When you think about it, books are similar to magic. With only ink on a sheet of processed plant matter, books can transport you to new worlds, introduce you to historical figures, and create new ways of thinking within your inner being. As amazing as books are, they sometimes can lack a visual aspect that can bring a point home even further. Book-to-movie transitions are notoriously rocky at best, and TV shows aren’t much better. Anime, however, doesn’t shy away from hard topics or intense character development in the same way that a movie or live-action TV show might for the sake of their time or budget, giving leeway for story accuracy. As someone who enjoys stories that I can sink my teeth into, my picks here will mainly be longer, more narrative-driven books rather than lighter fare. With that in mind, here are my Top 5 Books I’d Like to See as Anime!
5. The Resisters
One of the more surprising books I came across in the Barnes and Noble Children’s Section (an awesome section, to be sure), The Resisters series of novels is a sci-fi series aimed at kids 12 and older. The world of The Resisters is a bleak one, where an alien race known as the Ch’zar have enslaved the minds of anyone over the age of 13 with a telepathic field that only affects minds that have undergone puberty. Aside from this awfully convenient reason to make pre-adolescent kids the stars of the show, the book has a nice mix of character development and worldbuilding along with action and intrigue. Also, did I mention that they pilot mechs developed from insects? It’s a long story, one that would be well adapted into a shounen mech anime.
4.United States of Japan
Imagine a world where Japan won WWII. How different would the world be? What would the world look like? This book tackles these questions in a mature, cyberpunk way. Depicting an advanced alternate history, United States of Japan offers a unique look at what could have been had Japan conquered the United States with mecha wielding nuclear warheads The country has been completely changed by Eastern culture and ideals: Americans are the minority, propaganda is rampant, and technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. The story is told from the viewpoint of Beniko Ishimura, a video game censor who ensures that digital media is kept free of rebellious undertones. In light of the fact that a lot of Japanese media and pop culture developed as a result and as a response to Japan losing WWII, presenting a completely new way of looking at the war would be interesting to see in an anime format. I think this book would be best be adapted for a more mature audience with its dark and brutal themes, reminding me of anime like Ghost in the Shell and Psycho Pass.
As I will reiterate with this and my second choice of book to be converting into anime, Brandon Sanderson is a master author. His grasp of character development and how to interweave setting and worldbuilding into the plot structure to create a cohesive world that not only works but feels real is amazing, so I won’t spend time talking about how good his works are. Elantris was my first exposre to Sanderson’s work, and it presents a unique, yet broken, world where a once mighty race has fallen into decay, magic manifests itself in many ways, and political intrigue mixes with religious fervor. The interesting symbol-based magic system and the way it’s utilized are a very important part of the story, and the diverse cast of characters really makes the story shine. Like Akame ga Kill mixed with the intrigue of Gundam, Elantris would be an interesting pick to translate into anime form.
Mistborn is one of my all-time favorite books, and for good reason: Sanderson weaves a compelling tale of a world enslaved by a dark god where superhuman abilities are commonplace, and the population is divided by those blessed by their god, their Lord Ruler, and those who serve them. A fantasy tale of romance, action, and intrigue, the story offers a lot for anyone who enjoys a well-written epic that takes its time to develop its characters and to build its world. The universe Sanderson establishes feels solid somehow: the magic abilities are less flashy and seem more natural than most fantasy powers do, and this helps a lot in establishing the wolrd in the mind of the reader. That same feel is present in anime like Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis, and the action scenes have that same intense feel. As an anime, Mistborn would be a fresh take on the fantasy genre, with a lot of different character types to keep things interesting.
1. Ender’s Game
About two years ago, I embarked on a journey through a book that would change my life. With Orson Scott Card’s gentle nudges, my foray through the experience that was Ender’s Game was familiar in some ways: as a sci fi novel, there isn’t much you can do differently on a macro scale. But the various microcosms of character interaction and individual plotlines created an intricate tapestry of that displayed the human mind and condition in ways I hadn’t considered before, and it opened my eyes to new levels of character development. Set in a future where humanity has barely beaten back na invading alien force, Ender’s Game follows Ender Wiggin, a young boy sent off to Battle School, an institute where all the most brilliant children are sent to air humanity’s fight against the aliens, known as the Buggers. The novel, while it does focus primarily on Ender, has a full cast of characters, each with their own ambitions and motivations, and it switches between them masterfully to create a breathing world within the story that really pulls the reader in. I envision this as a 25-30 episode anime in and of itself, so that time can be taken to develop each of the characters as they’re meant to be, as well as to set up the world and the problems within it.
That was my top 5 picks for books that I think would make great anime, but I’d love to hear from you! What books do you love that would make great anime? What anime have you seen that started as books or light novels? Let me know in the comments below; let’s get a discussion going!
(Credit for Featured Image and image under Mistborn goes to MarcSimonetti on deviantArt!)