Helen McCarthy (born 27 February 1951) is the British author of such anime reference books as 500 Manga Heroes and Villains, Anime!, The Anime Movie Guide and Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation. She is the co-author of The Erotic Anime Movie Guide and the exhaustive The Anime Encyclopedia with Jonathan Clements. She also designs needlework and textile art.
McCarthy was the first English-speaking author to write a book about anime, in addition to being "the first person in the United Kingdom to run an anime programme at a convention, start a dedicated anime newsletter, and edit a dedicated anime magazine." 
In 1991 she founded Anime UK magazine, and in 1992 became one of the principal contributors to Super Play, an SNES title with a heavy anime and manga bias.  Anime UK became Anime FX after a change of backer and closed at the end of 1996. Andy Frain of Manga Entertainment, then the most influential anime distributor in Britain, took issue with the magazine's editorial policy and later with its involvement in the campaign against the trademarking of the word "manga", but this did not affect either McCarthy's position or the magazine's publication. She also contributed to Manga Mania magazine, and after Anime UK closed she edited it from 1997 to 1998. More recently she has written for British magazines and newspapers including the Daily Telegraph, NEO, SFX and ImagineFX.
McCarthy was able to apply her convention-running knowledge gained in SF and media fandom when Anime UK ran the successful one-day convention AUKcon, which attracted attendees from all over Europe in 1994. She has written numerous articles and essays and is a frequent convention guest, as well as speaking at film festivals and academic gatherings in Europe, America and Japan. She has curated and delivered four successful seasons of lectures and screenings at the Barbican Cinema in London. In September 2008 she curated and presented a week-long film season and exhibition to mark the 80th anniversary of the birth of Osamu Tezuka, also at the Barbican. The season featured London's first professional Japanese kamishibai performance.   
Manga Cross-Stitch, a guide to using the visual grammar of anime and manga to create original needlework designs, appeared in 2009. Artist Steve Kyte provided many of the designs in the book, the rest being created by McCarthy. She has since expanded her needlework activities with workshops for the Japan Foundation and at conventions.
Provoked by piracy of her work in 2010, she has spoken and blogged about the impact of intellectual property theft on authors, and on creators' rights to decide how, when and where their work will be published. She supports legitimate sharing through Creative Commons, and has licensed text on her blog, including new research on less-known manga artists, for non-commercial sharing under a Creative Commons 3 Attribution-Non-Commercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported licence.
- Manga Manga Manga, A Celebration of Japanese Animation at the ICA pub Island World Communications (London) 1992. ISBN 0 9520434 0 8
- Anime! A Beginners Guide To Japanese Animation pub. Titan (London) 1993. ISBN 1 85286 492 3
- The Anime Movie Guide: Japanese Animation since 1983 pub. Titan (London) 1996 ISBN 1 85286 631 4
- The Erotic Anime Movie Guide (with Jonathan Clements) pub Titan (London) 1998 ISBN 1 85286 946 1
- Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation pub Stone Bridge Press (Berkeley, CA) 1999 ISBN 1 880656 41 8
- The Anime Encyclopedia: Japanese Animation since 1917 (with Jonathan Clements) pub Stone Bridge Press (Berkeley, CA) 2001 ISBN 1 880656 64 7; 2nd edition 2006, ISBN 1 933330 10 5
- 500 Manga Heroes and Villains pub Collins & Brown (London) 2006 ISBN 1 84349 234 3, Barron's Educational (USA) ISBN 9780764132018
- 500 Essential Anime You Must Own pub Ilex (Lewes) 2008, ISBN 9781905814282, Collins Design (USA) 2009, ISBN 978-0061474507
- Manga Cross-Stitch: Make Your Own Graphic Art Needlework, pub Ilex (Lewes) 2009, ISBN 978 1905814510, Andrews McMeel (USA) 2009, ISBN 978 0740779657
- The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga pub Ilex (Lewes) 2009, ISBN 978 1905814664 Abrams ComicArts (USA) 2009, ISBN 978 0810982499
- 2010: winner of a Harvey Award for The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga
- 2010: nominated for an Eisner Award for The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga
- 2008: Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation/Authors' Foundation award for research into Japanese animation and comics.
- 2006: IMAF Award for Outstanding Achievement in Anime and Manga, sponsored by the International Manga and Anime Foundation.
- 1997: Japan Festival Award for work in promoting understanding of Japanese culture in Britain, from the Japan Foundation.
- 1994: Osamu Tezuka Award for Anime UK
- Helen McCarthy's Official Site
- Animefringe: June 2005 - Reviews - Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation
- Helen McCarthy's blog
- Interview with Helen McCarthy