The most recommended books about anime

Who picked these books? Meet our 17 experts.

17 authors created a book list connected to anime, and here are their favorite anime books.
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Book cover of Spirited Away

Eric Reinders Author Of The Moral Narratives of Hayao Miyazaki

From my list on Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.

Who am I?

Princess Mononoke blew my mind. And as I read about Miyazaki himself I thought: here is a kindred spirit. I thought I’d try teaching a course on Miyazaki, not sure if I could sustain a whole semester just about his work—and then I found, there’s way more than a semester’s worth to talk about. After teaching about Miyazaki for a few years, I had to write it all down. Some reviews of my book say my essays are personal, and it’s true, for better or worse—it isn’t about Studio Ghibli or the production process or even about Japan—it’s my reflections on these great films. 

Eric's book list on Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki

Eric Reinders Why did Eric love this book?

This short book is a detailed study of just one great film, scholarly but without jargon. 

Along the way, he points out many details I had missed. He also demonstrates the connections of Spirited Away to Miyazawa Kenji’s Night of the Milky Way Railway, and other sources and inter-textual references. Very interesting and revealing.

By Andrew Osmond,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spirited Away as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Spirited Away, directed by the veteran anime film-maker Hayao Miyazaki, is Japan's most successful film, and one of the top-grossing 'foreign language' films ever released. Set in modern Japan, the film is a wildly imaginative fantasy, at once personal and universal. It tells the story of a listless little girl, Chihiro, who stumbles into a magical world where gods relax in a palatial bathhouse, where there are giant babies and hard-working soot sprites, and where a train
runs across the sea.

Andrew Osmond's insightful study describes how Miyazaki directed Spirited Away with a degree of creative control undreamt of in…


Book cover of Coffin: The Art of Vampire Hunter D

Mina Petrović Author Of Manga Crash Course Fantasy: How to Draw Anime and Manga, Step by Step

From my list on inspiring manga art.

Who am I?

I am a long-time manga teacher and a pop-culture researcher, as well as a comic illustrator and a Youtuber, presenting under the "Mistiqarts" pseudonym. Since manga was something that inspired me early on to dedicate my life to the art style and pop culture, I was constantly looking for new ways to bring this lifestyle and art to other people interested in drawing manga.  

Mina's book list on inspiring manga art

Mina Petrović Why did Mina love this book?

Speaking of video-game and anime industry pioneers, it would be a complete miss not to mention Yoshitaka Amano, a man whose personal style marked the entire legendary Final Fantasy franchise, after which I was delighted to learn that he also did the original illustrations of my all-time favorite anime "Vampire Hunter D". His imaginative dynamic visuals are as equally beautiful as they are simple, and yet he keeps shocking with his ability to perfectly fuse traditional imagery with sci-fi buildings and details.

By Yoshitaka Amano,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Coffin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rare book


Book cover of The Stray Spirit

Denise O. Eaton Author Of Arigale: Spite in the Spirit

From my list on fantasy that anime lovers will enjoy.

Who am I?

Fantasy has always been a passion and an escape for me. It started with copious amounts of reading, then I found anime when I was only a child as Cardcaptors began to air on TV. I’ve watched hundreds of anime shows since then and continued my penchant for reading and writing almost exclusively in the fantasy genre. In college, I obtained a BA in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing, so I have a good grasp on literature analysis and many works. In addition, I studied Japanese for two years, lived in Japan for six months, and held a position at the anime club while I was in college.

Denise's book list on fantasy that anime lovers will enjoy

Denise O. Eaton Why did Denise love this book?

The medieval fantasy in this book was juxtaposed with band culture for the bard MC early in the book, which gave me a few laughs. I love all of the characters, but even more, I love that I didn’t like them all at first. One character came across too cheery while another was too stuck up, but I ended up loving them all by the end. The world is one I would adore stepping into for a week to live in, so it’s a very good escapist read. The MC’s directive is so simple, since he’s just trying to get into a bard group and prove his family wrong. The fact the scenario twists into so much more but remains so wholesome reminded me of the anime Spice and Wolf.

By R.K. Ashwick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Stray Spirit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bard and a forest spirit uncover a deadly magical threat…and the key to survival lies within their own forgotten songs.

Struggling bard Emry Karic has only one path home: impress the Auric Guild, join its ranks of elite musicians, and return to his family with his honor in hand.

Difficult to do on a good day. Impossible to do with a possessed lute.

Hours before Emry’s big break, an unnatural earthquake strikes, forcing a forest spirit named Aspen to take refuge in his lute. Aspen is loud, talkative...and not leaving anytime soon.

Panicked, Emry swears the spirit to silence…


Book cover of Cruising the Anime City: An Otaku Guide to Neo Tokyo

Gianni Simone Author Of Otaku Japan: The Fascinating World of Japanese Manga, Anime, Gaming, Cosplay, Toys, Idols and More!

From my list on otaku Japan.

Who am I?

I have lived in Japan for the last 30 years but my love for manga, anime, and games is much older and dates back to when UFO Robot Grendizer was first shown on Italian TV a fateful summer evening in 1978. Many years later, I was able to turn my passion for all things Japanese into a job and now I regularly write about politics, society, sports, travel, and culture in all its forms. However, I often go back to my first love and combine walking, urban exploration, and my otaku cravings into looking for new stores and visiting manga and anime locations in and around Tokyo.

Gianni's book list on otaku Japan

Gianni Simone Why did Gianni love this book?

The mother of all otaku guides was published by current Otaku USA magazine’s honcho Macias and famous otaku writer Machiyama and reflects their tastes and idiosyncratic approach to the subject. Admittedly, you can find better, more complete, and updated otaku travel guides now (e.g. my book… wink wink) but this colorful book has a funky turn-of-the-century design and features things that you will hardly find elsewhere, like interviews with Mandarake owner Masuzo Furukawa, magazine editor Hisanori Nukata (about action figures), past cosplay queen Jan Kurotaki and Japan’s most notorious plastic model kit collector Chimatsuri. It’s a wonderful blast from the past.

By Patrick Macias, Tomohiro Machiyama,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cruising the Anime City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you're into anime (and manga), there's no place like Neo Tokyo. Here otaku dress-up cos-play style for real, 100,000+ fans attend cons to buy and trade, and anime soundtracks are performed in concert halls. Neo Tokyo is where anime has become both urban fashion and cultural zeitgeist, and this is its first street-smart guide in English. Featuring interviews with tastemakers, it covers studios, toys, museums, games, film "locations," music, plus where to hang and how to cruise. Four-color, with maps and index.

Patrick Macias, a specialist in Asian film and Japanese pop culture, is the author of TokyoScope.

Tomohiro…


Book cover of Death Note, Vol. 1

Christopher Calvin Author Of Pendant of God

From my list on that were adapted into worse movies.

Who am I?

I grew up a child of the movies, open to watching anything at least once and countlessly rewatching the movies I loved. When not in front of a television, I was instead in front of a book, playing the words of the page out in my imagination. Now I write thrillers of multiple varieties (action, techno, paranormal, etc.), still visualizing words as movies playing out in my mind. Over the years, I’ve seen the quality of novel adaptations grow (e.g., Harry Potter, The Martian, etc.), and yet these staples of my youth have always stuck with me as lost opportunities to deliver a superior work to the general movie-watching audience.

Christopher's book list on that were adapted into worse movies

Christopher Calvin Why did Christopher love this book?

I’m cheating slightly with this one, as Death Note is a twelve-volume manga rather than a singular novel. But the twelve volumes comprise one single, cohesive, top-notch story that I’d pit against any of my favorite, more traditional novels.

Death Note has been adapted into an anime, a Japanese series of movies, and, most recently, a Netflix movie. The anime is excellent. The Japanese movies are also pretty good. But that Netflix movie… compared to the source material, it’s utter garbage.

And unfortunately, because of Netflix’s popularity, it’s the version most people are likely familiar with. And that’s really sad, because I personally feel it damages a brand that has otherwise had great representation in multiple media formats. If the Netflix movie is all you’ve seen, do yourself a favor and pick up the original manga. You won’t regret it!

By Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death Note, Vol. 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects - and he's bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Noteto rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal...or his life?

Light tests…


Book cover of Evermore

Denise O. Eaton Author Of Arigale: Spite in the Spirit

From my list on fantasy that anime lovers will enjoy.

Who am I?

Fantasy has always been a passion and an escape for me. It started with copious amounts of reading, then I found anime when I was only a child as Cardcaptors began to air on TV. I’ve watched hundreds of anime shows since then and continued my penchant for reading and writing almost exclusively in the fantasy genre. In college, I obtained a BA in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing, so I have a good grasp on literature analysis and many works. In addition, I studied Japanese for two years, lived in Japan for six months, and held a position at the anime club while I was in college.

Denise's book list on fantasy that anime lovers will enjoy

Denise O. Eaton Why did Denise love this book?

Evermore has an anime-level mystical other world with copious drama and shenanigans afoot. There are strained friendships, romance, death-defying endeavors, and more. Who doesn’t love a good immortal chasing after his love through different lifetimes? I appreciate that the MC isn’t a damsel in distress even with the romance-heavy lean of the book. There’s plenty of mystery and action with the MC’s ability to see spirits and auras as she tries to discern the strange things happening around her. I have so much love for themes of life and death. I can see parallels between this book and the anime The Ancient Magus Bride. Both involve not-so-distant other worlds and a protagonist who has shut herself away for her gifts falling in love with an immortal.

By Alyson Noël,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Evermore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Don't miss Evermore, the first book in Alyson Noël's #1 New York Times bestselling The Immortals series. Enter an enchanting new world where true love never dies. . .

After a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever Bloom can see people's auras, hear their thoughts, and know someone's entire life story by touching them. Going out of her way to avoid human contact and suppress her abilities, she has been branded a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste.

Damen is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy. He's the only one who…


Book cover of Japanamerica

Susan J. Napier Author Of Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art

From my list on if you love animation or Japanese popular culture.

Who am I?

I am the Goldthwaite Professor of Rhetoric and Japanese at Tufts University. I’ve lived in Japan for 8 years beginning when I was 17 when I travelled to Tokyo and lived on my own, teaching English, and studying Japanese. I became a scholar of Japanese literature, and then in the 1990s became interested in Japanese animation (anime) and in animation in general. I’ve written five books on either Japanese literature or anime-related subjects, and I am currently working on a project comparing the animated films of the Walt Disney Studio with the films of Studio Ghibli.

Susan's book list on if you love animation or Japanese popular culture

Susan J. Napier Why did Susan love this book?

This book has remained consistently influential and thought-provoking from the time it was written in 2006. Kelts uses the notion of the moebius strip to analyze the sometimes surprisingly rich and complex dynamics in the mutual relationship between Japanese and American popular culture. He explains how much each country’s art and entertainment culture has influenced the other in an interweaving tapestry of history, art, and inspiration. At a time when the question of cultural appropriation is still a provocative subject, Kelt’s book reminds us of how fruitful cultural interchange can be.

By Roland Kelts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Japanamerica as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anime, or Japanese animation, is Asia's equivalent of the Harry Potter phenomenon in the rest of the world. While Hollywood struggles to fill seats, Japanese anime releases are increasingly outpacing American movies in sheer numbers and, more importantly, in the devotion they inspire in their fans. But just as Harry Potter is both "universal" and very English, anime is also deeply Japanese, making its popularity in the rest of the world surprising. "Japanamerica" is the first book that directly addresses our experience with anime and the Japanese pop phenomenon, covering everything from Hayao Miyazaki's epics, the burgeoning world of hentai,…


Book cover of Gun Magus

J. Trevor Robinson Author Of The Mummy of Monte Cristo

From J.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Christian Cryptozoologist Armchair economist Alternate-historian

J.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, J.'s 4-year-old's favorite books.

J. Trevor Robinson Why did J. love this book?

Kenneth Jericho gets sucked into a magical otherworld while rescuing a little girl from human traffickers, and soon learns that his new surroundings have their own problems that he can’t turn away from.

Immediately it turns into a fast-paced adventure that made me nostalgic for the Dungeons and Dragons group I played with as a young man, where the guy running the game was perfectly happy to accept things like a high-powered magical rifle using the same stats as a longbow.

I never got into anime myself, but I still really enjoyed Gun Magus’s isekai vibe and any anime fan would probably appreciate it even more. Gun Magus has action, worldbuilding, big vibrant characters, and a lot of heart. I hope LaPoint has plans to go back and revisit this setting someday.

By N.R. LaPoint,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gun Magus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Dying World

Kelby Losack Author Of Mercy

From my list on that feel like watching anime.

Who am I?

Anime and manga have always been the biggest influences on my own writing, from the drastic tonal shifts and bizarre scenarios to the frenetic pacing and strange characters. Underdogs fighting tooth and nail against increasingly overwhelming foes in a perpetual struggle to take the slightest step forward—those are the characters I relate to, the stories I want to tell. 

Kelby's book list on that feel like watching anime

Kelby Losack Why did Kelby love this book?

This is a book that wears its anime influence on its sleeve quite literally, as the back cover states “for fans of Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Akira, and Cyberpunk 2077.”

For storytellers, this could be used as a bible for grand worldbuilding and epic fight scenes condensed into minimalist, cinematic prose. An insanely fun read that keeps the pedal smashed to the floor beginning to end.

By J David Osborne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dying World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We live in a Dying World.

Kentaro was the best assassin in Cyclone City, a sweaty cyberpunk metropolis in the heart of a future bombed-out America. That is, until he got a full memory wipe. Emerging from the isolation of a monastery, he resumes his life as a killer, attempting to unravel the mystery of who he is, and why he'd have chosen to erase his past.

Sasuke is a bodyguard for a prominent preacher. His boss has run afoul of the all-powerful corporations, who have sent a small army of punks and off-duty cops out for his head. In…


Book cover of Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation

Eric Reinders Author Of The Moral Narratives of Hayao Miyazaki

From my list on Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.

Who am I?

Princess Mononoke blew my mind. And as I read about Miyazaki himself I thought: here is a kindred spirit. I thought I’d try teaching a course on Miyazaki, not sure if I could sustain a whole semester just about his work—and then I found, there’s way more than a semester’s worth to talk about. After teaching about Miyazaki for a few years, I had to write it all down. Some reviews of my book say my essays are personal, and it’s true, for better or worse—it isn’t about Studio Ghibli or the production process or even about Japan—it’s my reflections on these great films. 

Eric's book list on Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki

Eric Reinders Why did Eric love this book?

This is an excellent general review of the films from Castle of Cagliostro to Princess Mononoke, including plot outline, character studies, technical notes, and appreciations of the films. She is very insightful about the artistic technique. And there’s an interesting chapter at the end about Miyazaki merchandise. This would be a good starting point for a fan. 

By Helen McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hayao Miyazaki as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anime is a huge market, and this is the exclusive, definitive book on the leading master of Japanese animation today, Hayao Miyazaki. Disney has licensed the Miyazaki line (e.g., Kiki's Delivery Service ) and plans another major release this summer. This book supplies informed discussions of style and narrative for each of Miyazaki's major films, with all the data and detail fans want.