We've been told time and time again that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It's hard to make your way through life and not passively pick up traits, habits, and influences from the world around you like a sponge on its way to the next meme. That having been said, sometimes this can cross the line over just mere imitation.
Anime is undoubtedly a dominant form of animation, so its reach is massive. The scale, composition, fluidity, and expressiveness of Japanese animation has gone a long way toward shaping the way the rest of the world watches cartoons; sometimes in references and callbacks, but sometimes things take a more literal turn. Here are a handful of movies that were clearly influenced by specific Japanese animations in one way or another.
Director Darren Aronofsky has always had a flair for the dramatic and grotesque, but one particular influence had him ready to shell out serious money. Aronofsky allegedly bought the rights to Satoshi Kon's 1997 film Perfect Blue in order to recreate the infamous bathtub sequence without it coming across as a blatant copy.
Those rights came in handy again during the filming of 2011's Black Swan, a story of a ballerinas confronting their own sanity that was very similar to Kahn's own film about ballerinas confronting their own sanity. Regardless of who owns the rights and whether or not he denies it, it's clear that some of that perfect blue rubbed off onto his own twisted dance story.
Satoshi Kon also appeared to creep into the mind of Christopher Nolan. Kon's 2006 film Paprika is a mind-bending odyssey where the lines between dream and reality are constantly blurred thanks to a machine called a DC Mini that allows people to enter each other's dreams. Nolan's 2010 film Inception also involves travelling through the layers of the mind, but in order to plant ideas into people's heads.
The plots of both films might not be identical, but there are a handful of sequences that are suspiciously close to each other. In the world of dreams, you'd think there was more than one ways to show a cop stumbling their way through an apartment hallway.
Here's a classic for you. When The Lion King first started pulling 90s babies' heartstrings the world over, Kimba's potential influence on the film was hard to ignore. I mean, it's also a movie about a young lion cub whose name is one letter away from Simba's, with more than a few similar shots. Even Matthew Broderick, Simba's voice actor, thought he was reading lines for Kimba, a white lion "in a cartoon from when I was a little kid."
The Matrix is rightly regarded as one of the most influential movies of all time, but all that cyberpunk style and grace had to come from somewhere. The Wachowskis were very quick to name Ghost In The Shell as a big influence and it shows in the stylistic and character choices throughout. It's hard to look at a character like Trinity and not think of Matoko Kusanagi or the lair of the Puppet Master and think of the interior of the Nebuchadnezzar.
Firstly, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is one of Disney's unsung classics of the early 2000s. An adventure movie about a trip to the very real city of Atlantis with beautiful visuals and a good-natured sense of humor just looks better 17 years later, but the adventures of Milo, Kida and company aren't the first time Atlantis has been seen in this light.
Released in 1989 and inspired by Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, Nadia: The Secret Of Blue Water was a series that also revolved around fending off intruders from the city of Atlantis that centered around a white boy and Atlantean girl with a shiny blue pendant around her neck that's used as an energy source. Atlantis directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise claim to have never seen Nadia beforehand and even drew inspiration from Verne's other famous novel Journey to The Center of The Earth, but it's interesting to see how close Atlantis came over a decade later.
Akira is one of the most beloved and influential films in the world, animated or otherwise, and it's easy to see how the story of Kaneda and Tetsuo could branch out and touch others. Director Josh Trank named Akira as a huge influence on his 2012 debut Chronicle, which is pretty easy to see on the surface.
The most obvious similarity is in the characters of Tetsuo (Nozomu Sasaki) and Andrew (Dane DeHaan), two sullen teenagers who use their gifts to lash out at the world. But Chronicle takes things a step further by taking cues from action scenes, like the ground explosion that Andrew uses to knock back police officers coming from a similar scene in Akira where Tetsuo destroys an esper pod. Akira still had a much better ending.
Pacific Rim is underrated. There, I said it. Guillermo del Toro is one of our great living directors and he brought a sense of scale and weight to a live-action mech/monster movie that we hav en't seen in a long time. That having been said, it owes a debt to Evangelion.
Both Evangelion and Pacific Rim are based around candy-colored robots powered by a neural interface built to fight monsters ("Jaegers" in PR and "Evas" in Evangelion), but that's actually where most of the similarities end. Pacific Rim takes influence from several other mech shows, particularly the Gundam series. In a massive field of inspiration, it's the purple and green robot that stands out.