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AFA's 2021 Gift Guide: Must Have Books and Movies For Animation Lovers

It's that time of year again: when our thoughts start to turn to what gifts we can choose for our loved ones. And as we have done before, we have tried to lend a helping hand on picking some of the best movies and books you could buy the animation lover in your life this Christmas. Or alternatively, you might want to add to your own list!

The links provided are (mainly) affiliate links- buy through those links and it's like you'll be getting a gift for your favourite animation website too!


Cartoon Saloon Irish Folklore Trilogy

The season's must-have is this gorgeous deluxe boxset from GKIDS Films and Shout Factory. It contains Cartoon's Saloon's thematic trilogy based on Irish mythology on Blu-Ray plus a whole new disc of exclusive material, all contained in eco-friendly material. Its biggest selling point however is the fact that as things stand, this is the only physical release that Wolfwalkers is getting.



Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Complete Series

Out of print for more than a decade, the original 1995 Gainax anime and its original movies were finally available again when they were licensed for streaming on Netflix. GKIDS subsequently announced a home release, and you can now pick up the complete boxset with extensive special features, in standard, collectors and ultimate editions depending on your budget. The Standard edition is available now in the US, other editions follow on December 8.



Future Boy Conan

One of the biggest surprises of this year was Hayao Miyazaki's original 1978 TV series getting licensed. Future Boy Conan had long been considered one of the anime titles we would never see an official English release due to some legal red tape. Whatever the problem was has apparently been sorted out and Miyazaki's first TV series has been given a fancy 4K restoration and a new English translation.

Cowboy Bebop

Whatever the merits of the Netflix live-action adaptation, one good thing to come out of it is more people discovering the original anime. You can't go wrong with the original series, which is easily one of the most iconic animated series ever. This year there's also a new limited edition collector's edition available in the UK,



The Mitchells Vs The Machines

One of 2021's best animated features, Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe's family road movie meets robo-apocalypse sci-fi comes to home video on December 14. Some limited festival and event screenings aside, this will be the first opportunity for non-Netflix subscribers to see the film. The Blu-Ray comes with more than two hours of special features, including commentary, deleted scenes and 'Katie's extended cut', which includes unseen material.


Demon Slayer: The Movie- Mugen Train

The spin-off of the popular anime TV series was unexpectedly the film that was finally able to end Spirited Away's long reign as the highest-grossing film in Japanese history, after just under 20 years. The film was also very popular in its theatrical run in the US and finally hits Blu-Ray from December  21. 

The Art Of Maya And The Three

Netflix Animation's epic event series is described by director and creator Jorge Guittterz as 'The Mexican Lord Of The Rings'. Fans of the series are sure to love this look into the production of the series, including concept art, storyboards, colour script and detailed commentary, in both English and Spanish. Dark Horse will release the book On December 14.


The Art Of Mitchells Vs The Machines

Just as with producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller's earlier Into The Spiderverse, Sony Pictures Animation's boasts some groundbreaking animation. The book contains all the concept art, sketches and insightful commentary you would expect from a quality 'Art Of' book.


The Animator's Survival Kit

For anyone interested into getting into animation themselves, this book by the late, great Richard Williams is indispensable. based on the in-person masterclasses Williams taught, this book is useful for anyone from beginners to industry professionals.

Ghibliotheque: The Unofficial Guide To The Films Of Studio Ghibli

Spun off the popular podcast of the same name from British film mag Little White Lies, authors Michael Leader and Jake Cunningham present a film-by-film deep dive into the works of the iconic studio (plus Nausicaa, which is technically pre-Ghibli). At this point, there are numerous books in English about Ghibli- and specifically Hayao Miyazaki- but this is one of the more in-depth- and up to date, it even includes the recent Earwig and The Witch

Hayao Miyazaki by Jessica Niebel

This deluxe hardback book was published to commemorate the opening of the exhibition celebrating legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki at the newly opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. The book contains hundreds of original production materials ranging from his early careers right through until his eleven features (so far) which includes some never before seen outside of the Ghibli archive.