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[Screenshot from Erased, A-1 Pictures]

Did you know Quirk published an original Attack on Titan novel back in 2018 called Garrison Girl? Yup, that’s right! Here at Quirk HQ, we’re quiet but passionate anime fans, occasionally discussing manga at our monthly Comics Club and sometimes found crying over the return of Fruits Basket (the last season is officially here!).

So with National Anime Day landing on April 15th each year, it’s only natural we combine one of our favorite pastimes with another passion of ours. Yes, we mean books. Whether 1) you’ve watched these anime, read their manga/light novels counterparts, and are looking for a similar written story to jump into or 2) you’re a new anime fan hunting for shows based on a favorite read of yours, give this list a look-see for some TBR and TBW (to-be-watched) inspiration.

 

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via GIPHY

Gumiho series for Beyond the Boundary fans

Adapted from light novels (ie. typically YA chapter books with anime-styled art throughout) of the same name, Beyond the Boundary does what anime does best. It mixes action, romance, slice of life, humor, drama, and imagination into one unique story, and with animation from Kyoto Animation, it’s gorgeously produced as well. Mirai and Akihito are two very different high school students: one is a half human/half yokai (a demon of sorts) who often struggles to control his supernatural side, the other is a skilled fighter who can manipulate her blood and hunts yokai for a living. Complicated things occur when they meet, including epic battle scenes and unexpected affection. Kat Cho’s Gumiho series sets up a similar narrative in modern day Korea with Miyoung, half human/half gumiho (a fox demon of sorts like the Japanese kitsune or Chinese huli jing), and a human boy, Jihoon. Miyoung fights her gumiho urges to steal the lifeforce from men, and Jihoon unintentionally holds Miyoung’s soul in his hands. Some cool supernatural fight scenes go down, there’s a nice dose of student life and charming side characters, and readers watch as two contrasting characters bond over their individual loneliness, just like Beyond the Boundary.

Buy book one:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million | Bookshop

 

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The Shadows for Erased fans

Known in Japan as The Town Where Only I am Missing, Erased mixes supernatural time-travel with suspenseful murder mystery to create a genuinely addictive story of past mistakes and righting wrongs. Twenty-nine-year-old Satoru often finds himself sent back seconds or minutes before a life-threatening event, but when his mother is found stabbed to death in his apartment, he’s thrown back eighteen years with the chance to prevent his mother’s future murder as well as the past serial murders of three children. Though Alex North’s The Shadows doesn’t have time travel, it does have a supernatural-like (and additionally spooky) take on lucid dreaming, and it follows an investigation from the “then” connecting to the “now.” Twenty-five years ago, Paul Adams’ friend was murdered by teenager Charlie Crabtree, who sequentially vanished. Now an adult, Paul returns to his hometown to be with his dementia-riddled mother only to learn there’s a copycat killer. Without spoiling too much, there’s obvious differences between the two, but key elements are still there like captivating and close-call investigating, bonding with those who are destined for tragedy, and facing the consequences of past mistakes (though in Erased they’re reversible).

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million | Bookshop

 

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The Wish List for Death Parade fans

What started as the short film Death Billiards spawned the twelve episode anime Death Parade, a series following afterlife arbiter, Decim, and his judging of human souls via “death games.” These games range from air hockey to bowling to Twister and reveal whether the humans deserve the privilege of reincarnation or they’re banished to the void. Though each episode’s main focus is typically the human souls and their stories on Earth, there’s an overarching narrative of Decim’s human assistant who has yet to be sorted. For those who enjoy Death Parade’s question of what makes a person “bad” or “good” and the gray areas this question paints, Eoin Colfer’s The Wish List is a natural pick as it tells of Meg Finn, a soul up for grabs after a failed attempt to rob a pensioner results in her death. Meg wavers between that “good” and “bad,” and in an attempt to tip to the “good,” ghost Meg is tossed back to Earth to help the man she tried to rob complete his bucket list. Like Death Parade, the story bounces between sad, funny, occasionally dark, and gut-punching-ly heartfelt.

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

 

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Minority Report for Psycho-Pass fans

Written by Gen Urobuchi — fondly referred to as Urobutcher by fans, since, like Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Joss Whedon, he likes to kill off at least one character each story — Psycho-Pass is set in a cyberpunk, futuristic Japan where the omniscient Sibyl System analyzes and judges human behavior at all times. Inspectors (basically cops) work alongside enforcers (latent criminals hired to protect the inspectors) to investigate criminal cases and potential threats. When it comes to inspiration for the anime, the Psycho-Pass team has been upfront with sharing the list of sci-fi films that have influenced the show, but most notably is the 1982 Blade Runner and 2002’s The Minority Report, both based on Philip K. Dick works. If you’ve seen or read The Minority Report, the connection to Psycho-Pass is rather obvious, though both are original stories in their own right. In Dick’s novel, head police commissioner John Anderton works in the Precrime unit, where three “precogs” predict crimes before they occur, and the story takes off when he’s predicted to murder a man he’s never met. It’s an exciting read for fans who enjoyed the enforcer characters or the question of whether people have fates and have the power to alter them.

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million | Bookshop

 

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via GIFER

Park Bench for Mushishi fans

Picture sunlight beams shining through blurry treetop leaves with the calm acoustics of Ally Kerr singing “The Sore Feet Song,” and you’ve got the opening for Mushishi. Set between a sort of fictional Edo and Meiji period, the story offers the viewers a rather unique experience in the form of Ginko. He ventures across Japan assisting people with mushi, neither good nor bad (though parasitic), supernatural life forms. Fans know this slow-paced anime is honesty, melancholy, and triumph all bundled in one, and it instills a very specific and somehow indefinable sense of peace in the viewer. It’s hard for much to compare, but Chabouté’s Park Bench somehow pulls it off. Completely wordless and over 300 pages, this graphic novel uses gorgeous art and a straightforward narrative to speak volumes about the complexities of humanity and the beauty of the natural world. Though opposite to Ginko in its stationary ways, a simple park bench keeps things human and leaves readers feeling a bit broken and a bit mended, just like Mushishi does.

Buy the graphic novel:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million | Bookshop

 

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SuperMutant Magic Academy for Nichijou fans

For those who’ve never seen Nichijou, it may be hard to believe a show focusing on the every day life of one town and its residents could be so hilarious, but please watch this three minute scene of the school principal suplexing a wild buck and know that all aspects of this series are this extreme level of nonsensical. Having started as a serialized webcomic, Jillian Tamaki’s SuperMutant Magic Academy collection similarly illustrates a school of mutants, witches, and their days of bizarre, angsty, and laugh-out-loud adventures. The vignette style of both shows readers and viewers tidbits of individual characters over short narratives, the punchlines in the anime and comic alike hit hard and often in unexpected ways, and both mediums utilize subtle and dramatic shifts in art to really drive the humor and heart home.

Buy the graphic novel:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million | Bookshop

 

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Seven Deadly Shadows for Noragami/Aragoto fans

Read the synopsis for Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani’s Seven Deadly Shadows, and it’s not hard to tell this story would appeal to a variety of anime fans. It’s adapted from the 1954, live-action Seven Samurai film but instead of one samurai seeking out six others to help train and protect a town from bandits, it’s one sixteen-year-old Shinto priestess, Kira, enlisting the help of seven shinigami (death gods) to defeat Shuten-doji (the demon king) before he destroys all ancient relics and basically conquers the world. There’s sword training, a bunch of yokai from kistune to nekomata to oni, shinigami (obviously), and introductory insight into Shintoism. This book’s a generally solid pick for any anime fan, but it’s especially for those who like anime like Noragami and Noragami Aragoto with its heavy inclusion of yokai and Buddhist deities. Like the anime’s protagonists, Yato, Hiyori, and Yukine, Kira learns to fight yokai, has a toe in both the spirit and real world, and understands what it's like to feel on the outside and want to make a name for yourself. 

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million | Bookshop

 

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What would you recommend for beautifully animated Bones shonen like Soul Eater, Fullmetal Alchemist/Brotherhood, and Mob Psycho 100? Have you found any YA that tackle themes of self-identity or loneliness as maturely as March Comes in Like a Lion? How about books as wild and stylish as Baccano! or Cowboy Bebop?


A Book You May Enjoy

Gabrielle Bujak's picture

Gabrielle Bujak

Gabrielle Bujak spends her days as the Publicist & Marketing Assistant for Quirk and her nights often dreaming of turning into birds and wondering what that means. As a past library worker, she always has at least one audiobook, one book, and one graphic novel at her disposal, and she occasionally writes stories that have earned her a Pushcart Prize nomination. Connect with her on Twitter or Instagram @justabuj.