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Top Ten Best Japanese Live-Action Anime and Manga Films
The Top Ten Live-Action Anime And Manga Films
Unless you live under a rock, you know that anime (Japanese animation) and manga (Japanese comics) are both very popular worldwide. Just do an Internet search for either one. With Hollywood already mining DC and Marvel comics for all they are worth, it's only logical that they would turn to another source for more hits. And they have.
Here are some of the rumored and confirmed upcoming films based on anime and manga and the big names associated with them:
- Ghost in the Shell (Steven Spielberg)
- Battle Angel Alita (James Cameron)
- Bleach (Peter Segal and Michael Ewing)
- Akira (The Hughes Brothers)
- Vampire Hunter D (rumored)
- InuYasha (rumored.. actually, it's been rumored for awhile)
- Naruto (longstanding rumor)
But this influx of anime and manga movies is by no means the first wave. There are several that have already made the jump to the big screen though not all in the US.
So here are the top ten anime and manga-inspired films that have already paved the path for the next wave!
1. Death Note (2006)
This is probably the best made film out of the whole bunch, and at least the most popular (though how it beats Lone Wolf and Cub is beyond me, but hey, this is popularity, not artistic value).
Anyway, three films were based on this popular manga and anime series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. First was Death Note, released on June 17, 2006, then Death Note: The Last Name, released on November 3 of the same year, followed a couple of years later by L: Change the World, released in February 2008.
Noticing how well these films have gone over, Warner Bros. is planning a remake.
Death Note (JAPAN 2006) - Trailer
Death Note (2017)
Death Note is getting a reboot, this time in an American film directed by Adam Wingard.
Netflix is developing the film, which is written by Jeremy Slater
The film will star Nat Wolff, Margaret Qualley, Keith Stanfield, Paul Nakauchi, Shea Whigham, and Willem Dafoe.
Fans are a little upset at the casting to say the least.
2. Hana Yori Dango (1995)
You may not know this film by the the Japanese name, but you may know the American translation, Boys Over Flowers. This very popular shōjo manga series was created by Yoko Kamio. Although a film was released in 1995, the most popular film version was in 2008, released as the end of the live-action Japanese TV series.
3. Dragonball Evolution (2009)
Again proving there is no accounting for taste, Dragonball Evolution comes in at number three. Hey, I did say this list was by popularity, someone out there is looking for it. Of course, this is based on the Japanese manga and anime series written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama and even though the film flopped at the box office (with both critics and with fans), there is a sequel rumored.
Well, they made a House of the Dead 2, so why not?
4. City Hunter (1993)
This 1993 Hong Kong martial arts action comedy film was based on the manga series written and illustrated by Tsukasa Hojo and it starred Jackie Chan as Ryo Saeba, so how bad could it be?
They even give a nod to Bruce Lee's Game of Death in the film and there's a Street Fighter sequence that you really need to see to understand.
I really don't understand why this film doesn’t show up on all great B-movie lists.
5. Oldboy (2003)
A South Korean film based on a Japanese manga, it's a great film, but very disturbing. It's been reviewed many times, so I'm not gonna go into it too deeply, but let me say it is definitely not for the faint of heart.
6. Fist of the North Star (1995)
This is an American straight-to-video released, loosely based on the manga and anime by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara. Again, not the greatest movie in the world, but it has become a cult film and has its share of fans.
It starred Gary Daniels (who will be in the awesome Sylvester Stallone film The Expendables), Malcom McDowell, Costas Mandylor, Downtown Julie Brown (remember her?), and Leon (Big Van Vader) White in it.
How bad could it be?
Fist of the North Star (1995)
7. Cutie Honey (2004)
I've already written an entire article about Cutie Honey that covered the film, so let me just say that I liked this acid trip version of the Power Rangers. It has Eriko Sato in it, so that should count for something.
8. Ichi the Killer (2001)
Another disturbing film based on the manga series by Hideo Yamamoto, this is a really well-made movie, but you have to remember, at the Toronto International Film Festival when they had a midnight screening, they handed out vomit bags.
And does the main character remind you of anyone from The Dark Knight?
9. Crying Freeman (1995)
This French and Canadian-produced action film was based on the manga by Kazuo Koike and Ryoichi Ikegami. Actually, the 1995 film was the third film based on the manga: In 1990, two Hong Kong films were released that were loosely based on Crying Freeman.
The 1995 film starred another cult action star, Mark Dacascos. You may remember Mark from Double Dragon, Kickboxer 5, and oddly enough, as the Chairman from Iron Chef America.
10. The Guyver (1991)
Finally we have a film that may just be my favorite one on the whole list. The Guyver was based on the Bio-Booster Armor Guyver manga series written by Yoshiki Takaya.
I can't really say why I liked this film and the 1994 sequel Guyver: Dark Hero so much, I just did.
Maybe it was the classic cult film cast of the first one that included Mark Hamill, Jimmie Walker (yes..JJ), Spice Williams (my favorite stuntwoman and a really nice person), Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, 'nuff said,) and one of the great scream queens, Linnea Quigley.
Guyver: Dark Hero, didn’t have the stellar cast the first one did, and they replaced Jack Armstrong (?) with David Hayter (the voice of Solid Snake and Big Boss in the Metal Gear video games), but it got a better reception, some of the critics actually liked it.
Funny how in this poster, at least, they make it look like Hamill is wearing the Guyver armor.
Update: The Rest of the...Best?
Attack on Titan (2015)
Attack on Titan (2015)
Of course, the big news now is that Attack on Titan will be live-action. Two films will be released in 2015. The script was written by Yūsuke Watanabe, Tomohiro Machiyama, and creator Hajime Isayama.The Titans have been revealed, and they look bigger than the ones in the manga and anime.
Since the film came out, the South China Morning Post called the movie, "One of the most perversely original fantasy movies in recent memory, this adaptation of a Japanese manga series is a schizophrenic mix of genres."
Anime News Network said, "Outstanding and immersive aesthetic unlike any other horror movie, swiftly paced and gripping start to finish."
Kotaku said "The First Attack on Titan Movie Stinks".
The Hollywood Reporter said it was "a visually refreshing blockbuster undermined by clichés."
Film Business Asia called it "a trash-horror fantasy that's a big-budget B picture."
More Live-Action Anime
Here are some more live-action anime films that either weren't around when I first did this list, or I just plain missed them. Again, I list them according to popularity, best to last, but from reading the reviews, I don't think anime and manga fans actually like any of these films.
Gantz and Gantz: Perfect Answer (both 2011)
The Last Airbender (2010)
Sky High (2003)
Speed Racer (2008)
Initial D (2005)
Space Battleship Yamato (2010)
Blood: The Last Vampire (2009)
Cromartie High—The Movie (2005)
Live Action Anime
Which one is your favorite out of these films?
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Ghost in the Shell is coming out in 2017 as an, "American science fiction crime film"
The film will star Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Michael Pitt, Takeshi Kitano, Chin Han, Lasarus Ratuere and Juliette Binoche.
Fans are more than a little upset that ScarJo will be playing the lead.
Having them, "whitewash" the character was bad enough, but then fans found out that the filmmakers looked at using CGI to make Scarlett look Asian, and they got even madder.
Interestingly enough, fans in Japan didn't get upset as upset as Americans because most already assumed that Hollywood would choose a white actress for the lead role.