
On NPR in Los Angeles
On Japanese pop culture for The World
On NPR in Seattle
(Video) On Fast Forward TV
Hear Roland discuss AFRO SAMURAI and JAPANAMERICA on National Public Radio.
Pete, Kay, book
Gaijin a Go Go, Roland
Contemporary Japanese pop culture such as anime and manga (Japanese animation and comic books) is Asia's equivalent of the Harry Potter phenomenon--an overseas export that has taken America by storm. While Hollywood struggles to fill seats, Japanese anime releases are increasingly outpacing American movies in number and, more importantly, in the devotion they inspire in their fans. But just as Harry Potter is both "universal" and very English, anime is also deeply Japanese, making its popularity in the United States totally unexpected.
Japanamerica is the first book that directly addresses the American experience with the Japanese pop phenomenon, covering everything from Hayao Miyazaki's epics, the burgeoning world of hentai, or violent pornographic anime, and Puffy Amiyumi, whose exploits are broadcast daily on the Cartoon Network, to literary novelist Haruki Murakami, and more. With insights from the artists, critics, readers and fans from both nations, this book is as literate as it is hip, highlighting the shared conflicts as American and Japanese pop cultures dramatically collide in the here and now.
Roland Kelts is a Lecturer at the University of Tokyo and a co-editor of the New York-based literary journal, A Public Space. His first novel, Access, will be published next year.
His articles, essays, and stories have been published in Zoetrope, Playboy, Doubletake, Salon, The Village Voice, Newsday, Cosmopolitan, Vogue and The Japan Times, among others. He has lectured at New York University, Rutgers University and Barnard College, and he is a graduate of Oberlin College and Columbia University. He currently splits his time between New York and Tokyo.
Leo Lewis is the Asia Business Correspondent for The Times of London. He cut his journalistic teeth in the UK, working first for the Liverpool Echo, and later as companies and financial markets reporter for the Independent on Sunday newspaper. He has written for numerous magazines including The Economist, Edge, GQ and Japan Inc.
Lewis first lived in Japan in 1993 as a student of oriental studies at Oxford University, where he specialized in politics and the sociology of Japan. His final thesis covered the socioeconomic theory of the pachinko industry. He studied under some of British academia's foremost Japanologists, and is sure that some of it must have rubbed-off. Though he has often supplied more sophisticated answers to the question "why study Japan?", the true motive lies somewhere between Pac-Man, Shusaku Endo and the Sony Walkman.