Otaku USA Magazine
These Anime Inspired by Real-Life Events Are Not Your Typical Titles

Anime inspired by real events are nothing new... but these aren't your typical titles.

You’ve probably seen at least one anime inspired by a real-life event or person. Grave of the Fireflies, The Wind Rises… technically parts of Fate/Grand Order. Those are the big, on-the-nose titles. But what about lesser known series? Or series whose inspo comes in slightly at an angle?

Here are a few titles off the beaten path, if you’re looking for shows that have their roots in reality. For a couple of them, you may be really surprised. (We sure were.)


Attack No. 1

Attack No. 1

Manga artist Chikako Urano probably didn’t know it at the time, but she was making history when she created Attack No. 1. The 1968 manga series paved the way for future shoujo sports manga, and brought in older readers. And, for this manga and its anime, inspiration came straight from the Olympics.

Four years prior, a team of women from textile company Nichibo took a gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Nicknamed “Witches of the Orient” by the foreign press, the team naturally wasn’t wielding any actual witchcraft. But they did make their home country proud, and inspire Attack No. 1 and others in the coming years.




The Steins;Gate game and anime that a lot of inspiration from a lot of places… but just how close could this be to reality? Very close, as it happens… or, at least, close to a very real hoax that made the rounds online at the turn of the millennium.

Around 2000, an alleged time traveler named John Titor made his way around the Internet. He said he was from the year 2036, and was sent back in time to retrieve a very old computer. According to Titor, he used black mini black holes in time travel… And all this comes around to the girl we know as Suzuha Amane. At least in Steins;Gate world, she’s the real John Titor. Which is way more fun than our world, where’s he’s apparently an entertainment lawyer or something.


Uma Musume: Pretty Derby

Umamusume: Pretty Derby

Still in the running after all this time, anime inspiration doesn’t get much wilder than this. Uma Musume is, of course, that one media mix project where race horses are actually cute idol girls. Not only that, but we’re talking about very specific race horses. As in real ones.

All the girls in the series, from Best Girl Special Week all the way down, are based on real Japanese race horses. Their hair colors match, their accessories are the same color (and occasionally the same style), and they go through similar story beats. The real Special Week lived just long enough to see himself become an anime girl, dying in 2018 after a long and impressive career.

Anime inspiration can come from anywhere — what’s your favorite deep dive for anime inspo?

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.