By: Hannah Becker
It’s almost impossible to come up with something completely original these days; so many abstract ideas have been created and people are consistently being influenced by the images and stories around them. This is true for everything, including anime.
If you look closely at plot developments and storylines, many anime classics seem to have possible been derived from long told beloved fairy tales ranging from Sleeping Beauty to Pinocchio. This most likely stems from the timeless lessons and creative teachings of always-important morals.
Although basic roots of these anime plots may come from stories told for centuries, they all have much added creativity and a unique twist to the basis of the story; here are some top examples.
1. Sailor Moon and Sleeping Beauty
Traces of the Greek story of Endymion and Selene can be seen in the Sailor Moon manga. In the ancient tale, Endymion is a shepherd who is noticed by moon goddess Selene. Zeus ends up putting Endymion in a deep permanent sleep (where the classic Disney tale Sleeping Beauty got it’s plot) at Selene’s request so he will never leave her. Selene and the ever-sleeping Endymion apparently live happily ever after. In Sailor Moon, Princess Serenity falls from her home moon and eventually falls for an earthling Prince named Endymion. Prince Endymion chooses an eternity of sleep so he would never age and could (sort of) be with her forever.
2. Mermaid Melody and The Little Mermaid
The titles are not the only aspect of these two stories that are incredibly similar. The protagonist in Mermaid Melody is the youngest of 7; in The Little Mermaid she is the youngest of 6. They both fall in love with a drowning prince and make a deal with a sea-witch to become human and try to gain his affection. Without gaining the prince’s love, the lead mermaids will both turn into sea foam. The Little Mermaid basically ends here; the mermaid does not get the Prince, and her body is turned into sea foam but eventually becomes an air spirit. Mermaid Melody gets a little creative and brings in water demons to invade the sea world and even singing teen idol mermaids who use their voices against the demons.
3. MAR and a myriad of fairy tales
Marchen Awakens Romance is filled with different fairy tale motifs. From The Wizard of Oz, to Jack and the Beanstalk, every fan will find something they’ve seen or heard before. The lead character Ginta is accompanied by Dorothy (Wizard of Oz), Jack (Jack and the Beanstalk) and Princess Snow (Snow White). Other characters such as Rapunzel, Tinkerbell and Pinocchio make appearances throughout the show. Even more than some classic fairy tale characters, MAR adds its own unique twist to them, while creating entirely new characters for the show, such as the Gate Keep Clown.
4. Princess Tutu and The Ugly Ducking/Swan Lake
In Princess Tutu, main character Duck/Ahiru is a girl who attends ballet school while looking for shards of a lonesome prince’s heart to return them to him. The connections are both obvious and subtle in this match-up as Ahiru and her friends from ballet school find themselves unable to stop playing out fairy tales. This series takes great plot points and messages from classics and gives them a fresh spin while Ahiru and the gang try to break free from playing out their fairy tale fates.
5. Kimba the White Lion and The Lion King
Although this strays from the “fairy tale” theme of this article, as well as the anime side being the one influenced, I thought it was too good not to put in. Kimba the White Lion was a manga in the early fifties that eventually turned into a cartoon. Both plots follow a lion cub (Kimba/Simba) who is supposed to take the place of their beloved father upon his death. The main antagonist in The Lion King is uncle Scar. The main antagonist in Kimba the White Lion is uncle Claw. Both stories revolved around the cub trying to make it back to their homeland; both journey’s are made interesting by ghost parents in the sky, annoying birds, packs of hyenas, a wise baboon and of course a beautiful lady lion. If you are still having difficulty seeing the similarities, well, to each their own. Disney may have ripped off Kimba the White Lion, but hey- what was produced is a classic. Plus, as we’ve all realized by this point, complete originality is almost impossible nowadays. Remakes and heavily influenced plots make up a lot of what we see in todays culture.
Fairy tale lovers and anime lovers alike will enjoy watching or re-watching these stories unfold and finding the alterations, twists, and uncanny similarities given to classic beloved stories. These are only a few examples of the vast influences fairy tales give different anime mangas and shows. Can you think of any other match ups that are surprisingly similar? Are there any that you would especially enjoy seeing in new, or already existing anime?