Noah Hawley’s long-awaited Alien series for FX has finally resumed filming as the network seeks a 2023 release date. The hype among fans continues to show the franchise’s continued relevance. From iconic hands-on body horror effects to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, which sets a benchmark for female action protagonists, the impact of the Alien franchise can be seen on cult hits not only in Hollywood, but also in the animated shows and movies.
While some anime such as Lily CAT can be seen as directly influenced by Alien, other body horror and dark sci-fi favorites such as Akira and Parasyte can be compared with some thematic similarities.
Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995)
Stream on Netflix
Neon Genesis Evangelion might initially sound like one of the beginner mecha anime series, but it’s so much more than that. Hideoki Anno’s magnum opus deals with young mecha pilots and their fight against alien creatures while adding surprisingly deep philosophical and religious overtones.
Unlike the Alien franchise, Neon Genesis Evangelion is set on planet Earth, but the psychological lengths the characters go to are comparable to Ripley’s inner turmoil and psychological fears as she survives multiple Xenomorph attacks.
Parasite: The Maxim (2014-15)
Stream on Hulu
When it comes to anime series dealing with body horror, Parasyte: The Maxim is a must. The anime is set in a world infected with human-consuming creatures called Parasytes. When a teenager is infected with one of these parasites but still survives, he learns to co-exist with the alien, resulting in a fun identity crisis as he lives with two personalities.
From an embryonic Xenomorph emerging from John Hurt’s body in Alien to an alien using a human as a host in Parasyte, anime should be on your watch list for understanding how far the body horror genre has come.
Lily CAT (1987)
Stream to Roku
Hisayuki Toriyumi’s iconic space survival film Lily CAT is about the crew of a spaceship battling a
metamorphosed alien. The claustrophobia of being trapped in space along with the panic caused by the alien makes Lily CAT all the more haunting even decades after her release.
The influences from Alien and even John Carpenter’s The Thing are pretty obvious, but at the same time, the film has enough merit to stand out on its own. And at just 67 minutes, it’s perfect for a quick watch.
Space battleship Yamato 2199 (2012–13)
Stream on Funimation Now
A remake of the 1974 anime Space Battleship, this new-age update revolves around a journey the titular spaceship Yamato takes in the year 2199. As Earth is ravaged by war and destruction under an alien race , this trip to the planet Iscandar may yield some secrets that can change the fate of Earth.
The isolation of space travel and the teamwork among the crew are reminiscent of the Alien franchise with characters like Riley and her allies constantly determined to fight the Xenomorphs despite all odds.
Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017)
Stream on Netflix
While the best Godzilla movies are set in the modern world, Planet of the Monsters is set several years after the Thermonuclear Lizard has taken over the planet. With alien and human refugees attempting to recolonize Earth, they must contend with an evolved version of Godzilla among other monstrous threats.
The Netflix anime is way more over the top than the strategic warfare of the Alien movies. But with Godzilla being as impactful as a pop culture icon like the Xenomorph, one can see how far the Toho franchise has come and how far it’s being reinvented. The Alien franchise has also been reinterpreted by Prometheus and hopefully the next FX series.
Terra Formars (2014)
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Cockroaches have survived centuries of evolution, but imagine insects becoming massive colonizers of Mars. It’s the absurdly haunting premise of Terra Formars as human space warriors take on evolved cockroaches leading to bloody and fierce battles.
Even though Terra Formars is more action-oriented, the central battle recalls the eternal enmity between human astronauts and Xenomorphs.
Magnetic Rose (Memoirs) (1995)
Stream on Tubi TV
One of the best anime anthologies to watch, Memories has three segments, the first of which will be of interest to fans of psychological horror. Magnetic Rose doesn’t have a lot of spatial action, but it’s a brilliant example for understanding isolation in space.
Since an astronaut can’t figure out what’s real and what’s not, the hallucinatory visuals are reminiscent of the psychological turmoil the Alien characters go through, confined to their starships and cryogenic sleep.
Outlaw Star (1998)
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An outlaw and his ragtag group of crewmates pilot the titular spaceship in Outlaw Star as they search for mythical space treasure. The anime bears similarities to the space drama Cowboy Bebop, but unlike the cult classic, Outlaw Star is more of a fantasy space western than a sci-fi series.
But protagonist Gene Starwind’s connection to his ship and his responsibility to protect his crew is something Alien fans could relate to. No matter the situation, Ripley is always ready to protect others rather than herself.
Attack on Titan (2013–present)
Stream on Adult Swimming
Attack on Titan is a mix of several genres ranging from sci-fi action to fantasy drama. Based on the groundbreaking manga by Hajime Isayama, Attack on Titan deals with the clash between humans and colossal creatures called Titans. But as the plot thickens, the Titans seem to have unexpected human connections.
While the ongoing anime series isn’t particularly of the body horror subgenre, but the evolution of some Titans is reminiscent of the bloody body scares of Alien. While the Xenomoprhs are treated like the enemies of humanity that they are, Attack on Titan reflects an alternate sci-fi perspective where even beastly enemies are humanized.
Stream on Tubi TV
A military experiment gone wrong. A biker gang in chaos. And a youngster with telekinetic powers. This forms the backdrop for Akira, the famous cyberpunk animated film of the 80s. troubled heroes.
There are also hard-hitting animation effects for the main character’s transformation that will satisfy the hyper-violent and chilling needs of body horror aficionados. If audiences think the Xenomorph chest bursting scene was gory, wait until Akira’s third act.