The Marvel Anime series was a collaborative project between Marvel Entertainment and Japanese animation studio Madhouse. The project aimed to introduce popular characters to new audiences while offering fresh perspectives on well-known stories. Of the four shows, which focused on Iron Man, Blade, the X-Men, and Wolverine, the two latter titles can be purchased on Amazon and Apple’s iTunes, respectively.
Four Marvel anime series exist, but only two of them, X-Men and Wolverine, can be purchased on demand from Amazon and Apple iTunes.
Iron Man Anime
The first series in the Marvel Anime project was Iron Man, which premiered in Japan in October 2010. The story followed Tony Stark/Iron Man as he traveled to Japan to unveil a new clean energy project. However, he becomes embroiled in a conspiracy involving dangerous technology and powerful enemies. The series combined the core elements of Iron Man with the intrigue and action found in anime.
Marvel’s Wolverine anime series followed the adventures of Logan/Wolverine as he traveled to Japan in search of his lost love, Mariko Yashida. The story also explores Logan’s past and internal struggles while shedding light on his connections to various characters and organizations. The series premiered in Japan in January 2011 and includes Japanese themes of honor, ninja clans, and yakuza conflicts.
The reception for Marvel’s Wolverine anime series was mixed. While some fans appreciated the attempt to blend the Wolverine character with Japanese storytelling, others found the pacing and character development lacking. While the series managed to capture the essence of Wolverine, it didn’t receive the same level of critical acclaim as other character adaptations.
Airing shortly after Wolverine, Marvel’s X-Men anime series brought the mutant superhero team to Japan in April 2011. The story revolves around the X-Men being drawn into a conflict involving mutants in Asia. The team discovers a connection between the resurgence of mutant powers in the country and the activities of the U-Men, a group that seeks to harvest mutant organs for their own benefit.
Led by Professor Charles Xavier, the X-Men work to protect mutants and uncover the truth behind the U-Men’s sinister motives. Much like Wolverine, Marvel’s X-Men anime series received mixed reviews. While it managed to capture the essence of the X-Men, some viewers felt that the series struggled to balance its intricate plot and character development within the limited episode count.
However, fans of the X-Men franchise appreciated the attempt to bring the mutant heroes to life in a new and visually engaging way. Blade was the final installment in the Marvel Anime project, which debuted in Japan in July 2011. The series focused on Eric Brooks/Blade, a vampire hunter with a personal vendetta against vampires and the supernatural.
In 2014, Marvel created a new anime series called Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers. The series was produced by Walt Disney Japan and Toei Animation. The story takes place in a world where the Avengers have been captured and trapped inside small devices known as DISKs. These DISKs are used by five children, who each possess the ability to summon a specific Avenger to help them.
The group of children, along with their summoned Avengers, travels the world to retrieve other superheroes’ and supervillains’ DISKs before they can be exploited for evil purposes. Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers anime series aired on the TX Network and ran for a total of 51 episodes. The show was primarily targeted at a younger audience.
Marvel Future Avengers, an anime series produced by Madhouse and Walt Disney Japan, was released in 2017. The series revolves around three children who are rescued from the clutches of Hydra by the Avengers. These children are subsequently trained by the Avengers to become superheroes, using their unique powers to fight against various threats.
Marvel Future Avengers aired for a total of 39 anime episodes on the Dlife satellite channel. It was released internationally on Disney+ in 2020, making it accessible to a broader audience. Both these series gave younger audiences a chance to engage with Marvel’s iconic characters in a format different from traditional Western animation or live-action adaptations.
Over the years, Marvel has continued to collaborate with various studios and creators to adapt its characters into different animated formats, including traditional Western animation, anime-inspired animation, and more. These adaptations might not be under the specific “Marvel Anime” umbrella but still contribute to the broader efforts to bring Marvel’s characters to a global audience.