I can’t think of a single Live Action Anime film that didn’t end up being trash. Ghost in the Shell wasn’t too bad I’ve heard, but that seems to be a rare case. Films like the live-action adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist and Death Note are just garbage… let’s talk about why they’re so awful.
When it comes to making a Live Action Anime movie, you need to consider what you’re trying to accomplish. Will the movie follow the original story from the anime? Will it be its own story arc? Or will it just be based on the world and its concepts? Deciding what you wanna do first is critical because this will either give the producer freedom or restrictions on what they can do with the movie. Following the original story can make for a restricted and crunched movie that doesn’t pay homage to its anime counterpart. On the other hand, if a new arc is followed, they still need to be sure to be canon to the series or else it’ll get a load of hate just using the name of the anime.
Once the story is decided, then it’s time to tell it. This is usually where things go south.
Character & World Building
When you watch an anime, each episode tends to lead towards developing a character or developing the world making you feel immersed and invested. Live action anime usually fails to accomplish this. For example, the Fullmetal Alchemist live action movie expected the viewers to have already watched the anime to have a single clue of what was going on. When you produce a movie, you need to create the world the movie is taking place in. Just because there was already an anime for the movie, doesn’t mean every viewer knows the world and basics of what is going on.
What needs to be done to solve this issue is to either slow down the pace and stop trying to squeeze entire seasons/series into a single movie. That or just create your own story arc in the world the anime takes place in.
The only thing I can commend the live action movie of Death Note for is that they followed their own version of the original story (in other words they followed the concept, not the plot). Since they did that, they were able to stray from the original story and create their characters however they needed. Sure the movie sucked and Light was completely off from the character in the anime which ticked me and others off… Though props to them for managing to make the movie watchable for those who have never seen the anime. That’s what a movie adaptation of anything should be able to do. Be it an anime adaptation, a book adaptation, or video game adaptation. The viewer should be treated as if they have no knowledge of what they’re about to see sot he film can build the world for them.
Light From Death Note (Film/Anime… You should know the difference though)
Back on the topic of Light from the Death Note live action movie. I think he was miscast. In the anime, Light is this super all-around perfect human-being making him the legendary god-like figure he’s portrayed as. He’s a huge wuss in the live action movie though… I know I mentioned that following your own story is fine and can result in a good movie, but its wrong changing characters from their original story. Once the characters from the original change along with the world’s alteration, the movie is no longer an adaptation and more of its own standalone title.
Anyhoo- Casting errors can lead to disasters in the production of a movie. Accidentally give the role of the main character to an actor who can’t play the part, then the entire movie is screwed. A casting error was made in the Fullmetal Alchemist live action movie, and that resulted in the character of Edward Elric to be butchered. Finding a specific actor to fit the personality of who their playing is so important when making a live adaptation. If you fail to present the character from the anime, you’ve already failed a key part in the creation of the film.
Live action anime films tend to not have much funding. They’re usually running on a smaller budget which results in a lower quality film which IS hard to overcome. We can still point out that the production value will kill a movie though. If there’s a movie like Fullmetal Alchemist that relies heavily on CGI in its action scenes, we expect some decent CGI. Sadly, the CGI in Fullmetal Alchemist was poorly done resulting in some goofy action sequences. Lack of funding can also result in bad script writing, bad casting, and even bad props. If you were to compare Fullmetal Alchemist to any Marvel movie, the funding would show to be massively different and the popularity, in return, is also massively different.
Some of the CGI is shown in the trailer above
Don’t get me wrong, there can be masterpieces that are made with low budgets. Thought that’s just so uncommon, it’s hardly worth mentioning. I don’t blame the production team of the movie for having a lack of funds, but I have to say lack of funds results in lower quality films.
To wrap things up, I wanted to bring up a movie that strayed from the original story but nailed the execution of their film. That movie I’m talking about is Ready Player One. I know, I know, that’s not a live-action anime film, but adapting an anime into a movie is relatively the same as adapting a book into a movie.
Ready Player One didn’t copy the book chapter by chapter, but instead just based itself off of the book and its world. Its use of concept over direct plot was an incredibly smart decision which resulted in a very enjoyable movie. If live action anime films were produced similarly to how Ready Player One was produced, then maybe we’d get good live action anime films. If not, another reason live action anime is so bad could be due to 2D characters being represented by 3D people. Obviously, 2D is better than 3D.
Anyways! If you want a review of Ready Player One, Karl Smart, a fellow writer here on The Outerhaven wrote a review for the film. I think he did a swell job, so be sure to check it out here if you’re interested. Other than that, I hope you enjoyed the article, and I hope you have a good day! <3