GameZone's 2013 Holiday Gift Guide for Gamers - Anime
There's an interesting correlation between fans of video games and fans of anime, in that an interest in one frequently denotes an interest in the other. As a result, we at GameZone have taken it upon ourselves to deliver more than just gaming gifts this holiday season; we've got a sizable list of anime for you as well. Aren't we hard workers?
Oh, and we did literally pull together on this one. Despite what the above byline may read, this list has two authors: the first five anime and their descriptions come from our own Brittany Vincent, while the latter five were written by Austin Wood. With that out of the way, let's break out the anime that should be on any anime lover's Christmas list.
Michiko & Hatchin
Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) strikes again with Michiko & Hatchin, a series that unexpectedly brings a gorgeous diva named Michiko together with a spunky little girl known as Hatchin who's on the run from abusive foster parents. Though Michiko is a criminal herself, she rescues the abused girl and the two form a bond that makes them inseparable. It's a race through South America to freedom accompanied by a funky Brazilian soundtrack. If you're looking for something beyond the normal parameters of moe, schoolgirls, and slice-of-life comedies, Michiko & Hatchin should fill that void nicely.
Wolf Children is a touching anime film that follows a young girl who ends up bearing children by a being known as a Wolfman, the only surviving descendant of the Japanese wolf. The children born out of this union, Ame and Yuki, are adorable, though this touching tale will simultaneously warm and break your heart as young Hana raises her children on her own. Even though she's stuck facing issues every single mother would face as well as the compounding issues since Ame and Yuki are part wolf, Hana braves it all, weaving a tale of a mother's undying love for her children. Get some tissues ready. You're going to need them.
Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine
The latest Lupin the Third series developed for television is a colorful celebration of all things Fujiko Mine. The franchise's heroine (if you can call her that) is a darker, more cheeky version of the Lupin fans are familiar with, but that's part of what makes it so endearing. It's sensual, action-packed, and stylish, just like its namesake, with plenty to offer male and female fans alike. It's a gorgeous must-have for any serious anime fan on your list, especially given the fact that it's more Lupin. Who can resist that?
Akira is widely considered to be one of the most influential anime films ever, and now it's on Blu-ray to give as an excellent gift to any cyberpunk fan. The rousing story of Kaneda and Tetsuo is one for the ages -- if you haven't seen it yet, you're missing out, so if you put it on your list to purchase for someone else, consider sitting with them this holiday season and prepare yourself for an animated epic that can easily rival any of the summer blockbusters you've probably seen over the past few years. Katsuhiro Otomo's classic should be shared, so make sure you take part in that over the next few months.
Sword Art Online
If you haven’t actually watched it yet, you’ve probably at least heard of it -- the magical journey into the world of Aincrad via virtual reality helmet is an excellent commentary on MMOs, how attached to them we are, and the complex relationships that can form between players. A strong first twelve episodes follow with a less engaging ending, but gamers and otaku alike can agree that this series is deserving of the hype because of the way it continually keeps you glued to your seat. Just don’t get too caught up in wanting a similar MMO world to hop into, because we’re not sure any real-world titles will deliver.
Fullmetal Alchemist is synonymous with all that is anime. Universally lauded, the original series tells the tale of Edward and Alphonse Elric, two young alchemists who’ve set out to recover the bodies that were torn from them by an alchemical experiment. Alchemy, however, is not the simple conversion of lead to gold in FMA. Stone to steel, air to fire, mountains to valleys—alchemy can manipulate virtually everything. Only life itself is off-limits, behind the illegality of “human transmutation.” FMA Brotherhood picks up around the series’ midpoint and is essentially a retelling of the latter portion of the plotline, though earlier sections are revisited as well. Its later release date lends it improved visuals, and the adaptation is ultimately an improvement on an already stellar story, adding newfound background and characterization to the mix. The emotive characters and grief-stricken world are enthralling and introspective, and the resulting story is unassailable.
Conveniently, all 100+ episodes (yeah, so buckle up) can be found on Bluray/DVD over at Amazon.
The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
2013 has already been a brilliant year for anime, so it’s tough to narrow the list down. But these are holiday gifts we’re talking about, which means you’re after stuff your friends won’t return. This is where The Pet Girl of Sakurasou shines, as it has something for everyone. This romantic comedy revolves around Mashiro Shiina, a brilliant western artist with a distinct lack of common sense that’s left her unable to care for herself, and Sorata Kanda, a run-of-the-mill high school student with a sense of wit that’s peerless among school-anime protagonists. Mashiro can scarcely even dress herself, much less maintain her schoolwork, and Sorata is stuck cleaning up her incoherence all the while. Other notable residents of Sakurasou, a rather infamous dorm at an art school, include an all-but-legally insane animation prodigy, an ostensibly reclusive programmer and one sex-hound of a senior. The cast is a rainbow of insanity, and the series as a whole flies in the face of generic romantic comedies. If you’re after real comedy and a story of perseverance and false inadequacy that’s impressively aware of its audience, be sure to give this one a watch. It’s even got video games in it!
Oh, and you’re going to want to head to Rightstuf to pick this one up.
This image was deliberately chosen to avoid spoilers. It is also beautiful.
Clannad is yet another two-part anime, with the second part being Clannad: After Story. The former is a touching romance between a frail girl trapped by her health and an eponymous hoodlum who’s searching for a reason to value the future. The latter, however, is a very different beast. After Story builds on the original Clannad and takes the main characters well beyond their high school days. Far from your average slice-of-life, After Story is a tale of two adults struggling to eke out a stable life. However, the world, it seems, will do anything to impede that struggle. This is a story of unrelenting hardship and loss so visceral that can pierce and numb even the coldest of hearts. The Clannad pair is unmatched in its ability to elicit emotion, and is a star in the anime world because of it. Don’t even bother bringing tissues for this one; just invest in a pool.
Amazon’s got you covered on this one, too.
There are time-travel stories, and then there’s time-travel done right. Steins;Gate is inarguably of the latter. Led by a self-described “mad scientist,” a crackpot team of tinkerers stumble upon a form of traveling through time—specifically, sending text messages back in time. Intrigued, a world-renowned scientist joins the charge, fighting to work with, to put it mildly, her colorful partner. The implications appear small at first, but this innocent discovery quickly takes a darker turn as simple messages begin to alter the entire world. The time-travel theory at play (yes, there are theories for this sort of thing) is brilliantly multi-versal, and without the plot holes which so frequently hinder time-travel tales. Better still, the time mechanic will keep you guessing and, ultimately, lead you dancing around an overarching ultimatum that, when revealed, will surely send your mind reeling.
The gate is just a click away at Rightstuf. What does that mean? Nothing.
Spice and Wolf
Fail not to grasp the happiness offered to you.
There’s unquestionably brilliant, and there’s thematically appropriate. Remarkably, Spice and Wolf has both in spades. Arguably the epitome of autumn, Spice and Wolf revolves around Kraft Lawrence, a young traveling merchant with a silver tongue, and the wolf goddess Holo, known for her benevolence by many, and for her equally silver but considerably sharper tongue by Lawrence. To oversimplify so egregiously as to warrant jail time, I’ll describe the plot as this: Holo is seeking to return to her home in the North, and Lawrence reluctantly agrees to accompany her there, provided she pulls her weight along the way.
The series is profoundly dialogue-heavy, and you’ll love it for it. Sarcasm and satire run rampant, arguments resonate with genuine heartbreak and despondence, and happiness rings true with every gleeful smile and laugh: Every word has been carefully crafted and superbly voiced. Scarcity in voice is utilized to its utmost, and you’ll never grow tired of a particular emotion, nor will they blur together. Sadness is impactful, happiness is infectious, and anger is unbridled. Spice and Wolf is not some happily-ever-after bedtime story. No, this is a story of economic tension, the workings of a financial underground, and above all, an endless bout between two traveling companions who struggle futilely to abstain from life’s greatest temptations.
Just go to Amazon and buy it already, before I really start rambling.
Be sure to check out all of the other awesome gifts, games and consoles in GameZone's 2013 Holiday Gift Guide for Gamers (Click on the image below).