So, there’s a special anime fan in your life. Great! Now, what do you get them for the holidays? That question is not so great. With endless series, movies, and games out there that that special someone may or may not be into, finding the right gift can be no simple task.
Before we dive into a few brilliant selections for this year’s holidays, let’s begin with what NOT to get an anime fan:
Don’t get an anime fan’s obsession wrong.
If you don’t know the exact details of what shows they like, what kinds of merch they would display or wear, you’re more than likely going to get something wrong.
On top of that, there is way too much merchandise out there nowadays. Not all of it is for every fan. This is especially true for fashion. Sure, some fans like anime-related T-shirts or apparel, and some don’t EVER want to wear anything directly related to anime. This can be true for mugs, bags, notebooks, you name it. Before you buy something, really check in with the person first.
All this boils down to is that unless you know the person’s exact preferences in shows and how they like to express their fandom, the bulk of anime merchandise might not be a safe bet. Fortunately for you, anime fans LOVE to talk about their obsessions, so it’s pretty easy to pry that information out of them.
To help you out, let’s look into how fans tick and see what gifts go well with those characteristics!
Anime fans are fans because they like watching anime.
This should be a no-brainer, but it makes more sense when you think about it. Being an anime fan entails watching anime, so any gift that makes that easier or more abundant for the fan will be a huge thumbs up. The simplest of these is gift subscriptions to popular anime video streaming sites. Crunchyroll, VRV, Funimation, or even Netflix subscriptions will be appreciated by any anime fan.
Moreover, there are great streaming devices that will help fans watch utilize those subscriptions. Anything from a Google Chromecast to a Roku. Most popular streaming devices will have apps for the popular anime streaming sites.
Something as simple as movie passes to a local theater might work, too. This includes the chain theaters like AMC and Regal. You’d be surprised how many anime films are now getting releases in theaters!
Anime fans enjoy their community.
This might not always be true, but it is for many fans. They participate in myriad ways – from cosplay, to gaming, to plain ole socializing. And what is the best way that the community gets together? Anime conventions! No matter where you live, I’m certain there is an anime convention nearby at some point in the year. Gifting a badge to attend such a convention, where the fan can meet with like-minded people can go over super well.
However, not all fans engage the community in this way, so it’s best to check in if you can. Conventions can be overwhelming for some and off-putting for others.
Anime fans wear their passions on their sleeves.
Literally. Of course we’ve address the basic idea of anime merchandise. There are a whole lot of items out there with the same basic premise: Logo + Characters. And that might work for some fans, but older fans might want something they can brandish elsewhere, perhaps more subtly.
Before you reach for your credit card at an online anime shop, know what level of fandom expression your giftee is comfortable with. I’ve tried to break it down into a few categories, though this list is in no way exhaustive.
The ninja fan
No, not a fan of ninjas (though they might be). The ninja fan in this sense means that if they are sporting anything anime related, it’s obfuscated heavily or hidden in a way that only observant fans (or those who stare for way too long) would be able to tell.
This usually means iconography from their favorite works are interwoven into intricate patterns, or the item is from a show, but bears no direct reference that non-fans would understand. For example, there are ties out there that contain subtle references to a work, or ones that even have a particular waifu on the back, where no one will see, unless you let them.
Ties aren’t the only place someone can go stealth. There are all kinds of jewelry – necklaces, earrings, tie clips, rings, et cetera that to an outsider looks like a nice design.
Recently, we’ve seen a boom in sneakers that are also inspired by anime series and characters, but don’t have any logo or characters blazoned all over it.
Depending on the person, some of there may or may not be work appropriate, so make sure to check in with them first!
The Everyday Cosplayer
Some fans enjoy clothing that is a direct reference to a series. Now, I’m not talking about the Edward Elric jacket that was sold for a time at Hot Topic. I’m talking more about in-world items that look completely normal to the casual observer. Or, if not directly normal, not too far off the beaten path. Something that isn’t screaming “I LOVE ANIME” directly down your throat. There are tons of dresses that evoke colors, schemes, and patterns of anime series without being too on the nose.
The everyday cosplayer can strut about town with any of these on, still feel like they are connected to their favorite works and not get too much side eye for doing so.
The Graphic Tee Affascinato
Some people love a good T-shirt design. And in this day and age, the graphic tee has become an essential part of people’s style. There are a lot of great ones out there that don’t just regurgitate images and logos from a particular work.
For example, UNIQLO has been releasing all kinds of fantastic looking shirt designs over the years for multiple anime series.
While these are more overt in their fandom, they still have an artistic quality about them that one can wear proudly.
Going even deeper, there are a galaxy of independent artists who do great anime and anime-adjacent designs. Keep in mind that characters should be clearly recognizable as “anime” despite being an entirely original work.
Anime fans want a piece of the action.
There are other items that anime fans enjoy, and these can range from toys, to posters, to original production materials. The key here is to go for something that has “heart”. Cheap items might be great in the short run, but high-quality items feel more genuine.
Although POP! figures are super popular at the moment and there are tons of anime-related characters available, there is a much, much better option out there – Nendroids. Same big-headed cutesy style, but with much more quality, better sculpts and paint, and they are poseable!
Sure, you can find some run-of-the-mill posters for just about any anime series, but I suggest seeking out artists who create high-quality prints. Not only do you get something from a favorite series, but you also get another fan’s interpretation and artistic eye in one picture. Some of these prints look really good even in the most sophisticated of homes.
If you really want to go deep, it’s not too hard to find actual production items from your giftee’s favorite anime. If the work is from the pre-2000s, production cels are out there. Granted, some of these are nowhere near cheap, as it really depends on a show’s popularity. However, owning an actual piece of a beloved show is nothing to scoff at.
Works past the beginning of the digital age (around 2000) might not have cels, but sketches and other accoutrements are out there. This might take a little bit of digging, so this might be limited to a very special someone.
‘Tis the Season
Finding a gift for someone in your life might never be easy, considering the sheer amount of stuff out there, and the many interests, hobbies, and professions of the people you appreciate. Anime fans in particular have a wide array of items that might be perfect, but navigating that consumer landscape can be downright hell.
Hopefully, with the suggestions above, we’ve made it a little easier on you. What’s great about this guide is that it’s true for any part of the year, not just the holidays. It’s perfect for birthdays, too. So go out there and find something great for the anime fans in your life!