Live-action movies and anime TV series are always popular, but what about the best? anime adaptations from other media? While there are a lot of great original cartoons on the air, the shows are also often based on comic books and light novels. But what about anime that dig a little deeper for inspiration?
These anime genres are a bit harder to find, but they’re proof that inspiration for a great movie or show can come from anywhere. Dedicated viewers can find anime adaptations of classic literature, video games, American comics, and even music videos.
10 Mekaku City Actors (2014)
When longtime homemaker Shintaro was forced to leave home to find a new keyboard, he didn’t expect the stresses of the outside world. Being caught in a terrorist attack and a hostage situation was completely beyond his control. Meet Mekakushi-dan, a group of other kids with superpowers and trauma who helped Shintaro get out of that mess and meet many other people.
Mekakucity Actors is based on the Kagerou Project, a franchise revolving around an anthology of Vocaloid songs. The fusion music show’s many characters and stories fit well with a cast like this. Additionally, some of their most popular songs have dark or tragic tones that the show borrows to serve as plot plots for the cast.
9 Devil May Cry: Animated Series (2007)
Based on the Capcom video game franchise and animated by Studio Madhouse, this underrated twelve-episode animated series premiered in 2007. Half-demon half-human Dante makes a living through private investigative work. own, solving supernatural problems. It doesn’t exactly pay the bills, but there are things that only someone like Dante can do.
The show is largely episodic, taking place between the first and second Devil May Cry games. It focuses on demonstrating Dante’s fighting prowess in battle with various enemies, which will help test the adaptability of the video game. It received an English dub by Funimation, which aired on Chiller TV’s late-night horror anime channel.
8 Batman: Knights of Gotham (2008)
This experiment of the DC Animated Universe was made direct to video in 2008. An anthology series consisting of six segments, Batman: The Gotham Knights leaps through time and through various parts of Gotham City. with each video clip. Together they all paint an intricate picture of the Dark Knight.
Similar to The Animatrix, Gotham Knight explores several different styles of storytelling and animation with each segment. Animation studios like Madhouse and Studio 4°C (the latter of which would go on to animate Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox five years later) lent the project their signature creativity and high-quality animation. Kevin Conroy reprized his role as Batman in all six segments.
7 Deltora missions (2007 – 2008)
Remember this children’s fantasy series by Emily Rodda? So did TV Tokyo, and in 2007 an animated film based on the books premiered. A manga adaptation and a side game for the Nintendo DS, Deltora Quest: Nanatsu no Houseki, released the same year.
Young blacksmith apprentice Lief shares the usual hot-blooded nature of the shounen protagonist and his backstory as well. He has a desire to challenge the world when he is tasked with finding the missing heir to the throne and the Deltora Belt, the only two that can save their kingdom from the Dark Lord. With the help of her friends, Lief not only saves the world, but also uncovers her own past.
6 Tatami Galaxy (2010)
The plot of the Tatami Galaxy is well suited to the special skill set of the director, screenwriter and animator Masaaki Yuasa. The narrator’s unreliability about the world he lives in and the wild circumstances he finds himself in each time loop creates an increasingly surreal experience. To break out of the loop, he must grasp the truth about himself and those around him.
The 2010 11-episode series is based on the 2004 novel by Tomihiko Morimi. This novel was followed by a sequel, The Tatami Time Machine Blues, which got its own web-animated adaptation from Science SARU in 2022. To fans’ delight, most of the original voice cast from The Tatami Galaxy all return to reprise their roles.
5 Powerpuff Girls Z (2006 – 2007)
Most kids who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s are familiar with The Powerpuff Girls. Craig McCracken’s 1998 hit made three superpowered sisters created in a lab accident a household name. Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup fight to protect the city of Townsville from the vast and colorful gallery of crooks.
In 2006, this anime adaptation by Toei Animation premiered, borrowing elements of the best magical girl anime to combine with the popular story. Although the basic premise and character concept were kept the same, some changes were made. For example, three unrelated heroines are given alter egos – Hyper Blossom, Rolling Bubbles and Powered Buttercup – by Professor Utonium’s experiment, which they transform into to fight villains.
4 Pokémon (1997 – present)
Possibly the most successful video game-to-animated adaptation ever made, Pokémon is one of the longest running cartoons ever. With every game in the franchise comes a new season of the show, with new areas to explore and new Pokémon to battle, capture, and train. Even if longtime hero Ash Ketchum retires as the main character, the anime will continue with different protagonists.
The unsung hero of the 1996 original game, Pokémon Red and Blue, Red, does not normally appear in the anime. However, he and his Charizard are the heroes of the 2013 Pokémon Origins miniseries. Origins even brought back its first rival, Blue, to be replaced by Gary Oak in the original anime, who returned to the game by picking Squirtle to gain an advantage over Red’s partner Pokémon.
3 Matrix (2003)
This 2003 anthology explores the thrilling and expansive world of The Matrix franchise outside of the heroes of Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus. Released directly as a video between Reloaded and Revolutions, these nine short films span a variety of genres and styles, from CGI to traditional animation. Writers and animators like Shinichiro Watanabe and Mahiro Maeda brought their talents to make the project really shine.
While all nine segments of The Animatrix have something to love, some stand out more than others. “The Second Renaissance” tells the full story of the machine revolt against humanity and the creation of the First Matrix, with nightmarish visuals and some of the scariest robots in anime. “The Last Flight of Osiris” was an achievement in early CG animation, while “Beyond” and “A Detective Story” allowed the series to transition into psychological horror and film noir genres.
2 Gankutsuou (2004 – 2005)
Gankutsuou is an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ 1844 novel The Count of Monte Cristo. It takes on the revenge of betrayed sailor Edmond Dantes, fast-forwarding it thousands of years into the future and placing it in a France far from space rather than a France far from the sea. Instead of Faria, a kind father, Edmond falls into the slavery of the demon Gankutsuou, who grants him wealth and power.
One of the best anime based on classic literature, Gankutsuou makes another interesting choice in framing Edmond as the villain of the story. The role of the hero and the character from the point of view is transferred to the boy Albert, the son of one of Edmond’s targets. His glamorous life is torn around him and facing how his family is responsible for the suffering of an innocent man forces him to grow up very quickly. .
1 Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies is considered not only one of the saddest anime but also one of the saddest movies of all time. It tells the story of two orphaned brothers, Seita and Setsuko, trying to survive in the final years of World War II. Seita struggles to provide for her sister as they suffer from family abuse, lack of food, and the Kobe firebombing.
Its original inspiration was even sadder. The film is based on a short story written in 1967 by Akiyuki Nosaka, who lived through the same war as Seita as a child. Two of his older sisters died of malnutrition like Setsuko in the manga and film, and in interviews, Nosaka expressed regret for not providing better for his toddler sister when still a boy. Unlike Nosaka, Seita also notably did not survive the war, starving to death in a train station.
These shows are proof that inspiration for a great anime can come from anywhere. Sometimes the places that creators and audiences might not even think about are the most valuable and best anime adaptation from them are powerful arguments to broaden one’s horizons.