You know what I absolutely love? Anime! I’ve loved anime before I knew anime was anime (cue Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and Yu Yu Hakusho), but in middle school is when I really hit my anime stride. I blame Naruto. And while my tastes in anime may have gradually changed, my love of the artform has stayed constant, alongside my love of Naruto. It’s a work of art, nobody can tell me otherwise. Regardless, sometimes your girl just needs a break from the screen, but I still want those anime vibes. So, here is a list of books with big anime energy!
Illustrated by Johanna The Mad
Created by C.S. Pacat
Fence is like if you took Haikyu and made it fencing and gay. Truly, this is the gay sports anime of our dreams, only in book form! The boys of King’s Row Fencing Team are out to win, for many different reasons. Seiji wants to be the best, Nic wants to best the best. (Hello rivals, hello tension!) Harvard wants to be a great team captain, and …. Wants to win Harvard’s heart. Unrequited love, wherefore art thou? Seriously, this book has all the high-energy sports action of the best sports animes, and romance that is both squeal and swoon worthy. Yuri on Ice who?
A contemporary romance with magical elements inspired by traditional myth and a star-crossed lovers story that only the coldest of hearts would not weep to. Your Name or An Arrow to the Moon? Spoiler: the answer is both. An Arrow to the Moon has big — energy, but rather than being inspired by Japanese myth, this story pulls from Emily X.R. Pan’s Chinese ancestry in a story that is gorgeously atmospheric and thick with heady romance and, of course, magic!
by Julie Abe
Miyazaki, eat your heart out! This book is so dang cute and has big Kiki’s Delivery Service vibes! Just like the best Miyazaki movies, this book makes you want to be adventurous, to stumble upon magic and danger and make it out the other side using your wits, courage, and heart. Eva Evergreen might only have a pinch of magic, but she’ll learn that even just a pinch of magic can do a lot of good! Plus she has an adorable flame fox companion by the name of Ember who is equal parts adorable and trouble!
Okay, okay, I know Studio Bones might not ring a bell to all of you, but have you heard of the show My Hero Academia or Fullmetal Alchemist? Yeah, they’re the guys who brought you those. But their original productions are my favorite – Eureka Seven, Carole and Tuesday, X’amd: Lost Memories. All shows with fantastic plots and strange world-building brought together with amazing characters! Ahem – We Rule the Night. A war-ravaged country in the midst of conflict and two girls forced to work together by fate and a need to survive, never mind the flying and the magic and the secret night missions! And like so many of the best anime, this book might pull you in with the exclusive group of female fighter pilots flying deadly missions at night, but it keeps you reeled with the relationships between the characters, charming, complex, and un-put-downable!
I love animes that work from European fairytales, twisting and reworking the original tale to create something completely new. Enter Briarheart! This book takes the tale of Sleeping Beauty, but instead of Aurora being cursed as an infant she now has an older sister, Miriam, ready to defend her baby sister. As she trains to protect her sister alongside her fellow guardians, Miriam will learn not only how to wield a sword, but also use the magic thrumming through her veins while forging friendships with some unexpected allies. And she’ll need all the help she can get if she’s to protect the princess from the evil that wants to corrupt her. If you love anime for rag-tag crews of optimistic teens fighting against the powers of evil – you’ll love this book!
For those of you with a sci-fi bent, Impostors is the perfect anime-esque thriller perfect for fans of Psycho Pass and Ergo Proxy. Plus, it’s absolutely packed with frenetic action and plot twists to keep you at the edge of your seat. Combine that with some seriously cool future-tech that I desperately wished were real and a dark concept (twin sisters forced to live as a single person, one sister providing the sole purpose of acting as the other’s body double), and Impostors is pitch perfect for anyone who is a fan of stark sci-fi anime!
by Kara Bietz
Banana Fish who? Okay, so this book doesn’t have a crime ring set in 1980’s New York City, but what it does have is BL (Boy’s Love) energy to the brim! We have emotional crescendos, miscommunication, romantic entanglements, and in the case of Sidelined, football! What more do you want? A friends-to-enemies-to-lovers story set in a Texas football team? Yes please, and thank you.
Okay, in full transparency, I included this one because I think it *should* be an anime! A steampunk setting, an assassin school parading as a finishing school, vampires, werewolves, and ghosts?! The insanity and the creative genius in the many gadgets, characters, and strange situations are perfect for anime fans who like their anime quick-paced, funny, and full of action. Think Mob Psycho 100 only instead of psychics in modern Tokyo, its well-to-do young ladies in steampunk England learning the finer points in fan work, curtsying, poisoning, and knife throwing. Think Assassination Classroom meets Black Butler.