13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim creator George Kamitani has talked at length about development of the game, and in the process has mentioned the numerous movies, manga, and anime that served as inspiration for the game. In this article we have compiled a list of the various media that inspired Kamitani.
This article includes spoilers for the media listed, and for 13 Sentinels itself
Super Dimension Fortress Macross
A 1982 anime series that depicts first contact and the subsequent war between Earth and an alien race. Rather than simply being about military or ideological conflict, the show also handled the clash between cultures, with the alien Zentraedi, a warrior race that dedicates their lives to combat, experiencing culture shock when coming into contact Earth culture. Kamitani has mentioned the influence of Macross on 13 Sentinels in interviews. Additionally, the climatic battle scene that ends the war, depicted in episode 27 of the original TV series as well as in the 1984 movie Do You Remember Love?, has the idol Lynn Minmay (Ijima Mari) singing throughout. The influence of this can be seen on one of the climatic battles of 13 Sentinels.
A 1985-1989 OVA (original video anime) series. The series begins in what seems to be 1980’s Tokyo, following protagonist Yahagi Shogo, a delinquent biker who comes into possession of a stolen prototype motorcycle. Shogo comes into contact with a popular idol, Tokimatsuri Eve who talks to him through monitors and TVs and turns out to be an AI, and discovers that the Tokyo he lives in is in fact a replica of the original in a giant spaceship, and that more than five centuries have passed since the 1980’s. Kamitani has talked about Megazone 23’s influence on 13 Sentinels’ world in general, as well as on Amiguchi’s story.
Please Save My Earth
A manga series that ran from 1986 to 1994 which follows a group of children who discover that they all have dreams in which they are alien scientists living on the moon. They seek out others with such dreams and figure out that they are each a reincarnation of one of the scientists, and have to deal with the feelings and actions of their past lives. Please Save My Earth’s influence has been mentioned by Kamitani and can be seen throughout 13 Sentinels’ story.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
A famous Japanese 1965-1966 novel about a girl who, after an incident in her school’s science lab, gets the power to go back in time, which has been adapted multiple times to numerous different mediums. Kamitani has stated that in 13 Sentinels, the use of the school’s science lab in Fuyusaka’s story was inspired by this.
A 1982-1994 manga series primarily about romance and featuring supernatural elements, such as the first protagonist being the daughter of a vampire and werewolf with shapeshifting powers. Though no influences from the series are immediately apparent in 13 Sentinels, Kamitani has stated that the way he handled the romance in Fuyusaka’s story was inspired by it.
A 1974-1975 magical girl anime series following the adventures of the titular Megu and her rival Non. Kamitani has stated that Yakushiji’s story was influenced by magical girl anime in general, and that Majokko Megu-chan in particular inspired him to have Yakushiji’s design changed to have straight black hair to contrast with Fuyusaka’s.
A 1983-1984 comedy manga series following tough but compassionate exchange student Hijikata and his misadventures in school alongside the seemingly gentle but actually equally tough Okita. The two influenced the characters of Hijiyama and Okino in 13 Sentinels.
A 1979-1981 comedy manga series following protagonist Kagemaru (nicknamed Kabamaru), who was raised by his grandfather as a ninja outside of society. When his grandfather passes away, his will results in Kagemaru being enrolled into an elite school, where his inability to adapt to society results in many misadventures. Kagemaru was another influence on Hijiyama’s character, with Kamitani saying that he originally wanted Hijiyama’s favourite food to be yakisoba like Kagemaru, with this being changed to yakisoba-pan in the game due to technical limitations meaning that characters would have to eat food one-handed.
A 1981-1983 love comedy manga series which follows protagonist Kosaku as, after the death of his mother, he is sent to live with the family of one of her friends. The family’s only son, Hibari, dresses and usually behaves like a girl, but is actually a boy, and constantly teases Kosaku. While the series was left incomplete in 1983, the 2010 “Complete Edition” reprints added five pages to finish the last chapter. Kamitani has said that Okino’s cross-dressing in 13 Sentinels initially came out of necessity in the story, but it was later decided that he would continue to cross-dress, and Kamitani used Stop!! Hibari-kun as reference while writing his character.
The Drifting Classroom
A 1972-1974 manga series in which an entire elementary school is through mysterious circumstances sent to a post-apocalyptic future, and the students and staff are forced to try to survive in a wasteland filled with dangers. Kamitani has said that this was the initial inspiration for Kisaragi’s story, but that it ended up quite different.
To Terra… (Toward the Terra)
A 1977-1980 science fiction manga taking place in the far future where mankind lives in a controlled society under the care of supercomputer AIs, where regular people are managed by an organisation working directly for the AIs called the Universal Control. The Universal Control in 13 Sentinels gets its name directly from this manga.
An NHK drama series which aired from 1972 to 2012, which followed school students going on with their lives. Kamitani stated that Chuugakusei Nikki served as one of the initial inspirations for 13 Sentinels, and that he wanted the story to follow multiple characters and have scenes where they would meet up and debate things, but he found writing in this format to be very difficult.
Tonda Couple (movie version)
A 1980 Japanese live action movie based on the 1978-1981 romance manga series of the same name, in which a male and female high school student end up having to live together due to a realtor’s mistake. Kamitani has cited the movie version specifically as being the inspiration for Yakushiji and Kurabe’s story, and that he is unsure, but thinks that Yakushiji’s name was derived from the movie’s leading actress, Yakushimaru Hiroko.
A 1976-1983 manga series that has been popular enough to get numerous adaptations in the form of three live action TV series, three live action movies, and an original video animation series, about a “sukeban” (female bancho) delinquent named Asamiya Saki who is scouted by the police to become a “student detective”, making her a “sukeban deka” (sukeban detective). Kamitani himself has pointed out how obvious the influence the series had on 13 Sentinels’ Takamiya Yuki.
A 2014 American-German black comedy about a schizophrenic man who chooses not to take his medication and enjoy his hallucinations, who accidentally becomes a serial killer. His hallucinations involve his pet dog and cat talking to him, with the dog Bosco being good-natured, and the cat Mr. Whiskers, who also has a foul mouth and Scottish accent, encouraging that he embrace more violent tendencies. Kamitani has stated that Mr. Whiskers served as the inspiration for the talking cat in Yakushiji’s story.
A 2010 American psychological thriller based on the 2003 novel of the same name, which follows a US Marshal as he investigates a hospital for the criminally insane. As the investigation goes on, he starts to have headaches, visions, and dreams which leave him confused. Kamitani has stated that this was the inspiration for Shinonome’s story.
A 2011 American science fiction movie in which a US Army captain is sent into a simulation of a train bombing with a mission to find the bomber, and has to retry each time he fails. Kamitani has said that this was the inspiration for Ogata’s story.
A 1990 American science fiction movie taking place in the future in which a construction worker, upon undergoing a memory transplant procedure after buying memories of a vacation, finds his life overturned. He then gets a suitcase containing equipment and a video recording from himself in which he learns about his life as a secret agent and the conspiracies he was embroiled. Kamitani has said that this was the inspiration for Sekigahara’s story.
A 1972 Soviet science fiction movie based on the 1961 novel of the same name, following a psychologist as he heads to the space station Prometheus orbiting the planet Solaris to investigate strange reports from the crew, consisting of three scientists. There, he finds that one of the members has committed suicide and that the other two are acting strangely, and he too starts to experience strange phenomena. Kamitani has cited Solaris as influencing Sekigahara’s story, and its influence can be seen in the backstory of 13 Sentinels as well.
The Outer Limits “Demon with a Glass Hand”
Episode 5 of season 2 of the American TV series The Outer Limits, in which an amnesiac man with one hand replaced with a transparent hand-like computer is being hunted by aliens. He later learns that he is a time traveller from a post-apocalyptic future, that he is actually a robot, and that the human survivors from the future are saved as data inside him. Kamitani has said that he intended for Sekigahara’s story to be more like this episode, but it changed as he wrote it. Its influence can also be seen elsewhere in 13 Sentinels.
This Island Earth
A 1955 American science fiction movie about two scientists being recruited to help defend an alien planet. The movie begins with one of the scientists receiving the instructions and parts to build a device called an “interocitor”, and by completing it he proves to the aliens that he is worthy of recruitment. Though no obvious influences from the film are immediately apparent, Kamitani has said that the “innerocitor” nanomachines in 13 Sentinels are named after the interocitor device.
A 1984 American science fiction movie about an android assassin from the future travelling back in time to kill a woman whose son will lead mankind to defeat the machines in the future, that spawned a long-running franchise. Kamitani has stated that the the toilet scene in Takamiya’s story and Morimura’s gun fights were inspired by Terminator, and its influence can also be seen elsewhere in 13 Sentinels. Terminator 2 is also referenced in the game in the form of a movie named “Exterminator 2” (“Deathdroid 2” in the Japanese version of the game).
The War of the Worlds
An 1897 science fiction novel by H.G. Wells about an alien invasion of Earth. The novel is directly referenced in 13 Sentinels, with Minami thinking of the novel’s alien tripods when first seeing the invaders’ walkers, and a direct quote.
Two Years’ Vacation
An 1888 adventure novel by Jules Verne following a group of castaway schoolboys stranded on a deserted island. Kamitani has stated that in early stages of development, they tried to base some of it on the novel, and that Gouto was named after the novel’s character Gordon, while Yakushiji’s precursor Kurosu was named after Cross.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
A 1982 American science fiction movie about a boy who befriends a stranded alien and has to keep him hidden away and help him to get home. In 13 Sentinels, Minami frequently thinks of the movie (referred to as “EXT” instead in the game), and due to its influence thinks BJ is a stranded alien.
A 1986 American science fiction comedy movie about an experimental military robot that becomes sentient after getting struck by lightning, escapes, and is taken in by a woman who thinks it is an alien. Kamitani has stated that Minami’s story was directly influenced by the film.
A 2000 Playstation simulation game taking place in an alternate history where World War II was ended when Earth was suddenly invaded by mysterious monsters, and as of 1999 mankind is resisting the invasion with the aid of mecha weapons. Kamitani has stated that the graphics used in Gunparade March’s battles inspired him to go with the simplified graphics for battles in 13 Sentinels.
A 2002 Playstation 2 puzzle game involving fireworks. Kamitani has stated that the explosions in 13 Sentinels’ battle sequences were inspired by the fireworks in Fantavision.
A 1979 science fiction movie about a killer alien set loose on a spaceship. Kamitani has stated the choice of using blue for the art of characters in their cockpits was inspired by the movie.
A 1990 science fiction movie taking place in a post-apocalyptic world where disputes are settled with sports-like fights between giant robots. Kamitani has said that the designs of the mecha in 13 Sentinels were inspired “not by recent Pacific Rim type” designs, but by Robot Jox.
- 13 Sentinels: Interview with George Kamitani and Vanillaware Staff (Part 1)
- 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim – Review
This article was originally published on 18th September 2020