The Mike Toole Show Holiday Gift Guide

by Michael Toole,

I love the holiday season. Love, love, L-O-V-E it. I love the Christmas carols, the trees and lights, and the snow we get up north. I love the feasting, the eating and drinking with seldom-seen friends and family. I love the weird mix of complete relaxation and vague excitement that bridges Christmas Day and New Year's Day, and I love the big party at the end of it all. Most of all, I love gifts-- I like receiving them, of course, but there's nothing in the world like giving the perfect gift to one of your favorite people. The hard part is finding the right gift-- but don't sweat it, internet, I've got you covered!

The idea of a holiday gift guide is kind of obvious, so clearly I've got to come up with a better spin on the concept. I want to look past the kind of present that says, “Hello good friend, please accept this DVD box set as a token of my esteem.” You've got to love your family, or at least put up with them, so let's not go with the easy path of a gift that merely states, unambiguously, “You raised me from birth, sacrificing many of your wants in favor of showering me with every speck of affection and opportunity you could muster. Please enjoy these fancy consumer electronics!” Instead, here's a list of ten gifts that the anime fan in your life is sure to love. Let's surprise them with something genuinely confusing!

Housecoat in tatters? Too lazy to employ both a blanket and a bathrobe, and constantly arguing with your best friend about which one is superior? Well, you two jerks can knock that off, because you're both right - this stylish Naruto Snuggie is both a bathrobe and a blanket! It's a blanket with sleeves. Granted, this desirable item has become hard to find since its debut in Christmas of 2009, but if you have the ninja tracking skills to find one, you'll be the comfiest member of the Akatsuki around. If the true path to becoming the future Hokage involved mummifying yourself in this thing and laying prone on the couch, inhaling Funyuns and watching episode after episode of orange jumpsuit-clad ninja antics, even Naruto himself would have no chance against you.

You remember Excel Saga, right? Yep, back in the salad days of 2002, Excel Saga was king of gag comedies-- and one of the show's central characters was the perpetually imperiled Menchi, a pooch facing the constant threat of being cooked and eaten by her mistress... you know, just in case the food supply runs out. In fairness, it was a pretty funny running gag, capped by the show's ending sequence, a musical lamentation barked by the dog herself. Naturally, the only thing for ADV Films to do was to start an entire new division of the company just to create lucrative licensed toys based on Menchi. Nearly a decade later, stuffed Menchis are still quite easy to turn up. The best variant has to be a floppy doll of the character resting on a real, functional portable charcoal grill. Heh heh, that's funny, right? Get it? You get the toy dog, and the grill that Excel will cook her on! Needless to say, holiday pals, this amazing product is a great big tantalizing clue as to why ADV is no longer doing business. But think of the conversations you'll start when you whip this eminently practical goodie at the next NFL tailgate party!

Now, you can re-eneact the manga sensation of the 2000's many chilling murders, harrowing deceptions, and acts of terrible cruelty with these wacky, hilarious Death Note hand and finger puppets! These doo-dads inhabit an odd twilight zone between clever cosplay prop (late-arriving protagonist Near brandishes them sometimes) and truly bizarre novelty toy. Pit the mysterious Kira, an elusive figure with godlike powers over life and death, against autistic savant detective L and many other allies and adversaries. Which bug-eyed finger toy will reveal itself to be an utter, implacable sociopath? Don't rely on the manga to find out-- 1, 2, 3, 4, just declare a thumb war!

Which Sailor senshi is your favorite? Do you fancy Sailor Mars’ fierce temperament, or Sailor Jupiter's yen for the kitchen? Are you drawn to Sailor Mercury's smarts, or Sailor Venus’ bubbly personality? Well, with this ultimate clothing accessory, you won't have to decide, because they're all pictured on it. Wear this stylish and fun belt anywhere-- anime conventions, weddings, sporting events, at Thanksgiving-- even for job interviews, nothing spells “success” like S-A-I-L-O-R M-O-O-N. I'm trying really hard to work in some sort of envelope-pushing auto-erotic asphyxiation joke in here, but I just can't do it! Use your imaginations, friends.

What time is it? It's time for your favorite anime character, in clock form! Timepieces are an invaluable part of our daily lives, and what better way to remind you of ominously looming school and workplace deadlines, approaching family gatherings that you weren't able to bargain your way out of, and the persistent and terrifying nature of time itself than a clock festooned with Goku? Nothing says “Hey jerkface, you're late for your dentist appointment!” like the clock version of Inuyasha, and who better to remind you that it's after 8am on street-cleaning day and your car just got towed than the adorably cantankerous Kon of Bleach?! One look at his perpetually surprised, irritated mug and you'll never miss an appointment again!

In need of a quick disguise to slap on when you sidle down to the drugstore to get your prescription for certain “personal problem” curatives filled? Well friends, these amazing Lupin the 3rd stick-on sideburns are completely inadequate for that purpose. Everybody you meet will absolutely be able to recognize you when you wear these-- but will they magically imbue you with the famous thief's quick wits, crazy gadgets, and irrepressible lust for life? No, they don't do that, either. But fret not, reader, they're very handy for certain situations, such as:
  • Rockabilly concerts
  • Civil war re-enactments
  • Wacky globe-trotting chase scenes
  • Lollapalooza (they still have that, right?)

And just remember, in a pinch, these Lupin the 3rd sideburns can be filed down at the tips to create Go Nagai sideburns!

Nothing says “I really love you, and am kind of worried about what you'll do with this thing” like an amazing, real metal sword crafted to resemble your favorite anime character's weapon of choice. Take up Ichigo's fight against the Hollows, or swing the oversized sword of Cloud Strife in service of Aerith! These swords are designed as costume accessories and display pieces, so they're only somewhat dangerous-- but every one is factory-tested and guaranteed to provide you with maximum satisfaction whenever you're in the mood to take yours down from the mantlepiece and pose dramatically, in your living room at 2 o'clock in the morning, periodically letting out a Bruce Lee-esque “woooooo-ha!” as you admire your silhouette in the darkened windows. Get in a couple of good practice swings and try not to lop the tops off of the plants before your spouse storms out and demands that you put that thing away and go back to bed!

Dolls and action figures are the avatars of our youth, trusted and beloved cloth and plastic companions that help us pass many a rainy day as children. But some figures are more suited to adult collectors, and other figures are so adult that it'd probably be a fairly serious offense to give one to a minor. Enter Cattleya, powerful and motherly blacksmith of Queen's Blade, whose spectacular physique makes those Sumerian fertility goddess statues look underdeveloped. There are many figurines of Cattleya in a variety of action poses, but the clear champion is this statue by toymaker A+, which weighs in at a mindboggling 10+ pounds at 1/2.5 scale. Yes friends, nothing says “Why yes, I am a very secure individual!” like a two and a half foot tall resin maquette with breasts larger than many real-life women. If you want the ultimate conversation piece, this figure has you covered-- or uncovered, if you swing that way!

Feeling your energy wane after a hectic holiday season? Is your ki low, or your power bar sliding dangerously to the left? Well, these healthy and delicious Dragonball Z and Street Fighter energy drinks will make you go super saiyan-- or maybe just turn into Dark Ryu-- with their delicious blend of taurine, glucuronolactone, aspartame, cyanocobalamin, panax ginseng root extract, caffeine, and just a hint of extremely artificial tangerine flavor. WARNING: if you consume more than one, your heart will literally explode out of your chest-- which sounds awesome!

Just imagine the look of pleasure on your favorite anime fan's face when they unwrap their first gift and find a copy of bizarro supernatural courtroom procedural Judge inside. They're probably never seen it-- heck, they've probably never heard of it! I mean, seriously, have you heard of it? Then, imagine that look of pleasure change to one of confusion when they unwrap the second gift and find another copy. By the third unwrapping, they'll be eyeing you sourly and querying “Every single one of these thirty presents is a copy of Judge, isn't it?”

I hope you've found this jolly and merry guide to some of the weirder anime products out there enjoyable. As the holidays bear down on us, many of our favorite retailers are having crazy sales, enticing us to buy up as much of the good stuff as possible. Because really, that's what you and me want, right? More anime and manga. Just remember to stop buying everygoddamn thing in sight for yourself, and pick out some nice stuff for the anime fans in your life. What's that, you say? Your friends and family don't want anime for Christmas? Well, they should.

So, dear readers, what's your favorite weird anime gift or novelty? Do you own anything in my guide? Do you own multiple items in this guide? Well, I want you to cop to it in the comments!  What weird anime gift did you have your eye on, only to have it vanish? What crazy figure or cosplay accessory did you watch carefully, but couldn't quite work up the nerve to grab for yourself? Share your experience, and share all the good cheer and happiness you can muster this holiday season!

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