Anime Series Inspired By Real World Events and People

In many art forms, taking inspiration from the real world is recommended to add depth and realism to a story. A character based on a friend from your past makes for a more realistic character not because the audience also know them, but chances are they can relate to them better due to their actual real traits. Anime pulls a lot from reality, even the most fantastic and ridiculous series have moments that were inspired by people from history or events that happened.

Welcome to the NHK

“Ah, haha, this guy is getting into shenanigans due to his own paranoia and anxiety, though this situation seems low-key terrifying.” – Welcome to the NHK audiences, probably.

Welcome to the NHK isn’t just a dark comedy, but it is also a somewhat autobiographical one based on a novel the author wrote about his situation in which he is still trapped in.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Japan is prone to occasional bouts of huge and deadly earthquakes. You may recall, most recently, the 2011 earthquake that causes a huge tsunami and a nuclear reactor to lightly meltdown. That was a 9.0 earthquake, stronger than the one in this series, but not the most deadly. This series is a more modern reminder of the Great Kanto Earthquake, a 7.9 monster that that claimed over 100,000 lives, though likely because it was in 1923 and no one was really prepared for that.


As a series about parody, there is a lot of real world you can spot shoved in among the ridiculous moments in the series. However, what you don’t expect is that even the characters that aren’t outright references are based on real world Japanese characters from legends and the time period. This Gintama fansite does a fantastic guide outlining all the many references and inspirations among the characters.


This series originally started off as a series by the duo who made the Death Note manga. While making that hit series, they documented their struggle and essentially shoved it into Bakuman’s tight package. The two creators, one a storyteller and one an artist, are based on the authors themselves. The other characters in the series are loose mirrors of the Shounen Jump Weekly staff. If you ever wondered how much being a mangaka sucked (or what rewards it has, I guess), this can show you.

Rose of Versailles

Is Rose of Versailles anime-level dramatic? At times, yes. However, it does do a decent job of at least outlining the events of the French Revolution.

Mawaru Penguindrum

This series can be a lot. It is one of those series that is packed full of various symbolism and general abstractness that it can lead to evenings on the internet just reading about it. However, unlike various other anime classics that are similarly symbolic and abstract, this series remains largely overlooked because it…can be a lot. Furthermore, while Japanese audiences may recall the aftermath and effects of the 1995 Sarin Attacks that it mirrors in the series and that just being a cherry on the top of a generally dismal decade for the Japanese people as mirrored through the characters, that will all slip over the top of a western viewer’s head most likely. So it really is a case of a lot being lost in translation.

Steins; Gate

Well, no. Time travel is still likely not real. However, the reoccurring John Titor character in Steins; Gate was. In the early 2000’s, John Titor was an internet dweller that claimed to come from 2036 where World War 3 has happened and made a few minor predictions that threw some people for a loop. The series took the pretender and made him a real character, and also a girl, because why not?

Do you know more anime series inspired by real events or people? Let fans know in the comments section below.

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