Why has Hollywood failed to turn classic Anime series into successful movies?
From Dragon Ball to The Last Airbender, the normally reliable folks in Hollywood have consistently failed to properly adapt classic Anime series from Japan into viable movies. Why is that?
Well to be fair, some of the things that happen in japanese anime doesn't translate well into live action format. Like Dragonball's over the top and sometimes extremely campy humor often doesn't work in a live action format when you're trying to set up an intense action sequence between your hero and villain. Granted, you can get away with it in a cartoon because most people generally don't expect a lot of realism, so they allow things to slide more for the sake of entertainment. Whereas live action, it seems most people demand a lot more realism.
Another problem is that unlike Japan, anime has only achieved cult popularity status. It's never been something that's bee ingrained into western pop culture the same way something like spider-man, superman, batman and etc have been throughout the years; hence it's a hard sell for studios to sell it to a western audiences that may not be as familiar to the anime as most die hard fans are.
Sadly, this leads to our other problem. Many studio execs feel that if they were to cast a product that's fairly unknown in the usa, and tried using an all asian cast that most people aren't familiar with (outside of indie and foreign film fans), then it'll bomb. Hence, you see a lot of story changes to the characters race like making Goku white for example, so he'll appeal to a western audience more.
However, this also pisses off a lot of the die hard fans as well because in Japan many feel that Goku is their equivalent to Superman, as he's very iconic over there. Therefore, it's a tough sell. Would Dragonball have worked better with an Asian goku instead of justin chatwin? I doubt it because the script and everything else was terrible in that film to begin with, but you get what i mean.
Unfortunately, I doubt we'll get a good anime live action film any time soon. I know there's talk that akira might get made, and it's been said that it'll take place in manhattan in the usa, but it'll be bought by japan in the distant future; hence offering both hardcore fans and casual movie fans a compromise to where they can still have known caucasion actors in the main roles, while incorporating asian themes. whether that'll work or not, i don't know. I guess we'll find out once the film is released.
I actually liked The Last Airbender. I think bad casting decisions, and cheesy interpretations kill these types of projects.
So true. I'll never forgive whoever put together that Dragon Ball fiasco.
Perhaps Hollywood producers and directors who are capable of not being cheesy are eager to work with big-name Hollywood actors, so only 2nd-rate (or lower) Hollywood talent works on Japanese anime-sourced projects.
They see it as too much of a risk for a very questionable return.
I doubt that you would see a blockbuster coming out of it, at least not in the US.
There are a fair number of animated big screen productions every year that are appealing to a broader audience.
True, but it's amazing to me how such great stories from these anime shows can't translate to the big screen. The makers already have key pieces in place, they just need to get the casting right. Yet they can't.
It doesn't work because they don't give it a fair chance! They try to mold anime plots into the age-old troupes what they know will make them at least a little money. It's bogus.
I'm just going to go ahead and agree with what's already been said about the problems with trying to adapt something which just doesn't work in live action. It really depends on what they're trying to adapt.
Dragon Ball is one of the more 'cartoonish' Anime franchises you're ever likely to come across. The movie was actually surprisingly faithful to that, if I remember right - but, that was part of the problem. It all just looked a bit silly in live action. Dragon Ball probably shouldn't have been adapted to live action for the same reasons that we will (hopefully) never see a live-action Pokemon film.
I always figured that that was the reason that the film version of Astroboy that came out a few years ago went for CGI, rather than live-action, too. Someone, thankfully, realised early on that Astroboy would look ridiculous in live-action.
The Last Airbender didn't work for entirely different reasons. There's no reason I can think of why a Last Airbender live-action movie couldn't have worked - but, the one we got was just bad in all the ways a movie can be bad.
I'll finish this off by allowing myself a brief moment of fan-boy related pedantry. 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' (and the sequel series 'Legend of Korra') isn't Japanese. It's an American animated series with a heavy Japanese Anime influence.
It looks like we're going to have to leave it in the hands of the faithful to get what we really want. That's why I really support Robot Underdog's attempt at making an indie Dragonball Z movie. If a small group of loyal fans can produce a better movie than a Hollywood studio, then Hollywood should be ASHAMED of themselves. The trailers and teaser pics of Robot Underdog's "Dragonball Z: Light of Hope" ALREADY look a million times better than that crap movie the USA DARED to release.
I think the major issue is that execs are scared to take risks, so they stick to formulas. The formulas will never make them a big success, but they're tried and true so they know they'll see some sort of return. Until these studios are willing to put themselves out there and try something different, all we're going to get is crap layered with crap and more crap.
By the way, I'm fairly certain that The Last Airbender is not anime, just drawn in an anime style and is actually produced by Nickelodeon in the USA. So the fact that Hollywood can't even pay respect to animated series from its own country is pitiful!
But I'm sure they'll spare no expensive to push out yet ANOTHER Superman or Batman movie, because it's not like we don't have enough of THOSE already.
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