Moon Knight is lighting up Disney+, bringing one of Marvel’s most curious and multifaceted heroes to life. Like other series on the channel, it’s getting us back to “event TV”… you know, that thing where you have to wait for the next episode to air. As much as this writer prefers that model, that also means we still have a week to kill between episodes.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of anime out there that hits some of this show’s vibes. Here are a handful… and we promise Sailor Moon and Yu Gi Oh! aren’t in here. Someone else has already handled that more than adequately.
Boogiepop and Others
The Boogiepop light novels really ran with the burgeoning popularity of chunibyo narratives, and made them — and light novels — what they are today. The series follows Boogiepop, a shinigami who “bubbles up” to the surface when humanity is in need of help. This entity resides within Touka Miyashita, a high school girl who is fully unaware of her secret identity. Kind of like Marc Spector’s alters who aren’t privy to the whole Moon Knight thing.
Marc’s situation is an even more labyrinthine one than Touka’s, in that multiple personalities already exist within him before Khonshu gets involved. It feels weird to say Boogiepop’s explanation is a fairly straight line by comparison, but that’s Marvel for you. Later light novels delve into Touka’s past, and where Boogiepop intersected with her life. And another manga series of dubious canonicity implies that, like the Marvel character, there could be others chosen.
In Moon Knight, Marc doesn’t choose to have alters. But the many different lives he leads do help, in their way. Meanwhile, an android with the power to manipulate matter completely changes identity by choice, and revolutionized magical girl anime in the process.
Go Nagai’s Cutie Honey — a.k.a. Honey Kisaragi — isn’t a set of separate identities so much as other skill sets. (Though in Cutie Honey Universe, they go out of the way to not only alter her design significantly, but also bring in guest voice actresses for each new version.) Even so, it’s a similar feel: Fancy Honey infiltrates parties, Scoop Honey has reporter skills, and… Well, Hurricane Honey drives a bike fast and looks awesome. And her “fighting form,” the titular Cutie Honey, gave rise to the idea of magical girls as superheroes. Eventually.
The ancient entity of Khonshu kicks off the events of Moon Knight. And there are plenty of ancient entities lurking throughout anime — either choosing or resurrecting champions. In the classic super robot anime Raideen, Akira Hibiki discovers he’s the last descendant of an ancient race known as the Mu. And, thus, he’s inherited a lot of responsibility. As well as Raideen, the first anime robot to be more mythologically inspired than scientific.
There’s also more than a little ancient Egyptian influence in Raideen, from the robot’s design to some of its forms. And if some of these story elements sound familiar? Well, you’ve probably seen RahXephon. The newer series is unashamedly a love letter to the older one.
From Moon Knight to Batman… how does the Dark Knight compare to these anime detectives?