Earlier this year, audiences all over the world got to witness the live-action adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell,” starring Scarlet Johansson in the lead. Despite being a big budget production, the film miserably failed at the box office. Apart from being poorly adapted, it failed to find an audience in Asia due to Hollywood’s whitewashing for casting a white actor in an Asian character.
Netflix also tanked with its own take on the live-action adaptation of “Death Note.” Flat storyline, gimmicky characters, poor execution of themes and tones are some of the factors that disappointed its hardcore audiences.
In comparison, “Dragonball Evolution” is considered worse than the aforementioned films. Hence, such disappointing re-imaginations have made fans question Hollywood, whether they would ever get it right.
Despite many failed attempts of adapting anime in live-action films for the big screen, Hollywood can’t seem to stop eyeing on it. Therefore, fans try to avoid these films at all costs.
Hollywood has truly run out of ideas.
Yet, the US is determined to cash in on some of Japan’s biggest franchises, such as “Pokemon,” “Cowboy Bebop,” “Sword Art Online,” “Naruto,” and “One Piece” are all getting the Hollywood treatment.
While “Akira,” after years of being stuck in development, has been reportedly circling a director, JJ Abrams has recently confirmed that he will be bringing the hugely popular anime, “Your Name,” into a live-action film. However, fans and critics are not excited.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Paramount and JJ Abrams will be collaborating with Eric Heisserer, who will likely write the screenplay for the adaptation.
While “Ghost in the Shell” was adapted from a manga series, “Your Name” is only a single anime film. The narrative is very much nuanced and understated, with intricacies and characterisation of the Japanese culture.
Hollywood is not shy when it comes to adaptations since studios know they can keep the franchise afloat for a long period of time. Franchises from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which took a great risk making “Iron Man” back in 2008, has paid off well for its studio. Any collateral damage is small if one film fails at the box office.
During a time of re-imagination and adaptation of stories on to the big screen, Hollywood writers and producers admit to seeking beyond borders for original concepts. Therefore, Japanese stories and characters carry diversity, emotions and aura.
While the anime fandom had fizzled out in the US after its surge in the late 90s, audiences have rejuvenated the medium through series like “Attack on Titan,” and iconic franchises like “Dragon Ball” and “One Piece,” which continue to reign supreme. Since such contents have spilled into international communities, Hollywood wishes to take advantage of these contents too.
Disaster and disappointment can be avoided following proper research, good marketing, better re-imagination of the original concept and idea, and most importantly, casting. To appeal anime’s hardcore fans, prior research for Hollywood is very important.