News broke today concerning Margot Robbie, the brilliant leading lady from The Wolf of Wall Street, and the live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell. Robbie is apparently in talks to star in the movie, presumably taking on the role of Major Motoko Kusanagi, which has been met with mixed opinions from die-hard fans across the board. While Robbie is extremely talented, it can be a little disheartening to see the Americanization of a techno espionage franchise so heavily based in Japanese-influenced futuristic lore. What's more, most of the live action adaptations of anime have built themselves something of a bad rep.
Take a look back at Dragonball Evolution (or don't, because sure as heck I didn't want to), the US-based take on one of Japan's most popular franchises. Horrible casting, lazy costuming and a script that seemed like an intentional insult to the source material had fans in a raging frenzy for quite some time.
The diverse and weird personalities that the made the characters shine (Goku was a dunce, but not a two-hour long blank stare; Bulma's smarts and sass conquered aliens and desert bandits) and the hokey highschool plot left more than enough of a bad taste in my mouth. Shoddy SFX makeup changed green King Piccolo into a strange, dry-skinned anti-fetus monster played by Spike.
Honestly, this movie was a completely irredeemable train wreck that I could spend hours on, but this guy already did that, and he did it well:
Consider Fist of the North Star, the 1995 western-made film based on the anime of the same name. While Fist of the North Star (or Hokuto no Ken) suffered from 90's camp at it's finest, it was also a pretty unfaithful adaptation of the over-the-top, action-packed source material. Pair the cheap-for-their-time special effects that with writing that two thousand monkeys at two thousand typewriters must have come up with, and you've got a live-action movie meant for disaster.
Worth a dishonorable mention (despite not being an actual anime) is M. Night Shyamalan's Avatar: The Last Airbender for it's absolutely horrible casting, character butchering, and bland story. The film's only major strength were the visuals, which were stunning and made the concept of "bending" come to life in a concise, entertaining way. The characters, however, were empty, completely miscast, and often irritating to watch.
Outside of Ghost in the Shell, there are at least two major live-action films in development (or rumored to be in development): AKIRA and Cowboy Bebop. Both have been part of an on-again, off-again game, kicking off the rumor mill every few years and successfully sending the community into tiny uproars every now and then. While AKIRA seems like a fairly shaky concept for American producers to grasp, I think that Cowboy Bebop has just the right blend of Japanese-influenced sci-fi and western, jazz-fueled action. If the right people get behind it (hint: hire all of the artists that worked on [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073)), it could easily be one of the best anime-to-live-action adaptations of it's time.
What's your favorite anime, and how would you want to see it brought to life? Let me know in the comments!