Otaku USA Magazine
Like The Grimm Variations, These Anime Remix Classic Fairy Tales

Celebrate the premiere of The Grimm Variations with more fairy tale remixes!

The highly-anticipated Netflix anime The Grimm Variations takes classic fairy tales we know and love and turns them into something… a little different. In this anthology anime from Wit Studio, everything from Cinderella to the Pied Piper gets recontextualized. And, as long-time anime viewers know, this isn’t the first time classic tales have been seen through a different lens. Mainstays like Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, and Fruits Basket all take inspiration from classic tales from around the world. And plenty of straightforward adaptations exist, too.

Today, we’re digging a little deeper and looking into anime old and new that remix familiar stories. From classic magical girls to war stories, see if you can spot the fairy tale inspirations woven through these series!


Maho no Mako-chan

Maho no Mako-chan

More than half a century before The Grimm Variations, Maho no Mako-chan pulled inspiration from a classic tale. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid forms the basis for this 1970 magical girl series, which hailed from Cyborg 009 director Yugo Serikawa. Much like her fairy tale counterpart, Mako is a mermaid who loves the human world and becomes infatuated with a human boy. But instead of a prince, it’s a drifter named Akira.

Mako also makes a deal with a sea witch, but fortunately she doesn’t have to give up her voice. It’s no easy task to find Akira, though. Fortunately for our heroine, her story has a happier ending than the mermaid in Andersen’s original tale.



New Legend of Snow White Prétear

The Grimm Variations may not venture a take on Snow White, but Princess Tutu creator Junichi Sato certainly did! His manga Prétear – The New Legend of Snow White got an anime adaptation in 2001, one year after the manga’s premiere. This version throws a little Cinderella into the mix, too—centering on Himeno Awayuki as adapts to life with her new stepmother and two stepsisters. But then she meets the Leafe Knights: seven handsome magical boys who inform her that she will help them save the world.

As the legendary Prétear, she can borrow the elemental powers of each of the seven Leafe Knights. (She may also be falling in love with one of those magical boys.) As a precursor to Princess Tutu, also directed by Sato, it’s a short and sweet watch.




From magical girls to war-torn alternate histories, Jin-Roh crosses paths with The Grimm Variations in that they both take a stab at Little Red Riding Hood. Based on characters created by Mamoru Oshii, this film tales place in an alternate 1950s Tokyo after a very different ending to World War II. Riot officer Kazuki Fuse runs into Nanami, a Red Riding Hood courier who runs explosives to rioters in Akasaka. After his refusal to kill her and her death at her own hands, Fuse meets Kei, who introduces herself as Nanami’s sister.

Even as secrets fall away, the two fall in love. But when operatives from Jin-Roh (the Wolf Brigade) get involved, it becomes clear that their relationship cannot continue. This tragic story is a very different spin on the classic fairy tale, though the ending is distinctly parallel.

Learn more about The Grimm Variations and more anime coming to Netflix this year!

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.