Anime gift guide for parents

Anime girl courtesy of www.animewp.com.
Anime girl courtesy of www.animewp.com.

Odds are, if kids are on your shopping list, there's some Anime, or anime-related gift requests on your list.

But what we call "anime" actually contains a huge array of entertainment, ranging from the kawaii of Pokèmon, appropriate for even the youngest viewer, to henati that would make a porn star blush. After all, search for "Anime" on Amazon.com and the very first video is of the decidedly adult variety.

The lesson is, it pays to know where to look when buying something out of the plethora of Anime titles out there.

Below are some good-quality, and age-appropriate Anime gift suggestions for this holiday season. Even if you're buying for an adult friend, or yourself, there's some classics, and recent hits listed below that should make a welcome addition to any collection.

Also note: Just because an Anime may be approriate for viewers under 13, does not mean it would not have great appeal for us bigger kids who appreciate the animation.

Youngsters under 13

For the Pokémon fan - Multiple waves of American youngsters have grown up with the likes of Pokèmon and Yu-gi-oh, and both series are still going strong. For the youngest of Anime fans, this is probably what got them hooked. There is a whopping 12 animated feature Pokèmon movies. Even the earliest films can still be had through Amazon.com and other specialty stores on DVD. If earlier works are what you're looking for, Pokèmon - Mewtwo Returns is a good pick, and includes some nice DVD extras. The most recent film Arceus and the Jewel of Life, will not be available on DVD in the states until next year. Film number 11 however - Giratina and the Sky Warrior - should delight any Pokèmon fan who doesn't already have it.

Dragonball Z - the Anime series was broadcast in the states beginning about 10 years ago, and had fans of all ages. If you're shopping for was a fan, they might enjoy Dragonball GT, which was a followup series that did not receive as wide an exposure stateside. Both series have stand-alone movies as well.

Get their favorite - Try to find out what nephew Timmy is always watching after school or on Saturday morning. Then get him a DVD or three of that series, it can be that easy. Hot current Anime cartoon series right now include (in ascending order of mature content) One Piece, Fullmetal Alchemist, Bleach, and Naruto,

There are several series that are more aimed at girls as well, called shojo. The most recognizable of this category is undoubtedly Sailor Moon. Other Anime series that have more of a female following includes Fruits Basket, and Honey and Clover.

A few series have managed to bridge the gender gap, with a mix of action, humor and romance, such as InuYasha and Tenchi Muyo.

Anything Miyazaki - Whatever the age range, and if you're looking for some great movies, one good place to start is with the Hayako Miyazaki films. Adults to the very young can appreciate many of these films, but Kiki's Delivery Service, Spirited Away, and My Neighbor Totoro seem particularly suited for younger children.There are some Miyazaki films (Princess Mononoke in particular) which might scare younger children, due to occasional violence, and frightening imagery.

Under 18

Ghost in the Shell - The manga, the 1995 movie, the two-season animated series - virtually the whole GITS catalog has earned classic status amongst Anime fans. It's that good. Even the sub-par storyline of the 2004 sequel still featured the groundbreaking visual quality that helped define the series. The writing for seasons one and two of the animated series rise up to meet the graphics, with sharp plots that will entice both the mystery fan and the sci-fi enthusiast. Suggestions: The animated series, or the newly released Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (the original movie remastered) on DVD or Blu Ray.

Spice and Wolf - Season one of this new Anime series is being released in stores and online on Dec. 22, so it might take some doing to grab a copy, but it's worth the trouble if you are buying it for a fan of the manga, or have romance-loving Anime fan to buy for. The female protagonist in the series is called Holo, and she definitely falls into the catgirl Anime archtype. One of the series' recurring themes is all about economy of all things, and yet it has become a bonafide hit in its native Japan.

Basilisk - Imagine the story of Romeo and Juliet, but with ninjas - and instead of a lover's suicide the story ended with the Montagues and the Capulets waging a bloody war of attrition against each other. Yeah, it's kind of like that. Dramatic, violent, and with interesting character design, this series is newly released, and would be appreciated by even a seasoned Anime collector.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 - The Gundam name, and multiple series, stretches back all the way to 1979, and the formula has remained virtually the same - angsty pretty boys piloting super powerful robotic suits in times of conflict. Luckily for Anime fans the latest series, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, has hit a definite high note by doing some growing up. The series, which aired on TV in the US just this year, had a strong premise that would have made a fine sci-fi novel. The pilots were more men than boys. Actual plot and actual character development made it one of the very best Gundam series written in recent memory. Combined with all that, is the fact that it still delivered the Gundam goods of featuring giant robots making things explode, and you have yourself a winner. Season one is available on DVD now.

Hellsing - Violent, gritty, and showing flourishes of steampunk and occult flavor - Hellsing is a thrill. The animation isn't the best. Nor is the plot per se, but the style of the series, along with some great voice acting makes this one Anime title many wish there was more to watch. The 13-episode series ends all too soon by this vampire thriller. The Hellsing Ultimate volumes are OVA's which run about 50 minutes each. So far, only the first four of the seven-volume Ultimate series has been published stateside, but there is hope the rest will make their way here.

Big kids

Akira - The "Citizen Kane" of Anime - definitely not for everyone, but an undeniable classic of the art form. Teens could certainly handle the level of violence in Akira, even with its realistic art style and disturbing imagery, but watching the film is a bit like tripping acid, and wouldn't appeal to the younger casual Anime fan. I'd try to summarize the plot of the 1988 film, but honestly, after watching Akira a dozen times, I still have no clue what really ends up happening to the protagonists Tetsuo and Kaneda.

Akira is a lot like the Bible, you can bet just about everyone has a copy laying around somewhere. However it can make a wonderful gift for a brand new Anime collector, and there is also a newly released Blu-ray version available. And for the true aficionado, you could always buy volumes of the original manga as well, which fans say goes beyond the Anime to perhaps explain what the hell was up with that ending.

Death Note - A tense thriller series, involving a notebook with the power to kill any person whose name is written in its pages. The drama unfolds largely in the mind games that the owner of the Death Note, and the murder investigators engage in trying to flush one-another out. Somehow, that tension of cat and mouse, and the constantly-evolving plot was successfully carried over into this Anime series that just recently made its way to US shores. The voice acting is top-notch, and the DVD box sets contain behind the scene interviews. This is a great thriller gift, even for a non-anime fan.

Ninja Scroll - Amazing fight sequences, over the top violence, and the heady sexual content in this 1993 classic made the tale of Jubei and his fight against the Eight Devils of Kimon an Anime fan favorite. A great buy for anyone who hasn't seen it, or wants their own copy. Fair warning on the sexual content though, there's a very good reason this is in the adults only section, although a lot of the 'sexual' scenes actually qualify as fan disservice.

Ninja Scroll spawned many lesser offspring, including a "spiritual successor" 13-episode series, and a faux sequel Ninja Scroll: Resurrection. If you're looking for something beyond Ninja Scroll, a better alternative might be an earlier work by Ninja Scroll's writer/director Kawajiri, called Wicked City.

Kaneda!
Kaneda!

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