Top 10 Beloved Stories With Absolutely Ridiculous Anime Adaptations

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Whether it’s a new take on an established story, or just updating a classic for a different audience, we can all accept that there are going to be differences between an original work and an adaptation.

But here are ten anime that so distorts the original, and so completely misses the point, that it barely resembles the original, if at all. Oh, and also:

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10. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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There are actually two anime based on Huck’s adventure’s: Huckleberry no Bouken and Huckleberry Finn Monogatari.

The second one can be translated (loosely) to “Huckleberry Finn’s Story” or “The Epic of Huckleberry Finn.” That sounds like it would stick pretty close to the original, right? Sure, if by “original” we mean “be about Tom Sawyer,” then totally. While the first one tried to be faithful, Monogatari focused more on Tom Sawyer’s adventures than Huck Finn’s. Even then, things were dumbed down; Huck’s river travels were drastically shorted, and a lot less dangerous. That completely devalued the important comments on racism and industrialization that Twain made in his novel.

9. Wolverine

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Wolvie’s anime decided to merge several comic arcs to make a “new” story. Wolverine finds out his Japanese girlfriend is alive and goes after her. His main antagonists are the girl’s father, Shingen, and her betrothed, Hideki, both of whom are human. Despite the presence of Omega Red, and some superpowered original characters, the final battle was between Wolverine and a fat human samurai who, for whatever reason, spent most of the time kicking Wolverine’s ass.

And that was the inherent problem; Wolverine was not Wolverine. Instead of a gritty, gruff, angry adult, we got a 20-year-old with a mullet. A mullet (which is somehow better than the anime’s original character design for him: a muscle-less guy with long hair.) Rather than deviate from their usual pretty-boy protagonist, the anime changed Wolvie from short and stocky, to tall and lean.

And that’s just his appearance. The character himself was emotional and whiny, the anime itself dragged on and on and, despite everyone talking about what a badass Logan was, nobody was even remotely scared or intimidated by him. Sadly, this made tons of sense, since he lost to wimps several times. Only watch it if you want to hear Wolverine shout “Mariko!” nine hundred times over the space of twelve episodes.

8. Little Women

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How do you make a well-known, established story more serious? Well, the original Little Women began with the four March girls sitting in their living room, bemoaning their new poverty and discussing Christmas presents. Their father is a chaplain for the Union in the Civil War, and is away for much of the story. The March girls have various adventures, and each of their characters develop in the ensuing years, growing from girls into women.

Ai no Wakakusa Monogatari opens with a Confederate attack on the March family’s hometown. Mr. March is a Union officer and leaves to rejoin the Army, while his family suffers Confederate occupancy. Adventures include fighting the Army, helping an escaped slave, having their home destroyed, and moving in with hateful new characters that don’t want them there.

That’s how you make it more serious.

7. Starship Troopers

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This one is a little tricky, because the infamously so-bad-it’s-good movie was vastly different from the book. The novel was serious and focused on themes of politics and the military in general. The movie was about shooting bugs, seeing boobs, and having the audience inadvertently cheer for Nazis.

The anime, entitled Uchu no Senshi took a different direction than either. It saw very little action, focused on a major romance subplot and, instead of alien “bugs,” we got squids who shot laser beams from their mouths.

6. Peter Pan

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Quick: how do you twist a children’s story enough to make it really creepy? It’s easy; you make it completely adult themed.

Rather than having Peter Pan see Wendy in a motherly role, the anime added a romantic subplot between them. There were ridiculous fight scenes, and Captain Hook was changed from a silly villain to a guy who tries so hard to actively murder the Lost Boys, that he borders on criminally insane rather than just paranoid-crazy. Thus we are beginning to understand Peter Pan no Bouken.

What, that doesn’t sound so bad? What if we told you Neverland was turned into a wasteland halfway through the series, because an old woman was bent on destroying it? Compound that with forcing Wendy to choose between killing a little girl, or being lost to darkness forever. Okay, it’s a little darker than other Peter Pan media, but it’s not like the anime kept things dark, right?

Well, the original had Peter promising to visit Wendy every spring. The anime ends with Wendy and her brothers returning to London and waiting for Peter, who never shows. Years later he meets her daughter, Jane, and steals her away to Neverland. There were probably a thousand ways to change the ending to be more positive than the original’s, and none of them were that one.

5. Moby Dick

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Moby Dick is pretty famous. An extended allegory on the whaling industry, the story follows Ishmael and his adventures on board the Pequot, commanded by Captain Ahab.

Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick was made in the 90’s, and was more like a weird nightmare. Instead of the ocean, it was in space, and instead of whales, we had abandoned space ships. There’s no Ishmael, just a 14-year-old girl named Lucky. Even the Pequot was revamped, being dubbed the Lady Whisker.

The original featured a captain hell-bent on revenge, even at the cost of his own sanity and the lives of his crew. The anime had a robot and preteens. Rather than take place in the 1800’s, it’s the year 4699 and Ahab is trying to save an entire planet, instead of obsessively hunting a white whale. But the abandoned space ships they’re hunting are called whales and the captain’s name is Ahab, so that’s practically the same thing…right?

4. The Count of Monte Cristo

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Set in the 1800’s, Edmond is unjustly imprisoned for being a supporter of Napoleon, all because another man wants to marry Edmond’s fiancé, and a work rival is jealous of Edmond’s sudden promotion. Stuck in a prison tower, Edmond befriends a fellow inmate, a priest trying to tunnel his way out. The priest educates Edmond, and reveals the location of a massive treasure before dying; Edmond uses the priest’s burial sack to escape. He makes allies, recovers the treasure, and returns to France to get his revenge. Using his new found wealth and education, he destroys the men responsible for his imprisonment, one by one, before marrying the daughter of an ally.

Got all that? Well, in the anime, it is the year 5053. Instead of a priest helping Edmond escape, it’s an evil demon. Who possesses him, and then makes him a space vampire. The city where everything took place is no longer in France, but on another planet. The entire anime is from the perspective of a different character rather than Edmond. At the end, rather than leaving to marry the daughter (who’s an alien now,) Edmund just straight-up dies.

Oh, and there are mecha. This isn’t sci-fi; it’s more like some weird fan fiction an eleven-year-old would write.

3. Dracula

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During the 70’s, Marvel had a comic series about vampire hunters who fought Dracula. In 1980, Japan redid it, and not very well. How devoted to the original was it? Well, both the anime and the comic have a character named “Dracula.” That’s about it, really.

The anime begins with some hooded figures about to sacrifice a virgin to Satan, but Dracula intervenes. Not because he’s a good guy, but because he really likes her. That’s right, the Lord of Vampires is in love. They even have a child.

But Satan is pissed, man. Dracula stole his sacrifice! So Satan takes away Dracula’s vampire-ness, which he can suddenly do because the writer of a random 80’s anime knows more about the Devil than the guys who wrote the damn Bible. What followed is a rather infamous scene of Dracula, in full vampire lord regalia, pigging out on burgers since he suddenly needs to eat for survival.

Later ob, Dracula’s son is accidentally killed and God brings him back to life as a full-fledged man who fires lasers from his eyes. God never gave you laser eyes, did he? Probably because you didn’t pray hard enough.

2. Powerpuff Girls

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Instead of three adorable eight-year-olds, Powerpuff Girls Z transformed them into vapid preteens.

The girls get their powers when Professor Utonium’s son uses a Chemical Z to destroy a city-threatening glacier (because Japan,) and the ensuing blast transforms many residents into supervillains, and three girls into heroes.

What else is new? Well, the girls have actual street names (in addition to their Powerpuffy names,) they aren’t sisters, they’re obsessed with boys and shopping, and they believe things like yo-yo’s work perfectly as weapons.

1. Romeo and Juliet

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How do you take a classic story of two lovers from warring families and make it contemporary? If your answer was “floating island,” then you were correct. Romeo x Juliet  was set on a floating island, where people traveled using dragon horses. Juliet is a superhero at night, and a master swordsman.

The plot is more than a little different. Instead of two warring families, the Capulets are all but dead, and the evil Montagues are ruling “Neo Verona.” There’s also a magical tree that is sick and, if it dies, the island will fall.

The lovers still die at the end, so that’s the same. That, and their names are unchanged. Shakespeare himself probably wouldn’t notice the difference.

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15 Comments

  1. To be fair in number 2, “and they believe things like yo-yo’s work perfectly as weapons.” Yo-yo’s were originally designed as weapons.

  2. Gantkusuo: The Count of Monte Cristo is a really awesome anime. The adaptation is ridiculous, but the style and execution is really amazing i think. It’s one of the last anime’s i cared about before i stopped watching all the crap they spew out today. Also, it was made by GONZO and released by Geneon before they went under. Just about all anime’s made by GONZO are of high quality. I’d say this one, Last Exile, and Blue Submarine No.6 are their best works.

    Ah, and as for weird remakes but one’s I enjoyed as a child there are the shows Super Book and Flying House. I grew up watching those two shows on local Christian tv stations. They were shows about the children to ended up going back in time to the days of the Bible. Most episodes had them encoutering different era’s of the Old and New Testament and meeting famous Bible characters like Joesph, King David, and Job. Of course way back then I didn’t know it was an anime, nor what the heck anime was, but I always had in the back of my mind that these shows were of a different creation. lol

  3. Romeo & Juliet AND Count of Montecristo aren’t “ridiculous”. They use the original story and create something completely different out of it. Just because it’s inspired by them doesn’t make them ridiculous. Count of Montecristo has an amazing and different style and animation, and Romeo and Juliet is still a lovely and tragic story. If people wanted the originals, they wouldn’t be watching the anime about them, they would just read the books.

    As for the PPG anime, excuse me but was the original cartoon so deep that it lost some kind of meaning with the anime? I wouldn’t call it ridiculous. It just follows the same magical girl concept anime has followed for years.

  4. Although Gankutsuou (The Count of Monte Cristo) does become quite ridiculous, I believe that out of all of the adaptations of this superlative novel, it ranks among the very best. It adapts the story, true, but it maintains the core, maintaining the relationships in the novel, which are one of its key aspects. It’s a bit hard on the eyes, but I felt it did a wonderful job of portraying the downfall of Edmond Dantes, and his subsequent realisation that he is not the hand of God. His redemption is lost in the adaptation, but still, I rate this as among the best of the many adaptations, and required viewing if you enjoy the novel.

  5. Starship Troopers is “infamously so bad it’s good”? What are you basing this on? Sheer personal opinion? It has a 7.1 rating on IMDb, it received good, and bad reviews upon release, but is now considered a minor cult classic.

    • But don’t you wonder why it got that much credit? I for myself still wonder how much of the movie is meant serious and how much is satire. Considering Heinlein’s political opinion, nothing of it would be satire, but I don’t think that’s how the director saw it.

  6. I don’t know why but I really found the anime adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo very likable and good. I enjoyed watching from the very beginning to the end. It was pretty unique and creative as well. The style and art was the first thing I noticed and initially hated but gradually loved the peculiar style as well as the story. I also enjoyed the mechas. Mechas are awesome! XD

  7. While I haven’t seen Gankutsuou myself, I’ve heard that’s it’s really good.
    RomeoXJuliet, on the other hand, I have seen. And it’s awesome. Not the best or even among the best adaptations of the play, I’ll give you that, But still awesome.
    Also; why on earth did you use the German opening?

  8. snooping58173 on

    I didn’t expect PPGZ to make the list. I mean, it messed up the original, but I thought Wolverine and Starship Troopers were the gag numbers. It doesn’t really fit in. Hammers, Yo-Yos and Bubbles seem kinda normal for Japan. I kinda was expecting Dragon Ball to make the list, since it came from an adaption of Journey to the West.

    Dragon Ball was always beyond ridiculous, but in a good way.

    Oh right, and there was this Japanese version of TMNT where they end up in space fighting a fairy. It was terrible, but at least the animation stuck to the old cartoon.

    …wait, you watch PPG??

  9. Hey, now, Gankutsuou is pretty amazing, for all that it descends into general craziness. The animation is beautiful and it actually retains a decent core of the original Story. That’s something that can’t be said for a lot of adaptations. It does this while adding new elements, too, which certainly made it fit better into its chosen universe.

    Though, of course, if they could have done it without the mecha battle, that would have been fantastic. That was terribly out of place, even the sci-fi universe it’s set in. Just too ostentatious, and a bit out of the blue.

  10. the voice of the voiceless on

    The Anime was adapted for Oriental people for know our habits and Stories so may be different, these adjustments are often made ??to raise awareness of different stories in different places, For exemple the Marvel for enter in the oriental it used the transposition at Anime, do not spit on what is not appears like a typical American film or cartoon, this is a ignorant discrimination

  11. This is a terribly old post, but seeing as it was never updated, I’ll go on ahead and be /that/ guy. The Peter Pan anime version’s ending actually stuck very close to the original play/novel. Indeed, Peter only returns for Wendy a couple times in spring – as he has no concept of time – and later returns when she’s all grown up and far too old to go with him. He weeps, and Jane, Wendy’s daughter, offers to go with them. Thus, the cycle continues.

    That being said, I do generally agree with the rest of the points (albeit they came off as very roughly-handled in terms of approach). I don’t understand why in the world anime adaptions of tales such as Aladdin or Alice in Wonderland tend to come off as so far-fetched and stray shamelessly away from the material’s themes. They have this popular thing over there where they transform Japanese WWII warships into teenage anime girls. Then again, people in America have transformed fairytale characters to teenagers for the children audience in a high school, shallow setting.

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