Christmas hangs eagerly on the winds of winter as the holidays descend upon us, and suddenly it is time for gift giving. In preparation Nitwitty Magazine has seen fit to publish gift lists for all you holiday shoppers. Presents, for all their beautifully wrapped glory, present a particular problem from some. Knowing what to buy is not always easy, especially for those with certain, eclectic tastes. Which is why I chose to cover gift ideas for those chosen few who enjoy everything Japanese. From manga to anime to authentic ninja headbands, here is an Otaku’s Guide to Christmas!
As the season turns it is time to take off the proverbial hat and replace it with some ninja goodness. Once hailed as the “crown of nerds,” nerd culture’s sudden rise in popularity has opened a previously sealed and guarded door. Of course I am talking about the authentic Naruto Konoha Village Ninja Shinobi Cosplay Headband. For those out of the Otaku loop, Naruto is one of the three biggest and most popular manga ever published in Japan. The story focuses on the tale of a young orphaned ninja who dreams of greatness. The manga has since spawned a long running anime as well as multiple animated movies and TV specials. For the uninitiated, Naruto is pure badass fun and for a young kid, ideally of the age 7+, and wearing this headband represents an initiation into the ninja order. The headband is the ideal present for any young, ambitious warrior.
Next on this list is one of the hottest manga currently running in Shounen Jump, One Punch Man. Do you ever wondered what it is like to be to be so strong that you lose your hair and kill anything with one punch? Well, all your questions will be answer in a story about a super hero and his overwhelming super power. Along with a currently running anime One Punch Man, and its endearing bald protagonist, has captured the hearts of otaku everywhere. Follow Saitama, as he searches to rid himself of the boredom that comes with being invincible. The hilarious story is age appropriate for kids 10+.
If you are looking for an anime classic, check out the fantastic and always popular Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Adapted from a manga of the same name written by Hiromu Arakawa, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood has become a shining example of anime at its finest. The story follows are pair of brothers who have adulthood thrust upon them after a failed attempt to resurrect their dead mother through alchemy. One of the brothers, Al, loses his body to the failed magic and has his soul transferred to an empty suit of armor, while the other one, Edward, loses an arm and a leg. Despite their mutual destruction, the experience imparts them with great knowledge over alchemy and its processes. The story is epic in scope and written to absolute perfection. Featuring some of the finest animated battles ever composed in anime, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood stands at the pinnacle of the genre.
Searching for something a little more mature? Need a present for that lonely, single, otaku friend. Well look no further than Monster Musume No Iru Nichijou, a story about monsters and waifu’s. The story follows a young man who has stumbled into the wild world of a monster world exchange program. In the anime Japan, always a hot bed for the weird and unsettling, has established a treaty with the world of monsters, a program that enables monster girls to cross-worlds and experience an everyday Japanese life. Of course, most of them seem to ‘randomly’ encounter and fall in love with our always compassionate lead character. What results is a hilarious blend of rom-com and monster parts, a sure fire win for the 2D aficionado.
Any of you lucky weeaboo’s planning on proposing? Then I have the perfect gift, let me introduce the highly fashionable and always in style, Pokemon engagement ring! Forged from specially cut diamond and ruby and laid in 24-karat white gold, there is no better way to tell your lover “Girlfriend, I choose you!” The ring not only promises to bring a forth a rush of warm nostalgia but also helps with celebrating a new, special love for each other, all for the very reasonable price tag of $2,500.
Or, if all of the gifts so far seem over the top or embarrassing, how about an all expense paid trip to your local Japanese market. Take this from someone who is hopelessly obsessed with all things Japanese. Mitsuwa and other markets like it are a candy land of foreign snacks, drinks, candies, and foods. From salt flavored chips to fresh made sushi or yakisoba, there are dozens of things to buy and taste. Each unreadable item and label is a chance at discovery. Which makes the trip an easy and stress free gift, the less you research and know the more fun you will have scavenging the many varied shelves for treasure. When all is said and done, you will have a list of things you love and a slew of possible future presents at your disposal. As the Japanese say “Itadakimasu!”
On another serious note, if your personal otaku is a fan of Japanese history and literature, than search no further than Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. Musashi is a novel about Japan’s most fearsome and skilled samurai. A particularly famous historical and political figure famed for his unparalleled ability with the sword. The novel encompasses the story of his life, accomplishments, and personal philosophies. Along with Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Miyamoto Musashi’s The Book of Five Rings (also included in Musashi), is praised for its theories on war and combat. The novel is one of the most famous and popular books to ever come out of Japan, and is a beautiful and well-researched journey through a foreign time period and world. It offers insight into the alien world of samurai and ronin swordsman, depicting epic battles, famous duels, and earthshaking events in Japanese history. An absolute must read for anyone interested in the history and inspiration for many anime and manga today.
Besides this list, the only real advice I can give you is so not be scared or apprehensive. Japanese culture is a completely different animal than the west, everything from values to tastes differs widely. Dont make the mistake of being scared or reserved in your gift giving. Break out of your comfort zone and try and have fun with the process. Try and learn a bit about the history that stands behind your loved ones fanatic fandom and use that understanding to pick something unique. The gifts above represent a sliver of what Japan has to offer, don’t feel limited by my selection. As long as you do your research and are not afraid to ask questions I promise you that you cannot go wrong.