Experience the wonder of Japanese Animation!
Warning: Unmarked Spoilers Lie Within These Pages!
Come learn Japanese with me,
I'm primehalo on Duolingo!
We need anime profile submissions and character profile submissions to help us grow. Do you have the knowledge, passion, and desire to write one?

6 Anime Inspired Western Cartoons and Films Posted Mar 19, 2020

The history of anime films in Japan can be traced back to the early 1900s, but its presence wasn’t felt in the western world until the 1990s. Cartoon Network in particular was instrumental in bringing anime to an American audience, with their Toonami programming block showing anime cartoons like Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and Ronin Warriors.

Along with the massive boom of Pokemon in the west, these early anime shows created an anime-craze in the US, and anime’s influence can now be felt in western media beyond cartoons. In this article, we’re going to highlight 6 western films and cartoons that are heavily inspired by Japanese anime.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

6 Anime Inspired Western Cartoons and Films

This popular Nickelodeon cartoon is clearly heavily inspired by anime, and has in fact spawned many internet debates over whether or not Avatar actually is an anime. The show was created by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, both Americans, but uses an art style that is nearly indistinguishable from Japanese anime.

The PowerPuff Girls

6 Anime Inspired Western Cartoons and Films

Launched in 1998 under Cartoon Network’s Toonami programming, The Powerpuff Girls drew heavy inspiration not just from Japanese anime, but Japanese television culture in general. For example, while it’s obvious that the Powerpuff Girls are drawn in “chibi” style with huge eyes, other influences are more subtle. The villain Mojo Jojo was inspired by Dr. Gori, an evil monkey scientist from Spectreman, a live-action TV show from Japan’s 70s decade.

Powerpuff Girls creator Craig McCracken sums up the anime influences in an interview with A.V. Club: “The Japanese do the best action films in animation, so when you're studying animation, you look to the best sources you can for whatever you're trying to be inspired by.

The Powerpuff Girls was actually adapted into a real Japanese anime, Powerpuff Girls Z, directed by Megumu Ishiguro.

The Matrix

Directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski quite literally went to producer Joel Silver with a Ghost in the Shell DVD, popped it in, and said “We want to do a real version of this”. While the end result wasn’t exactly a recreation of Ghost in the Shell, the similarities are definitely there. For example, The Matrix borrowed Ghost in the Shell’s scrolling green numbers to represent cyberspace travel, as well as a few scene recreations and tributes.

6 Anime Inspired Western Cartoons and Films

Ghost in the Shell has inspired plenty of other western media besides The Matrix, and the American-directed live-action film grossed $169.8 million worldwide, with $40.5 million coming from the United States and Canada. There is also plenty of GitS merchandise like video games and even casino slots, though there are plenty of other anime-inspired casino slots, like the ones you can find on Casumo.


Here’s a curveball for you. This 2010 sci-fi thriller featured an ensemble cast with names like Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Ellen Page, and grossed over $829 million USD worldwide. However, many critics noted the striking similarities to Paprika, a 2006 anime film which features dream-sharing between characters as a central plot.

There are several scenes in Inception that appear to be direct homages to Paprika, and while Inception is not actually a rip-off of Paprika and serves up its own unique plot, the influences are definitely tangible.

Requiem for a Dream

Another live-action western film you wouldn’t expect to have anime influences, Requiem for a Dream is a harrowing drama that focuses on the lives of four characters gripped by drug addictions. It’s a really depressing film, to be honest.

Director Darren Aronofsky pays tribute to anime legend Satoshi Kon, in a shot-for-shot recreation of a scene from anime film Perfect Blue in Requiem for a Dream. Aronofsky had actually purchased the rights to film a live-action version of Perfect Blue, but has yet to actually do that project. Another one of his films, Black Swan, uses even more inspiration from Perfect Blue both in scene recreations and plot themes.

Visitor Comments

Additional Content