Image via Netflix
Anime remakes happen for a number of reasons, but a major reason, besides the overwhelming success of the original program, is the need to tighten the plot and round out the story in a much more satisfactory way. As most anime is drawn from manga, a recurring issue is both the manga and anime running at the same time, and the anime catching up to its source material. This leads to the introduction of filler episodes, or conclusions that are derived from thin air.
Here are 10 successful anime that received remakes that stuck closely to their source material, and delivered much more impressive anime years after the original was released.
Fruits Basket follows the story of Tohru Honda, an orphan girl who meets Yuki, Kyo, and Shigure Sohma, and finds out the new men in her life come from a family that turns to animal forms. These forms are all based on the animals of 13 Chinese Zodiac, and they turn into them when they are weak, stressed, or touched by the opposite sex who isn’t possessed. The 2001 series was a big hit, but sadly, had an inconclusive ending because the manga was running at the same time. With TMS taking over from Studio Deen, the modern adaptation comes with a more modern art style, and follows the original source material to the end. This brings closure to old fans, as well as a wonderful slice-of-life experience to new fans of this classic romantic comedy story.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
One of the greatest anime of all time, the story follows two brothers who attempted to use alchemy to bring their late mother back from the dead. The original anime aired between 2003-2004, but due to the manga running at the same time, an anime-only ending was done, and while satisfying to many, it still left a sour taste in the mouth of many fans who felt the story wasn’t properly concluded. Studio Bones came in and re-adapted the story with slick animation, and a beautiful story that followed the source material to the end.
Devilman Crybaby is the 10-episode adaptation of Go Nagai’s manga series Devilman which ran from 1972 until 1973, and a 39-episode anime series that ran through the same years. The new Original Net Animation was directed by Masaki Yuasa and produced by Aniplex with Studio SARU. The anime might be a lot shorter than its predecessor, but it brings the setting of the 1970s series into the 21st Century, and is a lot easier for fans to digest with themes of sexuality, puberty, and love being prevalent. While Yuasa did follow Nagai’s work very closely, he offered his own unique take to the story, which has been hailed as one of Netflix’s best anime ever.
Hellsing Ultimate is an anime set in the early 20th century about a vampire hunter. The original anime aired on Fuji TV between 2001 and 2002 and was developed by Gonzo. A very edgy anime, a lot of fans fell in love with the series for its gory violence, witty characters, and narcissistic lead. The original anime Hellsing fell victim to the same problem many of the anime in this list encountered — it caught up to manga due to both running at similar times.
Hunter x Hunter
Hunter x Hunter is a widely popular shounen anime about how a 12-year-old boy named Gon Freecss becomes a hunter in order to see what made his father abandon him and focus on the profession. The story is written by famous mangaka Yoshihiro Togashi, who is also the mangaka of YuYu Hakusho. Hunter x Hunter 1999 had a decent number of filler scenes and was only 62 episodes in total. Covering the majority of the manga up to the Chimera Ant arc, it concluded with an anime-only ending in 2001 and was produced by Nippon animation. Hunter x Hunter 2011 follows the manga much more closely.
Dragon Ball Z Kai
If any anime needed a remake to catch fans up, it was definitely the iconic Dragon Ball Z. The series follows Goku and the Z fighters as they protect the world from various threats from outside and within Earth. Running for 291 episodes during the years 1989-1996, the series is a near-perfect adaptation of Akira Toriyama’s third manga of the same name. Dragon Ball Z did have a recurring problem though — fight scenes and filler episodes were heavily stretched so as to keep the anime from catching up to the manga. Dragon Ball Z Kai takes a lot of those scenes, and the filler episodes, and removes them, making for an easier, digestible series that aired from 2009-2015.
Dororo follows the story of a young man with prosthetic limbs and a little girl traveling across Japan to fight demons. Much to the joy of fans, Studio Mappa handled the modern 2019 remake, delivering crisp animation and a tight plot. The original manga was made during 1967 and 1969, and a TV series soon followed.
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
An anime that is based on a visual novel, had a manga release, and was also based on an eroge (erotic game), Fate/Stay Night introduced many to the franchise, as well as Rin, Shiro, and the Holy Grail War. It received a modern remake with Ufortable and their larger budget, taking on the reigns and showing the prelude to the story. Major details were changed in the story to make it more watchable to viewers, and it followed the visual novel a lot closer.
Classic shounen anime hardly get many remakes, but if any was deserving of this treatment, it was Shaman King. Originally aired in 2001, Shaman King follows the adventures of Yoh Asakura as he attempts to hone his skills and become the Shaman King. The original anime had an anime-only ending due to the manga running at the same time, but it was still a good series with Xebec handling the animation at the time. The remake follows the manga much more closely, and a sequel series has been announced. Production company Bridge handled Netflix’s Shaman King which was released in 2021, and brings back the classic shonen feel of the early 2000s.
Berserk: The Golden Age Arc
The famous story of Guts and his quest for revenge on his former best friend and ally was initially a 1997 series. The original Berserk covered the story from the Black Swordsman arc up to the Golden Age arc and was handled by OLM Inc. The latest showing of the arc, however, was remade into three full-length movies made for the big screen with an improvement on the animation. It successfully adapted the work of the late Kentaro Miura and showed the events of the Golden Arc to a new generation of fans who may have not heard of the legendary story.