As an anime fan and as a person interested in Japanese culture I was excited when I stumbled across Ashcraft's book at my local Borders. At first glance I thought it would be a regular novel but was both intriqued and shocked to find the book litered with photographs and pictures. The book even has a soft cover sleve which is usually exclusive to paperback books from Japan. I immediately picked it up.
The novel covers eight chapters. The first is dedicated to the origin of the schoolgirl's sailor suit with tidbits on the sailor suit's effect on Japanese culture woven in. You'll learn old customs like taking a boy's second button from the top to current fads like gluing loose socks to yourself.
The second chapter covers idol worship and music. Thanks to this chapter I've discovered new Japanese music that I would have otherwise never heard of. You'll learn about different super groups and music featuring information on AKB48, Momoe Yamaguchi, Masako Mori, Junko Sakurada, Tsukasa Ito, Seiko Matsuda, Scandal, Jurian Beat Crisis, Onyanko Club, and Morning Musume.
The third chapter covers movies. You'll learn about the influence of the school girl on both western cinema (Kill Bill and Babel) as well as eastern cinema (Kite, Battle Royale). In particular the section goes into depth on the school girl movies of the seventies and their use of school girls as catalysts into fantasy both sexual and horrorific.
The fourth chapter covers shopping and how school girls form the bulk of Japanese buying power. You'll learn how items like the pager and the cell phone were popularized by the school girl and how the school girl's lack of interest can swiftly execute a fad (such as the Tamagotchi).
The fifth chapter covers magazines and fashion. You'll learn about the infamous Kogals of the nineties and their effect on helping women escape from stereotype and form their own individual styles. You'll also learn about the fashion magazine Egg and it's use as a forum for Japanese schoolgirls before the age of the internet.
The sixth chapter covers art. As expected you'll learn about the school girl's influence on art with samples from Rin Nadeshico, Noriko Yamaguchi, Motoyuki Kobayashi and others.
The seventh chapter covers video games. You'll learn about the infamous Japanese dating sims, as well as visual novels. Many of these games and visual novels have since become anime, such as To Heart, Kanon, and Clannad.
The eight chapter covers anime and manga. You'll learn about the evolution of the school girl in manga from the high school teen (Peach Girl) to magical girl (Sailor Moon) to mecha controling saviors (Neon Genesis Evangelion).
Japanese School Girl Confidential is a must buy for anyone remotely interested in anything involving Japanese culture. Though I bought the book mainly for its chapters on music, movies, games, and anime the other chapters were just as immersing and informative. It may be a quick read but the information you'll gain is well worth the money!