Creed III is now taking over theaters and breaking all sorts of records for the franchise with its opening weekend, and it also happens to have Hollywood’s best tribute to the world of anime and manga so far! There have been countless live-action manga and anime adaptations produced in the past, but many of them have missed the mark in some key areas. There’s just a seemingly impossible mountain to climb when it comes to capturing the spirit of anime in a live-action setting, but it’s definitely not when looking at how well director Michael B. Jordan is able to pull it off.
There are the obvious shouts to out to his favorite anime projects that Jordan has been emphasizing through his lead up interviews to the film’s release, and this is extended even further with full-on cameos with Naruto and Lupin the 3rd posters seen in the childhood Adonis Creed’s room, but that’s not where the heart of the tribute lies. Creed III is successful in its shout out to anime by managing to project the spirit of an action anime itself.
How Does Creed III Pay Tribute to Anime?
Creed III mirrors a lot of what makes the Rocky franchise so successful. Taking a little bit from Rocky III and Rocky V for its blended story, Creed III sees Adonis Creed (director Michael B. Jordan) jumping back into the world of boxing when a friend from his childhood, Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors), gets out of prison and immediately asks for a shot at the world championship title. But while this is definitely in line with the either other Rocky movies, it’s also very much its own thing that anime fans will recognize.
This story of a brother turned greatest enemy is something action anime fans can likely point out as a theme we’ve seen many times, and the usual response is that the hero character needs to put them down to save them from themselves. It’s very much the same case here, and that’s just the story itself. There are tons of visual nods to anime production in not only the fights (which feature significant close ups on eyes, fists, and slow downs during dramatic punches), but in the way Adonis has to break through his own limits.
It’s a very emotional story at its core, and never once loses sight of Adonis’ journey of opening himself up to his emotions in order to reach a new “level” so to speak. This comes through in the final fight, especially, which is the ultimate tribute to Jordan’s anime passions. It has the grandeur of a final battle between anime rivals, with an appropriately large stage (of Dodger Stadium) to do it. But then it goes the extra mile as Jordan amps up this film with these anime flavors.
Small moments such as Adonis and Damian seeing their younger selves during the fight, bigger moments such as imagining being trapped within a jail cell, and Adonis even gets a “Super Saiyan” moment of his own when getting up during a ten count (and the music kicking in at just the right time, you know that vibe anime fans) and readying for the final rounds. But while these are noticeable, it’s not what makes it a great tribute.
What makes Creed III a fantastic tribute to anime is the fact that it still manages to be a great movie while injecting all of these exaggerrated elements. It never once feels cartoonish in the way it incorporates its anime, and that’s often the hugest fault when adapting a manga or anime to screen. Because the rest of the film’s story is grounded in its world, it’s allowed to have these more theatrical moments through Adonis and Damien’s perspective.
It manages to capture what makes anime and manga such a powerful medium for fans, and Michael B. Jordan perfectly brought that to screens here. Maybe he can get a full live-action anime adaptation next? But what did you think of Creed III’s anime tributes? Let us know all of your thoughts about it in the comments! You can even reach out to me directly about all things animated and other cool stuff @Valdezology on Twitter!