*Sniff sniff* You smell that? That is the smell of a Grade A rip-off. Or at least what people think are rip-offs.
Anime has been around for a long time, and every year there is too many anime to keep track off coming out. So, it’s natural that some shows will be similar to others. At first glance, you might consider some of these shows a cheap knock-off, but let’s take a quick peek to see how some of them hold up.
1. Sailor Moon vs Wedding Peach
Genre: Magical girl
Quick tagline: Girls become badass warriors after changing into miniskirts. They fight evil with the power of friendship and love.
Which came first: Sailor Moon
Rip-off?: Not exactly. While Wedding Peach does employ a group of magical girls wearing miniskirts and fighting evil, there is a greater emphasis on romance. The characters are also different enough to not be carbon copies of the Sailor Moon cast.
2. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters vs Duel Masters
Genre: Trading card / fantasy
Quick tagline: It’s time to duel! The monsters in the cards kind of come to life with obtuse technology and everyone takes card battles super seriously.
Which came first: Yu-Gi-Oh!
Rip-off?: Duel Masters is very similar to Yu-Gi-Oh!, but that has more to do with being a trading card based series. There is only so much you can do within that genre. While Duel Masters has been forgotten by most, it is still a fairly popular card game in Japan.
3. The Super Dimension Fortress Macross vs Genesis Climber MOSPEADA
Quick tagline: Transformable mechs are humanity’s tools against a mysterious alien race, who may or may not be evil. Don’t forget to hold on to your butts, because anyone can die.
Which came first: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross
Rip-off?: Kind of. Tatsunoko helped produced Macross, saw it was successful, then created MOSPEADA to capitalize. Both do feature an alien race, transforming mechs, deaths (which was a big deal in the early ’80s), and were spliced together to created 2/3rds of Robotech.
4. Kaitou Saint Tail vs Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne
Genre: Magical girl / Romance / Kaitou
Quick tagline: A girl is tasked with stealing things for the greater good. They may or may not fall in love with the cop-type man trying to stop them. God also plays a part, because why not?
Which came first: Kaitou Saint Tail
Rip-off?: Aside from the similar tagline, no. Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne is a lot darker than Kaitou Saint Tail. Both have references to the Catholic faith, or at least how the Japanese imagine the religion, but each show goes off into their own territory.
5. Chobits vs DearS
Genre: Romantic Comedy / Science Fiction
Quick tagline: Protag-kun is down on his luck and blander than my jokes. Good thing he meets a girl who has no idea how modern Japanese society works. Together, they’ll figure life out!
Which came first: Chobits
Rip-off?: DearS is way more ecchi and plays up the comedy more than Chobits. It’s safe to say that DearS is a raunchier Chobits, but each is different enough to warrant their existence.
6. Kaze no Stigma vs Shakugan no Shana
Genre: Action / Supernatural / Romance
Quick tagline: Literal fiery tsundere with a flat chest teams up with a slightly incompetent guy. The two may or may not fall in love during the course of their struggles.
Which came first: Shakugan no Shana came out as a light novel a mere 2 months before Kaze no Stigma. [Edit: Kaze no Stigma was actually published before Shakugen no Shana, sorry for the mistake.]
Rip-off?: Nope. When boiled down to the basics, but you could say that about any show. The story and lore are different enough between the two series, that it’s most likely a coincidence that they star a literal fiery tsundere with a flat chest. Won’t stop people from comparing the two, though.
7. Hidamari Sketch vs Sketchbook
Genre: Slice of Life
Quick tagline: A girl joins her high school’s art club and she finds out it is filled with eccentric weirdos! At least they can draw like no other, right?
Which came first: Sketchbook as a manga came out in 2002, compared to Hidamari Sketch in 2005. However, Hidamari Sketch came first as an anime, airing in Winter 2007. Sketchbook would air in Fall 2007.
Rip-off?: Besides the super specific setting of taking place in an art club with an eccentric cast of girls? The humor is different; Hidamari Sketch is more off-color and borderline surreal, while Sketchbook is a little more standard and down-to-earth.
8. Kotetsushin Jeeg vs Gurren Lagann
Quick tagline: Mecha + drills + screaming = MAKING THE IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE!
Which came first: Both shows aired during the Spring 2007 season. Gurren Lagann premiered only four days before Kotetsushin Jeeg.
Rip-off?: Talk about a cosmic coincidence. Both series have a very similar tone, and there are drills. Kotetsushin Jeeg is a quasi-remake of the 1975 Steel Jeeg while Gurren Lagann is a throwback to mecha series like Steel Jeeg. Talk about awkward, but not really a rip-off.
9. Sky Girls vs Strike Witches
Genre: Mecha / Magical Girl / Science Fiction
Quick tagline: A crew of girls declares war on pants. Girls are only in the military thanks to all the guys dying in a previous war.
Which came first: Strike Witches
Rip-off?: Not really. Believe it or not, but Sky Girls is not all that fanservice reliant, unlike Strike Witches. Not only that, but the tones between the two series are different. Strike Witches leans more towards comedy during the downtime, while Sky Girls mostly plays it seriously.
10. High School DxD vs So, I Can’t Play H!
Genre: Harem / Ecchi
Quick tagline: Protag-kun is a serious pervert who somehow gets sucked into a wacky and sexy adventure thanks to a red-haired vixen, who is more than she appears to be. Even more busty girls, and a few flat ones to round out the fetishes, join his harem. Nudity abounds, but no sir, this is not a hentai.
Which came first: High School DxD
Rip-off?: Mostly, and not a good one at that. The only thing different about So, I Can’t Play H! is that it takes itself way too seriously.
11. Puella Magi Madoka Magica vs Yuki Yuna is a Hero
Genre: Magical Girl
Quick tagline: Being meguca is suffering.
Which came first: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Rip-off?: Yuki Yuna is a Hero is different enough to not be a total rip-off. The series deconstructs the magical girl genre in a different way than Madoka Magica, but it gets there at a slower pace — plus there’s more comedy!
12. Pokemon vs Yo-Kai Watch
Genre: Adventure / Monster
Quick tag line: Hey kids, you know that school stuff and stinky parents? Forget about them! Go out into the world, capture monster things and make them fight against their will. Yeah, boi! Gotta catch ’em all, mon!
Which came first: Pokemon
Rip-off?: Yo-Kai Watch does use the same formula as Pokemon, but it’s not quite a rip-off. Yo-Kai Watch takes place in the real world, and the monsters are yokai from Japanese lore. It’s the little things, you know?
13. Cowboy Bebop vs Outlaw Star
Genre: Action / Adventure / Science Fiction
Quick tag line: Eccentric space mercenaries pursue various odd jobs to maintain their ship’s upkeep while trying to stay ahead of their competition.
Which came first: Outlaw Star as a manga series began serialization in September 1996, while Cowboy Bebop debuted as an anime a year later.
Rip-off?: Not really. The basic premise of rag-tag mercs is a common sci-fi trope, and both series use this to explore different themes. Cowboy Bebop is more introspective and plays around with different genres while Outlaw Star focuses more on action-comedy.
14. Attack on Titan vs Seraph of the End
Genre: Action / Dark Fantasy
Quick tagline: Humanity is pushed to the brink of extinction due to an unstoppable threat. Everything rests in the hands of a teen who is hellbent on vengence!
What came first: Attack on Titan
Rip-off?: Whithout getting into spoilers, both series have a lot of parallels. The most notable is how the main protag approaches their enemies and the not-so-secret origins of humanity’s near-extinction. However, Seraph of the End stars vampires and deals more with human relationships. Attack on Titan is more atmospheric and mysterious.
15. .hack//Sign vs Sword Art Online
Genre: Action / Adventure / Drama / Science Fiction
Quick tagline: Gamers are trapped in their favorite MMO and must find a means of escape.
Which came first: .hack//Sign
Ripoff?: Admittedly, this is a reach, .hack//Sign fans swear that Sword Art Online is an inferior copy. Both have a similar setup, but they tell vastly different stories if you watch past the opening arcs. Sword Art Online is focused more on action and Kirito’s endless bag of tricks while .hack//Sign is a slow-burning drama about how humans interact with technology.
Any other anime knock-offs you know of? Are they any good? Let me know, please!