In its field I cannot imagine a research guide more needed. For whole decades scholars have struggled simply to locate sources, even to find out what there were. Now, however, the skill and stamina of Mark Nornes and Aaron Gerow have resulted in a reference work that both illuminates and defines this field, clearing a formerly obscured terrain for future scholarship.

Divided into six general categories, the guide allows its user to enter its complicated subject through a number of portals. First is a section on collections of Japanese films and written materials on Japanese films. The primary film archive in Japan is Tokyo's National Film Center. The most valuable assemblage of written materials is the Makino Collection recently (2007) acquired by Columbia University.

Next is a section on the distribution of Japanese films. There is really only one source, the invaluable Japan Foundation, which has a large collection of subtitled Japanese films and is free, the user paying only postage. There is, however, a stipulation. The user must obtain the permission (and usually pay something to) the company that originally made the film. These can be intransigent, notably Toho, "who don't respond well to requests from what they think are minor customers." This section is followed by one on bookstores specializing in Japanese film.