The best creators in the world know that often you must take ideas from other traditions and adapt them with your own point of view. Anime and Japanese culture have established a foothold in other societies because so many writers and artists found inspiration in its brand of storytelling. Some forms of storytelling are universal and certain tales across cultures cannot help but be similar to one another. However, every now and then, when you gaze a little closer at the ideas and insights that have shaped modern entertainment and cinema you might find hints of the anime shows and Japanese tales that you already know.
If you take a classic anime like Ghost in the Shell and look across present-day media for its influence; you’ll find its flavor and style in films like the Wachowski’s The Matrix or even direct adaptations like the upcoming big budget live-action movie Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson. Movies like Pacific Rim with giant robots fighting actual Kaiju monsters owe their inspiration directly to the various giant mech-animes of the past like Neon Genesis Evangelion, Mobile Suit Gundam or Robotech. Christopher Nolan has even admitted that the Anime film Paprika had a direct impact on the work he did crafting the story for his film, Inception.
Alternate versions of anime or even just Japanese storytelling are popping up all over the mainstream media with varying results. When American filmmakers update a property like Godzilla with modern special effects, it can result in a film that respects the past and creates a new mythology. Also, with films like the upcoming Ghost in the Shell, it brings the controversy of casting a white actress as the lead in an undoubtedly classic Asian role. Whether you agree with that choice or not; it is the most high profile adaptation of a cult classic anime we’ve seen in quite a while. If the film is a success then it will no doubt, lead to more creators mining Japanese cult classics or lesser known anime stories for their next films.
…The question is; which is better, the live-action adaptations of the classics we love? OR artists cherry-picking inspiration from their favorite Japanese stories and creating wholly new stories for us watch?
Let us know how you feel about the mainstreaming of Japanese entertainment in the comments below.