Whether you need a gift for Christmas, a birthday or other occasion, anime fans can be hard to buy for, especially if you know little about the world known as "anime". First, let me explain a little about it. Anime is a type of animation that started in Japan. Basically, you can call it a Japanese version of cartoons. However, it has some big differences. Where American animation tends to be geared primarily towards children, there are actually many types of anime, geared for many ages and interests. For instance, there are series targeted squarely at young boys, young girls, young women and so on. There are also adult series, with more adult themes and content. There are also many different thematic styles of anime, including those centered around robots (called mecha), romantic series, fighting series, school life series and so on.
In order for you to choose a fantastic gift for the Japanese animation fan in your life, you first need an idea of what anime series or at least what kind of theme they enjoy. Find out by perusing their DVD collection or checking what they watch on TV. Once you know the series they like, here are some suggestions for surefire gifts for any anime fan:
Manga is simply the Japanese version of comic books or graphic novels. Many anime series are based on a manga series. Any anime fan would love the original manga their favorite series is based on. For original Japanese manga, you can usually find some on eBay and at Japanese importers like JustManga and Manga.com. For the most popular series, like Inuyasha, you can find English translated manga books at many major bookstores.
Live Action and Japanese Drama DVD's
Some anime and manga series have a live action version, like Sailor Moon, that a Sailor Moon fan would likely be interested in. If they seem interested in Japanese culture, then consider getting them some Japanese TV drama series. There are many Japanese drama series aimed at tweens and teens that usually take place in school or high school. Check out Nodame Cantabile, Hana Yori Dango and Gokusen, each was based on anime or manga series or both. Look for these series at places like YesAsia and on eBay. Make sure to get the English subtitled versions.
Some anime series, like Gundam, Neon Genesis Evangelion and others, have many toys available. If you really want to get a special gift, try to get some of the toys that are imported from Japan. Toys available include action figures, vehicles, stuffed toys, models and dolls. You can find toys for the most popular series at major toy stores, but for not so popular series, try eBay, YesAsia and other import websites.
Many of the most popular anime series like Naruto, Inuyasha and Bleach also have video games based on them. This is a great gift idea since what fan would not want to play a game as their favorite character? Make sure to find out what game system they have so you can get a game for their particular console or handheld.
Many anime fans become interested in Japanese culture through anime, especially since popular Japanese artists and bands are used on the soundtracks to the majority of series. You can get them the soundtrack to the series or even a few JPOP or JROCK CD's. JPOP and JROCK is the abbreviation of Japanese pop and Japanese rock music. Find many artists at both YesAsia and eBay. Popular Japanese music artists include Ayumi Hamasaki (pop), Utada Hikaru (pop / R & B), Arashi (pop boy band), L'Arc-en-Ciel (rock band), Morning Musume (pop girl band) and many more.
Collectibles & Decorative Items
There are also many collectibles and decorative items available for some series. Consider animation cells, limited edition toys, photo albums, calendars, posters and more. Find these at YesAsia and eBay.
Clothing & Apparel
Some anime fans enjoy dressing up as their favorite character, this is called "cosplay". Try to find out who their favorite character is and get them a costume or accessories. For instance, an Inuyasha fan would love a necklace like the one Inuyasha wears or a play sword like he uses. Or go all out and get them a full costume just like their favorite character. One place to check out is CosplayMagic.com.
Language Books or Software
If your anime fan has a serious interest in Japanese culture, then consider getting them a book or audio learning set to help them learn, read and write Japanese. This is an excellent gift option if you're having a hard time finding gifts from their favorite anime series. This is also a gift you can feel good about, since learning a new language is a very valuable skill for their future.
From sushi to Pocky, if they have an interest in Japanese culture, they might like to try some of the food they have seen consumed in animes and dramas. Some suggestions include a sushi making kit, Japanese candy and gum, Pocky (a pretzel covered with chocolate), strange flavored Japanese versions of candy bars like KitKat and more. You can find many types of Japanese candy at AsianFoodGrocer and other Japanese food import sites.