What live-action anime adaptations are screwing up and how to fix it – The Varsity

Adjusting is difficult.

As a creator, you must justify the existence of a new version of a much-loved media franchise, while satisfying the hungry hordes of fans ready to tear your creation apart because you didn’t fit the preconceived notion of the community about the piece.

That said, some customizations just fall completely flat on their face. In my opinion, there is no media genre more guilty of this than anime. For this article, I put myself through the hellish experience of watching some pretty bad live-action anime adaptations to explore why they seem to consistently fail.

Someone please write my name in that notebook

When I first thought of anime, I thought of Obituary. It seemed like a really good starting point if someone wanted to watch anime; it has captivating characters and an interesting concept where if you write someone’s name in a supernatural notebook they die. Naturally, I decided to start with the live-action adaptation, which is a movie rather than a TV series.

Oh my God.

It was horrible.

The acting was drier than a box of crackers left in the Sahara. The plot, on closer inspection, was thinly strung at best. The worst part of the whole thing, though, was the perversion of the core characters and the removal of the Death Note’s terrifying element.

The character of Light Turner – known in the anime as Light Yagami – is the clearest example of this perversion. In the anime, Light Yagami is a cold, calculating sociopath who routinely uses and throws people away. In the live-action adaptation, Light Turner is an overly hormonal, easily manipulated teenager. Even worse, they eliminate Yagami’s zeal and his steadfast belief that he must rid the world of criminals and those he considers evil.

That change in character takes away a lot of the fun in the anime. Watching every episode makes you constantly ask yourself, “How far will Yagami go?” And the answer is “far, very far.” But in the live-action, that’s just not there.

What’s even more outrageous is how the live-action throws off what makes the Death Note so damn terrifying: its supernatural power to kill anyone at any moment. The first time viewers see Yagami using the Death Note in the anime, he uses it on a criminal on the news who has taken a daycare hostage. Although Yagami initially dismisses the notebook as a joke, he soon changes his mind when the criminal drops dead from a heart attack.

By contrast, Turner’s first victim dies by decapitation, and the death scene is comical. The bully is killed in a mix of Rube Goldberg machine and butterfly effect style events that trigger his beheading. Rather than highlighting the power of the Death Note, the scene discredits it.

If Netflix’s live-action was more faithful to the main characters and stuck to the terrifying supernatural element of the Obituary, it could have been a better live-action piece. Cramming the story into a one hour and forty minute movie didn’t help its quality either.

Time to wrestle some cattle

Netflix’s live action Cowboy Bebop TV series suffer from the same problems as the Obituary Movie: Changes in characters that affect the overall feel of the story. This is most seen in the anime’s antagonists, Vicious and Julia.

First, the Netflix series tries to portray Vicious in a more sympathetic light by showing how he was abused by his father, who then turned him into the psychopath we see on screen.

But that doesn’t work. The reason Vicious’s character works so well in the anime is that he is completely emotionless and power hungry. In the anime, Vicious tries to get revenge on Spike – the main character of Cowboy Bebop – for taking Julia away and for leaving the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate, the crime organization they both worked for, Vicious’s feelings for Julia are about control: If I can’t have her, he seems to believe, no one can.

In the live action, Julia stays with Vicious for fear he would kill her otherwise. That changes the dynamic between Vicious and Spike, as Vicious is no longer an emotionless force, but is instead motivated by emotion: his “love” for Julia. He becomes more of an overly emotional male child than the cold-hearted killer he should be.

This brings us to Julia. While it’s good that the live-action makes her an active character – if someone is being chased they should probably have a more active response to it – it messes with the original source material and therefore requires a whole new story to be written.

The story that Netflix came up with isn’t a good one, which becomes even more painfully apparent when compared to the anime’s story.

I should have studied alchemy

Our final entry in this saga of pain comes in the form of Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. All in all, it went well. It didn’t have the charm of the 2009 anime, but the special effects helped keep it together.

What I’m talking about is the fact that they didn’t do anything interesting with the characters at all. While Netflix’s live action Obituary and Cowboy Bebop trying to do something different with their characters and story, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood not. The main characters Edward and Alphonse Elric are unchanged, as are the majority of the supporting cast, except for Shou Tucker.

I welcomed the change in Tucker’s character, but there were also some major issues. In the 2009 anime, he was designed as a character to be present for only one episode to aid the Elric brothers in their quest to reclaim their original bodies. In the live-action, he stays alive until close to the end of the film.

While Tucker’s survival allowed the characters to jump from one plot point to another in ways different from the 2009 anime, it felt like a strange anomaly to the story, and it got more superficial as it went on. plot progressed.

Interestingly enough, the failures of all three of these adaptations focus on characters. Either the writers failed to explain how their changes in characters would affect the story, or they did nothing at all, leaving the adaptation feeling hollow and flat.

But perhaps this could be a cautionary tale for future adaptations. Perhaps it will prompt writers to explore an anime’s established personas and use them to create original works from beloved franchises. And if it doesn’t, I would at least recommend that you hate these movies for their laughter and entertainment value.

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