When some people think of anime, images of Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh and other children’s shows come to their brain, but there’s a whole other world of smart, animated entertainment that comes out of Japan. And over the years, these movies and TV shows have become primo inspirations for Hollywood movies, whether they get credited or not. So with that in mind, Screen Rant presents 10 Movies That STOLE From Anime without Getting Caught.
THE MATRIX – GHOST IN THE SHELL
The Matrix has a lot of iconic moments, but the most famous is probably the digital “rain” of green letters, an advanced coding system which determines what goes on within The Matrix. But guess what? It didn’t originate from the Wachowskis. Cyberspace is signified by a similar green waterfall of digits in Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell, a hugely influential cyberpunk anime from 1995. The Wachowskis’ also borrowed the image of someone being “plugged in” through a port on the neck. You can also see elements of Ghost in the Shell in James Cameron’s Avatar, Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report and Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse. It gets around!
PACIFIC RIM – GIGANTOR
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim is an homage to the Japanese kaiju and mecha animes of the past, and there are a lot of series and movies that inspired it. But the film also takes directly from Gigantor, an animated TV show from the 1950s that aired pretty regularly on both Japanese and American television. The main giant robot, or “Jaeger,” of the film, is called “Gipsy Danger,” and its design is clearly derived from Gigantor, the first giant robot of anime. It makes sense within the context of the film, as “Gipsy Danger” is an older, obsolete Jaeger, which, ironically, is exactly what’s needed to save the day.
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM – PERFECT BLUE
Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream was praised for its innovative way of using montage to demonstrate the effects of drug use. The result is a visceral immersion into the world of addiction, but little did people know that Aronofsky was stealing techniques from across the Pacific Ocean. The famous “bathtub scene” – in which an in-withdrawal Jennifer Connelly screams into the water – was actually taken directly from a similar scene in Perfect Blue, a 1997 anime thriller. In fact, Aronofsky actually bought the rights to Perfect Blue just so he could copy that scene.
AVATAR – PRINCESS MONONOKE
We already discussed the influence of Ghost in the Shell on Avatar, but James Cameron also stole some ideas from Hayao Miyazaki’s classic Princess Mononoke, which is about the spirits of a forest and their struggle against the humans who want to exploit it for resources. Does that sound familiar? Well, maybe because it’s just like the environmentalism Avatar, which is about the Na’vi species and their struggle against human colonizers of Pandora. Is it a coincidence? We think not… as we’ve already established that James Cameron is a fan of anime.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD – NARUTO
Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is based on a comic by Daniel Lee O’Malley, and the inspiration of anime and manga on that comic is obvious from O’Malley’s drawing style. But one anime stands out in particular. In Naruto, the title character dreams of becoming the most powerful ninja in his town, which resembles the young Scott Pilgrim’s quest to win the Battle of the Bands. In addition, Pilgrim is clearly modeled on Naruto, and even uses some of the catchphrases that come from the Naruto TV show.
LOOPER – AKIRA
Akira is one of the most famous animes of all time, and in 1989 it set the stage for the Japanese animation invasion of the 1990s, when American TV screens were filled with imported Japanese series. The darkly comic cyberpunk tale has inspired everything from Christopher Nolan’s Inception to the music video for Kanye West’s “Stronger.” One movie that really takes from it, however, is Rian Johnson’s Looper, about a time-traveling hitman who gets sent back in time to be killed by his own hand. Johnson has called his movie a cross between The Terminator and Akira, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character bearing a surprising resemblance to the anime’s Tetsuo.
HER – CHOBITS
The premise of Her is that Joaquin’ Phoenix’s lonely introvert falls in love with a Siri-like operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson – or, as the jokes put it: he falls in love with his phone. But director Spike Jonze wasn’t the first to latch on to this basic idea. In the anime Chobits, which came out in 2002, the main protagonist falls in love with an android. Both films make a point not to mock their lonely main characters, and embrace the idea that artificial technology can be an intellectual match for humans. Unlike some of the directors on this list, however, Jonze has never spoken of his anime influences.
MAN OF STEEL – BIRDY THE MIGHTY
Zack Snyder is known for his super-stylish action, and Man of Steel is no exception to this. We all know that the movie is based on DC’s famous Superman comics, but Snyder also, obviously, had a source of inspiration from across the sea. The main fight at the end of the film — in which Superman and General Zod battle it out and destroy Metropolis in the process – bears a strong resemblance to the city-destroying battles in an anime called Birdy the Mighty. So if you’re wondering where Snyder’s visual panache comes from… start checking out some anime.
TRANSCENDENCE – SERIAL EXPERIMENTS LAIN
The Johnny Depp-starring Transcendence was a box office disappointment when it came out in 2014, but you can’t say it wasn’t ambitious. In the film, Depp plays a scientist whose body dies, but he manages to stay alive in computerized form, eventually growing in power. It’s weird for a Hollywood film, maybe, but the premise is pretty normal for an anime. In fact, it was done 16 years earlier in Serial Experiments Lain, in which a teenage girl dies, but continues to contact her friends digitally, and also begins to grow in power.
INCEPTION – PAPRIKA
Inception/Paprika And the grandaddy of all Hollywood anime-thefts: Inception. When this brain-teaser came out in 2010, it wowed audiences with its idea of using technology to invade people’s dreams. The only problem? That’s also the premise for Satoshi Kon’s modern classic Paprika, which came out four years before Nolan’s film. In fact, the premise was so similar that a planned American adaptation of the anime was cancelled before production. Most anime fans, however, would argue that Kon’s film is the more imaginative and entertaining one.
So how did you like our list? Are there any other movies that stole ideas from anime?