It’s no small job to turn a famous anime series into a live-action film, and the results can vary widely. List of best and worst anime adaptations
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Live-action films based on anime typically have a bad reputation. This is because live-action movies lack the flexibility that hand-drawn animation possesses, intricate stories are diluted to fit the limited screentime, and emotional context is lacking in animated versions.
This is not imply that there haven’t been successful live-action adaptations of anime that have impressed audiences and drawn from their source material in a creative way. There are tremendous hurdles to developing a live-action anime adaptation, although several movies have succeeded in the endeavor. Although many anime fans believe these movies are uncommon treasures amid the abundant mass of live-action anime remakes that should never have been undertaken in the first place.
Updatedon Ben Hathaway wrote on December 27th, 2021: In the world of live-action anime adaptations, there are both good and awful examples. It’s not always easy to please both fans and critics in the same movie. In fact, many people consider a few of these to be among the best live-action anime adaptations ever, and they’re definitely worth remembering.
Good Live-Action Anime Movies
1. Gintama (2017)
One of the most critically acclaimed animes of the last decade, Hideaki Sorachi’sGintama parodies previous Japanese cartoons while also injecting a healthy dose of slapstick fun and meta-humor into the proceedings.
Live-action adaptation of Gintama by Yichi Fukuda in 2017 is just as good as the anime, bringing superb humor and a gratifying dose of Gintoki Sakata, its nose-picking protagonist. Gintama 2: Rules Are Made To Be Broken was developed and released just a year after the first film’s release.
2. Detective Pikachu (2019)
Both financially and creatively successful, the Detective Pikachu anime-based video game was both a new take on an old favorite as well as a new take on its most beloved character. Storytelling is more prominent than in most other Pokemon games (not unlike the original 90s anime series).
The film, which starred Ryan Reynolds in the main role and was a critical and commercial hit, also made a lot of money. Fans of the franchise and its small creatures alike will like this flick, and those who haven’t will, too.
3. Rurouni Kenshin (2012)
Artist Nobuhiro Watsuki and director Kazuhiro Furuhashi worked long and hard to create the iconic character known as Samurai X, a.k.a. Kenshin Himura. Rurouni Kenshin’s portrayal of a Meiji-era samurai is eloquent and historically accurate.
Even though it appeared difficult to bring these attributes to life in a live-action film, director Keishi Ohtomo succeeded in bringing this renowned fictional warrior to life in a way that was every bit as breathtaking as the animated version. While numerous samurai films have been created afterwards, this one has stood out as one of the best.
4. Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
Since its premiere in 1993, Battle Angel Alita has been a massively successful anime. Battle Angel Alita, about a decrepit cyborg with no memories that is discovered by a cybernetics doctor in a post-apocalyptic future, was so well-liked that its circulation reached a record high between 1990 and 1995. In order to make this work in the real world, it was going to be difficult.
When Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron pulled the project out of production hell, they were able to make this iconic anime look and sound real. Despite the film’s poor box office performance, fans of the anime were impressed by its impressive character design and few to no deviations from the original source material…
5. Ace Attorney (2012)
The veteran Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike is well-known for his willingness to try new things, including anime adaptations. That being said, Ace Attorney, an adaptation of the Capcom-produced anime and video games of the same name is one of his most successful adaptations.
Ace Attorney transfers Pheonix Wright and his courtroom antics to the silver screen in the most polished manner possible, complete with strange courtroom sequences and humor, a titillating knowledge of suspense, and some clever filming techniques.
6. Blade Of The Immortal (2017)
For Takashi Miike’s 100th picture, Blade of the Immortalis an excellent choice. An immortal warrior cursed with a life of blood and gore is brought to life in this film, which is based on the 2008 anime of the same name.
Blade of The Immortal, starring Takuya Kimura as Manji, has an exuberant filmmaking approach that matches the anime’s tense and emotionally draining plot. This is one of the best anime-to-movie adaptations ever, thanks to its fantastically brutal action sequences and strong dramatic performances.
Live-Action Anime Movies That Missed The Mark
7. The Guyver (1991)
Manga series Bio Booster Armor Guyver dealt with a technologically-organic apparatus that boosted the skills of its human user in a symbiotic relationship. Guyver, which first appeared in 1985, can still be located and read now.
Mark Hamill, best known for his work in the Star Wars trilogy, starred in the Americanized film adaptation of the Japanese television series. Matthew McConaughey portrays Sean Barker, who discovers an alien artifact that transforms him into “The Guyver.” Many critics and fans pointed out the film’s acting and comedic shortcomings.
8. Death Note (2017)
There are better non-anime shows for Death Note fans than Netflix’s film adaptation. Light Yagami, a teenage girl who discovers a notebook called “Death Note,” is the focus of the manga story.
The film has a lot in common with the original, but it tells the story in a very different way. In spite of Adam Wingard’s directorial vision, this film’s narrative was overcrowded with dull characters that failed to pique the audience’s interest (in stark contrast to the manga).
9. Ricki-Oh: The Story Of Ricki (1991)
Ricki Oh: The Story of Ricki, based on Masahiko Takajo’s Business Jump manga Ricki-Oh, is a far cry from its source material.
In spite of the serious subject matter—a vengeful spouse bent on vengeance—this film seems to be more amusing than gripping. Ricki Oh: The Story of Ricki is one of the worst anime-to-movie transfers in the previous 50 years because of the bad acting, the terrible English dubbing, and some humorously overblown action sequences.
10. Speed Racer (2008)
Speed Racer, better known to anime fans as Mach GoGoGo, is a mediocre adaptation when compared to its anime roots, while being one of the Wachowskis’ best films.
The film’s worst flaw is its over-the-top CGI animation, which detracts from the authentic feel of the story while really serving to enhance it. In addition, the emphasis was placed on the spectacular visuals at the expense of the story’s development and storyline. This live-action remake has been met with disdain by anime fans, even though it has a strong cult following.
11. Devilman (2004)
Many directors have used illustrator Go Nagai’s 1972 film Devilman as a model for their own work. This season’s release of Devilman Crybaby on Netflix has resurrected the series, making up for one of the best Netflix season finales in the last decade. However, Devilman, a 2004 live-action adaptation of this classic anime and manga that few people are aware of, was a little-known secret among enthusiasts.
With its over-the-top acting, cringe-worthy visual effects and constant attempts to cram information in, many anime fans found Hiroyuki Nasu’sDevilman to be one of the most cringe-worthy on-screen superhero transformations seen to date.
12. The Last Airbender (2010)
Avatar: The Last Airbender’s main characters have made some questionable decisions in their lives, but M. Night Shyamalan’s decision to adapt the popular anime into a live-action film is probably even more questionable.
The Last Airbender was a catastrophe from the start because it lacked a solid storyline, bad performances, and a tendency to tell too much in too little time. We can only hope that the upcoming television series tells Aang’s journey better than the film did.
13. Dragonball Evolution (2009)
This is a series that even the show’s creator is baffled as to why it’s been so popular for so long. Many fans were upset by the lack of a live-action adaptation of the animated series, which had been widely anticipated due to its enormous popularity.
This version of Saiyan’s story is not even on level with the poorest episodes of the animated series, many fans have said. Even the film’s screenwriter, who later apologized and said that he “dropped the Dragon Ball” when creating this live-action adaptation, said that Dragonball Evolution was so awful that he literally said that he “dropped the Dragon Ball” while writing it.