If you think anime and western television could never coexist, then do we have some news for you.
We all know that content imported from Japan is sometimes changed to appeal to western audiences, but did you ever wonder if the tables are ever turned? Find out what happens when the anime industry tries to interpret hit shows from across the ocean by checking out these very real adaptations below!
5: Highlander: The Search For Vengeance
The Highlander franchise has run the full multimedia gamut, including movies, television, video games, and even trading cards. This should come as no surprise that Highlander would get the anime treatment as well.
Not to be confused with Highlander: The Animated Series, Highlander: The Search For Vengeance is a movie that takes the Highlander story and adds many doses of anime tropes to it. Don’t be fooled though; The Search For Vengeance wound up being very favorably reviewed by critics!
4: Batman: Gotham Knight
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy may seem as far removed from anime as you can get, but that didn’t stop this very real six episode Batman series from becoming an actual part of the Dark Knight canon.
We’re not kidding! Set between the events of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Batman: Gotham Knight tells the story of Batman through the eyes of various kids who claim to have encountered the watchful protector. With anime studios like Production I.G. (Attack on Titan, Ghost in the Shell) and Studio 4°C (Tekkonkinkreet, Steam Boy) leading production, it has a surprisingly high budget for a direct-to-DVD spinoff. Okay, so we guess this isn’t technically based on a Batman TV series, but come on, how many times do you get to see the words “anime” and “Batman” in the same sentence?
3: Supernatural: The Animation
It’s surreal to think that a live action American fantasy show like Supernatural would get what is essentially an anime remake, but that’s exactly what we have with Supernatural: The Animation.
That’s right, this is no small spinoff. Supernatural: The Animation is a full blown 22 episode series created by Madhouse, better known for their work on Death Note. Judging from internet comments pertaining to the series, it seems that even now fans find its existence confusing.
2: Powerpuff Girls Z
Cartoon Network’s Powerpuff Girls is certainly a show about young girls with superpowers, but we wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “magical girl” show. However, that is exactly how the series was interpreted in Powerpuff Girls Z.
We’re not exaggerating, the Sailor Moon aesthetic runs rampant in every detail of this show. Without any knowledge of the original Powerpuff Girls, you’d have no idea Z was based on a western franchise. Needless to say, Powerpuff Girls creator Craig McCracken was not involved with this 52 episode series.
Honorable Mention: Tales of Little Women
We couldn’t really fit this on the list due to the fact that its source is not a “show,” but we’d be remiss not to mention that there is literally an anime based on Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel Little Women.
It’s pretty standard fare for all intents and purposes, but we imagine Little Women would be the last thing most people would expect to get the anime treatment. We don’t mean to rag on it too hard, though, since it is pretty interesting to see how a Japanese studio would interpret 19th century America. Plus, Tales of Little Women was created by many animators who would become better known for their work at Studio Ghibli!
1: Mutant Turtles: Superman Legend
See those turtles on the left? Those are the teenage mutant ninja turtles. Yes, the same turtles you know and love from the 90s. This is Mutant Turtles: Superman Legend.
Not to be confused with anything involving the iconic hero Superman, Mutant Turtles: Superman Legend is what happens when you take the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles storyline and add in Power Rangers style transformations that look like… well, this. Don’t worry, the bad guys get special transformations as well, with Rocksteady going from a rhino-grunt to a full blown clone of Cell from Dragon Ball Z. Also, the turtles can morph together into a “Saint Mutation,” which is basically a sword wielding robot with wings. Remember that from the Ninja Turtles series?
Mutant Turtles: Superman Legend may only be two episodes long, but they sure did manage to jam a lot of anime cliches into a franchise about pizza loving turtles. If nothing else, it goes to show that the turtles can look way more over-the-top than they ever could in Michael Bay’s current TMNT movies.