Anime and manga have become massively influential works over the decades. The Wachowskis, Christopher Nolan, Rian Johnson, Darren Aronofsky; all directors influenced by anime such as Ghost in the Shell, Akira or the works of Satoshi Kon, just to name a few.

Some creators wear their anime influence on their sleeve more readily than others. So today, we’re going to look at some anime and manga-like creations that were published outside of Japan.

Anime and Manga Made Elsewhere, Fountaindale Public Library

Clock Striker

by Issaka Galadima and Frederick L. Jones
In a sci-fi dystopia, our main character, Cast, serves as an apprentice to a SMITH, an occupation that’s a mix of engineer, archeologist and professional bad-guy-puncher. Cast’s prosthetic hand is armed with all kinds of weapons, both silly and awesome. With art plainly inspired by One Piece and Naruto, the fight scenes have an excellent weight and impact to them.

Cast’s indomitable spirit is as infectious as any other manga action hero. The publisher boasts that Cast is “Shonen [sic] manga’s first Black female lead hero.” Cast’s Blackness isn’t an afterthought, either, and neither is her disability. Both are features that meaningfully impact Cast’s life.

Of particular note, I adored a scene where Cast’s mentor bonds with her by braiding her hair. It’s brief, but the visual storytelling puts clear weight on this scene and what it means for the emotional intimacy between master and student.

The authors are not just providing a Black protagonist, but they’re injecting Blackness into a genre that is immensely popular with young Black people. And that’s pretty cool.

Clock Striker is a worthy compatriot and rival to any of the big-name action manga currently running. An absolute must-read for fans of the genre.

Check Our Shelves  Check on hoopla

Anime and Manga Made Elsewhere, Fountaindale Public Library

Manga Classics

by various authors and artists
Extraordinarily faithful adaptations of classics from the Western canon, including the works of Jane Austen, Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe and so many more. Several artists and writers contribute to this series, and many of the illustrators come from Korea and Japan, offering a level of authenticity to the art that North American-published manga sometimes lack.

I especially recommend the adaptation of Jane Eyre, featuring my favorite writer and illustrator duo of the series, Crystal S. Chan and SunNeko Lee. Though Lee’s illustrations have that signature cute anime aesthetic, Lee still successfully captures the somber tones of the original. Lee’s art also captures the playful side of Jane and Mr. Rochester’s relationship, an aspect that I often find neglected in visual adaptations of the story.

Browse All Manga Classics

Anime and Manga Made Elsewhere, Fountaindale Public Library

RWBY (2013–present)

Pronounced “Ruby,” this is the cult-hit web series about four girls—Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long—training to hunt monsters known as the Creatures of Grimm. In this mashup of fairy tales, sci-fi and fantasy, the girls slay monsters with medieval weapons that transform into high-powered firearms. Or, as the series tagline phrases it: “It’s also a gun.”

In addition to over-the-top action, the series also has a lot of heart. The relationship develops beautifully between the four girls as they go from being a team to friends and, finally, a family.

Sadly, the studio that produces RWBY, will be closing its doors after 21 years of video production. Where RWBY will end up is uncertain at the time of this writing. Preserving unique and heartfelt art like RWBY is all the more important in this age of streaming. Everything can be lost on the whim of executives who think more about quarterly profits than making art that will last for generations. We are proud to do our part in preventing these works of art from being lost or forgotten.

In addition to our physical copies, you can also watch the first six seasons on hoopla! And for those who are already mega fans of the series (like me), we also have various spin-off materials available physically and digitally.

Check on hoopla  Check Our Shelves

Anime and Manga Made Elsewhere, Fountaindale Public Library

White Snake (2019)

This next pick is a little different from the others. As far as I can tell, there is no direct anime influence in this work. However, this Chinese film shares many traits with some of the most popular anime: expressive characters, martial arts action and heartbreaking drama.

White Snake is based on The Legend of the White Snake, one of the most enduring folktales in Chinese history. This prequel to the legend is a mix of romance, wuxia action, song, tragedy and hope.

This film comes from Light Chaser Animation Studios, a Chinese studio that has been on the rise for the past five years or so. A great deal of animation, both North American and Japanese, is made with the indispensable help of animators from China and South Korea. So, a studio based in China that is rising up and making itself known in the animation world is a wonderful thing to see. And their animated features are themselves an equally wonderful sight.

I genuinely struggle to find the words to express how amazing this film looks. Its color palette is stunning, its storyboards are strong and evocative and the characters’ emotions are palpable. I implore you to give it a watch because it has to be seen to be believed.

And when you’re done with White Snake, that’s far from the end of it. You can reserve one of our Rokus to watch the sequel, Green Snake, on Netflix!

Watch on hoopla

Anime and Manga Made Elsewhere, Fountaindale Public Library


By Seny
The story of a European teen who is transported to another world where she discovers she has pyrokinetic powers. The titular Saigami are warriors with supernatural powers, and our main character, Ayumi, is somehow one of them.

The beginning of this story is emotionally intense, conveying the traumatic moments of Ayumi’s life and her struggles with creative visual flair, the panels shattering like glass. Saigami also wears its influences on its sleeve, with the opening pages featuring Ayumi reading a comic book adaptation of the aforementioned RWBY. Likewise, Ayumi’s companions on her journey will be very familiar archetypes to fans of anime; one dark and brooding, the other a bright and cheerful blond boy.

There’s a comfortable familiarity with the way the first volume of Saigami adheres to the genre conventions of YA action manga. As of the first volume, Saigami isn’t trying to redefine the genre. What it is doing, is executing this well-worn genre competently with creative visual storytelling.

This story is cozy in its familiarity but compelling and intense in its drama. Definitely worth giving a look.

Check It Out!