Cinderella is a time-honored tale, with a new adaptation every time you turn around. From Disney to Rodgers and Hammerstein and beyond, everyone wants to put their spin on this classic story. Even if it’s not a direct remake, the “rags-to-riches” storyline is one you’ll see time and time again. Especially in anime!
Here are a few series that take their heroes from pauper to princess. Or demon lord. Or… host? Just stick with us on this.
Ouran High School Host Club
From vase breaker to reverse harem heroine, Haruhi Fujioka lives one of anime’s most unusual Cinderella stories. Ouran High School Host Club takes place at a school so upscale, it has its own… well… host club. What starts as paying off a massive debt turns into a chance to live the good life, and even fall in love with a prince. If he could just get his act together, that is.
Haruhi isn’t actively looking for love or a better life. She just goes with the flow, even when she’s assumed to be a boy and stuffed into a fancy uniform. But she definitely doesn’t complain when her host club work means she gets to eat fancy lunches. That’s obviously not the point of the series… but we’d be excited if we could have the expensive cuts of tuna whenever we wanted, too.
Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun
Iruma’s life is on a downward spiral, but getting shot to hell is possibly the best thing that ever happened to him.
Unlike your typical Cinderella story, Iruma’s situation improves when he’s away from his real parents. Once he’s in the care of a doting demon, he can finally eat his fill. (Which is a lot.) And wear nice clothes. And hang out with people who probably won’t kill and devour him. As long as he keeps his humanity a secret. But that’s a small price to pay for not working multiple jobs to pay for your parents’ bad decisions.
Why not cap things off with a literal Cinderella story? 1995’s Cinderella Monogatari was an Italian/Japanese co-production, headed up by Time Bokan co-creactor Hiroshi Sasagawa. And no, this isn’t a movie — it’s 26 episodes long. The part of the story we know best (you know, the whole bit with the ball and the glass slipper) comprises the final three episodes. The rest is spun out into an action-romance story that makes our heroine’s love for the prince a little… okay, a lot… more explicable.
In this version, the prince enjoys dressing up like a commoner and going out into town. You know, the way fairy tale royalty tends to do. Cindy knows him simply as “Charles,” and the two go on exciting adventures. Her fairy godmother is also in the background, making sure the princess-to-be can talk to animals and avoid at least a few problems. So why does Cinderella want to go to the ball? Watch the series and find out!
This is a wildly incomplete list, of course — what’s on your list?