Today, when we look at anime-inspired works, a lot of them are pretty good. From Legend of Korra to Steven Universe, there are a lot of great cartoons that take cues from anime and do it well. But sometimes, anime-inspired works are embarrassing- you can tell whoever behind it was like “whats that thing these young people are into? These animus and mangos? Let’s try to do that!” Sometimes it also crosses the line into blatant, cringe-worthy plagiarism. So without futher ado, let’s look at some of the weirdest anime rip-offs out there.
Twilight: The Graphic Novel
It’s a weird concept at first glance, but Twilight actually does fit in with the worst shoujo manga has to offer out there- abusive boyfriends played as romantic, the heroine getting randomly sexually assaulted, monologues and melodrama, the works. So the manga-like Twilight comic adaptation by Young Kim actually works a bit better as a manga than it did as a book It did, however have absolutely atrocious lettering and weird transparent speech bubbles that covered up the characters faces.
Usually I don’t pay attention to lettering, so it’s quite a feat this lettering ended up so ugly it ruined the comic’s actually quite passable art.
Kappa Mikey is more of an anime parody than just a copy, but it’s definitely really weird. The shortlived 2006 Nickelodean series followed an American kid named Mikey who won a contest to be in an anime and turned said anime into a hit because there’s nothing that helps an anime more than some random weeb teenager from the US getting involved, apparently. The way the show DID its parody was pretty bizarre- our American protagonist was done in the typical Nicktoons style while the anime-like characters he interacted with were done in a sort of anime style. I say “sort of” because the style tended to look more like a 12-year-old DeviantArt user’s approximation of anime than any actual style of anime. The result…did not look good at all.
It didn’t help that low-budget Flash animation was used. It’s hard not to get second-hand embarrassment watching the theme song.
Also, despite being a parody of anime, it didn’t really do much despite dig at the surface elements. The characters could be loosely correlated to some vague anime tropes and there was anime-esque slapstick and expressions, but that was about it. Some fans liked it as a show for the stuff in it outside the parody aspect, but most admit it wasn’t really great as a parody.
Ame-Comi Girls started out as a “bishoujo” line of figures that generally reimagined DC Comics heroines in anime style. There were a few neat designs, but it was mostly an excuse to put DC heroines in costumes even more skimpy and ridiculous than what they were already wearing, which is saying something. My favorite is the Cassandra Cain costume that would make it impossible for her to move her legs, which is kind of a drawback for a martial artist.
In 2012-2013, this concept was made into a digital series for some reason. There were five three issue miniseries and then a digital series that lasted 24 issues. It was incredibly thin on plot, character and substance, but who needs that when you have sexy anime babes. I mean, there was so little grasp on the character we had Barbara Gordon (supposedly a genius) looking up basic science facts on her phone and Wonder Woman using the word “whore”. Also, Braniac became a tentacle monster. Yeeeeah.
Diesel: Master of Dragons
Diesel: Master of Dragons was a one-shot comic released in 1997 by Joe Weltjens and published by Antarctic Press. (It was clearly intended to be a continuing series, marked as part 1, but stopped, presumably because the author couldn’t find more anime to copy). It was a very, very blatant rip-off of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Weltjens was a bit cleverer than Nick Simmons in his choice of ripoffs though- back in 1997, pretty much no one knew about JJBA in America. The OVA series based on the manga wasn’t available to English Speakers until 2003 and it wasn’t until 2012 that JJBA really gained any sort of popularity over here.
But still, Weltjens doesn’t even try to be subtle. The characters in the comic are “stand users”, an supernatural power that is pretty unique to JJBA! The fight in the comic also pretty must follows the 1993 OVA directly with the characters using the same abilities, uttering the same lines and explaining the same things. You can see a full breakdown of the similiarities in this video here.
The Marvel Mangaverse
Marvel tried to cash in on the manga boom to various degrees of success, but the Marvel Mangaverse might be the most embarrassing and bizarre. While some of the stories were okay, a lot of them were truly out there. Spider-Man is a ninja now and while the story wasn’t terrible, the art had him looking like a bobblehead:
Have you ever wanted to see the Punisher as a school principal who is also a “death geisha” who sexily spanks dudes and tickles them with a feather as “torture”? No? Well know you have:
Ghost Rider may have been the worst one
The whole thing ended in an event where all the heroes got brutally murdered because that’s how Marvel rolls sometimes. Dr. Strange somehow got taken out by an army of ninjas. Captain America is killed by Doctor Doom. Daredevil is decapitated. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation
Yes. There is a manga version of the bible. It was created by British citizen Ajibayo “Siku” Akinsiku and published in 2008. The 200 page book includes both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Siku reimagines Christ as a “samurai stranger” and tries to emphasize his “tough guy” nature. Many reviewers have noted that despite being marketed as a manga, the work isn’t incredibly “manga-like” in its style, saying it’s more like a Western indie comic. It’s also very wordy. However, while weird, it is well-liked and sold very well in Britain. Members of the Church, including the archbishop of Canterbury, also praised it.
Incarnate, aka the time Gene Simmons’ son plagiarized Bleach. Yes, not only did the son of a KISS member make a comic, but he traced a very popular manga while doing it. In 2009, Incarnate was published by Radical Comics. Nick Simmons intended to make the three issue miniseries into an ongoing comic, but his plans were ruined when the internet noticed he was, y’know, blatantly copying panels from Bleach, as well as a couple DeviantArt-ers. The livejournal bleachness did a lengthy comparison and the results were pretty damning- it went well beyond “homage” and landed firmly in “tracing” territory.
This was actually bought to the attention of Tite Kubo, the artist behind Bleach, and his reaction was very bemused. He posted on Twitter: “So, uh, from yesterday night until this morning, there’ve been an amazing number of messages from overseas fans along the lines of “There’s a manga imitating BLEACH in America!” Well, I had a look at the site and I don’t understand English that well, but I think what’s written there is something like “It’s a manga drawn by Gene Simmons’ son, Nick Simmons. I’m more concerned with the fact that Gene Simmons’ son is a manga-ka than whether he’s plagiarizing me or not.
The American publisher of the Bleach manga, Viz Media, said they’d look into it and shortly afterwards, Radical Comics halted the publication. Nick Simmons posted an apology, though it was that special kind of apology that doesn’t admit to any wrongdoing: “Like most artists I am inspired by work I admire. There are certain similarities between some of my work and the work of others. This was simply meant as an homage to artists I respect, and I definitely want to apologize to any Manga fans or fellow Manga artists who feel I went too far. “
The whole debacle even made The New York Times!
Space Thunder Kids
Due to the history between Korea and Japan, anime was completely banned in South Korea for a long time. (The ban was enacted in 1945, manga was allowed in 1998 and the animation ban was officially lifted in 2004). But many Koreans apparently were jonesing for anime in spite of the ban because several pretty blatant anime knockoffs were produced in the meantime. Then Joseph Lai bought several of these knockoffs cheaply and mashed them all together to make a movie called Space Thunder Kids. And by several, I mean several. Space Thunder Kids contains clips from: Savior of the Earth, Defenders of Space , Micro-Commando Diatron-5,Phoenix-bot Phoenix King, King Robot, Protectors of Universe - Super Express Mazinger 7, Solar Adventure, Super Mazinger 3 and Iron Man Trio. All of these movies ripped off several robot/space anime, most significantly Mazinger Z (notice that some of these put Mazinger right in the name!) and Gundam.
Predictably, the result of all these rip-offs mashed together was incredibly incoherent and unintentionally hilarious- complete with absolutely no synching between the dialogue and mouth flaps and bizarre changing expressions. See it below for yourself:
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