The Simpsons anime makeover has to be seen to be believed

Screenshot from The Simpsons anime in Treehouse of Horror
(Image credit: The Simpsons)

After three decades, The Simpsons still manages to surprise us. The long-running series is known for its experimentation, sometimes taking surreal turns. But just when we thought it might have run out of ideas, it delivered a stunning Halloween makeover that may have been inspired by a fan's idea.

The Simpsons is famous for its Halloween specials, and the 2022 offering is a triumph. One of the instalments in the latest Treehouse of Horror compilation gave the Simpsons a fully blown authentic anime makeover. Fans have been in awe since the moment we got early glimpses online – in fact, it seems the idea might even have been inspired by a piece of fan art (for some pointers for your own work, see our character design tips).

Screenshot from The Simpsons anime in Treehouse of Horror

The Simpsons Halloween special features a tribute to Death Note (Image credit: The Simpsons)

The Simpsons' anime makeover is a tribute to the Japanese manga series Death Note. Written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, the original series follows a teen genius who discovers a notebook that grants the user a supernatural ability to kill anyone whose name is written in its pages. 

In Treehouse of Horror XXXIII, it's Lisa (naturally) who receives the Death Note (or Death Tome, as it's called in the episode). Fans have been delighted at anime Homer and Marge, and more.

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Manga fans will notice that the anime Simpsons look very true to the original style of Death Note, and that's clearly thanks to the involvement of the Korean studio DR Movie, which animated the segment. It worked on the Death Note anime series itself as well as titles such as the Matrix prequel The Animatrix and Justice League.

Fans have also been delighting in some of the details revealed in the short glimpse. Not just the main Simpsons characters who turn up in the anime style, but we can also catch glimpses of an anime Disco Stu and the identical twins Sherri and Terri Mackleberry and more. Some fans are even already saying that they'd like to see a whole series of a film in the anime style.

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"This is exactly what I want when a western cartoon reference anime. I always get annoyed when the style is usually half-assed, ever since I was a kid," one person wrote on Twitter. "I really want to see more episodes in this style, like a spinoff. Or just more episodes done in different animation styles! Doesn't only need to be treehouse episodes," another person wrote. "I would 100% watch a Simpsons anime done in this style," someone else said.

Poster for The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XXXIII

(Image credit: The Simpsons)

Was the Simpsons Death Note parody inspired by a fan?

Interestingly, we've come across a piece of Simpsons fan art that was shared on Deviant Art way back in 2007 proposing a Simpsons/Death Note crossover. Created by Canadian artist Nina Matsumoto, the idea got attention because two years later Matsumoto, who goes by the name Space Coyote on Deviant Art, was invited to create a full 15-page parody for a Bongo Comics Simpsons Halloween issue. 

The piece, titled called Murder He Wrote, won the 2009 Eisner Award for Best Short Story. Her original story had some differences – for example, Bart rather than Lisa received the note.

Incredibly, The Simpsons continues to come up with creative ideas after more than 30 years turning out seasons based on a deceptively simple premise. Treehouse of Horror XXXIII aired on Fox on October 30 and on Hulu the next day. 

Death Tome was the second of the three segments. The other two pieces are a tribute to the 2014 horror film Babadook starring Marge and a Westworld parody. If you're looking to upgrade your TV to watch the special, don't miss the chance to save $730 in Best Buy's best early Black Friday LG TV deal. You can see more TV deals below.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.