Who doesn’t love a spin-off? It’s a good way to branch a series out into something new while still catering to its captive audience. Not that it guarantees success. for every Frasier or Mork & Mindythere’s a Joey or AfterMASH. for every Personathere’s a Bomberman Act Zero.
It happens with anime too. The difference being some didn’t get as many eyes on them as Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan or boruto. They were drawn up as manga, then either stayed that, or didn’t catch on when they did escape the printed page. Here are some examples of anime getting manga spin-offs that went under the radar.
7 Kazumi Magica And Suzune Magica
These spin-offs from Puella Magi Madoka Magica were so brief and similar to each other that they can be stuck together in one entry. Their original series was a grim deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre, rather akin to what Neon Genesis Evangelion did to mecha adventure series like Mobile Suit Gundam.
So, it’s perhaps no surprise its spin-offs are just as heavy. The 5-volume lung Kazumi Magica has its amnesiac lead trying to recall her life as one of the Pleiades Saints, while slowly succumbing to a dark transformation. While the 3-volume long Suzune Magica has its titular character take out both Magical Girls and their Witch enemies, before setting her sights on the 4 girls investigating her.
6 Jaco The Galactic Patrolman
Created by Akira Toriyama himself, Jaco is technically a prequel to dragon ball. Yet its events stand to the side from that of Goku and his friends. It follows Jaco Teirimentenpibosshi, a member of the Galactic Patrol, who crash-lands on Earth to prevent an alien invasion. In a bid to fix his ship, he gets caught up with the retired scientist Dr Ōmori, a nosy policeman called Katayude, and Tights, a young woman who helps Jaco in exchange for a few favors.
A few more dragon ball characters turn up for some cameos. For example, Tights is Bulma’s big sister, and her family get involved in trying to mend Jaco’s spaceship. Likewise, the alien invasion Jaco was trying to avert was going to be by the Saiyans. They don’t end up coming, to Jaco’s relief. Except for one pod that drops off a certain monkey boy off by the home of an old man called Son Gohan. Maybe it’s a good thing Jaco got sidetracked.
5 BURN THE WITCH
This spin-off from Bleach actually got an animated movie, which was released to mild acclaim. It’s a shame, as the premise sounds interesting enough. Instead of continuing Bleach‘s neo-samurai look, Tite Kubo went for a horror fantasy setting in the Soul Society’s Western division. It follows two women, Noel Niihashi and Ninny Spangcole, as they work for Wing Bird in Reverse London.
They’re an organization that protects the city from dragon attacks, while looking after the fire-breathers and keeping them out of trouble. Their job sounds simple enough until they come across Balgo Parks, a man from regular London who has the uncanny ability to attract dragons. Maybe its upcoming “2nd season” will help flesh it out more. Or at least it’ll produce more funny interpretations of Western names like Bruno Bangnyfe, Macy Baljure, and Wolfgang Slashhaut.
4 Food Wars: Shokugeki No Sanji
Food War: Shokugeki no Soma is a fun combo of fanservice and catering service, with some inventive takes on cooking with some shonen trappings. Still, does it have to be about Soma and his friends? Wouldn’t it be more interesting if it was suddenly about characters from a completely different franchise, like One Piece?
Tongue in cheek aside, Food Wars creators Yūto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki have worked on this series of One Piece-based one-shots since 2018. They largely follow Sanji’s cooking and how they’ve developed over the course of his journey from his time on the Baratie to the Straw Hat Pirates. This year saw its last chapter get published just in time for One Piece‘s 25th anniversary.
3 Death Note: The A-Kira Story
Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Oba’s return to Death Note got some notoriety on its original release. Ryuk comes back to Earth to offer another kid, Minoru ‘a-Kira’ Tanaka, a go with his Death Note. Instead, Tanaka tells Ryuk to wait 2 years, then make the same offer. He does so, thinking Tanaka will follow in Light Yagami’s footsteps. Instead, Tanaka offers to sell it online, which catches Ryuk’s interest. He helps Tanaka auction the book off online, complete with TV adverts and its own Twitter hashtag.
The winner ends up being the US President, who buys it for such a large sum it single-handedly brings Japan out of its recession. Unfortunately, the King of Death enacts a new rule that would punish both Tanaka and the President for their sale. If Tanaka touches the money he earned from it, he’ll die. While the President dies if he touches what he bought. While the story doesn’t outright name him, it’s clearly Donald Trump. No wonder the King pushed that new rule through.
2 Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Detective Diary
Hideaki Anno’s teen mecha-turned-introspective analysis has inspired a series of spin-offs. There was a visual novel for the Sega Saturn, a self-aware parody CD drama, and a virtual pet simulator on the Bandai Wonderswan. There was even a Japan-only PS2 game in the vein of Ace Attorney where Shinji investigated crimes and tracked down their culprits. If only that was a manga.
Well, yes it was, or this section would have a different title. Written and drawn by Takumi Yoshimura, The Shinji Ikari Detective Diary takes place in an alternate universe where Shinji is looking to help his friend Toji against some gangsters. Luckily, private eye Ryoji Kaji and his striking assistant Kaworu Nagisa are there to help. Only, instead of tackling the case themselves, they help Shinji carry out the investigation instead. It seems they, and particularly Kaworu, have an agenda of their own.
1 Hokuto No Ken: Seikimatsu Drama Satsuei-Den
Fist of the North Star has been around for nearly 40 years, and it’s received a ton of manga prequels, sequels, and alternate takes. skoku no GarO followed popular side-character Rei as he searched for his parents’ killer. Heart of Meet re-imagined the big, fat meme character Heart as being a pretty bishonen boy in his childhood. Taisen Amiba no Isekai Haō Densetsu sent the egomaniacal villain Amiba to another world to get a second chance at life.
However, the most interesting spin-off might be the most recent one. Hiroshi Kurao’s Seikimatsu Drama Satsuei-Den (‘Post-Apocalypse Filming Arc’) re-imagines the manga’s original events as a TV drama. Kenshiro, his friends, and his foes are now actors wrestling with their lines and cues as their intrepid crew try to piece together the show’s stunts. The manga started coming out in February 2021 and is still ongoing on the Comic Zenon website.
More: Long-Running Anime That Started as One-Shot Manga