There are two references to beloved anime series in Nope, depending on how willing you are to play along. The first is abundantly clear: as Emerald heads into Jupiter’s Claim on the electric bike, she performs what’s known as the “Akira slide.” Pulled from the 1988 cyberpunk anime film Akira, the slide features a character sliding a motorcycle away from the camera and skidding to a stop. Homages to the slide have appeared in various forms of media over the past three decades, from shows like Batman: The Animated Series to Joria Smith’s “Come Over” video. Now, we can add Nope to that storied list.
The shape-shifting ability of “The Viewer” certainly evokes that of the scary, alien foes of Neon Genesis Evangelion, an influential anime that debuted in the mid-90s. The “Angels” are monstrous creatures that can change form seemingly at will. Specifically, the monster’s initial form evokes the design of Sahaquiel, an airborne Angel that attacks around the midpoint of the series. Much like “The Viewer,” there’s something horrific about the spectacle of the Angels, and it’s not impossible to think Peele may have drawn design inspiration from the series—even if our evidence is slightly tenuous.