ByAngelo Delos Trinos, writer at
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Angelo Delos Trinos

For anime fans, 2017 is a goldmine of movies. There are 17 live-action adaptations of anime hitting the big screen, with 14 having already been released in Japan. One of the most anticipated adaptations is the live-action take on Fullmetal Alchemist, an incredibly popular anime series from the '00s.

But while fans eagerly await the big screen debut of Fullmetal Alchemist characters Eric and Alphonse, one of the people behind the original series has expressed his opinion on the upcoming movie — and it's not pretty.

Full Of Metal, Alchemists And Bad Ideas

While speaking on a stage show in Tokyo, Japan, Fullmetal Alchemist anime director Seiji Mizushima reportedly described the movie as "a bad idea." Specifically, the animation director criticized the film's all-Japanese cast. The story takes place in the fictional twentieth-century, European-style nation of Amestris, where the original characters are predominantly Caucasian. Here are his comments:

"It was a bad idea to only use Japanese actors... If you asked me whether I think the cast could pull it off, I'd say that no, they can't. It's hard for actors to capture the look and feel of the original manga.”

'Fullmetal Alchemist' [Credit: Bones]
'Fullmetal Alchemist' [Credit: Bones]

Mizushima also had the same criticisms for the upcoming live-action version of , which takes place in a Feudal Japan that has been invaded by aliens from another world. Without mincing words, the director flat out said that "Gintama just looked stupid."

He elaborated on these complaints by saying that no matter how talented the actors may be, there are some things that simply look better on a comic book's page or an animation cell compared to what a feature film could do for the same source material:

“2D is freer than live action. You can express more with it.”

However, this does not mean that Mizushima is hoping that these movies tank at the box office. On the contrary, he says he's "rooting" for them and hopes that they succeed.

Casting Controversies And Anime

Mizushima's statements about the casting in Fullmetal Alchemist mirror the controversies that surrounded recent adaptations of the popular titles Death Note and Ghost in the Shell, which faced immense backlash for casting predominantly Caucasian actors for Japanese roles.

It should be noted that, despite the outrage, the creators of Death Note and Ghost in the Shell actually approved of the American remakes of their works. Ghost in the Shell director Mamuro Oshii has been quoted as saying that he has no problems with Scarlett Johansson taking the role of Major Motoko Kusanagi.

'Death Note'/'Ghost in the Shell' [Credit: Netflix/Paramount Pictures]
'Death Note'/'Ghost in the Shell' [Credit: Netflix/Paramount Pictures]

Oshii told IGN:

"What issue could there possibly be with casting her?... I believe having Scarlett play Motoko was the best possible casting for this movie. I can only sense a political motive from the people opposing it, and I believe artistic expression must be free from politics."

Similarly, the creative team of writer Tsugumi Oba and illustrator Takeshi Obata both loved Adam Wingard's reinterpretation of Death Note:

"This is what a Hollywood 'Death Note' movie should be. Personally, I was engrossed with the ending! In a good way, it both followed and diverged from the original work so the film can be enjoyed, of course by not only the fans, but also by a much larger and wider audience."

Fullmetal Alchemist, though, has yet to face backlash on par with that of Death Note and Ghost in the Shell. The debate about the role of race in movie casting has been around longer than some would think, but it's gained new life in today's political climate. Paramount blames the whitewashing controversy for the poor the financial outcome of Ghost in the Shell, and accusations of whitewashing have affected the casting in the upcoming Hellboy reboot.

Mizushima's statements will surely give those interested in the subject matter more material to analyze, and will keep the debate alive for years to come.

What do you think of Mizushima's opinions on Fullmetal Alchemist and Gintama? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

[Source: Anime News Network]


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