One of my new favorite blogs is Geisha Blog, which provides a great primer on Japanese culture for those of us who are fascinated, but occasionally perplexed, by it.
Several recent posts have dealt with anime and manga, addressing some of the questions you typically stumble across on comic-book message boards: the pretty boy phenomenon (bishounen), cinematic techniques, the “Western appearance” of many characters, and a brief overview of the industry in Japan.
They’re not in-depth essays — although the bishounen post delves a little deeper than the others — but they serve as nice introductions.
As I mentioned, Geisha Blog deals with other elements of Japanese culture, too: entertainment, language, etiquette, history. It’s interesting reading.
(I think I stumbled upon this blog via When Fangirls Attack, so credit where credit’s due.)