Why anime doesn’t work in live-action film adaptations

DISCUSSION – As of late, various anime series have gotten really popular to the point that they have been adapted into many media forms. While this is certainly a sign that anime has gone global and is being adored by an even diverse, bigger audience, there are some problems.

Why do we love an anime series? One of the main reasons why is the storyline. When things get adapted into a new media form, there are some changes needed to be done to make the story “work” in the media form it is being adapted into.

For example, let’s say we have a successful visual novel like Clannad. In a visual novel, the reader gets to choose what path the main character takes thus changing the events, relationships, and the like in a story.

What if during your walk-through of the Clannad visual novel, you chose to end up with Ryou – one of the main heroines of the game. Sure, we could have that in the anime adaptation but what about the rest of the gals? How would the story pan out? Would it be appealing to you, the viewer?

Before the anime adaptation is set into motion, things have to be changed in regards to the story and character development since we can’t have every single route of a visual novel adapted into anime – otherwise, it would’ve been a harem.

Same goes with a live-action film adaptation, it needs to work with the media form and its intended audience.

In the Hollywood film, Edge of Tomorrow, where Tom Cruise played as the main character, the director based the film on the 2004 light novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.

In this film, the planet Earth is under invasion by alien species called Mimics. However, these alien species and their appearances are very different from the manga and light novel adaptations of All You Need Is Kill.

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In the manga adaptation, the mimics appeared as some sort of spherical floating creatures resembling that of bacteria. However, in the Hollywood film, they have changed their appearances to some sort of cunning wolves of metal and electricity. Instead of floating, they are fast objects that would kill you in a heartbeat before you will even notice.

It is these minor changes that make an adaptation sell. The audience in the West would not have been entertained by floating balls in the sky as the film’s main villains. To make it sell, they needed to give a feeling of thrill and action that would be familiar to a western audience.

The reason why live-action film adaptations of anime fail to live up to expectations is because they are too reliant on the original source. Directors need to understand the source material of the anime they are adapting then change some minor details so that it would actually work in a film media platform.

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Let’s take Death Note, for example. Seriously do we actually need to fit every detail of a character’s description from the anime series? I mean, it doesn’t make sense when it becomes a live-action film adaptation. It does not give appeal and it is just downright cringe or hilarious watching this.

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And we’ve got a CGI-Shinigami in the live-action film… Seriously, it is just too cringe and hilarious that probably most viewers wouldn’t even take this film seriously.

We could’ve gotten a human who could fill Ryuk’s role, yeah? Hell, we could have Tom Hiddleston play as Ryuk or whatever name change we could do to fit a more global audience.

The bottom-line here is that most live-action film adaptations of anime and manga stick too much to the original work without consideration if the actual film will come out good or not. There are some anime and manga that won’t work if you adapt it as it is. That’s why we call it an “adaptation” – to adapt something from its original media form in order to appeal more audiences.

What about you? Do you think all live-action film adaptations of anime and manga need to follow the original work? Or do you think people working on the film need to understand their based storyline more clearly?

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One thought on “Why anime doesn’t work in live-action film adaptations

  1. I think the biggest issue with any adaptation is an attempt to please the fans of the original work rather than telling a good story using the chosen medium. There ends up being too much compromise and as a result neither the fans of the original nor newcomers to the material end up satisfied. If they took the idea and then thought about how to tell a compelling story with that idea then things would probably turn out better, rather than try to cram every ‘cool’ moment that fans might want to see into material that just doesn’t work in that format.

    Liked by 1 person

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