DISCUSSION – During the month of September, of this year, we got an announcement that Paramount Pictures and J.J. Abrams have received rights to adapt the anime film, Your Name, and give it a place in Hollywood. The reactions of this announcement from the anime community was, in majority, somewhat negative – and honestly, I cannot blame the fans.
Bringing a Japanese animated film, that had a profound influence among people within the anime community, in Hollywood is not a new thing. Other Hollywood adaptations of written material or media coming from Japan like Ghost in the Shell, Edge of Tomorrow and Death Note (to name a few), had mixed reactions from fans when they came out.
In Netflix’s adaptation of Death Note, there was a mixed to negative reaction about this entire thing. This was mainly because critics and fans of the original anime show Death Note found the adaptation very distant from what made the original writing appeal to these long-time fans when they first read or saw it. Some of them complained about the lack of “cat-and-mouse” chase between the main characters “L” and “Light” that was supposed to be the core of the entire story.
This was the same case for Ghost in the Shell (2017) wherein critics and fans alike were entertained by flashy action sequences and yet felt really dismayed when the adaptation failed to hit the original content’s story core. It had a unique premise, setting but in the end, it was dumped down to a generic Hollywood action film wherein these characters would involve themselves in flash, well-choreographed fights rather than the substance of its plot.
And this is the trend for most of the recent Hollywood adaptations of these Japanese manga and/or anime: more flashiness, less substance = disappointed long-term fan-base.
The rising Western interest on anime
What’s happening at present is that there is a certain rise of interest in the anime industry by big names in Western animation. If you have noticed, Universal Studios, Warner Brothers and even comic author Stan Lee have taken up shop in the anime industry by co-producing certain anime projects such as The Reflection and Owari no Seraph.
This happened because Western audiences have been given easier access to the shows and films which they so love compared to the early 2000s and that says a lot about the fame that the anime industry has garnered all over the world.
But the problem, in regards to this interest, is that Japanese animation companies do not seem ecstatic on the rising interest from audiences around the world. Even at the rise of a more connected world, there are still companies who refuse to give licenses for some shows in order to be viewed legally in the United States and other countries outside Japan.
There are times, evident on their weekly polls, that some shows fare better in foreign countries rather than in Japan which should have been enough reason for these key players in the anime industry to try and cater Western audiences. Alas, such is not the case.
In short, there is a rising positive interest on the content produced by the Japanese animation industry however the industry, itself, does not seem keen on making more easier for Western audiences to consume their material which is a big loss for them, in the business-sense, and a huge pain for fans such as myself who cannot view certain shows due to limited licensing.
What J.J. Abrams must do right for “Your Name”
Certainly, director J.J. Abrams is fit for this job in turning Your Name into a Hollywood film adaptation but in order to make this project as successful as the anime film it must understand how it got its fame in the first place: the story and concept used.
With this, J.J. Abrams must consider that he should try to stick close to the original story as possible and refrain from adding any weird creative liberties that does not fit to the entire premise of the film.
Some people might argue that this might not appeal to Western audiences with the Japanese cultural background unknown to these people and thus viewers would have a hard time relating with the film. But I say, that is not the case since even non-casual anime viewers have seen Your Name as an anime film and have spoke fondly of it, in terms of characters, music, and storytelling.
Bottom-line: J.J. Abrams must use his directional expertise to ensure that this Hollywood adaptation of Your Name does not stray too far from the original material. If it does, we have another Ghost in the Shell in our hands and we, viewers, are tired of tasteless film adaptations of the shows and manga that we love.
If it does, well, rip.
What about you? What do you think of this new Hollywood adaptation of Your Name? Are you excited or nervous about this? Let me know in the comments below!