Inquiring Minds Want To Know #33: What do you think of live action adaptations of anime?

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Thanks to everyone who responded to the question drive but if you didn’t get a question in, remember you can still fill in the survey at the end of the post or use the link in the sidebar to send me a question. This week we get a very timely question and I really enjoyed going back and thinking about some of the live action adaptations I’ve watched since becoming a blogger.

Question: What do you think of live action (dramas or movies) adaptions of anime? Any favourites? from Rise

Netflix Live Action Bleach

I’m going to be perfectly honest here, live action adaptations of anime have an incredibly patchy history and a fairly well deserved reputation for being less than stellar. The Dragonball Evolution isn’t just a poor adaptation of the source material, its just a terrible movie to have to endure watching.

Still, that isn’t every adaptation. Okay, the Full Metal Alchemist adaptation wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible.Ghost in the Shell worked well enough for me but that’s probably because I’m not a fan of the anime in the first place and just took it as a generic sci-fi kind of movie and it succeeded at that. Death Note angered me at first and then I detached my expectations from the anime and realised that as a cheap horror movie it could work just fine so got over it, but none of these have really stuck.


That actually leaves me with two live action adaptations I really enjoyed just because they were really enjoyable and not because I looked for some positives amongst a mess of an adaptation.

The first is Erased the series. I really enjoyed seeing this story brought to life and feel they did a great job of it. I know the live action is based more off the anime so most of the changes between the anime and the live action are more because the anime veered off course, but I actually feel from a plot point of view the live action is stronger. I still really love the anime but I prefer the ending as presented in the live action series.


The second is one that just came out and that is Bleach. Given how incredibly on the fence I was about the idea of a Bleach movie and the fact that I went in really expecting to be severely disappointed, this movie actually put my concerns to rest and delivered what is a fairly decent movie in its own right and probably the best kind of adaptations I could have hoped for. It remains true enough to the feel of the anime that what I loved about the franchise is recognisable but it makes sufficient changes to sit relatively comfortable as a movie. It really is just good fun and one I definitely recommend.

Bleach Netflix Live Action

Thanks for the question this week and I’d love to know what my readers think and what some of your favourite live action adaptations of anime are (or if you hate them). Please leave me a comment and remember if you have a question for me you can simply complete the survey below.

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James


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25 thoughts on “Inquiring Minds Want To Know #33: What do you think of live action adaptations of anime?

  1. Thanks for answering my question! I didn’t realize how close it would coincide with your ‘BLEACH’ live action review, but it all worked itself out! One factor I don’t believe you knew when writing is that the Japanese film industry is in the absolute pits at the moment. Most films barely break even let alone actually make money. Hence why live action films are on the rise, and a lot of them, quite frankly, are pretty shitty. Those film studios have to have something to help them produce other content.

    Over the years I’ve watched a lot of live action adaptations and some personal favorites are the ‘NANA’ adaptations. I’ve written about them quite a few times actually lol. ‘Hana Yori Dango’ as well as ‘Honey and Clover’ will always be soft spots for me. I always feel that shoujo get better adaptations since they’re easier to adapt to a live action film.

    But, really glad to see your thoughts! I for sure agree that most adaptations have been fairly tame and or sub-par. As always though, there are a few gems hidden in there!

    1. I should probably watch some more shoujo adaptations though they seem more like the kind of movies I’d watch with my mum so limited opportunities.

  2. A live action adaptation of an anime I saw was Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (PGSM for short. I absolutely enjoyed it even though they adapted only the first story arc. The script writer understood the source material well.

    The weak points were that Usagi wasn’t geeky about video games.

  3. My exposure to live action anime is very limited. I don’t seek them out very often, unless it’s something where I’m really curious to see how they tried to translate it. I am actually among the (apparent minority) that’s feeling optimistic about Alita, though.

    Genuinely liked: RuroKen, Ghost in the Shell (controversial, I know, but I enjoyed it)

    Cheaply made, but kind of charming in its low budget way: Saki

    Dead boring, turned them off in the first half hour: Silver Spoon, Higurashi

    Train wreck bad: Fist of the North Star (1995 American version)

    That’s my whole list.

      1. Two live actions, actually, from 2008 and 2009. The first movie adapts the first question arc (anime episodes 1-4), and the second movie adapts the corresponding answer arc (anime episodes 22-26). I only tried watching the first movie, and like I said I didn’t last very long with it.

  4. What anime is the featured image from on this post? It looks to me like Bodacious Space Pirates, which makes me wonder if that show had a live action version…

  5. It’s proven a mixed bag, partially because the film has to serve two different audiences – those who know the source material and those who don’t.

    They really can’t win if they diverge too far from the anime that the fans know yet they have to adapt it to make it accessible to the newbies coming in fresh to the story. Leave something out and the fans will know and consider the film a failure; cover the stuff the anime had three episodes to address and you alienate the impartial audience.

    There are some successful adaptations – I honestly didn’t mind the first two Japanese Death Note films (not seen the US remake nor do I intend to) and the two GANTZ films worked well enough for me as well, despite some of the changes.

    On the other side, FMA looked great but the story was lacking; Takashi Miike’s JoJo film was a bit messy in assuming everyone knew the source material, Black Butler was underwhelming and the less said about the AOT films the better.

    I guess I am saying I don’t envy filmmakers trying to take such popular anime properties and bringing them to life as they don’t share the same accessibility of a Marvel or DC comic book.

    When they get it right, kudos; when they don’t ,look out for the fan backlash! 😛

      1. I actually think that aesthetically they did a decent job and I liked that the “regular” Titans were actors rather than CGI. It was the story that they botched big time, especially in the second film. >:(

  6. I don’t know why the jump from animated to live-action is often times so bad, but I think people have spoiled as of late my the new Marvel cinematic universe and some of the other live-action superhero movies that they forget, even comic and cartoon adaptations were really bad for a while.

    Maybe producers are afraid of spending too much on adapting something a little niche, so they go low-budget and it’s awful that way.

    Maybe they’re just trying to make quick cash knowing fans will probably watch the adaptation at least once anyway, so they just pump it out as quickly as they can and move on.

    Maybe animation is harder to adapt than we think. I think that point holds for older adaptations, but not now given the kind of cinema tech and special effects available.

    1. I haven’t watched a lot but I think I’m becoming more adventurous since I started blogging and wanting to try things out more. Some have worked out and some haven’t. I’m actually really glad I’ve been trying live action movies or I would have skipped the Bleach release and that would have been a shame.

  7. Having read two of your reviews like this already, I’ll simply say that the Japanese make fantastic monster movie updates, but terrible anime live actions. I’ll throw a couple out there you haven’t seen yet, but might consider. There’s a live action drama for Nodame Cantabile (the show that was the inspiration of Your Lie In April and March Comes In Like A Lion). Its very hammy acting, skips most of the interesting musical variations, and skips most of the emotional content of the story. Its a passable version despite this.
    There’s a drama for Moyashimon, which is more hammy yet and skips most of the content, but not all. Moyashimon is educational tv, since every episode teaches lessons on food preservation using microbes, but it also has drama and comedy and the acting is hammy.
    The one drama that’s better than the anime (that I’ve seen) is Wakakozake, since the food and restaurants are both real, and its basically advertising for them.
    The other dramas, and there’s a huge list of them ready to stream on Crunchyroll, are seriously hammy acting, like the actors are particularly good looking high school students and talked into showing up instead of their day job at the fishmonger or flower shop. Considering this is consistent I suspect the hammy acting is culturally appropriate. The days of serious acting in Akira Kurosawa movies seems to be over. I haven’t seen serious acting in a drama since “A Taxing Woman” and that was in the 90’s. But I mostly avoid them.

    1. I can put up with the overly dramatic acting, I just need the story to make sense and be well delivered. And so many adaptations get this part wrong. That said, I don’t spend a lot of time on live action anything these days much preferring to watch anime.

      1. Hollywood is terrible crap, so yeah I get you. I prefer anime for similar reasons. Better and more interesting stories, fewer tropes.

  8. You are so right about Erased. I was a huge fan of the anime as you know, and that’s why I was really hesitant to start on this, but it was a pleasant suprise and it really turned out great.
    My favorite anime adaptation to date though, is the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy. All three films are amazing. I watched them a few years back (even wrote some posts on them in the beginning days of my blog), but the three films are truly astounding. Everything in those, the music, action, actors just work. I really hope you get a chance to one day see them, because I’m pretty sure you will love them.
    The second that comes to mind is the Deathnote films (and I’m talking about the Japanese versions). They made four of them. Three Deathnote films, and one spinoff that focussed on L. The only one I haven’t seen is the last one, because it was released years later, and never was brought out on dvd here. The other’s though are well worth watching!😊
    Hopefully we will get some great adaptations in the future that do things right, instead of wrong 😊

    1. Okay, I am adding the Rurouni Kenshin movies to my must watch list. I’m not sure when I’ll get to them, but I will get to them. They’ve been recommended a lot and seem to be consistently praised so hopefully I’ll enjoy them.
      I didn’t really like the Japanese movies for Death Note. They just didn’t strike a chord with me. I didn’t hate them either, they just kind of told the story and I was happy enough to watch them but they didn’t really stand out as particularly good or bad.

      1. Well, knowing your taste in movies, I’m pretty sure that you will love them. 😊 Looking forward to hearing what you thought of them once you see them 😊
        As for the Deathnote films…fair enough. I have seen them more than a decade ago, and was a totally different kind of movie watcher back in those days. Might be that when I see them now, I have a totally different opinion 😊

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