Ask John: Which Anime Characters were Inspired by Princess Leia?

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Question:
Like me you probably heard the sudden and untimely passing of Carrie Fisher October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016 aka Princess Leia of Star Wars from cardiac arrest or in her own words ‘I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra’ the movie took the world by storm and the anime industry of the late 70’s dished out a number of themed inspired Star Wars space opera anime series Battleship Yamato, Robotech, Mobile Suit Gundam etc with expies characters based on Luke Skywalker Han Solo, Darth Vader in your opinion who are the top 10 or 20 female anime characters that you consider a Leia clone PS May The Force Be With Her RIP.


Answer:
George Lucas’ Star Wars was itself heavily inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s 1960 samurai film The Hidden Fortress, arguably drawing from it the prototypes of Princess Leia, Obi-wan Kenobi, C-3PO and R2-D2. The elite sword-wielding Jedi are likewise an obvious parallel to the medieval samurai class. As Star Wars was itself inspired in part by Japanese art, it in turn influenced and inspired countless Japanese artists. Certainly Leiji Matsumoto’s 1978 anime series SF Saiyuki Starzinger is most prominently inspired by Wu Cheng’en ancient novel Saiyuki, but a Star Wars influence is also evident. 1978’s Mobile Suit Gundam, appearing only a year after Star Wars, almost certainly borrowed its beam sabers from Star Wars‘ lightsaber concept. So certainly the characters of Star Wars inspired the imaginations of Japanese animators. But scholars need be cautious about overgeneralizing. Not every assertive female anime character is a thematic descendant of Leia Organa. Anime has an abundance of princess characters, many of whom have no similarity to Princess Leia whatsoever. Anime even has a number of space princesses who bear no similarities to Princess Leia at all, including Feena Fam Earthlight from Yoake Mae Yori Ruriiro na, Princess Kahm of Outlanders, Lum from Urusei Yatsura, and Gruier & Grunhilde Serenity of Koisuru Uchuu Kaizoku Musume. But a few anime characters do appear to exhibit specific, heredity characteristics from Princess Leia Organa.

nausicaa

Arguably the most definitive anime descendant of Princess Leia is Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Nausicaa, particularly her anime incarnation from 1984. Miyazaki consciously based his Nausicaa on the Princess Nausicaa of Homer’s Odyssey, but her parallels to Princess Leia are undeniable. Leia and Nausicaa are both headstrong teen princesses who lose their homes to the advance of a militaristic empire. That empire’s attack is lead by an armor-clad general who has been dismembered and has at least one mechanical limb. In both films the princess is taken captive by the empire and later liberated, in part, by an aged swordsman. And the evil empires in both films unleash a world-destroying laser weapon. In fact, whether deliberate or unconscious, the similarities between Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind and George Lucas’ Star Wars are so prominent that when New World Pictures initially released Nausicaa to American theaters in 1985, the movie’s one-sheet featured a Darth Vader-esque cloaked robot and a crude lightsaber.

warriorsofthewind

Mobile Suit Gundam seemingly borrowed the lightsaber concept from Star Wars but didn’t overtly introduce a Princess Leia clone until 18 years later. Relena Peacecraft of 1995’s Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, just like Princess Leia, is a princess raised in secrecy, descendant of a deposed kingdom. Both young women grow up to become diplomats, and both rely on young male pilots to assist them in achieving their political goal.

Relena Peacecraft

Similarly, this year’s princess cum archduchess Ortfiné Fredericka von Eylstadt in the Shuumatsu no Izetta anime is a princess of a small, independent state. When her nation of Eylstadt, a parallel to Princess Leia’s home planet Alderaan, is destroyed by an expanding militaristic oppressive empire, she becomes a rebel, fighting underground (figuratively and literally) to restore peace to her world. Like Leia, “Finé” is aided by a young warrior wielding a mystic energy that only an extinct class of people can manipulate. While Leia’s “Skywalker” warrior is male, Finé’s champion “sky walker” is female.

anime-shuumatsu-no-izetta3

The direct narrative parallels between Tenchi Muyo‘s Princess Ayeka and Princess Leia are a bit tenuous, but the Tenchi Muyo production staff has acknowledged Star Wars‘ influence on Tenchi Muyo.

Tenchi Wars

Outlaw Star‘s Atsuki Kouri no Hilda isn’t a princess, but she is a strong-willed rebel on the run after stealing valuable technology from a galactic evil organization. Hilda, like Princess Leia, offers to pay for the assistance of a roguish gunslinger and his younger partner, parallels to Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.

Hilda

And finally, if I may given such latitude, Princess Mikoto of Tanken Driland and Erin from Kemono no Soja Erin, who is a commoner rather than a princess, both exhibit the same sort of fiery independent tomboy personality that characterizes Leia Organa.

mikoto
Erin

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