Shopping for the anime-curious? Need a quick, but special, gift for your friend who finds the whole “anime” thing confusing and intriguing? Maybe she’s seen half an episode of Cowboy Bebop and thought it was pretty sick. Or he lets out a little “squee...!” when he sees your plush collection.
There are some tried and true entry points for the prototaku, friend, and we’d be happy to share them with you. The best gifts are the ones recipients wouldn’t normally buy. So, check out our gift guide for the anime newb below:
Nobody doesn’t like space opera/infinite jazz breakdown Cowboy Bebop. It’s true. Even the most anime-ambivalent of us can get down with a little sci-fi bounty hunter action. Clocking out at a light 26 episodes, it’s not an intimidating thing to take on. Also, the big band soundtrack is gold. (Amazon, $30)
Spirited Away is is just as good at age 7 as it is at 26. That’s because it’s accessible, refined and gorgeous. Director Hayao Miyazaki doesn’t skimp on details: Spirited Away’s spirit bath house is intricate in architecture, full of bizarre creature and set in a stunningly strange other world. The Art of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away includes sketches, commentary and storyboards from the world-class anime, which, to those outside the fandom, could grace a coffee table or give them a lead-in to Miyazaki’s corpus of work. (Amazon, $26)
So cute. So cute. I have one of these. It brings me joy every god damn day. Is it a cat? Is it a sushi? Is it both? Many of my friends have asked these questions. I won’t call this a conversation-starter, but it sure looks like it fell right out of an anime. (Amazon, price varies)
In 1997, Revolutionary Girl Utena broke ground in the magical girl anime genre. It’s about a chivalrous girl who wants more than anything to be a prince. The anime features gender-bending, lady love and awesome fight scenes. In 2016, Revolutionary Girl Utena is, objectively, a little silly and over-earnest. The art book inside the box set, also, is stunning. A friend actually bought this for me last year and I was pretty floored. (Amazon, $33)
Nausicaä is hardcore. She’s a princess and a fighter who’s inherited a kingdom in a post-apocalyptic world, overrun by a toxic jungle. Behemoth insects destroy everything in their path. It’s on Nausicaä to strike a compromise between human settlements, the bugs and the scientific realities of living a chemically hostile environment. The graphics novels are a great buy for anyone passionate about the environment, and especially for people who love strong female protagonists. (Amazon, $36)