When someone says ‘anime’ and ‘live-action’ in the same sentence, most people recoil in abject fear and disgust at the thought of what horrors awaits their favourite anime when it enters the realm of live-action cinema. It is a fair reaction when you consider the universally panned Dragon Ball: Evolution, Speed Racer and the straight-to-video schlocky disasterpiece Fist of the North Star, all awful films in their own right. But can Hollywood ever get it right?
To the credit of Hollywood, there has been a few anime-inspired films that actually wound up being pretty damn good, Pacific Rim taking nods from Evangelion for example or the All You Need Is Kill inspired Edge of Tomorrrow (aka. Live, Die, Repeat on DVD) being enjoyable action blockbusters in their own right. Both of those films worked well because they adapted concepts and premises of anime and manga to fit the mold of a film. For purpose of this article, we will only be considering anime that have not been adapted into either a live-action Japanese or American film. So what else could work on the big screen?
Pierce the heavens and bust through onto the silver screen Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann! A modern classic in every regard Gurren Lagann is actually quite a good fit to get the live-action treatment. Part dystopian future story and part epic scale mecha adventure story, Gurren Lagann is like Mad Max meets Gunbuster with a heaping helping of GAR! Simon, Kamina and the Gurren Lagann crew explore the vast wasteland in the hope of reclaiming the land above ground for humanity once more whom had been forced underground by the villainous Spiral King.
Why would it make for a good film? Dystopian future films are mad popular in Hollywood and the story could easily be shaped into film. This could potentially be a duo of films with the first half of the anime making the first film and the second half making for the sequel. There is nothing in Gurren Lagann that couldn’t translate into live-action. Mecha action in a Mad Max-esque wasteland would make for quite the Hollywood blockbuster and there is something truly universal about this story that makes it perfect for a live-action adaptation be it by Hollywood or Japan.
Perpetually in developmental hell, a live-action Cowboy Bebop film has been on the minds of those in Hollywood for quite some time. The space western isn’t an impossible task to bring to life on the silver screen and there is definitely potential for multiple films based on the many adventures of the intrepid bounty hunting crew of the spaceship Bebop.
Why would it make a good film? Heck whether Joss Whedon will admit it or not, the Firefly TV series is clearly inspired by Cowboy Bebop and if a TV show could make something like Cowboy Bebop. There is potential for an epic space opera kind of film here and the source material is so utterly good that it is baffling as to why it hasn’t been given the live-action treatment yet.
Set in the near future, a group of school students fascinated in robotics attempt to build a functional giant robot like the one from their favourite childhood TV show, in the process uncovering a conspiracy involving a potential world ending calamity. There is so much possibilities here for a live-action adaptation of this scientific adventure anime series which seems a great fit for cinema.
Why would it make a good film? Robotics;Notes features a predominantly teenage cast which would be a great fit for a young adult aimed film in the same vein as Hollywood hits like The Hunger Games. The robotics theme is intriguing to say the least the underlying mystery that could potentially result in the end of the world makes for one hell of a blockbuster hook.
Imagine playing your favourite MMORPG when one day you wake up in the world of the game with no way out? That is Log Horizon and it is a great anime series based around the idea of being trapped in a game. You could say Sword Art Online is similar but Log Horizon’s central mystery is far more compelling for film.
Why would it make a good film? In today’s world video-games are more popular than ever. There has been films that tackled the idea of being stuck in a digital world before like Tron, so it isn’t exactly anything new but being stuck in a MMO like World of Warcraft is an idea that many around the world would be interested in. It would be an expect fantasy adventure film that has blockbuster franchise written all over it.
Sports anime! You’ve gotta love it and I for one think that Haikyu! would make for an excellent sports film in the same veins as Hollywood classic like Friday Night Lights and even The Mighty Ducks. Sure it would probably need a name change but there is something inherently fascinating about volleyball that would make for a truly awe inspiring live-action film.
Why would it make a good film? Haikyu! explores the journey of the Karasuno High School volleyball team, detailing their ups and downs as they bond over the sport of volleyball. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a volleyball film but the amount of tension and excitement the anime draws from ever spike is sure to translate to live-action with ease. This could be the next great sports film if it were to ever get a live-action adaptation.
Waiting in the Summer
Here comes your indie romance flick of the summer. Waiting in the Summer is an anime series about a group of a high school teens attempting to make a film over their summer break. There bonds and connections begin to unravel when their social dynamic is changed by the introduction of a new transfer student from a place nobody has ever heard of, as it turns out she is actually an alien. A story of youthful romance, first love and friendship, Waiting in the Summer is the perfect indie flick.
Why would it make a good film? This is the type of story perfect for an indie film and it’d no doubt be a big hit at the Cannes Film Festival if it were entered. The exploration of one memorable summer would fit perfectly into a film and the concept is intriguing and could easily work as a 500 Days of Summer meets ET, except with a cute girl instead of whatever ET is meant to be.
What anime do you think would make for a good live-action film? Let us know in the comments section below.