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Spiritual Antithesis / Anime & Manga

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  • Astro Boy is this to Godzilla. The latter was created to express the fear and pain felt by Japanese society after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and did it by personifying the idea of nuclear energy into a form of unstoppable monster. The former tried to show the same society the beneficial use of nuclear energy, using a cute, cheerful and heroic nuclear-powered robot protagonist to for that purpose.
  • Valvrave the Liberator can be this to Code Geass. The latter has opposing major characters who are too naive and says a wall of lies are needed to make the world gentler. The former is about a machine to "reveal the truth to the world", dealing with characters who are too bitter, and therefore create a safe haven for an oppressed people.
    • You could also say that Code Geass was also a spiritual antithesis to another Humongous Mecha series from the same director and storyboard artist, Goro Taniguchi, titled GUN×SWORD. Compared to Code Geass, Gun X Sword was a Super Robot Space Western that took place in a dirty, unsophisticated setting, and featured a main-protagonist that wielded a Whip Sword as well as his own super robot, named Dann of Thursday, to fight on the front-lines. Code Geass, on the other hand, was an Alternate History Real Robot series that took place in a much cleaner, more sophisticated setting, and unlike Gun X Sword's Van, featured a main-protagonist who was more geared toward a strategic leadership position rather than a front-line combat position.
      • You could most especially see this in the various allied mecha Van and Lelouch had by their side. In Van's case, his allies' Super Robots included a countermeasure against Dann of Thursday and the other Original Seven armors like it, an homage to classic-style Combining Mecha of The '70s, and a rabbit-like mecha designed for tournament combat. Lelouch vi Britannia, on the other hand, had a mass-produced army of Real Robots for both the Black Knights and, by the end of the series, Britannia itself, with Super Prototypes representing each army including the Gurren Mark-II for the former, and the Lancelot for the latter.
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  • While being a Spiritual Successor to Shakotan Boogie, Wangan Midnight is also this. While sharing both racing themes, Wangan Midnight focuses more on street racing while Shakotan Boogie puts more emphasis on Running Gag and Shakotan-styled cars. Wangan Midnight also took the races on the expressways while Shakotan Boogie focus the races on touge and city streets.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was this to Neon Genesis Evangelion (bonus points for being made by the same people) and its own Spiritual Predecessor Space Runaway Ideon.
    • FLCL is another Spiritual Antithesis to Evangelion, also created by the same people — according to rumors, many people who just finished working on End of Evangelion felt down and wanted to create something crazy and optimistic to cheer themselves up.
  • You may also say that GaoGaiGar, first reconstruction of Super Robot genre after Evangelion was another one of these for it - it celebrated and embraced the same tropes Evangelion criticized or outright rejected.
    • And GaoGaiGar has its own counterpart in Betterman, a horror/drama show set in the same world.
  • Tiger & Bunny might be this for Darker Than Black - both are takes on Super Hero genre that have superhumans glowing blue while using their powers, but former has much more idealistic take than latter, which is much more cynical and prefers Not Wearing Tights and antiheroic variety. Neither works go into extremes - just like Darker Than Black stays on the cynical side but acknowledges existence of idealism, Tiger & Bunny is very optimistic, but has few shades of cynicism on it.
  • Some of Makoto Shinkai's works have strong contrasts with each other:
    • Voices of a Distant Star and 5 Centimeters per Second - while the former is about love that survives despite great (as in, cosmic) distance between two people, the latter says that not every love can be that strong and sometimes separated people grow apart from each other.
    • The Place Promised in Our Early Days and Children Who Chase Lost Voices - the former says that love can prevail and unite people against all odds, but the latter reminds the viewer that there is one barrier that nothing can break - death.
    • Your Name in turn affirms the views of Voices and Place while rejecting those of Centimeters and Children - even when the universe itself seems bent on separating people and making them forget each other, love will eventually prevail and no barrier is insurmountable - not distance, not time, and not even death.
    • Your Name is itself contrasted with Shinkai's immediate next film, Weathering With You. Both films involve a rural and a Tokyo-based urban protagonist, with the former fleeing rural life in favour of Tokyo only to find it not as glamorous as thought to be, as well as a strong fantastic element, but their end results are vastly different. Taki falls in love enough not only with Mitsuha but also with Itomori and its people that he saves them all from Tiamat; Hodaka loves Hina but has little affection for the city that is apathetic at best to his plight and chooses to let it drown to get her back.
  • WataMote could be considered the opposite of The World God Only Knows. In both shows the main characters are big geeks and supremely talented in the field of dating sims and visual novels, but whereas Tomoko is despised for this and desperately seeks love and attention (to a creepy degree), Keima isn't affected by his geekiness and couldn't care less about being popular in real life.
    • WataMote can also only be one to Lucky Star. Konata is a beautiful Otaku Surrogate girl who is Wrong Genre Savvy, playing life as it if were a dating sim, yet despite this is well liked, very social, and has plenty of friends. Tomoko, meanwhile, is an unattractive girl with greasy, unkept hair, who is very crude and crass. Her social awkwardness, massive ego, and being Wrong Genre Savvy has led to her having only about one real friend. Very much unlike Konata, she constantly seeks attention from the opposite sex, and plays Otome Games rather than Galge. Tomoko is a more realistic depiction of what a female otaku is like rather than idealized surrogate girls like Konata.
  • Yoshiyuki Tomino likes to follow up his dark and depressing series with their opposites - Zambot 3 was followed by Daitarn 3, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam by Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, and Space Runaway Ideon by Combat Mecha Xabungle.
    • The Gundam franchise in general (even the Lighter and Softer entries to a degree) is an antithesis of what Gene Roddenberry's work in Star Trek represented. If there are strange new worlds to see in the Universal Century for instance, expect them to have a lot of the same problems we deal with on Earth.
  • Satoshi Kon's first two films Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress are wonderful examples of this trope as well as Spiritual Successor. Both films look into female figures in the entertainment industry and the admirers that follow them. However, where as the former aims to be Deconstruction of idol culture, as well as a dark critique on patriarchal standards and Fanservice attitude towards women, the latter is a far more lighthearted, sentimental look at the idea of admiring such a famous figure, and an overall more positive depiction of having a massive parasocial relationship with their work. Both films also feature Kon's penchant for Mind Screw as well as Postmodernism, granted Perfect Blue does it for a more haunting effect, where as Millennium Actress feels more introspective. Yet, ironically, the former ends on a note of Earn Your Happy Ending where as the latter ends with a Bittersweet Ending.
  • Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star; both are Space Opera shows about a Cool Starship crewed by a Ragtag Band of Misfits and both were made by the same production company around the same time. The former is gritty, cynical, minimalistic in its Science Fiction trappings, and shows that In the End, You Are on Your Own; the latter is shiny, idealistic, favors a Speculative Fiction kitchen sink, and comes down on the side of the Power of Friendship. Put musically, Bebop is Jazz, Star is Power Metal.
    • Another antithesis to Bebop is Space Dandy, made by the same creator. While Bebop is a heavy, realistic look at a 90s cyberpunk future where space travel has only gone so far, Dandy is a call back to Silver age 50s idealistic sci-fi where the possibilities are endless. Bebop focuses on humans and stays mostly on Earth, Dandy has a wide variety of aliens and robots, and doesn't go anywhere near Earth. Bebop has a strong sense of continuity, Dandy's main cast dies in every other episode. Bebop is mostly grays and blues, Dandy is every color it can get it's hands on. If Bebop is Jazz, Dandy is Rock & Roll and Disco.
  • The two Animated Adaptations of Nekojiru are opposites of one another, and how they depict their source material: the earlier animated short series takes the more mundane stories and focuses on the scathing satirical elements, while the OVA compiles the bizarre, fantastic elements into one Big Damn Movie.
  • As part of the science adventure series, Robotics;Notes provides a contrast to both Steins;Gate and Chaos;Head. Setting-wise, the former series takes place on a rural island as opposed the bustling urban areas of the latter two. Thematically speaking, Steins;Gate serves as somewhat a cautionary tale about time travel with the consequences it entails. In contrast, Robotics;Notes takes a more optimistic look at its central innovation (robots in their case) and the potential that can be achieved with them.
  • Sword Art Online and Log Horizon both involve players in a video game. But while SAO is (initially) The Most Dangerous Video Game, complete with high drama and tragedy, LH deconstructs the trapped-in-a-game scenario as The Game Come to Life, with notable touches where The World Is Just Awesome. Log Horizon pokes fun at SAO's high stakes in its beginning story line. They also have polar opposite main characters, as SAO's Kirito is a black-wearing swordsman who specializes in solo play and surpassing hurdles with his raw skill and experience, while LH's Shiroe is a support spellcaster clad in white, who leads a guild and shines most when it comes to strategy and management.
    • The problems at the beginning of their respective plots are also opposite: In SAO, drama at first comes from tension; death is likely if you're not careful, and since your real body is comatose and slowly failing, you can also die if you're too careful. In Log Horizon, drama comes from the lack of tension; death is totally impossible, and fulfilling your basic needs is trivial, but you can't enjoy food and you are stuck without a goal. This lead to a lot of characters feeling listless and bored at the start until things got rolling.
  • Overlord could be seen as another Spiritual Antithesis to Sword Art Online. SAO starts on the opening day of a massively-hyped VRMMORPG, but thousands of players become trapped in the game, and are told by the creator that they can only escape the game by beating the highest level of the dungeon, and if they die in the game, they die in real life. Overlord starts on the last day of a once-popular VRMMORPG that is now shutting down due to its dwindling player base, and only one player gets trapped, without any explanation, in a fantasy world that's highly reminiscent of the game but filled with intelligent, emotional, real people instead of NPCs. In SAO, the teenage main character Kirito starts out at level 1, and spends years in the game, leveling up as part of the player base's ultimate quest to escape the game. In Overlord, the adult main character Momonga has already reached the level 100 cap from years of playing by the time he gets trapped, and he pretty much gives up on escaping on day one, preferring this new fantasy world over the life he left behind, with an unfulfilling job and no close friends or family. Kirito is a hot-headed hero with a strong moral code, reluctant to even kill serial killers in self-defense. Momonga is a cold, calculating strategist with no problem slaughtering entire armies if they get in his way or sacrificing innocent pawns to protect his secrets. At times, the contrasts are so uncanny that it seems like it was done intentionally: Kirito is a dual-wielding swordsman while Momonga is a spellcaster, which seem like total opposites, but when Momonga wants to travel incognito, he passes himself off as a dual-wielding swordsman, something he can do quite effectively with the Super Strength and speed that comes from being level 100, although real warriors recognize that he's just swinging his swords around like an amateur.
  • Saya no Uta and Haiyore! Nyarko-san are the "Cosmic Horror Story vs. Lovecraft Lite" example listed above. They're a Deconstruction and a parody, respectively, of the same concept: "What if a boy meets a Manic Pixie Dream Girl Magical Girlfriend...but the girl is something utterly inhuman?" Nyarko plays the concept for laughs, as she is definitely quirky, but no more so than the average light novel heroine, and ultimately has a good heart, and her romance with main character Yasaka is slightly dysfunctional but loving. Saya milks it for all the Nightmare Fuel it's worth, portraying her as a frightening, murderous alien who eats her prey and wants to convert the world into members of her species, and her romance with main character Fuminori is mutually loving but twisted at best. In addition, Saya's true nature is kept a secret for about half the story and is a major reveal, whereas Nyarko is established as the Crawling Chaos from the start.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Kill la Kill both play with the Magical Girl Warrior genre. The former is a Deconstruction that heavily runs on Break the Cutie moments and has cynical and dark tones. The latter is a Reconstruction that runs heavily on Black Comedy Rape and has over-the-top and ridiculous tones. Even the protagonists seem to be opposites; the former stars an idealistic and kindhearted girl who had a normal life until the events of the series, and ends up becoming God, while the latter stars a hardened and moody girl who's never had an ounce of happiness until she met her True Companions, and ends up living the normal life she's always wanted.
    • It could also be considered one to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann of all things. Both involve a powerful race of aliens driving humanity into despair in order to prevent the Natural End of Time. One of them does it on the individual scale to generate energy to prevent the heat-death of the universe, while the other does it on a global scale to prevent the generation of too much energy and creation of a Big Crunch. Both end with the aliens being overthrown when those they oppressed obtain godlike power, but one does so through an individual achieving Abstract Apotheosis who doesn't care about the consequences (especially after Rebellion), while the other does so through a collective becoming a Physical God, who go on to accept the consequences of their actions and vow to act responsibly to prevent the end of the universe from ever coming to pass. Additionally, one is a depressing deconstruction of its genre while the other is a Hot-Blooded reconstruction of its.
  • Oddly, Macross and its American adaptation Robotech became this as their timelines progressed. In Macross, the Zentraedi become more like humanity, while in Robotech, thanks to repeated invasions, humanity is becoming a warrior race like the Zentraedi.
  • For most of Space Patrol Luluco, Alpha Omega Nova is a superficially similar but spiritually antithetical version of Kaworu Nagisa from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Both are secretly alien Bishōnen who use their charm to entice the main character and get closer to their objectives, but while Kaworu is an angel of free will whose love for Shinji is pure and unconditional, Nova has no free will or emotions and merely lets Luluco deceive herself into thinking he could return her love. Yet, in the end, his change of heart makes him a lot more like Kaworu than he was originally.
  • My Hero Academia is both this and Spiritual Successor for Naruto. On the one hand it happily takes and uses all the tropes and tricks Naruto introduced to battle Shōnen genre. But Naruto is inspired by old Japanese folklore about Ninja, My Hero Academia is inspired by Superhero comics - a quintessentially American thing. Where Naruto was about how a society or a team can work together to achieve what no individual can and how conflicts can tear this apart, Hero Academia is about members of the society polishing their skills to succeed as individuals in a profession where competition is not only unavoidable but even encouraged. Where Naruto was about breaking the cycle of violence and achieving the era of peace, Hero Academia is about living in a world where peace is the status quo while also finding meaning and goals beyond it.
    • Also one to Marshal Law. Both are superhero works taking place 20 Minutes into the Future that analyze what it means to be a hero. Marshal Law is a Genre Deconstruction with the main theme of the superhero being an unrealistic ideal: the superheroes are portrayed as ineffectual at best and monstrous at worst. Meanwhile, My Hero Academia is very much a Reconstruction. While it has unpleasant and horrible people among the heroes, it ultimately portrays the superheroes as a positive force. Even the main characters are opposites: Marshal Law is a cynical adult who hates all superheroes while Deku is an idealistic kid who idolizes superheroes.
    • MHA might have one in Black Clover. Both titles are seen as following the footsteps of the Big Three - Naruto, Bleach and One Piece while addressing and trying to improve on the most common criticisms of their formula, like pacing or bloated cast, but, as some argue, the way they go about fixing these issues is fundamentally different. They also differ in their approach to the main character, with MHA having more focus on Deku's Character Development on the road to become a hero, while BC being more about how Asta proves his worth and affects those around him.
    • Also one to Danganronpa. Both feature schools that have children with incredible abilities, or 'talents' as they are called, and the characters often struggle to find themselves with the enormous pressure that comes with such talents. However, the former is more idealistic then the latter, which has an extremely cynical, Finagle's Law outlook, showcasing what would happen if the academy is corrupt beyond belief. The school puts tremendous pressure on students (who are only there to be studied by a cabal of Mad Scientists), takes advantage of students without talents (through the Reserve Course, wherein their parents pay insane amounts of money to get them entered into a separate, and inferior, branch of the school), and pushes the idea that society only cares about a person's talent and how it can help the world. It gets to the point where the staff try to create a person with every talent available, to act as their messiah in times of trouble, out of someone without said abilities, but also end up killing the subject's emotions. Eventually, all this is exposed to the public, only for the riots to start a chain reaction that leads to The End of the World as We Know It, leading to the surviving students with talents being forced by the new, Dystopian government to play a Deadly Game that is broadcasted to the post-apocalyptic public in order to crush the idea that people, with or without talent, can overcome their despair.
  • Creator Itosugi Masahiro:
  • Inuyashiki compared to Hiroya Oku's most well-known work, Gantz. Both are dark series that don't shy away from scenes of abject human cruelty, but while Gantz revels in its own cynicism, with a clear Humans Are Bastards message and an (initially) utterly unlikable protagonist, the titular Inuyashiki is an All-Loving Hero, with his series having an ultimately more optimistic tone and a message that even the most reprehensible people have a chance at redemption.
  • Only Sense Online to other works based around virtual reality MMOs such as Sword Art Online. While these other works have the characters get trapped in the game, the titular game of Only Sense Online is just a normal game. It's therefore Lighter and Softer as the players are never in any danger and play the game for fun. Additionally, unlike other works where the main character is a veteran player who's a better fighter than most, the main character of Only Sense Online is a beginner who's comparatively poor at fighting.
  • Oddly enough, Uzumaki could be considered one to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Both heavily feature spirals as their central motif, but while in Uzumaki spirals are some kind of nebulous, unavoidable threat and something to be feared, in Gurren Lagann spirals are symbolic of forward progress and human potential. In Uzumaki spirals are terrifying, while in Gurren Lagann spirals are awesome.
  • To Osomatsu-san:
    • The Quintessential Quintuplets: Both sets of siblings are unmistakably unmotivated, but their ways of handling it are remarkably different. Whereas in -San the overly cartoony Matsuno sextuplets had a relatively normal high school life until they burned out in their 20s for whatever reason, the more realistic Nakano quintuplets of Go-Toubun are in their high school years and struggling to pass, with the goal of the series explicitly being preventing them from becoming burnouts in adulthood. Whereas the brothers rely too much on their dependence on others (both to their parents and to each other) and would forcibly maintain the status quo to keep that dependence, the sisters are independent from the get go, with only one (Nino) having the same reasoning as Osomatsu. Also keep in mind that Totoko (their reluctant Childhood Friend) only fell for the sextuplets when they were in their F6 forms, whom all are much more like the Nakanos in concept: friendly, attractive, distinct, and talented, but with their own little problems on the side. Also keep in mind that their love interest, Fuutarou, is willing to take an active interest in getting them to be respectable or at the very least pass high school, while Totoko would rather let them wallow in the same misery she's in.
    • Shinya! Tensai Bakabon: Both are proported time skips to Fujio Akatzuka's beloved gag manga, being updated humor-wise for adult audiences along the way. Whereas the -San cast was was given new personality quirks and design changes, the Bakabon cast barely aged a day. While the aim of -San was to see how everyone handles in the adult world, Shinya! focuses more on topical humor. One can even see it in they way they handled their respective We're Still Relevant, Dammit! episodes: while the Osomatsu-kun era cast was trying desperately to see what stuck only to come up with nothing, everyone but Papa was content with leaving things the way they were.
  • Zombie Land Saga to School-Live!: Both are Zombie-flavored mashups with popular female-led genres (Schoolgirl Series for School-Live!, Idol Genre stories for Zombie Land Saga), and they both have a powerful twist to establish the setting: whereas the twist for School-Live! was the fact that the fun times were Yuki's delusion to forget the Zombie Apocalypse, Zombie Land Saga is outright promoted with the apocalypse theme, only for the twist to be that the idols were the zombies rather than survivors. Both do feature a theme of living vs. surviving, but while the School Life Club are trying their best to stay sane without going over the deep end like the Survivalists, the girls of Franchouchou use their new afterlife to do things they never were able to in life instead of hiding away to rot.
    • Amusingly, this also applies to their dog mascots: while in School-Live! Taromaru is introduced as a loveable companion and dies as soon as he joins the School Life Club, Romero is dead from the start, but still manages to be a good (if not freaky) friend to the group.
  • Beastars is often considered the antithesis to Zootopia. While Beastars has a very similar premise to Zootopia (a World of Funny Animals where there's tension between predators and prey animals, and how the characters deal with it), thematically they are rather different. In Zootopia, talk of animals having savage urges turns out to just be racist mythology, and all the different species are just as civilized. In Beastars, different species really do have different urges, with predators having to either learn to control their predatory urges or otherwise indulge in them on the down low. In Zootopia, Nick has to prove that he is no more savage than any of the other species. In Beastars, Legosi has to prove to himself and the world that he is more than his predator urges.


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