"Why study anime?" the author of this study of anime asks himself. Good question, thinks the reader. Why indeed "study" a pop art whose appeal is less to thought than to mass, unreflecting, spontaneous enjoyment?

THE SOUL OF ANIME: Collaborative Creativity and Japan's Media Success Story, by Ian Condry. Duke University Press, 2013, 241 pp., $23.95 (paperback)

There are reasons, of course. The wildfire spread, the global reach, the character-transforming impact it has on fans — the world-transforming impact it has on fans' world — all elevate anime to something beyond mere entertainment. It is a phenomenon. Enter, therefore, the cultural anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers, media scholars, Japanologists and other trained and dispassionate academic observers, all seeking to penetrate "the soul of anime."