Gilles grew up in California where he was not only geographically closer to Japan than most of the U.S., but also was exposed to many things Japanese. From the wooden toys he bought at the corner store, to sharing Botan candy with friends, and eating curry made with S&B curry powder. He had no idea that any of it was from Japan. He became a fan of world cinema in high school, and in college this led him to explore what little was known in English about anime. In 1990 he received a phone call from a friend who had discovered a new student club at U.C. Berkeley devoted to anime—Cal Animage Alpha—and began attending their meetings. He was hooked.
He has written three books on anime: The Anime Companion, Anime Essentials and the Anime Companion 2. He has also written for NewType USA and Otaku USA. Gilles was a member of the senior board of Mechademia. Over the years he has done presentations on anime for various Japan-US friendship groups, public libraries, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, conventions, all day workshops for librarians, introduced anime films at the Smithsonian, and even taught an eight-week course on the subject for Pixar staff. Gilles even once foolishly agreed to encapsulate the history of manga and anime from 1960 to the present as a one hour presentation for the San Francisco Public Library. A video of that event is online on YouTube.
In his spare time Gilles reads manga, watches anime, and does research on Japan. When he can save enough vacation time and money, he visits Tokyo—a city he is so interested in that he has been called a Tokyo otaku by a friend who lives there. Currently he is working on three books at a far too slow pace.