It’s no secret that the original star wars franchise was heavily inspired by Japanese culture. From strength-sharing parallels with Zen Buddhism to the Jedi being compared to the samurai warrior caste, elements of Japanese culture and ideas are abundant in the star wars intrigue and world building. George Lucas himself even admitted that A new hope was heavily inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 film, The hidden fortress, which told the story through the lens of its peasant protagonists. In star wars, the “peasant” perspective is seen through the two droids R2-D2 and C3PO.
Fast forward to today, the east-west cultural exchange has come full circle. It wouldn’t be difficult for anime lovers to point out several sci-fi anime shows that contain elements of star wars. From certain story elements to the iconic lightsaber reimagined, it shows that nothing is truly original under the sun. That being said, that doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel means a dull, unoriginal story, it can be quite the opposite.
Most of these examples are unconfirmed to be inspired by star warsbut they share a few key elements in common.
6/6 Star Wars: Visions
This entry does not need a “could” qualifier. Star Wars: Visions happens to be an animated anthology series created for Disney Plus. Released in 2021, the series is split into nine standalone shorts that take place in the star wars canon mythos and it was supposed to offer a new, diverse take on the franchise.
Maintain the mood and theme of the star wars world, each film is directed by a different director and a different animation studio. While maintaining no consistent storylines with each other, the series allows viewers to witness star warsthrough an alternate lens. Perhaps he brings up the idea and demonstrates how the star wars The legacy has come full circle, cementing itself as a cultural zeitgeist even today.
5/6 Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
On the surface, Code Geass may appear not to share elements with star wars at all. Sporting mechs, multiple political factions, and magical powers while partially set in a school, it just doesn’t add up. However, looking at the spectacle from a macro lens, the series sets in motion a rebellion against a tyrannical empire in which the protagonist must defeat his father who is the head of the autocratic regime.
While Lelouch isn’t as selfless and legally good as Luke Skywalker, and the magical systems are vastly different in how they work, the threads that bind the two franchises cannot be ignored.
4/6 Mobile Suit Gundam
Released 2 years later A new hope, Mobile Suit Gundam paved the way for Sci-Fi anime and its popularity. As the ancestor of the “mecha” genre in anime, the series focuses on political unrest and conflict taking place in space. While there are no evil Jedi or Sith, the show features armored mech units wielding their versions of guns and lightsabers.
Although not parroting star wars, the series shares similarities with its visual elements and plot devices – a rebellion brewing against mighty empires with super weapons. Sound familiar? Mobile Suit Gundam may also owe a lot to star wars because it gave audiences a taste and desire for more science fiction stories.
3/6 cowboy bebop
A classic sci-fi masterpiece, cowboy bebop shares many elements with the original star wars trilogy. Both being space westerns, cowboy bebop perhaps captures the more “romantic” themes and spirit of its Western counterpart, more so than any other anime series on the market. Both feature an extraordinary soundtrack that evokes the vast expanse, epicness and loneliness of space. You have to see both to find the connecting threads, because, as they say, seeing is believing.
cowboy bebop also follows a ragtag band of bounty hunters searching for their fortunes and a way to escape their past. Other than that, there isn’t much else that ties the franchises together. Those who haven’t checked out this gem should do so immediately as it’s an (emotional) ride.
2/6 my hero academia
my hero academia shares many similar tropes one would expect from the superhero genre – interesting powers, several big bad guys, a school of heroes, and the theme of good versus evil. Overall, this is a typical anime superhero series heavily inspired by its Western superhero counterparts. Whereas My Hero Academia characters and story arcs are far from star warsseveral aspects tie the two franchises together.
Main protagonist Deku’s training ground in the first story arc: Takoba Municipal Beach Park is a nod to Dagobah where Luke trains with Yoda. Speaking of Yoda, Deku (who looks a lot like Luke in his vision) hangs out with a short, former mentor named Gran Torino who is at the same time an extremely powerful yet eccentric mentor figure.
1/6 Legend of Galactic Heroes
While some shows are inspired by or borrow story beats and technological concepts from star wars myth, Legend of Galactic Heroes practically scream star wars. A politically heavy sci-fi space opera, the series explores the struggle between the Democratic Alliance of Free Planets against the monarchical Galactic Empire with a third power known as the Dominion of Phezzan caught in the mix. The show explores the conflict through the lens of both sides as well as neutral parties trying to navigate through the epic conflict.
Featuring complex characters and intricate politics, the series doesn’t shy away from its fair share of epic space battles and impressive war strategies. It’s basically star wars in full glory while delving into some of the themes and concepts that were touched on in the original trilogy. Some concepts from the anime even share similarities with the prequels. Talk about a senseless cultural exchange of ideas.
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