The best anime that inspired Hollywood

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stranger things just wrapped up its fourth and penultimate season, and millions of viewers are gearing up for the final season. It turned out to be one of Hollywood’s greatest productions, taking inspiration not only from 80s horror, but also from a beloved anime.

Anime is easily one of Japan’s biggest cultural exports, also evidenced by the influence that some prominent anime movies and shows have had on their American counterparts. More than often, the creators behind these Hollywood projects openly admit their influences and inspirations from anime leading to a healthy global exchange of culture and creative visions.

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Elfen Lied – Stranger Things


Split images of Lucy looking sullen in Elfen Lied and Eleven looking angry in Stranger Things Cropped

As two college students meet a naive girl, a larger plot unfolds as she turns out to be a killing machine with a split personality. Although the story of elf lied ventures into darker territories, it’s easy to draw parallels between protagonist Lucy and Eleven from stranger things. The two are not only superpowered beings with disturbing pasts, but they were also detained in a secret government facility.

The creators of the Netflix sci-fi show, the Duffer Brothers, revealed their inspiration in an interview with The daily beast. While Mark Duffer noted the similarities between Eleven’s backstory and the cyberpunk anime film Akira, he also added, “I had seen an anime called elf lied which is clearly inspired by Akira. And that was really influential. When I watched it I thought it was like an ultraviolent HEY There were a lot of things in there that I really liked that made their way onto the show.”


Paprika – Creation


The hallway scenes in Inception and Paprika

The dream-manipulating technology, gravity-defying fight sequences, and production design that includes revolving hallways are just a few of the various similarities to Satoshi Kon’s 2006 anime thriller. Paprika and Creation to share.

Even though Creation is filled with Christopher Nolan branding, observers have noticed the undeniable influence that Paprika had on two crucial scenes of Creation, such as Hollywood insider. One involves the hallway fight scene, and the other involves the dream world breaking like glass. Interestingly enough, Christopher Nolan did not specifically cite Paprika as a source of inspiration.


Akira – Chronicle, Looper


Split footage of boys screaming in scenes from Looper, Akira and Chronicle

Released a few years later Blade Runner, Akira has become a cyberpunk classic in its own right. The dark, ultra-violent world he painted with motorcycle gangs, secret labs, and a brash protagonist with superpowers continues to influence pop culture to this day.

In Rian Johnson’s cult time travel film looper, a young character called Cid loses control of his psychic powers much like Akira’s protagonist, Tetsuo. Johnson also cited the original manga as an influence during a Reddit AMA session. “I’m a big fan of everything Akirait’s definitely a big influence on the movie,” adds director Josh Trank in a Gizmodoh interview while describing his superhero hit the Chronicle which deals with an equally unstable anti-hero who uses his powers of telekinesis to go on a murderous rampage.


Attack on Titan – Men


Men Rory Kinnear as Geoffrey Attack on Titan inspirations

Venture into several genres, The attack of the Titans is arguably one of the most popular anime shows right now. What begins as a simple story of humans versus “Titans” turns into a philosophical conflict that determines the survival of mankind. Alex Garland’s latest feature film Men is quite different though as it is a surreal nightmare rooted in the real life horrors of strange and scary men who stalk the protagonist.

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Interestingly, Garland cited the anime as an influence, particularly in terms of the haunting smile of Rory Kinnear’s multiple portrayals of the titular men in the film. In an interview with IndiewireGarland spoke about how mesmerizing the Titans’ facial expressions were, delving into “widening eyes” and “awkward physical movements.”


Ghost In The Shell – The Matrix


Split image of neck plugs in Ghost in the Shell and The Matrix

The matrix was a pioneer of Hollywood sci-fi, but the Wachowskis owe a lot to pre-existing anime like ghost in the shell. Sadly adapted into a live-action adaptation starring Scarlett Johansson, the original 1995 film dealt with a cyborg federal agent pursuing a hacker in a cyberpunk dystopia.

The themes of hacking and an authoritarian future are central to The matrix movies, but the influence of Mamoru Oshii’s original goes way beyond that. As a visual comparison can show, the similarities include designs such as green code flowing all over the screen, the main characters connecting to networks from an opening behind their necks, and more. According Business Internthe Wachowskis were open that anime was a key source of inspiration for The matrix.

Perfect Blue – Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream


A woman reclining in Perfect Blue and a woman performing a ballet in Black Swan

A psychological thriller from the 90s, perfect blue deals with a woman who loses control of her reality as she aims to become an actress while dealing with stalkers. The film was directed by anime veteran Satoshi Kon, and according to Obsessive anime, perfect blue went on to influence two of Daren Aronofsky’s best films.

In Requiem for a dreamAronofsky incorporated a frame-by-frame remake of a scene from perfect blue in which the heroine immerses herself in a bathtub. As for Black Swanthe inner turmoil Natalie Portman’s ballet dancer faces is comparable to the struggles of the title character in perfect blue. The two characters even transcend between reality and surreal dream sequences.

Neon Genesis Evangelion – Pacific Rim


Split images of mecha suits in Pacific Rim and Neon Genesis Evangelion

At Hideaki Anno Neon Genesis Evangelion incorporates religion, philosophy, and humanistic themes while being one of the greatest mecha anime series of all time. But the overall theme of robotic EVAs battling creatures known as angels is practically similar to Guillermo Del Toro’s premise. Pacific Rim.

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While the latter may not be as introspective as Anno’s original, Pacific RimVillains include the monstrous “Kaijus” (an obvious reference to the Kaiju subgenre of monster cinema in Japan). Another major theme shared by both fictional pieces is how the characters “synchronize” with their mecha-suits and control the robot’s actions through mental cues.


Saint Seiya – Clash of the Titans


Perseus in Clash of the Titans and Saint Seiya side by side comparison

Heir to the legacy of a long line of film adaptations of Greek mythology and swords and sandals epics, the remake of Clash of the Titans was also inspired by fantasy anime, Saint Seiya. Also drawing on similar mythological inspirations, Saint Seiya deals with a group of mystical warriors who aid Athena in her battle against the Olympian gods who plan to take over the world.

According Anime News Network, Clash of the Titans director Louis Leterrier has revealed that he is a big fan of the Saint Seiya manga and anime. In fact, the armor worn by the divine characters in his film is deliberately designed as a tribute to Saint Seiya. Manga creator Masami Kurumada even designed four Japanese posters for Leterrier’s film.

Birdy the Mighty – Man of Steel


Split footage of fight scenes from Birdy The Mighty and Man of Steel

Asked about the high octane fight sequences in Steel man (especially the climactic battle between Superman and General Zod), it’s easy to assume that an overdone anime like Dragon Ball Z could have been an influence. The answer is, in fact, another underrated action anime called Birdy the Mighty.

Zack Snyder himself revealed at his film’s Japanese premiere how the climax was inspired by Birdy the Mightyfight scenes. The anime’s titular character is a human-like alien with exceptional combat skills, much like the Kryptonian hero from Snyder’s DCEU movie.

Princess Mononoke – Avatar


A fan favorite in the Studio Ghibli film pantheon, Princess Mononoke involves a struggle between the divine forces of the forests and the humans exploiting those same forests. The conflict that arises is comparable to the relationship between the Na’vi people and the human colonizers in Avatar.

As reported by Yahoo Entertainmentdirector James Cameron was quick to cite the Hayao Miyazaki adventure as a direct influence not only on themes of cultural clashes and environmentalism, but also on the floating ecosystems of the planet Pandora.

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