It’s that time of year! The time where most are scrambling to find that perfect gift for their friends and family, that gift that’s sure to give you that satisfied, fluffy feeling inside for giving someone you care about something they really love! But there’s so much out there to choose from (and not always affordable options either!), and buying for an anime and manga fan isn’t any easier with all the goodies out there.
So while I was sitting and pondering some of my own gift-buying dilemmas for my friends, I thought I’d put together a list for people that may offer some helpful inspiration. You can read it all under the cut.
In no particular order:
Affordable, plentiful and never with a shortage of selection, you’re bound to find something for a fan of any genre. Buying a friend the next book in a series they’re collecting or buying them that first volume of a series you know they’ve really wanted to try but haven’t made the decision to actually pick it up yet. Tokyopop and Viz’s big books (collections of 1-4 books) make great gifts for someone looking to start a series. They’re hard cover and only a little more expensive than buying one regular book. Books such as Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack, Kazuo Umezu’s Cat Eyed Boy and Takehiko Inoue’s Real make for classy purchases for the more mature audience and come at reasonable prices in lengthy, nice quality packaging.
Some other recommendations:
Alive (Vol. 01)
Black God (Vol. 01)
Blank Slate (Vol. 01)
Dark Prince (Vol. 01) (yaoi)
Future Lovers (Vol. 01) (yaoi)
Japan Ai: A Tall Girl’s Adventures in Japan
Metro Survive (Vol. 01)
Romantic Illusions (yaoi)
Vampire’s Portrait (Vol. 01) (yaoi)
Light novels are a really good purchase for a friend this holiday season. Not only is there nothing like curling up in bed with a warm cup of cocoa and a good book, but there’s been some great releases lately. Light novels may not be something your friends have tried before so recieveing one as a gift is a great start. Fans of XXXHolic would enjoy the light novel, XXXHolic: AnotherHolic and I highly recommend the DelRey first volume of the anthology-style light novel, Faust, which has some of the most bizarre, thought-provoking and diverse collection of short stories (plus an absolutely beautiful cover design). Faust is only recommended to readers 16+ though!
Yay for shiny art! Art books make great gifts and can be enjoyed by fans again and again. There’re lots of great (and affordable!) English-released art books out there on store shelves including the recently released Bleach art book, All Colour But Black and Arina Tanemura’s beautiful Art of Full Moon. You can usually find surprisingly affordable art books to import as well so if there’s a series or artist your friend really loves, chances are you’ll be able to find something for them.
Some would tell you that gift cards are the best gift you can give an anime/manga fan and it’s hard to disagree with that statement! Gift cards are easy to purchase and even easier to give, be it sending friends an online gift card (perfect for those long-distance friendships!) or slipped into a pretty card. For the best value, I’d recommend getting your buddies a gift card to the big book giants such as Chapters/Indigo and Borders. Allow your friends the infinite choose and remember it’s all thanks to you that they got exactly what they wanted! You can also buy gift certificates from your local comic book and anime shops that make for great presents and help support the little guys who always stock some of the coolest stuff.
Have a friend who loves stuff that’s so specific that it doesn’t even exist?! Try getting them an art commission! There’re so many amazing artists out there offering fantastic pieces of artwork at your pay-and-request. Commission one of your friends’ favourite artists to draw their original character or one of their favourite existing characters. You can have the fun of asking for something like series crossovers or specific scenarios and then get to see the artists do what they best for some amazing results. Some traditional artists will even ship you the original, making the gift completely one of a kind!
DeviantArt and MangaBullet are great places to go to find some fantastic artwork from thousands of artists, many of which are looking to make some gift-buying money and spread some cheer this holiday season by offering commissions! Including two very good friends of mine *wink wink*, MTCopyright and CK Russell.
A boxset? A boxset? Surely you jest! With belts tightening as they are, a boxset for a friend may seem a little much but thanks to the glories of some lovely recent pricing and straight-to-boxset slim packs, it’s more affordable than ever to get a high-quality set of anime DVDs in your home. With a single DVD easily going for between $30-$40, it seems the better idea to pay $40-$50 and get multiple DVDs, wouldn’t you say? Some recent Funimation releases that come with high recommendations include Ouran School Host Club (Part One) and Ghost Hunt (Season One, Part One). Some older series box sets are also prone to the occasional discount so always check! Bandai has also released part one of Gurren Lagann and the complete Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya series in multiple-DVD sets. And when you’ve bought something you know a friend is going to love, you’ll probably get to sit down with a big bowl of popcorn and enjoy it with them too!
Have a friend who loves surfing the web? Why not help them enhance the experience! Subscriptions of things that often come with great benefits but may not seem worth it or leave some who’ve never had them before curious but unsure. Sites such as AnimeNewsNetwork, LiveJournal and DeviantArt offer subscription packages with some really fun perks for their users. Do you know someone who has their own site? Chipping in to help with hosting costs will always be appreciated or maybe you could even buy someone their first domain address (keep in mind that domain addresses don’t often include hosting space unless they come in a package)! Those who use WordPress.com for their blogs also have some really fun and useful purchasable services.
Some anime/manga fan shopping tips:
Start early and stock up
This might sound a little redundant with my post going up mid-December but it’s still one of the best ways to get on top of your shopping. If you consider yourself especially cunning, stocking up on some cheap goodies during the convention season is a good idea and makes stocking stuffing and topping off the perfect gift all the easier. It’s a good idea to stock up on your friends’ favourite treats, like Pocky, Bawls and those entertainingly weird-to-us flavours of Kit Kat bars to ensure you have some extra goodies that won’t be foiled by any future purchases by your buddies.
Make a wish list for your friends, ask them to do the same
This saves lot of headaches and worries later for sure! If there’s a bunch of stuff you’d love to receive as a gift, then make a list and post it somewhere for your friends. You’re not making it with the expectation of getting everything of course but having a good resource of things you’d like (and don’t already own!) can really help a friend out when it comes to choosing that perfect something. This is a useful thing to have all times of the year for when birthdays sneak up on your friends too ;)
Keep an eye out for those deals
Money seems to be especially tight for people this year so more than ever people are looking for that perfect gift at the perfect price.
Online realtors are a great place to find the best value since you can so easily compare prices. EBay sellers often have imports at really cheap but don’t forget to check that you’re buying from a seller with a good reputation. No matter where you buy from, it’s always important to read everything on the product to make sure you’re getting what you want (don’t want to spend $50 on what you think is a full series box set but is instead only one DVD in a box!). Shipping costs can also hit you hard so always check those too. Sticking to places that ship within your own country usually have the cheapest, to often free, shipping, which can save a huge portion off your internet-shopping bill. Amazon.ca and Chapters.ca, for example, are two of the best Canadian sources to buy from and both offer free shipping on orders over $40. Like physical shops, online stores often hold specials and deals so you don’t want to miss out the chance to swoop in and pick up some swag at discounted prices.
When buying in-store, it’s easy to spot a hundred things that look good with so much laid out for you to look see. Taking a moment to compare the price you see at one location to another is always a good idea if you have the time and can easily save you a lot of money. Don’t forget about those special deals which can spring up when you least expect them like 3 for 4 deals at bookstores and **% off stickers at video stores. Don’t count out the bigger stores such as WalMart, which have good pricing and some finds that may surprise you. Second-hand sellers such as used bookstores and EB Games for video games also offer some near-new purchases for a fraction of the cost of buying new.
Some good online stops for shopping:
I mean it! Go out there and have fun with it! Get excited, let yourself feel proud when you find that perfect present, look forward to making your friends happy and getting to share all your new goodies. It’s hard not to get stressed this time of year with everyone bustling around and that looming deadline that makes you feel forced to spend, spend, spend. But just do your best to stay calm, ahead of the game and make it an adventure over a chore. You buy gifts for people to make them happy and that includes yourself! Maybe toss a little something for yourself in the cart as a good job when you’re done :)
Written December 12, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo