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Are live-action adaptations killing the anime industry?

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For as long as most can remember, audiences have watched Hollywood remakes of Japanese films, star wars to Disney Pixar movies. The influence of Japanese culture on Western media dates back decades and permeates even the most basic Western franchises. The Seven Samurai, released in Japan in 1954, has remained highly influential in cultures around the world. He’s listed as a major inspiration not only for the cowboy classic The Magnificent Seven, released in the United States in 1960, but also the original star wars trilogy with A thug and The Clone Wars animated series, with a direct homage to the episode honoring the original film. 2006 by Kon Satoshi Paprika is often credited for much of the material that appears in Christopher Nolan’s 2010 Creation, from concepts to side-by-side plan comparisons.


In recent years, instead of being inspirational, the anime has received direct live-action adaptations from Hollywood studios such as ghost in the shell in 2017. There are also more anime series receiving the same treatment via Netflix adaptations, such as Fullmetal Alchemist in 2018 and Cowboy bebop in 2021. However, while it might be fun as a fan to receive more content for a favorite series, are live-action adaptations hurting the anime industry? Live-action adaptations could begin to undermine the anime industry by placing live-action and animation in direct conflict with each other on the same source material, and it’s unclear who would win out. Here’s the breakdown on whether live-action adaptations are a threat to the anime industry and why.


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Lost connection with source material – Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell


While films inspired by Japanese works such as The Seven Samurai and Paprika are able to convey similar themes or stories, many direct adaptations have been unable to recreate the feel of the original. A glaring example of this is the recent Netflix cowboy bebop adaptation, which managed to include brief homages to the series but largely failed to impress audiences. When the anime aired in 1998, Spike Spiegel’s original story was a mature tale of loss and grief with a brutal shock ending. The surprise factor might have been lost in the live action, but the same themes incorporated into the story might have felt genuine. However, it wasn’t enough to stick the same basic premise and character names onto a spaceship story without understanding why audiences first connected with the series.


Hollywood blockbusters like ghost in the shell can also suffer from loss of connection, and it can be due to the simple desire to make that Hollywood blockbuster. The original anime was raw in the way it delivered its message of self-reliance, and a Hollywood reluctance to go that far couldn’t provide a faithful adaptation. Nor could the live action rating standards match the animation leeway. The irony that is a white woman playing the role of an Asian woman in a Hollywood film when that film so explicitly featured self-reliance also seemed lost on the studio, perhaps a better demonstration of the studio’s disconnect. with its source material.


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Overambitious ventures – Fullmetal Alchemist, Attack on Titan


Compared to cowboy bebop and ghost in the shell, live action Fullmetal Alchemist has a clearer idea of ​​why fans love the show – the relationships between the characters, especially between Edward and Alphonse Elric are the selling points and are emphasized at every possible turn. Fullmetal Alchemist is simply too long a series to attempt to squeeze into a film adaptation. Although clearly closer to reality, the events are far too compressed for the film to be considered a success. Couldn’t the studio have foreseen this problem? Otherwise, that in itself shows a real loss of connection from the source material which is equally glaring. Or was it just more important to get first Fullmetal Alchemist movie there? The same question arises with regard to The attack of the Titans live-action adaptation, which has been criticized from all angles for not even caring about trying to get the nationalities of the characters. A movie about man-eating giants had to be made, and the first studio to make it didn’t care much about the details.


The CGI effect


ghost-in-the-shell-impact-of-the-future

Why take so long to adapt a franchise as beloved as Fullmetal Alchemist? The obvious answer is that CGI was unaware of what the original animation was capable of, and as CGI has improved over the past few years, we have also seen Death threat (2017), Fullmetal Alchemist, ghost in the shell and recently announced A piece get the live treatment. As CGI continues to get cheaper and better, it stands to reason that more series will join the ranks. However, if a successful anime has already been made, why is there a need for a live-action adaptation? Animation can provide more style varieties and most importantly these anime already exist. cowboy bebop is over 20, so a remake at that age makes sense, but The attack of the Titans hadn’t even aired its season 2 when the live-action came out.

The most obvious conclusion is that, with CGI getting cheaper, live-action adaptations are an easy way to make money, especially when the fans are certainly already there. It’s not a bad thing for a studio to want to be profitable, of course, but it’s not a long-term solution, as evidenced by adaptations that don’t require big leaps in CGI technology.

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The threat to the anime industry


The rate at which live adaptations have accelerated suggests something else, and that is that a live adaptation is now used as a mark of excellence. It’s the same way that a lot of people won’t be interested in a book until it’s made into a movie. A live-action remake is synonymous with relevance and quality, and while that can sometimes be the case, many quality works are ignored in the same way that many of the greatest books in existence could never be made into a movie. An anime doesn’t have to prove itself by earning a live-action remake, and yet an anime without a remake may be more unpopular due to simple lack of exposure. It could even cause some titles to miss things like renewed seasons.

Are live-action adaptations hurting the anime industry? Ultimately, no. Nothing is that simple. There’s definitely something wrong with an industry that will be so short of content that an anime and a live-action version of a manga will be made within a year. However, just like The Seven Samurai and Paprika could inspire without producing straight copies, the same is possible between animation and live action. The most valuable thing that can be created right now, as always, is the stories, to keep audiences engaged, and the studios employed to bring those stories to life.

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