Schodt's father was in the US foreign service, and he grew up in Norway, Australia, and Japan. The family first went to Japan in 1965 when Schodt was fifteen. They left in 1967 but Schodt remained to graduate from Tokyo's American School in Japan, in 1968. After entering the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1970 Schodt returned to Japan, and studied Japanese intensively at International Christian University (I.C.U.) for a year and half. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1972, and after a brief bohemian stint at a variety of jobs and traveling became a tour guide in Los Angeles for Japanese tourists, also escorting them to Canada and Mexico. After trying to interpret for a group once at Sunkist, he realized that he could become an interpreter, but needed further training. In 1975, he was awarded a scholarship from Japan's Ministry of Education, to return to I.C.U. and study translation and interpreting. After finishing his studies at I.C.U. in 1977, he began working in the translation department of Simul International, in Tokyo. In mid-1978 he returned to the United States, and since then has worked in San Francisco as a free-lance writer, translator, and interpreter.
Schodt is notable in manga and anime fandom for his translations of works such as Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix, Tezuka’s Astro Boy, Riyoko Ikeda’s The Rose of Versailles, Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen, and others.
His best known book is Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics, published in 1983 and reprinted several times, with an introduction by Tezuka. Manga! Manga! won a prize at the Manga Oscar Awards in 1983. Furthermore, in 2000 Schodt was awarded the Asahi Shimbun’s Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize "Special Prize" for his outstanding contribution to the appreciation of manga worldwide.
Schodt has written five books, translated several novels and manga, and published articles and columns in such newspapers and periodicals as Mainichi Daily News, Japan Times, Anzen, Mangajin, Japan Related, Animag, Animerica and others.
- Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics. Kodansha International, 1983.
- Inside the Robot Kingdom: Japan, Mechatronics, and the Coming Robotopia. Kodansha International, 1988. (ISBN 0-87011-854-4)
- America and the Four Japans: Friend, Foe, Model, Mirror. Stone Bridge Press, 1994.
- Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga. Stone Bridge Press, 1996.
- Native American in the Land of the Shogun: Ranald MacDonald and the Opening of Japan. Stone Bridge Press, 2003.
- The Astro Boy Essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the Manga/Anime Revolution. Stone Bridge Press, 2007 (ISBN 978-1933330549)
- Announcement of Recipients of the 2009 Spring Conferment of Decoration
- "Translator Schodt Receives Government Award, Speaks in L.A. (Updated)". Anime News Network. 2009-07-14. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
- "Frederik L. Schodt Wins The Order of the Rising Sun Award". Anime News Network. 2009-04-29. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
- Jai2—his official website
- Fred Schodt convention appearances on AnimeCons.com
- Detailed interview with Fred Schodt on manga and Osamu Tezuka—Electric Ant #1
- Interview with Fred Schodt on The Astro Boy Essays—Animation Insider
- Interview with Fred Schodt on the Astro Boy story, franchise, and character—The Sci-Fi Block
- Frederik Schodt - Anime Convention Personality of the Week - Sept. 17, 2000
- Interview: Fred Schodt at Anime News Network