Legendary Entertainment is ready to roll the dice on adapting the biggest anime mecha series of all time for the overseas live-action movie market.

Anime Expo, North America’s largest celebration of Japanese animation and pop culture, is going on right now in Los Angeles. As with every year, the event is filled with announcements that fill fans with excitement…and this year, also at least one that’s filling many of them with dread.

On the opening day of the convention, Sunrise, the animation studio owned by toy company Bandai, announced that it’s entered into an agreement with Legendary Entertainment to co-produce a live-action Gundam film, bringing anime’s most prolific mecha series to the big screen with live actors for the first time.

▼ Announcement teaser for the live-action Gundam movie

“But wait!” those of you with long memories (or simply lacking the ability to repress past traumas) cry. “There already was a live-action Gundam movie, called G-Saviour! And it was terrible!” You’re right on both counts, but G-Saviour, which was created in partnership with Canadian film studio Polestar Entertainment, aired only on Japanese TV, which makes the upcoming film from Legendary the first live-action Gundam to play in theaters.


The project seems like an incredibly risky venture. Anime-to-live-action adaptations have an extremely spotty track record, especially when produced outside of Japan. Hollywood’s Dragonball Evolution and Ghost in the Shell were largely met with laughter and/or anger by audiences and critics. Legendary itself has had mixed results with Japanese-sourced or Japanese-inspired movie material, with vaguely lukewarm reactions to its 2014 Godzilla and pair of Pacific Rim movies (not to mention the two films based on Japanese video game publisher Capcom’s Dead Rising franchise, neither of which many people noticed existed or remember).

There’s also the fact that Gundam is Japan’s absolute number-one archetypal mecha series, with pacing, themes, characterization, and visual motifs that are all extremely representative of anime’s distinct storytelling style. It’s hard to imagine that will translate well into live-action, especially with a non-Japanese, non-animation company pulling many of the strings. Japanese reactions on Twitter have been far from positive, with comments including:

“A live-action Gundam has already been attempted, and failed at.”
“Repeating the atrocities of the past.”
“Impossible…have you all forgotten the failure that was G-Saviour?”
“Have you no shame, you vulgar beasts?”
“Back away, you idiots. Nothing good will come of making this live-action.”

Nonetheless, the live-action Gundam movie is a go. At this moment, concrete details are virtually non-existent, though producer Cale Boyter (who’s also part of Legendary’s live-action Pokémon project) is said to be attached to the film. Whether the live-action film will an adaptation of an existing part of the anime canon, or an original story and setting, is unknown, as is whether the film will be using CG for all of its effects, or building scale models (something that we know is possible, considering that Tokyo has been graced by not just one, but two full-scale Gundam statues).

Sources: Jin, Twitter/@Gundam_FanC, Otakomu
Top image ©SoraNews24

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’ll probably completely change his tune on the live-action Gundam movie if it turns out Legendary is planning to film it stop-motion with Gunpla kits and/or they cast him as Char.