A huge part of Attack on Titan's appeal lies in the unsettling nature of the titular monsters. The giants that rampage through populated areas eating villagers somewhat resemble humans, but something about them is a little... off. Their bone structure is exaggerated in weird places, their heads are almost never proportional to their bodies and they have muscular lumps where people usually do not have muscular lumps.
All this makes a lot of sense when you consider that the fact that MMA fighters were used as the anatomical basis for some of the series' most iconic horror shows. Former UFC Champion and WWE regular Brock Lesnar was the inspiration for the bulky "Armored Titan," and the prolific Japanese MMA fighter Yushin Okami was used for the [SPOILER] Titan you see below.
Face it, we're all wondering the same thing: Does this mean Brock Lesnar has no genitals or buttcrack like a Titan? Does he just endlessly eat human flesh and never poop because God smoothed over his butthole with flesh cement? Is anyone actually brave enough to ask Brock Lesnar these questions?
Historical anime is still anime. While you might see period-appropriate attire and architecture in something like Samurai X, you can still bank on wacky hair and maybe a badass facial scar. Though Rurouni Kenshin isn't based on actual events (what with all the sword magic), the main character is based on an actual samurai. Kawakami Gensai was an assassin who lived in the mid-19th century; when Kenshin creator Nobohiro Watsuki read that Gensai "maintained a duty to his dead comrades," he found inspiration for the aforementioned redhead. Kenshin and Gensai don't have a ton in common other than the fact they're both (former) assassins with a loyal streak. While Samurai X had something of a happy ending, Gensai was executed by his own government after his usefulness had come to an end.
Gensai's legend also inspired a character in another supernatural/sci-fi samurai action anime. Gintama's Kawakami Bansai (was not so subtly) named after Kawakami Gensai. One of the samurai's contemporaries was also honored in Gintama, as the character Okada Nizou was based on the real-life assassin Okada Izo.
Unlike his anime counterpart, Izo was not in fact a blind swordsman who wielded a giant purple sword that turned him into a tentacle monster -- he was just a guy who murdered political opponents. Without tentacles, I presume.
Okay okay, this is a location and not a person. But Saitama's crappy apartment plays a significant role in the series One Punch Man, so we're going to count it. Especially when the visual comparisons are this strong.
It might be a bit tough to tell because of the realistic rendering, but uh, the cartoon version of the building is the one with the huge-ass bloodstain splattered across the side. As Imgur user JoelNordio discovered, many of the show's settings are ripped right from a Setegaya neighborhood in Tokyo.
On one hand it's not a huge surprise, since this kind of practice is pretty common in manga and anime that feature photorealistic backgrounds and cityscapes. But all the same, it's neat that you can actually stomp around in Saitama's stomping grounds. Plus, it's genuinely impressive that the animators managed to so faithfully recreate a real place.
But you didn't come to this article to look at some boring old buildings, even if they are caked in monster blood. You know who is based on real people? Pretty much everyone in Cowboy Bebop.
A generation of anime fans grew up thinking Spike Spiegel was the coolest guy who never lived. But as it turns out, the Cowboy Beop protagonist was heavily inspired by the most badass actor you've never heard of: Yusaku Matsuda. Seriously, just look at this guy. Nobody has ever looked so casual yet stylish while lounging in a teacup.
Matsuda is Japan's James Dean, in more than one way. Though he starred in several movies, Matsuda's biggest influence on the creators of Cowboy Bebop came from his tenure on a detective show called Tantei Monogatari. Though the show is notably set in then-present day 1970s Japan and not say, in a future where everyone jets across the solar system in spaceships, the vibe is so familiar that you'd almost expect to start hearing Bebop's jazzy soundtrack. And you just know someone on the internet put together a Matsuda supercut set to that memorable theme song.
Matsuda passed away in 1989, but the Cowboy Bebop production team wasn't shy about using likenesses of actors who were still alive. Take this couple from the opening episode, for instance:
Doomed outlaws Asimov and Katerina are something of an homage to Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek in the Robert Rodriguez movie Desperado. Their stories are a little different -- Asimov and Katerina are dirtbag smugglers as opposed to Banderas and Hayek's righteous vigilantes -- but the visual similarities are striking.
As the series went on, the writers and animators got a little more brazen about ripping celebrities off wholesale.
On the left you see Coffee, a bounty hunter that shows up in the drug-fueled "Mushroom Samba" episode. On the right is Pam Grier, starring in the title role of a movie called "Coffy." Really.
That's not even the only time Cowboy Bebop ripped from blaxploitation films.
The way this guy drags a coffin behind him almost certainly a reference to the old western Django. Yes, it's that Django. But his name is Shaft. And judging by his distinctly 1970s look, it's that Shaft. I mean, I can dig it, but something tells me neither actor Richard Roundtree nor the original author Ernest Tidyman got paid for this.
Like un-Django here, many of the characters in Cowboy Bebop have multiple points of origin.
A cranky mechanic, Doohan appears late in the series. As Star Trek fans may have guessed, he's based on Star Trek's resident cranky mechanic Scottie, played by one James Doohan (far right). Anime Doohan has some pretty neat tricks, including drawing a HUD into his spacecraft to calculate trajectory to get out of a jam -- a move that seems awfully similar to one pulled off by actual astronaut Gordon Cooper in 1963. But as far as appearance goes, Cowboy Bebop's Anime Guide suggested that Doohan's looks came from director Nicholas Ray, a celebrated director known for helming Rebel Without a Cause.
Most of the people so far seem like fine folks, but not every living person who made it into Cowboy Bebop is all that great.
In the world of Bebop, the "Teddy Bomber" is called such because he uses teddy bears to hide his bombs in order to destroy large buildings. In our terrible reality, a shitstain named Ted Kaczynski sent explosives hidden in packages to hurt innocent people. While the Teddy Bomber seems to take his name and appearance from Kaczynski, given his large-scale attacks and the time period that the show was produced, there might be some of the Oklahoma City bombers Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh in there, too.
It's kind of hard to transition from domestic terrorists to, well, anything else, but here's George Clooney anyway.
Those who know the show will recognize Whitney Matsumoto as "that creep who ripped off Faye Valentine." A pretty persistent rumor across the internet alleges that the writer of the episode suggested that the animation team draw Matsumoto to look exactly like George Clooney. In the rumor's defense, that seems exactly like what's happened here.
After all, why bother going to all the trouble of designing a character when you can just model your cast after the most beautiful people alive?