If you didn’t know already, I like anime/manga a lot. In case you’re new to anime and you don’t know much about it, here’s a reader’s digest (jeez can I even use those terms anymore?). Anime is Japanese animation. While technically the term “anime” in Japanese means “animation” it is used to refer to a specific style of animation. I’m not getting into the semantics of it because reasons and time, but there’s a lot of different types of anime—just like there’s a lot of different types of animation.
A couple specific things to note about anime, it employs Japanese storytelling, which includes exposition and “tell not show”, so if that bothers you a lot, that’s fine. Just know that’s used a lot in anime because it’s how they communicate story telling. I personally like this style a lot because there’s a distinct elegance in the phrasing and words. I’ll try to cover a lot of different types!
Also, Japan is a great place and a great culture, but just like us, they are susceptible to problematic elements, I’ll try to put content warnings in if they apply but I can’t and don’t claim to, catch everything. Anyway, let’s go!
Let us go for a few obvious ones first:
If you liked, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green try I Want to Eat Your Pancreas directed by Shô Tsukikawa
Starting off with a YA classic it’s a story about a someone who wants to live life to the fullest. This applies as well to the story of Sakura, a girl who is living with a pancreatic disease. I know you’re probably thinking the title is a little abnormal, and it’s explained well by a member of My Anime List Network here. Other than the premise, the feeling of the two stories gives you a sense of awe and a, “I want to live my life to the fullest” kind of feeling. Very wholesome, 10/10 would recommend the movie.
If you liked, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina try Koi no Katachi (A Silent Voice) directed by Naoko Yamada
TW: bullying, suicide, abelism
Both these books are veryyyyyyyyy, and I can’t stress this enough, heavy. They are difficult to view/read and digest, so take care before consuming either. I think the two media have a different message to give to the consumer, but both are amazing in their own way.
If you liked, A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G Drew try Your Lie in April directed by Takehiko Shinjō
CW: Physical abuse, emotional abuse, the death of parent and friend, illness
For the record, I have not read Drew’s book. I was just not really interested in reading it after I saw the summary because it reminded me too much of Your Lie in April. But if you loved one, you just might like the other! They have a very similar premise, and (I’m guessing) plot.
If you liked, Watchmen by Alan Moore try My Hero Academia directed by Kenji Nagasaki
I apologize in advance because I’m sure I’ve offended both the anime watchers and the graphic novel fans by suggesting this link. While Watchmen is a lot darker in a lot of ways, My Hero Academia does have a lot of (subtle) dark these. The world building in this anime is killer. There is no stone unturned and all aspects of being a hero/villain are fully integrated and considered in the series, which is why these two are together. Sue me.
If you liked, The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon try Your Name (Kimi No Na Wa) directed by Makoto Shinkai
It’s just the feeling of bliss and love you get from both these stories that make me want to pair them together. I love how much feeling you get between Natasha and Daniel and Mitsuha and Taki-kun. Right down to the subtle endings, these two stories immediately capture your heart.
Here are some less obvious ones:
If you liked, The Hating Game by Sally Thorne try Kaguya-Sama: Love is War directed by Mamoru Hatakeyama
The kind of squirming the protagonists enjoy in their respective love interests in both of these media’s is why I ended up grouping them together. Shinomiya and Shirogane and Lucy and Joshua both seem to enjoy winning as much as they are in love with their partners and it’s a delight to watch. Full disclosure, I have not finished this show.
If you liked, Nimona by Noelle Stevenson try Noragami directed by Kotaro Tamura
I know I know, but here me out. Nimona might be a tech-savvy renaissance society, and Noragami might be about literal Gods who exist for real. But the humor and heart in both of these shine through, which is ultimately why I recommend them in the same breathe.
If you liked, From Twinkle, With Love by Sandya Menon try From Up On Poppy Hill directed by Gorou Miyazaki
I think the emphasis on self-growth and discovery are prominent themes in these two stories. I love how the two characters are united by a common goal in both the tales and both have quite a lot going on in their own lives. Both of the stories are adorable. And while Poppy Hill isn’t my favorite Ghibli film, it’s still good.
If you liked, Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson et. al try The Eccentric Family (Uchouten Kazoku) directed by Masayuki Yoshihara
Wild adventures abound in both of these adorable stories. I loved the lore of Tanukis that is brought into The Eccentric Family, and all the adventures they go on. Similarly, the Lumberjanes never cease to get into some sort of trouble. These are both slow-moving stories that you just need to be along for the ride for. They’re not plot or character heavy, they’re just good ole fun.
If you liked, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell try Reaching You (Kimi ni Todoke) directed by Hiro Kaburagi
These two stories don’t have much in common in terms of premise and setting, but the characters are unmistakably similar. I loved how shy, yet sure of themselves Cath and Sawako are—and the bright cheerful personalities of both Levi and Kazehaya. I love how they come together (even though Reaching You is the slowest of all slow burns) and how they bring out the best of each other (especially in the manga of Reaching You). Together they are tied for best-matched and most-adorable couples.
If you liked, Geekerella by Ashley Poston try Wotakoi directed by Yoshimasa Hiraike
Both of these media are just a celebration of fandom and liking what you like and not caring about what others think. I love how unapologetic all the characters in these stories are. They’re so heartwarming and fun and full of love.
Anyway, I’m always looking for more anime/manga and to read/watch! Give me your best!