How Anime Has Influenced the Slots Industry
As slots continue to evolve, players can enjoy more themes, more features and more genres. Pop culture has certainly played a part in many of the latest slot themes and concepts, with blockbuster films and iconic TV shows providing inspiration for many modern slot games.
As slot developers become more adventurous with theme and design, incorporating players’ interests into their products, there's one particular genre we’re beginning to see more of in the slots world. Anime.
What is Anime?
As Japanese anime inspires an increasing level of fascination across the globe, it’s no wonder it’s also making an appearance in slot games. The genre refers to TV, film, comics and video games, and has gained a cult-like following all around the world. But what actually is anime, and how can it be defined? The word anime is the Japanese term for animation, which covers all forms of animated media. Outside of Japan, anime refers specifically to animation from Japan, or a Japanese animation style often characterised by colourful graphics, interesting characters and fantastical themes. Anime often presents a culturally abstract approach to the world, and spans across various genres including Sci-Fi, romance and magic.
The earliest commercial Japanese animation is said to date back to 1917, and has continued to rise steadily ever since. The characteristic anime art style that we now associate with the genre began to emerge in the 1960s, with the works of artist Osamu Tezuka spreading internationally in the latter part of the 20th century.
Anime has developed alongside technology, making it a diverse art form with distinctive production methods that have adapted through the years. Anime is an ideal story-telling mechanism, combining graphic art, characterisation, cinematography and other imaginative techniques.
How Has Anime Influenced the Slots Industry?
It’s anime’s sharp and vibrant graphic depiction that makes it the perfect basis for slot games. Anime films and TV shows deliver fantastical characters and equally fantastical storylines, which grab players’ attention and interest.
Perhaps what makes anime so iconic and instantly recognisable is the drawing/animation style. From characters with huge eyes and exaggerated body shapes to impressively intricate backdrops, anime is a unique style of cartoon. We can see this distinct style creeping into slot game designs, with more elaborate backdrops depicting everything from ancient temples to Japanese towns at night, portrayed in beautiful and detailed styles which seem to have come straight out of a film. Slots have begun to move away from the clumsy, one-dimensional fruit symbols and brash colour schemes - anime has encouraged a more delicate approach to the animation style used by gaming providers. Slots are now an artform, created with the player in mind. Immersive, intriguing and thought-provoking, anime-inspired slots are capable of transporting players to other parts of the globe, or even away from planet earth, through the use of beautiful imagery.
At the forefront of every anime production is a central character, or set of characters. Anime themed slots are no different. We’ve seen anime-style slots introduce a range of quirky characters to the online casino, from ninjas to princesses who hail from the moon. These characters add an extra element to slots that elevate them from basic casino games to works of art that exist to entertain and engage players. In TV and film, characters give viewers someone to root for and to become invested in. Whilst the connection between slot player and character may not run quite so deep, they still provide an aspirational figure, someone with powers and abilities beyond human capability that takes the player on some kind of journey.
Animals also take on a prominent role in many anime films, with talking cats and fighting foxes being fan favourites in some of the most popular anime creations. This is something we are seeing in slot games too. Animal themed slots are certainly nothing new, but what’s interesting to observe is that they have gone beyond simply providing a basic theme and concept for a slot game - we now see them as fully realised characters who possess special abilities and powers.
Storylines & Themes
Gone are the days of basic, fruit machine-style slots. As players become accustomed to a tech-driven world, they expect more from slot game developers. Many players are no longer interested in simply pressing the spin button and seeing where the symbols land - they want more from casino gaming. Action-packed storylines and exciting themes add that extra dimension to slots, giving players adventure-themed gameplay. Anime often depicts epic battles and follows great fighters, taking martial arts themes to whole new levels. It’s clear that martial arts themed slots are on the rise, with sumo wrestlers, ninjas and sensei providing the central characters for many a slot game, and battle-themed bonus features keeping players entertained.
Top Anime Slots
Here at 21.co.uk we house a range of epic anime-inspired slots for our players to enjoy. Take a look at our top picks below as we delve into the anime-tastic elements of each.
The Super Graphics franchise has spawned three different slots. The first is Super Graphics Super Lucky, which upon first glance appears to be a rather old-school fruit machine. Take a closer look however, and you’ll notice Mount Fuji, Japan's most famous mountain, provides the backdrop for this vibrant, colourful slot. Whilst this is by no means the most elaborately themed slot on our site, it does show the first signs of anime, or at the very least Japanese culture, creeping onto the slots scene. The second slot in the franchise, Super Graphics Upside Down, ventures further into Japanese culture than its predecessor, as you’ll also find a couple of quirky, animated characters on the reels of this game, which also happen to be surrounded by Japanese kanji.
Themed around a trio of princesses from outer space, Moon Princess is without-a-doubt inspired by popular anime series Sailor Moon. The story sees a school girl transform into Sailor Moon to battle against evil and prevent the destruction of the solar system. Featuring colourful graphics, endearing characters and that iconic art style, this is one of our most quintessentially anime-esque slots. Each member of the Princess Trinity possesses her own unique power which could help you out on the reels. The game’s all about Girl Power and these characters are here to show you why. Love, Star and Storm can enhance the reels in various ways, from adding Wilds into the mix to destroying entire sets of symbols. Charge into the Princess Trinity Free Round in which these special powers come into play.
Another slot heavily inspired by a specific anime franchise is Ninja Ways, developed by Red Tiger. There are clear correlations between Ninja Ways slot and Naruto, a Japanese manga series centred around a young ninja who yearns for recognition from his peers and aspires to become the leader of his village. Aside from the drawing style and martial arts, ninja theme, the most obvious connection is the character's resemblance to the young, blonde haired ninja who is the main character of the Naruto series. Not only is this game jam-packed with martial arts stunts, it's also visually stunning - the reels are set against a traditional Japanaese village at night, complete with towering pagodas and glowing red lanterns. Ninja Ways slot really does invite players to step into the world of an anime film.
Red Tiger bring another fantastic anime-style slot to the online casino in the form of Flaming Fox. Martial arts provides the theme once again but this time, the central character is a floating fox who possesses great power which could help you out on the reels. The main game interface is housed within a traditional Japanese dojo, and the ferocious fox himself is dressed in black and red robes worthy of the fiercest of fighters. As we touched on previously, many popular anime creations feature animal characters - with foxes, or fox-human hybrids, being a common choice. From the distinct martial arts vibe to the Flaming Fox himself, there’s no doubt that Red Tiger have taken inspiration from anime for this stunning slot.
Yggdrasil seem to have put their own spin on Japanese animation style with Hanzo’s Dojo. They’ve taken the martial arts storyline to the extreme, featuring not one fighter, but four, plus, the mighty Hanzo who these brave warriors are out to impress. Yggdrasil are known for their epic movie-style slot trailers, which play before the slot game screen is loaded, and these can be a real treat for the player. The high tension, action-packed clip shown at the start of Hanzo’s Dojo effectively juxtaposes delicate cherry blossom with a sumo warrior, something which we see done seamlessly in anime productions. The graphics are a little different to that seen in your standard anime, as Yggdrasil have opted for the three-dimensional style we’ve come to expect from them, so no, this slot is not exactly trying to imitate anime, but rather, puts a fresh spin on the genre.
Why Are Anime Slots So Popular?
So that leaves us with one final question: what makes anime slots so popular? There’s a reason this once niche genre has managed to filter its way into the casino world. In fact, there are several. Perhaps the most obvious reasons can be credited to the high fantasy element anime offers, from the elaborate storylines to the fantastical characters with special abilities. Anime has no boundaries - anything is possible and therefore gaming developers can really run with ideas when working within this genre. Not only are the storylines and themes highly captivating, but the visuals and animation style typically associated with anime is unique and visually appealing. Players can root for characters and become invested in the game in ways they cannot in standard slot games. As technology advances, more and more possibilities open up for the casino world, and players expect more from their online casino experience.
In the past, there’s been a clear emphasis on “realness”, with online slots being designed to replicate land-based or retro fruit machine games. In recent years, we’ve certainly seen a shift in how slots are designed and the types of games players want to see, with more focus on the fantasy element. This is where anime comes into the fold - as the genre increases in popularity in other industries, gaming providers take note and begin to incorporate elements of the genre into slots. There’s certainly a lot of scope for them to do this, as clearly, anime and slots go hand in hand.