GL 4

”From the very first stages…no one is thinking about the hardcore fans of the series.”

Recently, more and more anime and manga are getting adapted into live-action films. It’s not something that’s just happening with current top sellers, either. For example, filming is about to start on a live-action Fullmetal Alchemist, a franchise for which the anime and manga source material concluded six years ago.

However, oftentimes these live-action versions fail to impress preexisting fans. Last year’s two live-action Attack on Titan movies were met with a monstrous backlash from disappointed anime fans who saw little to none of the original work’s appeal in them. But manga creator Hiroya Oku, writer and artist of science fiction series Gantz, feels like that’s to be expected.

In a pair of recent tweets, Oku offered his sobering observations on the mentality of making live-action versions of anime and manga, starting with:

“Why are all of these poor, force-fit live-action adaptations of manga getting made? Because if you take a series with name recognition and cast a handsome actor in the lead role, even if the story and visuals are just whatever, tons of people will go see it. From the very first stages of these movies, no one is thinking about the hardcore fans of the series. Unless there’s more money to be made, no one is going to make these films.”

While anime fans who have been burned by one too many sub-par adaptations are no doubt nodding their heads, others might be scratching theirs. Despite Oku’s harsh words, his own Gantz was made into not one, but two live-action films, which were released in 2011. So why do they get a pass?

Gantz and I Am a Hero [another manga with a live-action film that opened this April] aren’t force-fit adaptations, because of their realistic elements. The main characters are Japanese, and they’re set in Japan, so filming can be done in the actual locations for the story. It’s impossible to produce a good film that recreates the entire setting and world view of a shonen manga fantasy.”

Oku may be on to something. One recent and widely crowd-pleasing live-action adaptation was the trilogy of films based on Rurouni Kenshin, a series about Japanese swordsmen fighting in Japan during the 19th century, which again makes for a low hurdle for Japanese film production companies to clear in crafting something that captures the spirit of the original work.

By Oku’s logic, the Fullmetal Alchemist movie already has two strikes against it, as it has a photogenic pop star playing the lead role and is placing its all-Japanese cast in a European-inspired setting. The film’s opening is still several months away, though, so we’ll have to wait a while longer to see if Oku’s skepticism towards projects of this type is always accurate.

Source: Hachima Kiko
Top image: Gantz official website