Some Say Frozen Ripped Off a Japanese Anime. Here's Why.

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Disney's hit animated feature Frozen follows the story of two sisters—the older of which is able to wield snow and ice. Then, suddenly, that sister's personality changes for the worse, and the younger sister tries to save the day. Sound familiar?

The official line is that Frozen is based on The Snow Queen. That isn't too surprising, as many Disney animated features are also based on Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, but Frozen differs greatly from The Snow Queen.


On 2ch, Japan's largest online forum, and Twitter, some commenters (not all!) are pointing out that elements of Frozen very much resemble the mid-1980s Saint Seiya anime, in particular the two Saint Seiya characters Freya and her elder sister Polaris Hilda. However, the similarities were, perhaps, noted in a much more positive light by Tumblr user Anni-Thii last year.

This latest fuss sounds a bit like a stretch, but hey, let's see what it's all about.

Above on the right, you can see Freya from Saint Seiya. Note the physical similarities between her and Anna from Frozen—notably the light-colored hair, the ponytails, and the pink outfits. Wait, their hair isn't the same color. Anyway, continue.


Both are the young sibling and want to save their sisters, and as Anni-Thii points out, their kingdoms. Neither characters have special powers.


Here, also on the right, is Polaris Hilda. Like Elsa, she is an older sister. And like Elsa, she has supernatural ice powers and used to be kind until she takes a turn for the worse.

Some online in Japan are saying that she resembles Elsa. That might be a bit of an overstatement, but see for yourself.


Here is an early design for the Elsa character 2ch points to (originally, it appeared on Pavementmouse). Compare to it to Polaris Hilda.


As noted online in Japan, there are some similar plot points: There is a love triangle (of sorts!) with both younger sisters—with both featuring a handsome man who came from the outside.

Frozen recently opened in Japan, and Twitter users have been drawing the above comparisons, with some of the most hardcore anime fans calling Frozen an outright ripoff. Not everyone in Japan feels this way, as there are those who say the Frozen and the Saint Seiya characters are totally different. Not everyone knows the Saint Seiya anime and not everyone gives a flip.


On 2ch, one net user pointed out that Disney has allegedly copied other anime in the past: The Great Mouse Detective seems to copy Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro, Atlantis: The Lost Kingdom apparently rips off Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, and Treasure Planet supposedly copies 21 Emon.

Of course, that list didn't include The Lion King and its alleged source material, Kimba The White Lion.


Considering how there are several Disney films that seem similar to well-known anime, people in Japan might be quick to lump Frozen in as well. While Disney and Disney films are very popular in Japan, there are, like anywhere, haters.

Or, maybe, Frozen was inspired by Saint Seiya. That wouldn't be a bad thing necessarily, as artists are inspired by others all the time. By "inspired," I also mean that they rip each other off constantly. But was that the case with Frozen? Eh, let it go.



Anna and Elsa from Frozen reminds me [Anni Thii]

Photos: Disney, SaintSeiyaFan

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.


Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

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