Zero Gaiden: Prequels I’d Like to See in Anime

With today’s announcement from DC comics regarding plans for releasing prequel comics to the highly famed Watchmen series, much talk has surfaced regarding the concept of prequels in fiction. Its usage as a supplemental origin story goes as far back as Homer with the events of the Cypria preceding those of the Iliad, but is commonly found in many works throughout history and modern times.

By nature, prequels are initially looked at with immense skepticism due to the potential for retcon, the tendency for supplementary stories to be of much lesser quality, as well as the tendency for western media to milk franchises with an absurd amount of sequels and spinoffs in general. In anime, however, prequels (even sequels, to an extent) are not as common. Fate fans were treated to a highly successful prequel series last season with Fate/Zero, which is set to resume this Spring. Various mecha franchises such as Gundam and Macross naturally have prequel series as well.

Sadly, my opinion remains that anime could use a few more Zeros and Gaidens, since season 2’s are becoming more common in the industry. Here are a number of series that have sufficient potential for prequel expansion, in which I would be very interested.

Sunflower Champloo

In Samurai, Fuu, Mugen, and Jin, go on a search for the Fuu’s father, the Sunflower Samurai. In the prequel, we get insight on the origins of the Sunflower Samurai, as well as the history surrounding the Shimabara Rebellion and the Hidden Christians of the Edo Period. While the original series is wildly anachronistic, it still retains a sense of historical legitimacy in its inclusion of a large number of historical features of Japan, depicted in fascinating contexts. My personal favourite part of Japanese history is that of the christians in Japan, which is something that was only mildly hinted at in Champloo.

By centering the prequel on the Sunflower Samurai, there’s an opportunity to focus specifically at this aspect of history, creating a radically different approach to the depiction of history that its preceding series used. Having read Shusaku Endo’s Silence, which is highly detailed and interesting but surprisingly bland in its presentation, infusing those accounts with the stylistic champloo for which the anime is well-known could potentially result in something riveting to watch. Also, inclusion of Nujabes’ posthumous album would be icing on the cake.

Garden Gaiden! Heartcatch PreCure!

Heartcatch PreCure was nearly perfect as a series due to its ability to play a large number of magical girl tropes straight, yet still ride on the execution of those tropes, fantastic animation and unforgettable characters, to a highly enjoyable climax that still sits well in the hearts of its fanbase. However, there still lies potential for supplementary story, particularly with regards to the previous generations of PreCure. As the only continuity in the franchise that contains cross-generation of PreCure, I’d love to see a spinoff series that delves into the life of Tsubomi’s grandmother, Kaoruko Hanasaki.

Kaoruko is a fascinating character in her own right. In Heartcatch, her eyes show wisdom beyond her years, and her abilities as Cure Flower are largely hinted at (and even fully realized towards the end of the series). I’d love to see GGHCPC showcase her beginnings and development into a strong PreCure warrior, coupled with development alongside her fairy Coupe, as well as her future husband. We’d also get to see the backstory of Dune, one of the more interesting (if not most interesting) villains of the PreCure universe.

Simply put, Garden Gaiden would catch people’s hearts!

Puella Magi Cleopatra Magica

From a straight-up magical girl series in PreCure, to a highly LOLGRIMDARK subversive show like Madoka Magica, we have a series here that, through only a few seconds of footage in the final episode, opens a window to infinite potential. When it was revealed that Magical Girls and Witches have existed for centuries, the fandom went wild with speculation as to how these historical women lived. One interesting piece of fanfiction even pursues this idea, and presents some highly interesting possibilities. However, instead of the multi-angle approach that the fic takes, I would like to see a spinoff series that focuses solely on a single character in history.

And what better character to examine than Cleopatra VII? Considered the greatest of the Egyptian queens, the idea that her contract with Kyubey’s species turned her into a magical queen is remarkably fascinating. What was her wish? How was her relationship with Antony while she was a magical girl? There are a multitude of ways to inject the Puella Magi element into this little slice of history, including a sphinx-like Kyubey that speaks in riddles, witches that take the form of animalistic monsters similar to Egyptian gods, and story of Cleo’s death, caused by a bite from a Cobra (or in this case, a Cobra-themed walpurgisnacht).

I would definitely make a contract just to have this series come to fruition.

Last Exile: The Grand Stream

Even though my wishes for a sequel to Last Exile were answered with Fam, the Silver Wing, there’s still plenty of room to examine the historical continuity of Last Exile in general. This just goes to show how vast the world is, and how effectively it was fleshed out in detail throughout the entire series. How great would it be, then, that we look at a prequel that follows the lives of Hamilcar Valca and Georges Head, the fathers of Claus and Lavie?

One of the main connections between Claus and Lavie are that of their dads, which results in their dream to one day cross the Grand Stream. Unlike Fam, which heavily takes a “cute girls doing cute things in space with steampunk” approach to the story, Grand Stream would involve a younger Ham and Geo in an utterly bro-tastic cast. Slash pairing from fangirls is a foregone conclusion, which is something that this franchise doesn’t see a lot of outside of Dio and Lusciola. A historical look at Anatoray-Disith relations would be also rather interesting.

Death Devil!

Even though the K-ON franchise still continues in manga and movie formats with its currently-running university arc and “British Invasion” film, there still lies a prequel idea that I’ve always wanted to see back when the first series ended. Death Devil, the gothic heavy metal band in which club advisor and school alumna Sawako Yamanaka performed as the lead guitarist, is an extreme musical departure from the pop-rock stylings that Hokago Tea Time is known for. While two of Death Devil’s songs, Love and Maddy Candy, are featured in the original series, this number is two too low for my taste. I want more.

Sawako as a high school girl is an interesting story that was told in dramedic fashion in the original series. I’d like to see the same approach taken with this pre-generational iteration. The same slice of life format can still be used, but as some bits in Nichijou have proven, dramedy can be used to full effect in anime. Sawako’s heartbreak and downfall into the “dark arts” can be played for laughs, resulting in a very intriguing depiction of Death Devil as a combination of Hokago Tea Time andDetroitMetalCity.

Links to the Past

The prequel can be an effective storytelling method due to the inherent benefits that it provides. It can make use of dramatic irony, since the audience already knows the consequences of the story’s actions, and it can also make neat references to the original work, which can be highly appreciated by the fanbase of the original series. As Fate/Zero has generally shown, prequels have potential to be even more popular and successful than their source counterparts. All that is required is a fresh, interesting approach to the canon, as well as precise execution through effective animation, character design, and even voice acting.

I only mentioned a few series here that I would personally like to see prequels of, but they certainly aren’t the only ones that have viability. Which anime prequels would you be interested in?

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12 thoughts on “Zero Gaiden: Prequels I’d Like to See in Anime”

  1. Eh, not sure about trying to get anything more from Champloo. I’m not sure you can have the Champloo style without Mugen. He embodies that series, I can’t see it working. However, I would totally be up for Madoka prequel. Not just focused on Cleopatra, but an episodic anime that jumps from famous historical female figure to another, with each episode having two endings: The pre-Godoka and post-Godoka.

    Tell you what I would absolutely fucking love a prequel to though: Gurren Lagann. You know that shot right in the very first episode of I think it was Bonta doing their grand attack on the anti-spirals? That story. The one that is ultimately doomed to failure. Holy shit, that would be amazing, I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it

    1. You have somewhat of a point with Mugen with regards to the Champloo style, but I feel you can still accomplish that vibe with different characters, just so long as the presentation is unique. The first show that comes to mind that achieves a similar effect is Katanagatari.

      Re: Madoka, the multiple female approach is also feasable, but I would like each character to be fleshed out a bit longer than one episode. Maybe have individual character arcs instead of single episodes. Actually, that would be the ideal compromise between both our ideas. I’m starting to like this one a bit more, but I would still be most interested in the cleopatra arc. I would also like the Joan of arc…arc. *sigh*

  2. I’d like to see Kaoruko’s story too, and The First Dune War. I also want to see how she dealt with losing her powers and going back into normal life, since we never see that with any of the Cures except for Moonlight sulking in unresolved lesbian sexual tension.

  3. I’d like a mix of Scamp’s idea and yours: Various spin-offs on an ancient mahou shoujo and her modern counterpart. They can try and draw some parallels there. For some odd reason, it gives me Black Rock Shooter vibes. If the anime can blend in historical facts and fiction like Fate/Zero did, it would be a beast of a show.

    A spin-off about Kyuubey and its origins can be pretty awesome too. Maybe link Cleopatra to that in some way. Kyuubey is Cleo reincarnated…or somethin like that. Or or each dead mahou shoujo’s soul forms a Kyuubey!

    A few other anime that can use a prequel-spinoff sorta thing to explain the origins of their world:
    Haibane Renmei (it would take away from the show’s mysterious setting though…)
    Ergo Proxy
    Evangelion

    1. Evangelion would be pretty cool. It doesn’t even have to be a mecha show. Even some other general story right before the first impact. It’d be a disaster movie a la armageddon or something. FUND IT!

      Not sure about that concept for Kyubey in relation to Cleopatra and magical girls, but I still like the idea of Cleo bringing the Egyptian imagery to magical girl tropes. It’d be an awesome premise for the other magical girls in history.

  4. There are a lot of anime that would actually be suitable for a prequel. Forgive the super cliche and mundane examples, but heck, I would personally like to see a prequel for Naruto (the previous hokages), and One Piece (the story about the Pirate King’s rise would be most interesting).

    In terms of nun-mundane examples, let’s see, Cowboy Bepop would make for an interesting prequel. I mean, sure the show felt quite complete, but it would be interesting to see Spike and Jet go on bounty adventures together.

    Madoka would be cool as well.

    I am sure there are quite a few others that I cannot think of, but to sum it up, it would be nice if we got more prequels. 😛

    1. I would absolutely love to see a Naruto prequel. We had a bit of that with Kakashi Gaiden before the time-skip, but that one doesn’t count, since it’s still a part of the first Naruto series. I’d definitely like to see the previous Hokages for sure. Or even just a retelling through another team’s perspective. Ino/Shika/Chou would be a great team to watch from the start, given what we know now about Asuma.

      Cowboy Bebop would be a blast, though I’m particularly interested in the Spike/Julia history, rather than Spike and Jet. I think we already got some of that in the first few episodes before Faye joined. I’d like to see something long before the Bebop’s existence.

  5. Damn nice list of prequels! I would love to see

    Sunflower Champloo! That sounds like a blast ❤ I loved Champloo when it was on Adult Swim, yeah it was lame ass dub form but man was it ever fun and hilarious at times…

    I would love a Bleach prequel based on how the current shinigami captain commander got his start! Like his teen years…or more about Ichigo's father…anyway nice idea ❤

    1. Man, it wasn’t even THAT lame! Steven Blum is one of my favourite dub voices, other than Crispin Freeman and JYB, hehe.

      A Bleach prequel would be an excellent way to milk the franchise, especially considering that the manga is going to be finished soon!

  6. If there’s one prequel that’s underrated, it’s the Eureka Seven movie. Sure, Bones decided to reuse the characters from the TV series to tell the story of the world of Eureka Seven came to be, but it was interesting to watch how history repeated itself in the relationship between Renton and Eureka. This is also why it’s intriguing to see Bones announce Eureka Seven Ao as a sequel. Will history repeat itself again?

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