Tempest’s Downpour – Doctor Who and Anime

Posted on Aug 19 2012

Within fandoms, there’s typically a sense of overlap. Just as Kana loves Korean music and Zero idolizes Batman, Ceru and I are guilty of enjoying quality British television. The eponymous British series is, of course, the longest running show: Doctor Who.

And then this happened:

Of course, you have to take into account the layers of Affectionate Parody implemented: from the female character’s wardrobe to her gratuitous Japanese (complete with subtitles). Nonetheless, this is a loving tribute to both Doctor Who and the world of anime.

It dawned on me that this series has the makings of a damn good anime. Sure, it has aliens and spaceships and historical references that are researched but not entirely accurate – everything that made Star Trek good. But the main cast is very limited, which allows for deep exploration of everything from morals to emotions: concepts which make anime so enthralling.

The Doctor has been on television for fifty years and he remains a mystery: changing every few years and keeping his past to himself. Then he goes and mentions one little thing like, “That crib that I’ve been carrying around on my spaceship wasn’t mine” and we’re all banging our fists on the screen going, “THEN WHOSE WAS IT?”

The Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith, is like if James Bond was having a sugar rush.

His most recent incarnation is an adventurous mentor like Kamina, but as vulnerable as Gene Starwind. He’s dorky and happy-go-lucky with something dark and desperate around the edges like Vash the Stampede.

We know he runs, but we don’t know what he’s running from. He’s certainly not running from his enemies, since he keeps going straight into the grasp. So perhaps he’s running from his guilt like Vash again, his memories like Faye Valentine, or his responsibilities like Shinji Ikari.

His travelling companions keep changing every few years, giving us insight into how much the Doctor’s constant presence can change a person – for the better or worse. We learn about these people who come from backgrounds not so different from our own. People who always craved more from life but knew nothing on Earth could offer them the adventure. And then the Doctor shows up, whisks them away and changes them forever.

What anime story is complete without a coming-of-age tale? Everyone from 14-year-old mecha pilots to the magical girl down the street go through some kind of experience that leaves them wiser about the world.

That Cyberman giant robot is piloted by several regular-sized Cybermen and a lady pilot inside the chest plate.

Also, on a lighter note, the Doctor totally fights mechas. No, yeah, I’m serious here. Look at the Cybermen. They have a giant Cyberman Godzilla-esque robot monster thing that they totally do battle with in 1800’s England. (Because even though the Doctor can travel through time and space, he spends a ridiculous amount of time in recent England.) It was seriously the most Power Rangers thing on TV since, well, the Power Rangers.

All in all, Doctor Who is an excellent viewing experience for people who enjoy rich characterization, exciting sci-fi and history-related plots. Anime fans will enjoy this series, which appeals visually and creatively.

But what if Doctor Who actually became an anime?

Special effects which come across as a bit silly or corny in the series look absolutely stunning in animated form. Look at those Daleks. Those Daleks are smooth. Those Daleks have class. You can hardly see the plunger. And the x-ray beam looks EFFECTUAL, rather than over-the-top. Even the Cybermen are creepy, when they’ve only ever made me laugh in the past.

An image of the eleven incarnations of the doctor. Some of the actors have passed away.

We could catch a glimpse into the lives of the Doctor’s previous incarnations, whose actors are either no longer alive or no longer resemble their roles. Certainly the dilemma of the Doctor meeting his past incarnations in the 50th Anniversary Special could be solved by animating the previous Doctors.

The BBC has done spinoffs for Doctor Who in the past (Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures). It’s not out of the realm of possibility to make an animated series starring previous Doctors.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts and opinions below. Or recommend this article to a friend.

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  • moonhawk81 August 26, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    Your 11 images of the Doctor only recognize those who have played the part on the serial–you’re missing at least one movie that I know of, although I can’t remember the actor’s name. I love that the anime clip features the 3rd Doctor (although Tom Baker, the 4th–yeah, the one with the scarf–remains my favorite). Been a fan for decades. . .

  • Kayarath September 3, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    Who is this guy? Whenever I ask, they just say, “Dr. Who” and I’m like, “exactly, who is he?”

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