Star Wars and anime go together exceptionally well. George Lucas was famous for stating that the films of Akira Kurosawa influenced his filmmaking, and likewise, Star Wars has also influenced a lot of anime and Japanese filmmaking.
One example is the newly released Star Wars: Visions, an anthology series where several different major anime studios created their own short stories. The anime Cowboy Bebop owes its very existence to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. My Hero Academia also makes several references to the iconic franchise.
This article will profile seven anime inspired by Star Wars.
Disclaimer: This article will contain both Star Wars and anime spoilers. The opinions expressed therein are subjective. In some cases, they also reflect the views of the anime's creators themselves.
Star Wars-inspired anime you cannot miss out on
1) Star Wars: Visions
Starting out with a bit of a cheat is the anime anthology, Star Wars: Visions.
A series of nine short stories that aren't connected to each other, the anthology was a combination of the efforts of Lucasfilm and seven Japanese animation studios: Kamikaze Douga, Studio Colorido, Geno Studio, Trigger, Kinema Citrus, Production I.G., and Science SARU. It was an incredible collaboration that produced breathtaking results, enough to warrant a second season.
The seven animation studios were given free reign over their short stories, while consultation was provided by Lucasfilm's team of executives. All the shorts focus on expanding Buddhist and Asian influences in Star Wars: the Jedi, the Force, the Sith, and the nature of lightsabers and combat.
From the heartwarming android Jedi story T0-B1, to the quiet and contemplative F, and the high-octane action of The Twins, every short perfectly encapsulated Star Wars, combined with an anime flair befitting those studios.
2) Cowboy Bebop
One particular anime that owes its existence to the much-maligned Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is Cowboy Bebop. While The Phantom Menace gets a much fairer shake today, for a while it was considered a pariah, alongside the Prequel Trilogy as a whole. Apparently, Cowboy Bebop creator Shinichirō Watanabe has stated that it was an inspiration for Namco Bandai.
The overall idea was that they needed the anime because they saw money-making opportunities in spaceship models to sell as toys. When they reneged on the deal, Bandai Visual picked it back up as a sponsor, and model kits and toys proved successful.
The anime likewise shares space dogfights and captures the space western feel that the original trilogy and spin-offs like The Mandalorian or The Book of Boba Fett have, with the attitude of Han Solo mixed in for smuggler fans.
3) Legend of the Galactic Heroes
An anime that matches the franchise the most is Legend of the Galactic Heroes. It aired from 1988 to 1997, whereas the novels ran from 1982 to 1987. The original Star Wars trilogy ran from 1977 to 1983, and the two shared plenty of similar plot elements: a galactic empire vs. a rebel alliance, familial drama, and the emperor's attempts to overtake the galaxy using political machinations.
Though not quite as morally binary as the original Star Wars trilogy, Legend of the Galactic Heroes features more politics than the former, meaning Andor fans will probably like this anime.
Legend of the Galactic Heroe is home to plenty of amazing space battles in warships and fighters too, with large-scale battles and drama between pilots, soldiers, and commanders, much like Mobile Suit Gundam.
4) Mobile Suit Gundam
Mobile Suit Gundam doesn't seem like a match, unless the only thing that one pays attention to is the lightsaber-style beam swords. A closer examination, however, reveals many other similarities between this anime and Star Wars.
Both are incredibly popular sci-fi franchises. They also featured women and girls, whose popularity equaled those of the primary characters.
The political story is a lot more involved, but a lot of it is still a rebellion vs. an encroaching empire. In the original Mobile Suit Gundam especially, you can see the fledging White Base as a larger Millennium Falcon on the run from Char and other Zeon forces. Luke Skywalker and Amuro Ray even feel very much the same, being people who just stumbled into the larger war, but ultimately made a huge difference.
5) Code Geass
Speaking of rebels against an empire, Code Geass is an anime that embodies the soul and heart of both the originals and prequels of Star Wars. While Code Geass may be from the same people that made Gundam, the political machinations and resistance motif evokes the struggle against empires, colonialism, and giant destructive machines from the franchise it derives from.
To summarize, Code Geass has an evil emperor in Charles vi Britannia, a battle between brothers, reminiscent of Anakin vs. Obi-Wan with Lelouch vs. Suzaku. Although Code Geass never quite goes into the "destroying a planet" territory, the FLEJA packs as much terror in it as a Death Star.
6) Space Dandy
For something that parodies a lot of space and sci-fi shows, Space Dandy is incredibly earnest about its influence. It may not be a completely serious show, but it derives plenty from Lucas' creation. The show is also hugely inspired from Buck Rogers serial movies and radio shows, having a gunslinger protagonist who hunts alien bounties and seeks new civilizations.
It may seem more Star Trek-sounding, but it isn't. It is focused on Dandy's epic adventures and while it may not be much of a space opera or space western, Space Dandy still has plenty to offer fans with it's bounty hunting schemes and over-the-top antics. It is also very much underrated, as far as space faring anime goes.
7) My Hero Academia
The influence in My Hero Academia is more straightforward because Kohei Horikoshi was inspired by a lot of American movies and media. There are a ton of documented references in the show proper, from Camino being just one letter off from the clone trooper homeworld of Kamino, to Gran Tarino serving Yoda's role, to All for One being a dead ringer for Emperor Palpatine.
As for the story itself, there's plenty of similarities there too. Familial problems leading to villainy with Dabi and Shigaraki are akin to Anakin Skywalker's temptations leading to Darth Vader. Furthermore, Deku and Tomura being dark mirrors of each other as Luke and Vader or Rey and Kylo are.
There's even more than a few similarities in how the stories work too, with All Might serving as Obi-Wan and taking a back seat as Deku, like Luke, forge his own path with help.
There's probably more than these seven anime that were inspired by Star Wars, but that's another story for another time.
Meanwhile, if you think we missed out on any other major anime influenced by the franchise, let us know in the comments below.