Ask John: Is There Any Lovecraftian Anime?
I have not been able to find any anime that is Cthulhu (kuh-THOO-loo) Mythos related. In case you were wondering, the Cthulhu Mythos is an inter-connected “eldritch gods from space” universe created by the short stories of H.P. Lovecraft.
For those unfamiliar with the work of Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937), the “old gentleman from Providence” is perhaps the world’s most famous creator of “weird fiction” and along side Edgar Allen Poe, one of the world’s most influential horror writers. HPL created a mythology about hideous and terrible immortal monster gods that ruled all of existence in the time before time. These beings, Lovecraft predicted, will one day return to power and destroy the minds, bodies and souls of the puny and insignificant human race that mistakenly believes that it is master of the Earth. Lovecraft’s influence can be traced through the writing of other authors including Robert Bloch, Ramsey Campbell, Fritz Leiber, Clive Barker and Stephen King, and film makers including Guillermo del Toro, Lucio Fulci, John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon and Sam Raimi.
Japan has also been significantly inspired and terrified by Lovecraft’s creations. Most obviously, the famous abominable multi-tentacled demons of anime probably would not exist had not HPL introduced these demons to mankind. While possibly due to copyright issues there is no direct anime adaptation of any particular Lovecraft story, there are specific examples of homage to Lovecraft throughout anime. Writer Chiaki J. Konaka is an acknowledged Lovecraft disciple and has published stories in Japan expanding the “Cthulhu Mythos.” In this interview from the 2001 Anime Expo, Konaka admits, “Sometimes, I use the elements of H.P.L. and other authors of the Cthulhu Saga in my scenarios.” The interview reveals that the name “Armitage” from Armitage the III is taken from Lovecraft. Dr. Henry Armitage is the librarian in Lovecraft’s famous story “The Dunwich Horror.” The Digimon Encyclopedia fan site points out numerous references to Lovecraft in Digimon, also written by Chiaki J. Konaka, including Dagomon (named after Lovecraft’s god Dagon) and his “deep ones” the Scubamon; names including Hypnos, Yuggoth, and Shaggai used in Digimon that are all taken directly from Lovecraft stories; and even a cameo appearance by a professor from Miskatonic University, the setting of many of HPL’s most famous works.
The Hellsing Headquarters fan site theorizes that Hellsing creator Kouta Hirano has included Lovecraft references in Hellsing including the similarity between Alucard’s monster form and Lovecraft’s shoggoth, and likely homage to Lovecraft in the use of the unusual character names “Pickman” and “Wingate.”
Anyone familiar with Lovecraft’s fiction will have a difficult time arguing that the multitudes of horrific, indescribable monsters of Kentaro Miura’s Berserk manga are heavily Lovecraftian inspired or influenced.
Other examples of Lovecraft in anime include the slug monsters in Dirty Pair TV episode 13 nicknamed “Lovecraft Eels,” the invading alien race from Iczer-One known as the Cthulhu, and the very title of the recent hentai anime OAV series Mystery of the Necronomicon. The Necronomicon has become such a standard of horror fiction that it’s easy to forget that it was H. P. Lovecraft that first invented this “book of the dead.”