It seems just like yesterday when anime and manga were just coming up in the world (via North America) in the 80’s and 90’s. Now this ‘niche’ medium has captured the attention of the mainstream media (aka, Hollywood). With the level that anime is at now, it was only going to be a matter of time before LA came running. For some of us; Hollywood finally acknowledging the anime medium as a work of art is a blessing, while others think that giving it the ‘Hollywood Treatment’ would tarnish the image and concept of what it was truly meant to be. When it comes to anime titles going live-action, it all depends on what direction the director and the creator of the series goes with it.
Take the live-action Ghost in the Shell movie for example. Even though it didn’t get an A-grade ranking overall, many fans were happy that they got the original Japanese director involved in the process. Based on what we’ve seen and heard from other fans (and Chris Stuckmann), the movie actually wasn’t as bad as people thought it was going to be. They kept several of the scenes from the anime that had us on the edge of our seats; even that ‘one’ scene that we ALL know too well. There are some live-action titles from anime that do extremely well; case and point the Rurouni Kenshin live-action series. Although that live-action was produced in Japan, it became a box office hit upon making its way to North America; and eventually into every Kenshin fan’s DVD/Blu-Ray collection.
On the flip side however, there are live-action titles from Hollywood that not only failed terribly, but the people behind it had to apologize for what the outcome turned out to be. When it comes to a niche medium such as anime, you can’t go at it with a ‘business man’ or ‘business woman’ mindset – especially if the target audience is a community of hardcore anime fans. If Hollywood is going to take this route or wishes to continue on this path of live-action anime adaptations, they need to consider the audience that their targeting; a niche community that is very passionate about their medium.
Sure, a nice paycheck may take care of some things that you may want or need, but is it worth the hate mail of hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of fans who are critical of every detail? Anime is completely different from comic books (i.e. Marvel and D.C.), so some people in Hollywood believe that they can give it the same treatment when it comes to live-action. Sadly, it doesn’t always work.
Fan-made live-action anime movies have been popping up all over YouTube, and that just goes to show you that (sometimes) big budgets don’t (always) bring in big results. They don’t have to be ‘fans’ of the anime title that they’re trying to make a live-action adaptation of, but if they could just see the project (movie) from the viewpoint of a hardcore fan, this would give Hollywood an idea of where to go with the task that lies before them. If Dragonball Evolution has taught us anything, it’s that Hollywood has a LOT to learn about the anime community.