It's common for anime to be adapted from visual novels or light novels. Some of the biggest anime series were adapted from these including the Fate/Stay series, Sword Art Online and Toradora! Some anime however, choose to look for inspiration in other places. A few of the most famous books and stories from around the world have inspired their fair share of anime, and these are five of the best.
5. Gankutsuou: The Count Of Monte Cristo
Let's start off with a novel that is probably required reading in many classrooms. The original Count of Monte Cristo tells the story of a man who is betrayed by a friend on his wedding day and is sentenced to prison without trial. He escapes, finds fortune and returns as the Count of Monte Cristo to exact revenge.
Gankutsuou borrows heavily from the original from the story with the setting of Paris, but what sets it apart is its visual style. With the use of digital animation and Photoshop textures, the animators create an art style for many of the characters clothing and hair that can only be described as flamboyant.
4. Howl's Moving Castle
Many of Hayao Miyazaki's movies have been inspired by different things, from the Iraq war to his friend's daughter. Howl's Moving Castle was based off a novel of the same name about a recluse wizard named Howl who lives in a moving castle while chasing women and being lazy. One day a young hat maker is turned into an old lady and runs away, inadvertently joining Howl, and they both strive to break each other's curse.
From the get go, this sounds like something Miyazaki would make. It has magic, adventure and compelling characters. As with most adaptations, Miyazaki puts his own spin on it, combining his unique voice with the iconic art style of Studio Ghibli. While also keeping the overall story, Miyazaki adds a bit of flavor by having a war going on throughout the story and showing how it affects every character in the story.
3. Nadia: The Secret Of The Blue Water
Unlike the previous stories, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water doesn't so much adapt a story as borrow elements from one. That story is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, with Captain Nemo and his ship the Nautilus being carried over from his original story.
The title character Nadia and young French inventor Jean are being chased by jewel thieves who are after Nadia's necklace. They are rescued by Captain Nemo and become embroiled with a conflict against the ancient civilization of Atlantis. Both stories may be different from each other, but they both have wild adventures out at sea.
2. Starship Troopers
This is definitely an anime adaptation no one saw coming. Some might be surprised to know that originally Starship Troopers was a novel by Robert A. Heinlein. What's more surprising is that the anime adaptation actually came out about a decade before the movie.
If you're unfamiliar with Starship Troopers, its about a futuristic branch of the military tasked with fighting insect-like monsters simply dubbed "the bugs." They do this through the use of mobile power armor, which aids in their fight. Anime has a steep history with the use of power armors and robots so this adaptation seemed like a no-brainer. In fact the design of the power armor used in the anime was based off the original design used in the Japanese translation of the novel.
1. World Masterpiece Theater
While the other stories on this list are based off a single property, World Masterpiece Theater is essentially based on all of them. It is a long running Japanese series that retells classic stories such as Tom Sawyer, Little Women and Ann of Green Gables. Every year on Japanese television a new story would be told through several episodes. Originally running from 1969–1997 it returned to TV in 2007 with a retelling of the classic Victor Hugo novel Les Miserables. World Masterpiece Theater has even found success outside of Japan. If you find those novels you're forced to read in school boring, then try watching this.
Are there any anime series you know about that have been adapted from other books or stories?
For more anime awesomeness and how it's made an impact on Hollywood, check out the video below:
Want to see more examples of Gankutsuou's unique art style? Check out this trailer from FUNimation: