As the old saying goes, “good artists copy, but great artists steal.” Since the beginning of time, people have drawn on the same classic stories in making brand new ones, in books, films, or anything in between. But when your inspiration is half a world away, it can be tempting to copy a few extra details – or sometimes, the entire premise. Those responsible may claim that it’s all one big coincidence, but we’ll let you decide.
Here is Screenrant’s list of Anime Films That Were Ripped Off By Hollywood Movies.
Christopher Nolan’s story of operatives invading and stealing from a person’s dream was one of the most original Hollywood blockbusters in years. But Inception owes some of that credit to the Japanese film Paprika, based on a novel by the same name. The stories differ, but Paprika was also built on the idea of misusing dream technology, breaking into patients’ minds as part of a dream therapy. Nolan admitted the anime was used as inspiration for his film, even if it didn’t go quite so far in bending reality. A live-action Paprika was in development in 2010, but when Inception stole the show, updates stopped completely.
Neon Genesis/Pacific Rim
In the 1990s, the Japanese anime scene was in a bit of a slump – until Neon Genesis Evangelion came along. Audiences instantly fell in love with the show’s young hero, using his mind to pilot a massive mech in battle against enormous alien monsters (not to mention the quiet, withdrawn young woman and fellow pilot he was trying to grow close to). If that plot sounds familiar, you’re probably a fan of Pacific Rim, a movie that drew from too many anime and mecha stories to count. The director and writer claim they never saw the original anime… but the similarities seem a lot more than just coincidence.
Ghost in The Shell/The Matrix
Some movies steal their ideas or style from an anime hit and keep it quiet. But the Wachowskis have always been open about the debt they owe to Ghost in the Shell, a cyberpunk tale of futuristic cyborg agents. The plot may not be a match, but the action, style and setting are. Apparently, the anime was actually the entire pitch for the film: the Wachowskis simply showed it to producer Joel Silver, then told him their hope for The Matrix was to just make that film in live-action. The deal was done, and comparing the two movies, we would say the directors pulled it off.
Released just a year before The Matrix, this dark tale of a dystopic future has also been pointed to as a source of inspiration for the Wachowskis, with the films even sharing some of the same sets. But director Alex Proyas has actually pointed to one world famous anime as a direct influence. The original manga and anime versions of Akira became iconic hits, and Dark City’s climactic battle is an obvious nod to the final battle in the animated film too. The director calls it an homage, but put the scenes side by side, and fans might see a stronger similarity.
Vampire Hunter D/Van Helsing
In Bram Stoker’s original Dracula, Abraham van Helsing was introduced as an aging, science-minded man of action. It was only later versions that made Van Helsing a seasoned vampire hunter, but the Japanese anime Vampire Hunter D created a truly original and unmatched hunter of the undead. In a world mixing steampunk, magic and science fiction, the half-vampire ‘D’ looked more like a cowboy, with a long black cloak, and large hat and hair to protect him from the sun as he hunted down monsters of the dark.
The allusions to the original Dracula through dozens of novels and animated films eventually made their way to the west. So when a blockbuster Van Helsing was greenlit in 2007, the filmmakers re-imagined the old scholar, essentially bringing Vampire Hunter D to life.
Kimba The White Lion/The Lion King
If Disney’s worldwide hit starring a lion named Simba seemed familiar at the time, you’re definitely not alone. Even star voice actor Matthew Broderick assumed The Lion King was an American remake of Kimba the White Lion, the famous anime series following another lion cub who learned the hard way what it takes to lead. Even though Disney has denied that they borrowed from Kimba, early concept art shows Simba to be just as white, and even exact scenes are copied from one to the other. The movie began Disney’s renaissance in animated films… but they may not have done it alone.
Nadia: Secret of Blue Water/Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Seen today as unique or ahead of its time, Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire was seen as a disappointment by the studio, criticized for its shift in animation style and lack of songs. Maybe Disney had hoped that the film would be just as popular as the anime series Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – a Japanese story of a strange girl and her brilliant friend who board a submarine and cross paths with Atlantean forces. Both movies claim to be inspired by Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea,” but the similarities – down to the mystical blue crystals worn by both of the female leads – imply something… less innocent.
Perfect Blue/Black Swan
On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be much in common between the story of a young ballet star and a Japanese pop-singer-turned-actress. But when anime fans finally saw Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, they felt differently – with some even claiming the film was a re- imagined remake of Perfect Blue, a film also based on an up-and-coming star who starts seeing double, and becomes lost in paranoia (and eventually, murder). Aronofsky has denied any connections, but the almost identical scenes and shots are hard to argue. Especially after reports surfaced that the director had gotten the rights to a Perfect Blue remake when filming Requiem For a Dream in 2000.
So what do you think of our list? Did we miss any suspicious similarities between Hollywood films and anime hits? Let us know in our comment section and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for more videos like this one.