What’s the deal with Live Action Anime Adaptations?

If you have been keeping an eye on anime news recently, then you may have heard about all the Hollywood, television, or Netflix anime adaptations that have been announced. I may not remember all of them, but some of them that I do remember are Gundam, My Hero Academia, Sword Art Online, Your Name, and most recently Cowboy Bebop. I know there are others, I just can’t think of them at this moment.  In a way I don’t want to, because it seems like quite an intimidating once you think about it. All of it comes from popular series and franchises as well. I know that I am a very strange person, but I would prefer adapting things that haven’t gotten much attention from the past. Something like the Battle Angela Alita, but I guess those aren’t as viable on the movie market as much as higher profile material

The Good About This (Yes, there is good)

So what are some good reasons to have a live action adaptation of anything? I think the easier answer is obvious. It’s about the source material getting a bigger presence out in the wild then just what the anime can get it. Even if a show makes it onto television with a dub like all the television series that I listed above, it’s still not making it to a wider audience in anyway. Having a live action adaption means commercials are advertising on television screens leading up to its appearance in movie theaters. Even if the movie flops at the box office, people will still go out and see it. A fraction of those people will at least try out the source material because of them, which is a positive gain for the anime community itself. If more anime fans are the result of all of this, then excellent. Hopefully a good person or two joined the anime fan ranks.

Another positive for me at least, it’s interesting to see the unique ideas that come from adapting these shows. Most of the time, adaptations of manga are always set on railroad tracks because they have a defined destination. Besides the advantages that a moving visual medium give a manga, a manga reader already knows what is going to happen. Shonen jump films help breath some creativity into the franchise, but it isn’t completely there because they are non-canon. Alternative adaptations can do whatever they want with characters of the same name and that can be great if they are written well. If they aren’t, then you know how to feel about that already. Yup. I believe we have quite a few results of what happens already produced on here.

The Bad (Plenty of Bad as well)

As anime fans, I think we all know about all the negative aspects of live action adaptations. First of all, I am definitely in agreement that anime should stay animated. The unique visual styles of anime and how not every episode of an anime looking like another one yet is still a part of the same anime is why I love anime. This is the reason why I love Cowboy Bebop and why I think the live action adaptation is going to be incredibly boring. The only shows that I saw doing the craziness of animation in live action are Legion and Mr. Robot. Even then, those series can be jarring. Other than those, no other show has ever had as dynamic direction and interesting visuals behind them and that is just sad.

The other problem with live action adaptations in general is not many of them have been that good. In fact, most of them has been terrible. As far as I know, the Ghost in the Shell movie has been the best one so far and that was maybe average at best. Ok that’s not completely fair. I know that there have been some good live action adaptions from Japan. Apparently the Rurouni Kenshin films are good though I don’t care about that franchise anymore, and the Bleach live action film was alright. Possibly others are good too according to reviews I’ve read from people I trust. Talking about western live action adaptions tough, all of them have been awful. Without mentioning how far away they are from source material because that is not something I am too concerned about, how they have been written in general is just awful, there visuals are terrible as well, and they are just terrible in general. Some are just horrible stuff.


I know that I have no power over live action adaptations happen, but it really does feel like the creators have no live or affection for the animated medium at all. Especially with things like the Disney live action remakes that also try to “fix” the problems that the animated movies have. They make money, but they have no soul with them. I am hoping that these live action adaptations that have started production have their own soul to them. That’s all I am asking for. Being accurate to the source material isn’t something that I am concerned about. I just want their writing to be good and make sense in the world that live action adaptation is presenting to the audience. That’s it. Thank you for reading my rant and thoughts on this.

Thank you for reading what I have to say everyone. If you want to support me, here are some ways: 

HUGE Anime Savings! Up to 90% off plus get free shipping on $75+ orders at SentaiFIlmworks.com. Sale ends 1/5/19.


  1. I heard that Your Name was getting the American live action treatment, but I had no idea they were going after Cowboy Bebop, too. Wow!

    I’m not against remakes on principle, but there’s bee a huge glut of it in general. This trend of remakes (animated and live-action) comes off as cynical hubris to me as the studios say “Hey, this is a safe bet and we can do whatever we want in remaking the stuff people know.” While I get the business side of it, the situation just reeks of a lack of originality and an abundance of creative cowardice in not willing to try anything new.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After Netflix said it was going to stream the original Eva and it’s films in the spring, they announced a Cowboy Bebop live action adaptation.

      Yeah, I wish companies would stop playing it safe with remakes and sequels, but I guess there is no safe money in that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gotcha. I’m not knee deep into anime news, so I wasn’t aware of the Cowboy Bebop live action remake news. I did hear about EVA streaming there, but I didn’t know it was announced at the same time, more or less.

        Yeah, seriously. That also goes for the numerous sequels and prequels going on. Didn’t they realize that those original movies made back then were risks that just happened to pay off? Original screenplays are even harder to come by now compared to even a decade ago. Looks like I have even more reason to stay in my indie and obscure film bubble. Hahahaha!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That makes a lot of sense. It’s no wonder how so many people get news of all kinds on that platform. I used to have Twitter, so I’ve noticed that.

        I guess so. While I’m not super familiar with this year’s indie stuff and I haven’t followed the Sundance, Cannes, or Tribeca circuit, you may have noticed that I reviewed a bunch of short films that came out this year from different countries.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Honestly I wish we’d get more original stuff rather than remakes, adaptations, sequels, prequels and spin-offs but known names make more money regardless of quality and as long as consumers consume producers will produce. I’m not really against adaptations, I just wish that they’d sit down and write a decent movie around the idea rather than just trying to clip together iconic sequences. And maybe try writing a script that feels like it actually had some thought put into it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s how I feel too. I’m tired of remakes and the like, but as long as they do something interesting and unique in a more coherent manner, then that’s all I ask. If they are just nostalgic cash grabs, then that are just no good.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I think live action adaptations are something where every person in the audience goes, “I could have done it better.” There always is going to have to be some give — especially if taking a series and making it into a movie — but it seems like the directors and writers often go in the wrong direction. They tend to forget what made the series popular and well-liked in the first place.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think you are right about people thinking they know better. I suppose I am one of them.

      I feel like a lot of studios forget why original shows or movies or whatever don’t work. Why? Because they only see some connective points that will make movie for all of them.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Complete lack of creative juice. So they grab onto whatever they can without actually having to cook up a plot on their own. Must be they ran out of reboots, rehashes and sequels Anime is an up and coming thing here. They aren’t going to do it right like GITS because that costs money and most producers are frightened of anything diferent.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I just saw the preview for the Battle Angel movie, and I have to say that I am interested in checking it out. Also I think another reason for the live action adaptations is that Hollywood has become resik adverse. They don’t want to take a risk on something that won’t put buts in seats. By using something with an existing fan base they can at least count on some of them watching the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be honest, I’m feeling the same way for the battle Angel movie. I think that’s because I don’t know anything about it’s source material. This might be a good gateway to see what it’s about.


  6. I guess this is where I can chime in a tiny bit; the Japanese movie industry is in debt. I mean like, a lot of debt. So the reason Japan keeps churning out live action adaptations (dramas, movies, etc) is because those series bring ratings and money. A live action adaptation in Japan is a much safer bet to break even and sometimes even make a modest profit, then an original. Original stories to dramas/movies have to absolutely have a star studded cast to even have a shot in the dark to break even/rate well, etc and the price to pay those talents isn’t cheap. So, at least for Japan it makes sense to keep churning out the live action adaptations until something, I’m not sure what, comes in and bails out the movie/drama industry.

    As for Western remakes; definitely have bigger/better budgets then Japan. You’d think this would mean they’re better then Japan’s live actions but comparing the original live action Death Note movies to Netflix… you can see the clear winner there. It doesn’t help that Ghost in the Shell is considered a well made/received adaptation since well, as a die hard who was originally geeked for it, I have abstained from watching it completely still. I wish Western remakes consulted more from the Japanese live actions and take what was good about those and just improve it with the budget but alas, I have no say.

    I wrote a bit more intended but so it goes lol. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! As a Japanese drama/movie addict it’s always interesting to see people’s thoughts about adaptations.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, that explains a lot. I suppose that makes about why they haven’t produced anything big budget or memorable other then Shin Godzilla recently.

      Sunrise is consulting with the Gundam live action film, and that’s the only case I’ve heard of that happening.

      Don’t worry about long comments 😁

      Liked by 3 people

      1. There’s a handful of hidden gems (Shoplifters did really well, I haven’t seen it), but yeah. They’ll keep milking Godzilla for what it’s worth lol.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I stumbled in here late (I arrived from Irina’s blog)….
      I am a huge fan of the anime Ghost in the Shell film and Stand Alone Complex. I haven’t seen the full series outside of those, however (only due to lack of internet and access).
      If you still haven’t watched it, I hope that you give the Western live action film a try.
      I know I am in the minority here, but I thought they actually did an incredible job.

      The biggest complaints I kept hearing was the race of the Major in the film, which was strange to me only because in the anime it seems uncertain what she is as well. She obviously was Japanese, but when she was torn apart and remade, it is like she is no longer certain of who she is. Normally, ‘whitewashing’ would bug me, but I didn’t feel that way in Ghost in the Shell. If anything, it makes her seem even more alienated from her immediate environment and from who she was. I like that Scarlet Johansen plays the Major first as cyborg. To me, she can be a bit robotic even in her other action roles. I think it works well for her in Ghost in the Shell, at least in the first two thirds of the film.

      Having said that, I wish they would have replaced the actor for Hideo Kuzi and rewritten the parts with him in it. I did not find him interesting or as intriguing as he should have been- I had to fight the urge to fast-forward all the scenes with him in it.

      What I loved about the film was the direct reproductions of the actual imagery and stills from the original anime film and the soundtrack. For that alone, I truly think it is worth it.

      I have watched a lot of remakes, and I love watching live action Japanese (and Korean for that matter) dramas and films. Do you happen to have a list of your favourites?

      I just looked up Haruma Miura to make sure I was spelling his name correctly (for one of my favourite films – Boku No Ita Jikan 僕のいた時間)….. and just saw that he died yesterday. Man…. I am so sorry.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m personally not a fan of live actions… I mean how do you even DO a sports Live action? That makes no sense…

    And like Karandi-san mentioned, new content is always better…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s