The occult world of Egyptian mythology has inspired creators around the world for decades, from one of Marvel’s latest series, ‘Moon Knight’ (2022), to Gerad Butler’s film ‘Gods of Egypt’ in 2016, there is an array of references and inspirations drawn from ancient Egypt in media across the world. Inspiration from Egyptian mythology has not limited itself to Western media; anime (Japanese animated series) has also drawn from it, and characters in various series and stories encounter Egyptian gods and mythical figures.
One of the most unique storytelling mediums, anime offers an immersive watching experience as it relies on its animation style as much as the script to tell its narrative. It is a form of Japanese art, with a ‘distinctive narrative and visual aesthetic’ – its lightning-fast action, compelling characters, and non-traditional storytelling attracts many people towards it. Many Egyptians are familiar with anime from the acrobatic football tricks of Captain Maged to the energetic rush of Sabek w Lahek (‘The Racing Brothers’, ‘Let’s and Go’; 1999).
Here are four Japanese animated shows where Egyptian mythology meets anime – and Egypt’s ancient myths and legends come alive again.
Egypt plays a big role in the Japanese mega-series ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ (1998). There are different references to ancient Egypt, including the ghost of an Egyptian Pharaoh named Atem. The connection between the pharaoh and the main character, Yugi Mutou, unfolds through a series of events, where Yugi Mutou possesses an ancient Egyptian relic called the ‘Millenium Puzzle.’ Yugi’s rival, Seto Kaiba, is named in honor of Set, the evil brother of Osiris and the god of the desert. There are also references to the Egyptian goddess Isis, who inspired one the characters’ names, Ishizu Ishtar.
Dragon Ball: Super
In ‘Dragon Ball’ (2013), the series follows twin brothers Beerus and Champa, both of whom are gods of destruction, and are inspired by Egyptian mythology, as they embark on feuds and rivalries. They are often likened to Anubis, the jackal-headed god, who was venerated as god of the dead. They are also compared to Sekhmet, the lioness-headed goddess of vengeance and divine punishment. Their cat-like heads appear to be inspired by a balance between the two gods.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusader
In ‘Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders’ (2014), the main characters encounter the High Priestess, and Egypt’s Nine Glory Gods, nine characters inspired by Egyptian gods. The Nine Glory Gods, who are based on Geb, Thoth, Khnum, Anubis, Bastet, Sethan, Osiris, Horus, and Atum of ancient Egypt, act as the antagonists, who are summoned to find and fight the series’ Crusader, the show’s protagonists, who have emerged on the banks of the Nile River.
Kamigami No Asobi
Kamigami No Asobi (‘Play of Gods,’ 2014) is a novel turned anime series about an average school girl who finds herself sent to another dimension wherein she is confronted by gods of different cultures. Through a series of events, she is tasked with teaching the different gods about love. The series does not only feature Anubis and Thoth from Egyptian mythology, but also delves into figures from Greek, Japanese, and Norse mythology.