Animax: The Influence Of Anime on Videogames / by Steve Russell

Animax, the United Kingdom's self purported 'ultimate anime destination' has forwarded onto us here at UK AniFest an interesting analysis looking into the undeniable relationship, and influence, that exists between anime and video games. It is a relatively short, but interesting, piece that dissects the levels of influence; whether it is subtle or overt, the connections and intertwined nature of how one influences the other is nonetheless ever present, especially now in an ever increasing, meta aware, digital age: anime, movies, video games, manga, comic books, podcasts, etc, all have cross over potential that allow the stories contained within one medium the instant opportunity to spread out into a multiverse that spans across the cavalcade of choices available. 

The top seven choices Animax chose to highlight extended to, in order; and I quote:

1 ) Metal Gear Solid

"Hideo Kojima’s debt to anime began early with the underrated Policenauts, showcasing all sorts of genre tropes. And while Metal Gear Solid took a different direction, wearing its influences from Western cinema proudly on its sleeve (Snake was designed apparently with the body of Van Damme and the face of Christopher Walken), Kojima can’t help but consistently come back to his anime roots – note the use of mecha; the guns of Vulcan Raven; and even Raiden’s flowing locks."

2) Date A Live

"First introduced to the world as a Japanese light novel series, Keitaro Motonaga directed the anime adaptation of Date A Live, first aired in April 2013.  Enthusiasts were hooked by the plight of Shido Itsuka and his mission to save the world from “spacequake” destruction at the hands of the Sprits. This, the high school rom-com of anime, has fast become a widespread sensation. It was a mere matter of months before it was adapted for PS3 in June 2013 as the Date A Live: Rinne Utopia video game."

3) Black Belt

"Almost unrecognizable from its original form, button-bashing Sega Master System fighter Black Belt none-the-less originated from anime. Hukuto No Ken (Fist of The North Star) was a wildly popular manga-turned-anime that was picked up by the videogame developers and eventually released in the West under the hugely uninspired moniker, Black Belt. The gory anime was a perfect fit for 80s gamers who wondered if they could knock Wang’s head off."

4) Street Fighter

"Capcom’s Street Fighter dominated the gaming industry in the early 90s, and it was only natural that the colourfully bloody adventures of Ken and Ryu would soon need an anime adaptation. What makes Street Fighter unique is the sheer number of adaptations that would ensue, though the successful Japanese anime shows and movies would out-perform their American counterparts commercially and critically."

5) Final Fantasy

"Yoshinori Kanada, one of Japan’s truly great animators, made the switch over to the game industry in 1998 when he joined the pioneering team at Square Enix. Working for the company on a number of projects right up to his death in 2009, Kanada dictated the stunning CG cutscenes and storyboards of the wildly-successful Final Fantasy franchise – ensuring lush anime-inspired visuals like the above were enjoyed by millions."

6) Pokemon

"Who would have thought that Satoshi Tajiri’s humble Game Boy game Pocket Monsters, based around his slightly nerdy childhood hobby of insect collecting, would become one of the most lucrative franchises on the market and a true global phenomenon? Alongside the videogame and the masses of cards that littered school playgrounds, it was the hugely popular anime, both here in the West and in Japan, which gave the franchise a face in the form of unsupervised budding Pokemaster Ash Ketchum, and elevated electric fur ball Pikachu to the A-List. Almost 20 years later it’s as iconic as ever."

7) Persona 4

"It was no surprise that the wildly popular Persona RPGs was given the anime treatment. The bonkers tale of schoolchildren entangled in a delicious world of supernatural murder; giant alter ego ‘personas’; and a very meta alternative dimension located in their television sets was ripe for a series. The mutually beneficial anime/videogame relationship advanced a further step when the series’ visuals were faithfully re-adopted in the brilliant 2D fighter spin-off Persona 4 Arena. 

It’s an exciting time for the franchise, with Persona 4 Arena Ultimax and Persona 4 Q appearing later this year, and Persona 5 expected in 2015."

All are series that perfectly encapsulate that cross media mindset: books, toys, card games, videogames, movies, anime, manga, comic books, collectibles, and so on. I could be attempting to highlight one, but am instead talking about them all across a massicvely broad spectrum. 

With this in mind, Animax are proud to highlight a number of series that they now have streaming live on their service; each one proudly rooted in its heritage, a video game that has helped to create an anime, or vice versa, all allowing its universe to extend past the initial confines of its chosen medium. 

In a day and age that allows, and actively encourages, such a high level of cross platform creation, and this is even before even considering the social media aspect of such operations, Animax has pulled off a smart move by recognising an obvious aspect to all current media, be it Eastern or Western: the user experience now extends past a solo screen, and these creations are all influncing each other.

As a comparison point, this is something the WWE has also embraced, adopting a second screen experience that is accessible through their official app during live broadcasts, allowing the viewer a deeper, more immersive experience. Ultimately, isn't that what this is for? The more pragmatic may argue that it is money grabbing, creating additional content of a popular IP in order to peddle a few toys, or shift a few DVDs, and this may be true for some, but not all. The majority use it to extend a universe that people love to be a part of, and want to be actively involved with. As an interesting side note: this concept of exploring the links between anime/videogames is similar to my final year dissertation at Uni, where I chose to closely examine the influence movies have on video games, and vice versa. A wonderful excuse for me to purchase a PS3 and play copious amounts of Uncharted, I'm sure you'll agree. 

Fandoms and, to approach this more broadly, geekdom as a whole have never been more socially acceptable, or embraced. When movies like Harry Potter and The Avengers are toping box office numbers, you know that if comic book movies are making bank, people are more open to the geeky passions that fuel you or I, so why not open up the Pandora's Box, inviting people who may be curious? One thing can always lead to another, and if a movie fan ends up playing a game based on the movie that was influenced by the anime....then why the hell not? Let's see how deep the rabbit hole goes.  

Steve "The Other Guy" Russell // @stevetendo

 ANIMAX has now launched on Playstation 3. Catch Persona 4, Date A Live and Street Fighter II on the platform today. 

Sign up at http://www.animaxtv.co.uk/ for a free 2 week trial, then simply download the Playstation app and dive into a stunning world of HD anime on your television sets.