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Anime is one of those geeky hobbies that gets a seriously bad rap — and admittedly, there's often reason why people look down at it. The fandoms can get very cringey; there's often a lot of unwarranted misogyny among fans. And to a point, it's also because there are way too many low-quality series out there.
That being said, as stigmatized as anime culture can be, there are a lot of groups out there who turn anime into high art — and they need to be celebrated more often. Moreover, a surprising number of artists also were inspired by anime artwork they've seen. It'd be a lie to say that anime isn't art, or worse, that anime is a waste of talent.
If you love anime aesthetics, or just want to see your favorite characters in absolutely beautiful illustrations, this list of the best anime art books is a perfect place to start.
Duel Art: Kazuki Takahashi Yu-Gi-Oh! Illustrations by Kazuki Takahashi
Whether you collected the cards as a kid, saw the characters in passing, or just occasionally watched the TV show, chances are that you have memories of Yu-Gi-Oh! in some form. Key artwork director, Kazuki Takahashi recently released an art book featuring his best work from the show, and beyond.
This is one of the best anime art books for people who like the trading card game, as well as people who legit want to learn what it's like to work in anime. Duel Art features tutorials, rough sketches, and a full interview with the author — giving you a true-to-life glance at the anime industry.
The Art of My Neighbor Totoro by Hayao Miyazaki
We can't have a list of the best anime art books in history without featuring at least one book by Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki. In The Art of My Neighbor Totoro, Hayao Miyazaki lets readers check out his finest sketches of all your favorite characters, and even glimpse at the original concept character designs you've been dying to see.
If you've ever wondered how Totoro could have ended up without tweaking, this art book will give you a great idea. It's breathtaking, and straight up inspirational for those who want to start their own manga.
The Art of Howl's Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki
Hayao Miyazaki strikes again, this time with the classic Howl's Moving Castle art book. Much like his release with The Art of My Neighbor Totoro, you get to see legit concept art that reveals what characters and scenes could have looked like.
The Art of My Neighbor Totoro features the inner scoop on one of the best animes for beginners. Cool interviews with the production crew, breathtaking color art work, and fascinating notes about the film's creation makes this one of the best anime art books for any Miyazaki fan.
Art Works of Macross Valkyries by Tenjin Hidetaka
Most younger people might not recognize the name Macross; but us older folks know that it's one of the most hard-hitting anime series involving flight out there.
Unlike other anime art books on this list, much of the Art Works of Macross Valkyries doesn't look like anime at all. Instead, it looks like breathtakingly colorful airbrushed portraits. The artwork is so mesmerizing, you'll want to get lost in its illustrations, regardless of whether or not you've watched the series.
Sure, it may be in Japanese, but it's as authentic as can be — and a true collector's item for those who love anime.
The Art of Shichigoro by Schichigoro-Shingo
Schichigoro-Shingo is one of those artists that turns anime stylings into high art — and you can tell that right off the bat when you see this book's cover. In recent years, Schichigoro-Shingo has won awards for having the best cover artwork and anime-style artwork in multiple ads.
Now, you can check out the Tokyo-based maverick's work in full color. If you love the anime aesthetic, this is going to be one of the best anime art books you'll ever see.
Art of Satoshi Kon by Satoshi Kon
Satoshi Kon is a name that most anime fans will recognize immediately. He's the surreal artist behind big anime movie names like Paprika, and fantastic anime series like Paranoia Agent. He was a trailblazer whose life was cut tragically short when he died at only 46 years of age.
Considering the heavily symbolic script writing and spellbinding visuals his work is known for, it's unsurprising that he's made one of the best anime art books in history. Art of Satoshi Kon is an amazing collection of some of his finest work, all displayed in full color.
Dragon Ball: The Complete Illustrations by Akira Toriyama
You might love or hate Dragon Ball, but you can't deny it's one of the most popular manga and anime series of all time. Akira Toriyama was one of the biggest names behind the series' illustrations; and now, you can check out his best work in Dragon Ball: The Complete Illustrations.
If you have an otaku friend, you'll understand why this book is one of the best gifts for anime fans who love the hit series. It's a classic series, and the illustrations bring out the aesthetic in really striking ways.
Der Mond: The Art of Neon Genesis Evangelion by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
Another classic anime series worth applauding for its artwork is Neon Genesis Evangelion — and this artbook by illustrator Yoshiyuki Sadamoto gives you every reason why you should cherish the show's artwork.
Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's name is a staple in the anime world, and this book features 74 pages filled with paintings, and full-color sketches of the Neon Genesis Evangelion world. Also, it has another 50 pages of his top hitting anime artwork, as well as the cover art he did for Eric Clapton.
Blanc Et Noir: Takeshi Obata Illustrations by Takeshi Obata
Takeshi Obata is the mastermind illustrator behind Death Note. And if you liked the series, you're going to adore this art book. Obata's illustrations collection has been called one of the greatest anime art books in recent years.
This 132-page book features page after page of breathtaking artwork done by Obata. While most of it is of everyone's favorite Death Note characters, not all of it is. So, even if you're not a fan of the series, it's still worth picking up for artistic value alone.
Otomo: A Global Tribute to the Genius Behind Akira by Various
Katsuhiro Otomo was the mastermind behind Akira, one of the most visually stunning anime movies to ever be produced. Though the movie was released decades ago, its imprint on the world can still be felt — particularly in the art and comics community.
Otomo: A Global Tribute to the Genius Behind Akira is one of the only anime art books to be a tribute to the artform and an artist. The way this art book was made was simple: artists from all over the world banded together to show their own fanart based on Otomo's work.
The results are spectacular, and truly embody the inspirational power of anime.