Legendary comics writer and editor Stan Lee has passed away, and fans and industry veterans alike are remembering the creative endeavors he undertook during his long career. But did you know he dabbled in anime and manga as well?
Lee had a hand in creating two major anime series, Heroman and The Reflection, and even swung by for cool cameos in each of the series.
One of his first manga efforts turned anime series is Heroman. Lee is credited with the original story, with characters by Tamon Ohta, and produced by Studio Bones (the studio of big anime series such as My Hero Academia and Fullmetal Alchemist).
This series followed Joey, a down and out kid living with his grandmother making meager wages in a restaurant. When a special new toy robot comes out, Joey thinks it will change his life but he can't afford one himself. He comes across a broken one, and when it's hit by lightning it becomes a giant robot which helps Joey save one of his friends from danger. Now Joey, and this toy come to life named "Heroman," have to work together to defeat an incoming alien menace.
Lee himself had a small role in the series as "Stan," a character who often regularly ate at the restaurant Joey works. In his first appearance, he asks for coffee and doesn't get much else to say but his appearance alone is enough.
The second cameo comes from his later work, but it's much more involved. Co-created by Stan Lee and director Hiroshi Nagahama (Mushishi) for Studio Deen (Rurouni Kenshin, Fate/stay night), The Reflection ran in 2017 and is set in a world where a mysterious event known as "The Reflection" gives people superpowers and has thus lead to a world of heroes and villains. Lee appears in the series not just in a slick cameo, but as the villain named "Mr Mystic," which allowed Lee to play around in the world of anime once more.
Lee held a reverence for manga and anime, and even experimented with manga before these series too. Although it was never adapted into an anime series, Lee once collaborated on a manga with the creator of Shaman King, Hiroyuki Takei. Titled Mechanical Boy: Ultimo, this series featured a doctor that creator two powerful artificial boys: one of pure good, named Ultimo, and one pure evil, named Vice.
Wanting to create something readers in both the United States and Japan would enjoy, Lee imagined the story of two powerful machines constantly doing battle with one another. He certainly succeeded.
If you're interested in finding these series yourself, you can currently find Heroman streaming on Crunchyroll. As for The Reflection, it is streaming on Crunchyroll, FunimationNOW, and Hulu.