Five Hollywood movies with a taste of anime/Japanimation


Homage Matrix DVD

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What do you think of when someone mentions Japan? Anime certainly may be one of the things that comes to mind with all the Japanese animations being seen around the world in recent years. In fact, those of us here in Japan are often amazed by how passionate and knowledgeable some foreign fans are about Japanese anime.

So, we guess it’s not a complete surprise if some Hollywood movies seem to have been influenced by Japanese anime. Movie creators would have watched anime too, and I think we all know to a certain extent how some anime or TV programs, especially ones that we saw as a child, can grab our imagination and never really completely go away.

Well, we happened to find a post on information-compilation site Naver Matome that listed some Hollywood blockbusters containing what seem to be subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) tributes and references to Japanese anime, which we thought would be fun to share with you. Let’s take a look below at the movies that were mentioned in the article.


1. Clash of the Titans 

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This visually stunning action adventure film is a remake of the 1981 classic based on the famous Greek myth of Perseus’s battle with the sea monster Kraken. In the 2010 remake directed by Louis Leterrier, the Olympian gods don’t wear traditional Greek robes but are instead clad in costumes that resemble medieval armor. Leterrier has said in an interview with the Japanese media that the armor-like costume was inspired by the anime Saint Seiya, which also borrows heavily from Greek legend and in which the characters battle with each other wearing special armor called “Cloths”. Leterrier says he is a huge of the anime which he saw in his native France and had thought the Cloths looked so cool that he wanted to pay homage to the anime in his movie. (Personally, this bit of information made me smile because it just so happens that I actually saw Saint Seiya on TV in France — although it was called by the fancier sounding French title Les Chevaliers du Zodiaque— when I home stayed in the country for about a month a long, long time ago when I was still in high school.)


▼Characters from Saint Seiya wearing their Cloths

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It’s hard to believe the popular anime, based on a manga of the same title, is now more than 20 years old! Back then, at least to me, the graphics seemed to be of very high quality by the standards of the time; okay, so the guys looked hot/cute/beautiful in their armor-style suits.


▼Zeus in his armor-like costume in Clash of the Titans — do you see a strong resemblance?

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2. The Matrix

Homage Matrix DVD

Many of you have probably seen this hit sci-fi movie, which caused a sensation in many parts of the world with its innovative story and stunning visual effects when it was released in 1999. It’s considered a classic cyberpunk movie, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the creators were inspired by anime of the same genre in making the film.

As those of you familiar with Japanese anime may expect, Akira and Ghost in the Shell are anime that are often cited as having influenced The Matrix.


▼Akira and Ghost in the Shell, both cyberpunk anime that likely had an influence on The Matrix

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The super-human powers exhibited by some of the characters in the Matrix are certainly evocative of parts of Akira, and Ghost in the Shell seems to have been even more of a strong influence, including the visual concept of a cable being connected into the neck, as well as the cinematography in some of the chase scenes. In fact, the directors of The Matrix, the Wachowski Brothers, have said that they were so impressed with Ghost in the Shell that they wanted to make a live-action movie like it and even gave a video of the anime to the creative staff when making The Matrix as an example of the kind of world they wanted to create. Oh, and speaking of Japanese influence, did you know that the falling green digital code that appears in the movie contains mirror images of Japanese katakana letters?

Well, I certainly think the Wachowski Brothers succeeded here in making a film that leaves a strong and lasting impression. The Matrix is a movie that kind of gets to you, isn’t it,when you start to wonder about whether the world you live in is … well, really real?


3. Avatar

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This is another mega-blockbuster many of you will have seen. Although the plot, which involves greedy business and military oppressing and attacking an indigenous tribe for materialistic gain, is not particularly original, the movie does create a whole new world visually unlike any we had seen before. And that’s definitely something Hayao Miyazaki, anime producer and cofounder of Studio Ghibli, also excels at. James Cameron, who directed Avatar, admits that he is a big fan of Miyazaki’s films.

As such, it is no wonder if there seem to be parallels between Avatar and some of Miyazaki’s works, be it the industry/technology vs. nature theme, the uniquely vibrant colors or the amazing, speed-filled flight scenes. Movie fans have also been quick to point out that the presence of a strong, attractive female lead character is another element Avatar shares with many of Miyazaki’s works, particularly bringing to mind San in Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind — both young women who battle fiercely against armies possessing sophisticated technology to protect the precious natural environment around them.


▼Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, both films featuring young, strong heroines fighting to save the world they live in

Homage Princess Mononoke

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There are also many visual details in Avatar that are reminiscent of images from Miyazaki’s anime, like the floating islands of rock that bear a noticeable resemblance to the floating castle Laputa in Castle in the Sky, or the supernaturally powerful tree with healing tendrils, which is a concept that also appears in Princess Mononoke. I’m sure it’s a testament to the creative genius of James Cameron and his team that they succeeded in making such a beautifully unique and thoroughly engaging movie while at the same time incorporating elements that we have seen before in some very well-known anime films.


4. Real Steel

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Perhaps befitting a movie set in a world where robots programmed to engage in boxing matches in place of human boxers, Real Steel is another film that contains images and references evocative of Japanese anime, which is after all, famous for its robot/mecha genre, among which some hugely popular anime such as Mobile Suit Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion can be counted.

What could be more symbolic than the fact that the robot the main character comes into possession of is named Atom? Although the name may not necessarily ring a bell with those of you outside of Japan, Atom is actually the name by which Astro Boy , the iconic anime robot character, is known in Japan. I’m sure a lot of Japanese movie viewers smiled at that, since we all love Astro Boy here in Japan — in fact, I think most people over a certain age can sing the anime theme song completely by heart.


▼Astro Boy, or Atom as he is known in Japan

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Another anime that viewers of Real Steel may be reminded of is the classic Tetsujin 28-go, which was released in the United States as Gigantor. The design of some of the robots in Real Steel seem to bear a certain resemblance to those in the anime, and what’s more, the robot in Tetsujin 28-go is controlled by a young boy, which is also the case in Real Steel.


▼Tetsujin 28-go, the original Japanese version of Gigantor

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Of course, for those of us in Japan, it was also good fun to see some other references to Japan as well in the movie, albeit not necessarily anime-related, such as one of the robots being initially set to be controlled in Japanese, and the young boy managing to give some commands in Japanese, saying that he learned the words playing Japanese video games. Well, you have to admit it is kind of nice when your country receives a positive nod of recognition in a big Hollywood movie.


5. Transformers 

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I guess this sci-fi action film can be considered as receiving a kind of honorable mention here, as the movie is not exactly a work containing Japanese influences but rather based on a franchise that started as a line of transforming robot toys that was produced jointly by a Japanese and American toy company, so the series does have a good part of its origins in Japan.


▼Transformer toys from Takara Tomy

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Since then, it seems that the whole franchise, including the animated series, has been a combined effort between American and Japanese companies with South Korea involved as well in the animation.


▼One of the earlier animated versions

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Some fans also seem to think that the basic concept and some of the designs of the original Transformer toys were likely influenced by the anime series Macross.


▼The Macross anime series — the robotics certainly look sophisticated

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The Transformers anime was certainly a hit in Japan, but the question of whether it is technically an American or Japanese series still appears to be a subject up for debate even today. Well, either way, it’s certainly been a good source of entertainment for us, and we can’t complain about that.


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Five Hollywood movies with a taste of anime/Japanimation


Japanese company builds giant robot you could be piloting right now

RocketNews 24:

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Chiba Prefecture’s Wonder Festival is a bi-annual figure and model expo. The event’s bread and butter is figurine of anime and video game characters, in both frighteningly realistic and sexily unrealistic varieties.

But while the first thing most people associate with the event is toys, if your model is made of metal instead of plastic or urethane, and it’s self-propelled to boot, you’ve crossed the line of three-dimensional art and moved into straight-up engineering. Of course, Wonder Festival’s exhibitors aren’t going to stray too far from their fanciful roots, so what do you get when you combine technology with science fiction? You get this amazing giant robot, which is so easy to pilot that attendees could test drive it.

Not too long ago we tried out a powered suit from Sagawa Electronics. We’re not going to lie, it was awesome, and if it were in our budgets, we’d totally choose it over the train for our commute to the office.

Still, sometimes you don’t feel like settling for a robot suit when what you want is an actual robot. So imagine our joy when, while heading out into the walkway connecting two of the Wonder Festival exhibit halls, we came across the 3.4-meter (11-foot, two-inch) Landwalker from machinery manufacturer Sakakibara Kikai.

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This was no mere decoration piece, either, as the Landwalker is mobile. It’s not a pre-programmed automation either, as the imposing mecha is controlled by an operator seated inside its chest cavity.

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▼ It even comes with a cool racing seat.

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Despite the Landwalker’s intimidating-looking replica weaponry, you don’t need a military background in order to operate it, as proven by the 12 civilians who took it for a spin in front of the extremely jealous crowd in a demonstration put on by hobby website Guru Guru Box. Eight lucky Guru Guru Box users were chosen in the days leading up to Wonder Festival, and another four applicants were selected by drawing at the site.

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It’s impossible to look at the Landwalker and not be reminded of mecha anime such as GundamMacross, and Evangelion. While we’re on the subject of those three classics, though, let’s stop and ponder the implications of a scene that all three share.

Early on in each title, through a series of events the protagonist suddenly finds himself in the cockpit of a giant war machine for the first time. With no training, he’s able to pilot it simply by listening to explanations and commands from his allies, which seems like stretching artistic license pretty far. Piloting a giant robot can’t really be that easy, can it?

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Apparently it can. Before the 12 mecha jocks tried out the Landwalker, they stood around for a few short minutes while the staff briefed them on the controls. Next, without any training or practice, they strapped in and, one by one, easily manipulated the bipedal robot by pedals placed in the footwell of the machine.

The Landwalker’s forward progress is accompanied by all the whirring and clanking you’d expect, and honestly hope for, from a robot of its size. The test pilots reported that despite all the noise, the seating area remains relatively stable when the unit is in motion, and the cockpit isn’t at all an uncomfortable place to be. Given their complete lack of experience, some had trouble keeping their movement to a perfectly straight line, and others felt the outward visibility could have been better, but aside from that, there were no complaints.

Despite our giddiness at seeing Sakakibara Kikai’s creation in action, we do have one tiny nitpick about its name. Technically speaking, the Landwalker doesn’t actually walk. Yes, it stands on two legs, which it pumps back and forth to move. It doesn’t actually pick up its feet though, instead shuffling them along the ground like an 8-bit Castlevania character.

So how does the Landwalker get around without tearing up the ground under it? By having wheels embedded in the soles of its feet. Technically it’s a Landslider, but we’ll give Sakakibara a pass on the semantics for creating something this cool.

Check out this link:

Japanese company builds giant robot you could be piloting right now


Anime News: 13th annual Macross (Robotech) World Convention


400 fans of the anime Macross and its American reincarnation, Robotech, gathered for a celebration of grassroots fandom unlike any other.

The 13th annual Macross World Convention (MWcon) was held in Torrance, California on October 5th. While the 30 Year Anniversary celebration of Macross winds to a close, it is remarkable that an anime series has lived on in people with such fervor and enthusiasm. Not to be out done by the 2012 MWcon, the organizers really went all out this year by bringing out not only Mari Ijima, the original voice of beloved main character Lynn Minmay, but current Macross master mecha illustrator, Hidetaka Tenjin, directly from Japan as well.

MWcon is a completely fan produced, non-profit event organized by members of the forum, Shawn & Graham’s MacrossWorld. The forum promotes all things Macross including discussions about its anime series and movies, characters, vehicles, designs, artwork and more.

This year’s convention was chock full of events including presentations from the aforementioned special guests, art gallery show, silent auction, toy transforming contest, toy and model-kit customization contest, a live art competition, cosplay talent show, a marketplace, raffles, and even a Macross themed cafe.

This year’s MWcon boasted the most cosplay turnout that they’ve ever had, paying tribute to the original Macross as well as characters from spin-off series Macross FrontierMacross 7, and more.

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Anime News: 13th annual Macross (Robotech) World Convention