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Mixed Media: 10 Western Video Games that Would Make Great Anime Films

This anime still comes from what I would call an unlikely source. Or at least a source with unlikely inspiration. The image comes from Dante’s Inferno: The Animated Epic, a series of anime shorts inspired not by Dante’s original Divine Comedy, but by the video game Dante’s Inferno.

Also mysteriously in existence is Halo Legends, an anime series based on the Halo franchise. Because when someone says “film adaptation of the Halo franchise,” the first thought I have is “anime.”

And now this morning brings the announcement of yet another anime adaptation of a western video game: Dragon Age. Like all these other game animes, it’ll be direct-to-video, with a 2011 release date.

While I find this trend to be downright odd, there’s undoubtedly some potential. Halo, at least, has a sufficient fan base that there could be an audience for the anime, and it’s not a stretch to guess that there would be overlap in the anime and Halo markets. But Dante’s Inferno and Dragon Age are each a bit of a stretch to justify. But who knows, they might be great.

Which brings us to the bulk of our exercise. Here are 10 Western games that I know would make for sweet anime adaptations, ranked from how much I would salivate over it, in ascending order:

10. Fable

An anime version of Fable would do well to flesh out the cutscenes featured particularly in the early parts of the game. Some sort of Fable: A Hero Rises type endeavor where we start at the game’s beginning with the burning of Oakvale, but really focus on our hero’s time training, which could have been filled with all sorts of tribulations we never heard about.

That isn’t to say that the main plot wouldn’t make for an exciting anime film, but the nature of the game was such that there were a lot of required menial tasks which even anime couldn’t make seem exciting. A summary of the most plot-centric quests would make a strong series of anime shorts, though. Mainly, an evil-aligned hero would have sweet anime hair.

9. God of War

I’m sorry, but it doesn’t get much more epic than challenging a god himself. The anime potential for greek gods is astounding, with each having its own focus and powers that could be wonderfully illustrated, from all the crazy animal transformations in mythology to traditional lightning bolts and fireballs. As far as the game is concerned, paying increased attention to the hypothetical “Meanwhile, on Olympus” happenings would make for exciting work.

But of course, Kratos would make for one bad-ass protagonist. His blade tricks are off-the-wall insane. Of course, we have to take some of the combat tricks that weren’t added until later games and work them into the anime. Also, the hordes of enemies he fights could be made feetingly grotesque and eerie with the anime medium.

8. Splinter Cell

There’s something about stealth as it appears in Splinter Cell that I think would make for great anime. A unique style could be lended to the idea of waiting in the shadows, with creepy goggles floating in pitch black and scary leaps of soldiers out of the night. There’s also plenty of quickfire interrogation, which could make for gritty, close-up, “I’m only going to ask this once” facial animation. And there’s plenty of gunplay, which always looks pretty.

Sam Fisher makes a great dark hero who could be full of signature anime melodrama (though it looks like this trait will be accentuated in the upcoming Conviction), and his stealth gear could get a superd anime makeover. Quick cuts and fleeting movements in the dark could make this a gripping, genuinely tense anime thriller.

7. StarCraft

Zerglings fighting Dark Templars. That alone would make for an exceptionally exception anime film full of dark, mutated visuals and visceral action scenes. But wait, there are many more unit types and vast alien landscapes on which to battle. The potential for epic swarm vs. swarm animation with land and air units in the mix would make for epic battles. The only reason this isn’t higher of the list is that an anime film would need some greater semblance of a plot, with heroes and the like, than the StarCraft universe provides (though there’s some). With a strong team of creative minds backing the production, though, there is immense potential to expand StarCraft into an epic saga full of conspiracy, xenophobia, political tension, and, most importantly, kick-ass battles with aliens tearing each other limb from limb.

6. LittleBigPlanet

Hear me out, people, I know it’s weird. But imagine all the cuteness inherent to the LittleBigPlanet universe, drawn in adorable cartoons! Honestly, I know I just said for StarCraft that there would be more of a need for a plot, but the world of LittleBigPlanet is so diverse, strange, bright, and wonderful that you could really just make an anime series, where each episode is one of the level sets from the plot of the game.Just make the characters you encounter look more alive and less made-of-gyrating-cardboard and you have yourself an epic children’s adventure that would be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. Not to say that a new story wouldn’t be fantastic too. SackBoy could blast off into space and go on all sorts of new adventures. Just as in the game, imagination would be really the only restriction.

5. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Well who didn’t see this coming? This is one of the greatest games of all time, and it’s full of quests with deep, detailed stories. The main plot, with its frequent and frantic journeys into the hellish plane of Oblivion, make for an epic visual journey. And the side quests would add some great flavor to an anime feature. The ghosts, ghouls, zombies, goblins, and other enemies found on the more combat-focused quests could be beautifully styled to anime, while the zany plot twists in others would make for fun storytelling. And that’s not to mention the setting of Albion, with lush greenlands, snowy peaks, and murky bogs. And those ancient ruins all over the place are just breathtaking. A beautiful, captivating game like this could only lead to a high quality animated feature.

4. Mass Effect

First, I just want to see anime representations of all the different alien species featured in the Mass Effect games. Second, I want to see the combat abilities done more visual justice than they were in the game. Third, I want to see an epic battle between an ancient enemy and the ragtag band of modern fighters who are our only hope of not being wiped out. There are a lot of great moments from Mass Effect that stand out as visually adaptable to an anime series, final battle chief among them. Others include that creepy alien sex scene in the beginning where it’s not made clear what’s going on completely, but you can kinda tell. Also, when the giant enemy ship first arrives on Eden Prime. Aliens, anime, lasers, spaceships, and telekinesis make for one crazy but appealing combination.

3. Fallout 3

Maybe it’s just because I hail from Washington, D.C., but the idea of an anime style applied to the city’s nuclear destruction is very appealing. The game’s plot and twists, which I don’t want to spoil for anyone, are already in line with some traditional anime tropes. But mainly, you don’t see too much anime trying to capture the American 1940s/1950s vibe, especially not in the future with tons of radioactive ghouls and super mutants. Juxtaposing the cool, 50s pop art vibe from the game with conventional anime style would make for an awesome contrast of styles. Also, if anime could fully capture the slow-motion bloody explosions that motivate me to play the game in the first place, it would be visually epic to rival the great works of anime history.

Besides, you know what the only thing cooler looking than a nuclear explosion is? An anime nuclear explosion. Screw Megaton.

2. The Legend of Kyrandia: The Hand of Fate

The moment you saw the title of this post, I’m sure you knew this would be on here for the many, obvious reasons. But let’s go through it anyway. Ok, so maybe very few people have heard of this game, but it has incredible visual potential. The point-and-click adventure takes Zanthia, who could be way more attractive with a face more than six pixels wide, on a quest through the center of the planet and up to the wheels of Fate. She encounters a giant walking hand, sorcerers, singing fireflies, a giant gambling squid, poetic pirates, dinosaurs, perverted yetis, greedy squirrels, and much, much, more.

Basically, it’s an anime film already, just disguised as a DOS game. This crazy adventure needs to be remade somehow for modern audiences. It’s too fantastic not to. And an anime of it could be hilarious and oddball to an unmatched degree.

1. Mirror’s Edge

First of all, to anyone who says that there’s already some Mirror’s Edge anime by virtue of the chapter videos within the game, those are only anime if Esurance commercials are anime. They’re not. That said, the game has a style that’s already pretty adaptable to anime, with the characters and the crazy-clean setting. I mean, look at the main character. She’s got the hair and random facial insignia already.

Anime could truly do justice to Faith’s wall-running, gap-leaping, ass-kicking tendencies in a way that might not be better suited to any other medium. The plot of dark conspiracy in a bright city could also be perfectly captured in anime storytelling. With some menacing drone villains and crazy characters as the supporting cast, along with spectacular fight scenes featuring many-against-one odds (I’m looking at you here, server room), this could make for one of the best anime features I’ve ever seen, game adaptation or not.

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