The first thought that runs through the mind of a potential otaku faced with the wealth of Anime films that are available is, frankly, "Where do I start." It doesn't take a great deal of time to sniff out the Evangelions and Princess Mononokes, but beyond the great successes are many lesser lights that all promise pleasure and entertainment if one only knew which they were. Of course, part of the challenge is that coming to understand anime and manga requires reaching some level of understanding of the Japanese culture that underlies them. However, the simple truth is that, lacking a guide, the effort is always in danger of becoming fruitless.
'The Anime Encyclopedia' is the answer to need. While it really isn't encyclopedic, it provides summaries, data, and even some analysis of over 2,000 anime films. The authors confess that there are probably another 2,000 films that could have been included, and a complete failure to touch on interactive (game) animation. Nevertheless, 2,000 titles covering the period from 1917 to 2001 is a lot. While the writers are rarely excessively judgmental, there is enough information to identify both films of interest and films to be avoided.
Occasionally, the reader finds a lengthy discussion, but most of the descriptions are 100 to 200 words. One will find dates, formats, key translations, creative staff, and length listed. Some indication of the appropriate audience where needed, and indication of whether English productions are available. In short, enough to navigate one's way to the winded path of an otaku's apprenticeship. The writers have a dry, witty style that makes this more than a simple catalog, but far less than a treatise. The book does exactly what it promises to do, competently and clearly. Lacking a command of Japanese, this is the best resource available for US viewers.