10 American films that were inspired by anime
After being a part of our lives for so long, anime has inspired so many people, like those working on American films. Most of the individuals working in the film industry right now have grown up watching at least one or two anime.
Due to this, it is easy for fans to sometimes spot the elements of an American film that were based on or sometimes ripped out from an anime. In this list, we will talk about ten American films that have been based on anime, as well as the series that inspired them.
Disclaimer: Spoilers for various anime and films ahead.
The Matrix and 9 other American films created thanks to anime
1) Scott Pilgrim vs The World – Beck and Nana
Scott Pilgrim was a simple boy who one day fell in love with the mysterious and aloof Ramona Flowers. She somehow agreed to be his girlfriend, but only if he could defeat her seven evil exes, who all have amazing powers.
While the film was inspired by a lot of different anime, the creator of this classic American film has talked before about two series in particular that inspired the whole concept. The first one, Beck, is an anime about a struggling band who needs to find their way in life. The second, Nana, narrates the story of a group of friends in their twenties trying to figure out who they are.
2) Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan – Perfect Blue
Daren Aronofsky, the creator of both Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, allegedly has the rights to the American release of Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue. This psychological thriller anime deals with many dark and uncomfortable topics that have been depicted several times in Aronofsky’s films.
Both these American Films contain bits and pieces from Perfect Blue. For example, Black Swan has a female protagonist who is being tormented by and evil copy of herself, as well as the overbearing expectations of her mother. Requiem for a Dream tells a story about drug abuse and psychological issues, and has many scenes that were directly taken from Perfect Blue.
3) The Lion King – Kimba the White Lion
While not many know about Kimba the White Lion, for many older individuals, this anime was a classic. The series narrates the adventures of Kimba, a small lion cub that was born with pearl white fur.
Disney executives have never confirmed or denied that The Lion King was inspired by Kimba’s adventures. Nonetheless, the movie is basically a carbon copy of the white lion series. This led the creator, Ozamu Tesuka, to ask for this American film to be banned from Japan, as it never once credited him for his work.
4) Pacific Rim: Uprising – Evangelion, Naruto
The Pacific Rim franchise has no qualms displaying the obvious inspiration mecha anime has had in its films. The most prominent example of this is the cult classic, Evangelion, a series where teenagers are tasked with piloting powerful robots against gigantic monsters. The suits used by Shinji and his colleagues are also connected to their pilots via a mental bond.
However, one of the producers for the sequel, John Boyega, has stated before that he wanted the second movie to incorporate even more anime-like elements. This is why the second film in this franchise contains scenes where the protagonists give speeches while fighting, something Boyega loved about the Naruto series.
5) The Matrix – Ghost on the Shell
The Wachowski sisters created one of the most beloved and acclaimed American films of all time, The Matrix. The concept for this movie was created thanks to the sisters' love for anime, something confirmed by the Wachowskis themselves, as it draws heavy inspiration from Ghost in the Shell.
Both films are designed around a dystopic future where the heroes need to be connected to a machine to save the world. The American film also deals with heavy, hard-to-answer philosophical questions that keep the protagonist Neo up at night, just like Ghost in the Shell did with its protagonist, Motoko.
6) Looper and Chronicle – Akira
One of the most beloved anime movies in existence has to be Katsuhira Otomo's Akira. The film has inspired countless people since its release almost four decades ago. It is very popular, and there are two great examples of American Films based on its concept.
Looper tells the story of a contract killer tasked with protecting his younger version from a group of assassins who are after him. The film also contains a character named Cid, a little boy with psychic powers who goes on a rampage, like Tetsuo from Akira.
The second American film, Chronicle, is basically what would have happened had Tetsuo been the main character of Akira. The movie shows how unlimited power starts corrupting the mind of a group of friends. Just like Tetsuo, the protagonist Andrew becomes a power-thirsty monster who feels superior to others thanks to his abilities.
7) Clash of Titans – Saint Seiya
Saint Seiya is one of the most unique anime in existence, with the idea of warriors who use power armor granted by different mythological creatures. The armor, fights, and overall morals of the series have inspired both children and adults alike for decades.
One of the American films based around Saint Seiya’s concept is called Clash of Titans. In the film, the Greek gods are seen wearing armor that looks almost identical to the ones used by Seiya and his friends.
The people behind the film never once tried to hide the influence Saint Seiya had on them and even asked the creator Masami Kurumada to make them a poster for the Japanese release of their film.
8) Van Helsing – Vampire Hunter D
The idea of vampire hunters has existed for centuries, meaning that not all American films that talk about this concept need to be inspired by an anime. Yet even though the creators of Van Helsing have never confirmed the rumors, there is no denying that the outfit used by his protagonist is eerily similar to that of Vampire D Hunter’s.
Both hunters used a large black coat over their regular outfits, as well as a leather hat. Adding to the fact that both characters also have long hair and look similar, fans of Vampire D Hunter are sure Van Helsing took his outfit from their favorite series.
9) Inception – Paprika
For years, Inception has been praised as one of the best American films ever because of its concept and awe-inspiring scenes. Nevertheless, the director of the film, Christopher Nolan, has never been shy about admitting that Paprika, an anime movie that also deals with dreams, has inspired his works since the beginning.
Many scenes in Inception were directly inspired by Paprika, like the acclaimed hotel corridor, as well as the machine used by the protagonists to enter the dream world. Both films also discuss the idea of using dreams to influence people.
10) Avatar – Princess Mononoke
James Cameron’s Avatar is one of the most successful American films in history. Its message about respecting nature and indigenous tribes has been celebrated by people all around the world for years now.
Still, many Studio Ghibli fans have found how similar this movie is to Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. Both films feature a strong and determined female lead who will do anything to protect their home.
Both have the same message of nature over human greed. It is unlikely Nolan will ever confirm the rumors, but fans are certain Avatar took inspiration from Miyazaki’s work.
With anime becoming more popular and widely available as time goes by, more and more people are becoming influenced by its ideas. This has been reflected in almost any media, from cartoons, to news programs, and even movies. Many of the most influential directors alive grew up watching anime, like most of us did.
This has been reflected many times in several American films, as listed above. For anime fans, this is incredible news, as it means the ideas and concepts they have grown to love will be reaching more people. As long as films keep their homage respectful and do not outright steal ideas, this can only be beneficial for everyone involved.