Anime, the unique animation style from Japan, has long been popular in the West. Anime films have developed large followings in Europe and the United States, and their popularity continues to grow. One area where anime has had a significant impact is in Hollywood, where its influence can be seen in some of the biggest films of the last few decades.
Films with a Strong Anime Influence
Ever since anime began in the 1940s, after Osamu Tezuka was inspired by Disney cartoon hits like ‘Dumbo’, it has been counter-influencing big budget American films. Often, this influence is easy to see.
The Alex Proyas film ‘Dark City’ (1998) is one such film where the anime influence is significant. Towards the end of the film, buildings are featured restoring themselves, and the director claimed that this was a “homage” to ‘Akira’ by the artist Katsuhiro Otomo, which was set in a post-apocalyptic Japan.
‘The Matrix’ is also thought to have been heavily influenced by anime, most notably the 1995 anime ‘Ghost in the Shell’. The Wachowski brothers have suggested that they were influenced by the style, and there are strong similarities between the two films, such as the green numbers cascading down the screen, the fight scenes and the theme of a virtual world in which we are living.
Another film that has clearly been influenced by Japanese anime is ‘Astro Boy’. This was the first anime film that was based on the original manga comic, and was actually remade directly into a Hollywood version in 2009.
The Anime Influence in Upcoming Films
Anime continues to strongly influence Hollywood, and this fact will become even more apparent through the release of a number of big-budget films over the coming years. One to look out for is ‘Battle Angel Alita’, which is based on the manga series about a female cyborg. This is currently in pre-production and will be directed by none other than James Cameron, with an expected release date of 2017.
James Cameron has long been a big fan of anime, and there are strong suggestions that Pandora, the fictional world in Avatar, was heavily influenced by ‘Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind’, an anime film from 1984.
Other big adaptations will appear even earlier, with Spike Lee directing a remake of Oldboy – a South Korean film based on a manga comic – in 2013.
Anime’s Growing Popularity
With so many Hollywood films being directly influenced by anime over recent decades, and many more films being released in the next few years that have also been influenced directly by anime, it is easy to see how this medium will become even more popular over coming years.
The exquisite imagery, fantastical stories and original characters appeal to film lovers all over the world, and it is likely that anime will continue to influence many more Hollywood films for a long time to come.
Amy is a feature writer who works for motion capture technology company Animazoo in the UK. Animazoo have provided mocap systems for popular hollywood movies, TV shows and video games.