From Disney's Mulan to One Piece and One Punch Man of the Anime universe, we currently live in the era of live-action remakes. It's as if Tinsel town has finally hit the proverbial wall and ran out of original ideas, spawning all kind of film adaptions from other mediums such as comics, books, games and yes, even animation. I don't usually have an issue with the world of cinema looking elsewhere for inspiration, however, when it comes to live-action remakes of animated titles, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. While there has been some success with these adaptations -looking at you The Jungle Book- there have been far too many missteps -looking at you Dumbo. But, it seems this will be the norm going forward so, I will be a good sport and at least give Hollywood/Netflix my recommended animated titles that deserve a live-action adaptation.
Let's begin with the era of live-action adaptations' biggest culprit...Disney. The 'house of mouse' has been going all-in on their luxurious back catalogue lately to produce live-action remakes after live-action remakes. They vary in quality but, all definitely brought in the big bucks so, you can see why Disney keep going back to their legacy. In that case, I want them to give a second chance to what I considered Pixar's most disappointing film to date, Brave. It wasn't a complete train wreck, but it was a film that promised so much but fail to deliver on almost every turn. Now, remaking it as a live-action film gives Merida's story a second lease on life. Plus, the idea of a family fantasy Braveheart sounds too badass to ignore.
As Anime/weeb culture continues to borrow into the deeps of western pop culture, we see more and more live-action adaptations being announced. However, we have yet to see any western (or even Japanese) movie studios crack the formula for producing a great anime film that goes beyond what looks like a backyard production starring cos-players. Maybe, they were just focusing on all the wrong anime properties? Maybe the worlds of Naruto and Dragonball simply cannot be transferred to the silver screen? Maybe they need to look at a more grounded/realistic anime series? In step Black Lagoon.
The story follows a team of pirate mercenaries known as the Lagoon Company, that smuggles goods in and around the seas of Southeast Asia in the early to mid-1990s. Their base of operations is located in the fictional harbour city of Roanapur in southeast Thailand near the border of Cambodia and is home to the Japanese Yakuza, the Chinese Triad, the Russian mafia, the Colombian cartel, the Italian mafia, a wide assortment of pickpockets, thugs, mercenaries, thieves, prostitutes, assassins, and gunmen. It already has all the ingredients to be a huge action blockbuster and ready-made for Hollywood action stars.
The Princess and the Frog
From the gruesome streets of Roanapur, we move on to the much more festive streets of New Orleans. When Disney Animation's The Princess and the Frog first premiered back in 2009, it marked a significant landmark for the house of mouse. Not only did it break Disney's major 2D animated film hiatus, but it also featured Disney's first-ever black princess in the form of Tiana.
The story is about a waitress, desperate to fulfil her dreams as a restaurant owner, is set on a journey to turn a frog prince back into a human being, but she has to face the same problem after she kisses him. Sounds simple enough? But like many of Disney's best animated films from its past, it comes alive via its richly layered characters, its ears pleasing singing numbers and its visually stunning backdrops. The backdrop, in this case, being its version of the beautiful city of New Orleans which would be a treat to see in a live adaptation. The recent Aladdin live-remake would also be a perfect base to build upon when thinking about what direction such a movie would need to go.
Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin
As stated before, we truly believe the number one issue for anime adaptations comes down to actual selection. Sure, the likes of Naruto, One Piece and One Punch Man popularity will push them ahead in the line for a higher chance of earning, but maybe Hollywood should look at some of the underrated gems of the anime world. My next vote would go to the gripping tale of Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin.
This series follows the seven cellmates as they struggle together against the brutal suffering and humiliation inflicted upon them by Ishihara, a sadistic guard with a grudge on Rokurouta, and Gisuke Sasaki, a doctor who takes pleasure in violating boys. Facing such hellish conditions, the seven inmates must scrape together all the strength they have to survive until their sentences are up. One of the best anime dramas ever produced in my opinion, and one that would translate well into a live-action film.
the legend of korra
I know what you are thinking...' Why in gods name should we trust the suits with another live adaptation with anything Avatar related'...and I kinda agree with you. But, in my mind, the M. Night Shyamalan 2010 abomination didn't happen. Plus, the world of Avatar -particularly the one that stars Korra- is rich in so much untapped potential that could possibly be fulfilled via a live-action adaptation. The original series started so well and while book 2/season 2 was dreadful, the series rebounded nicely with the remaining seasons. Sure, it didn't hit the dizzy heights of The Last Air Bender, but it managed to become a great show in its own right. Only problem...no one practically got to see the final 2 seasons as somehow, Nickelodeon in a shocking move deemed it necessary to have The Legend of Korra removed from the airways and hid it away online. A live adaptation series (Thinking Netflix here, but definitely not another movie) would be an excellent way of righting that wrong.
And there you have it, 5 great animated/anime properties that deserve a crack at live-action. I am still more on the side of leaving all animated properties...well...animated, but it's clear, we now live in the era of live-action so, why not make the best of it?
Thank you for reading and, please be free to comment below about my list or to provide one of your own.
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Hey I am Marlon Mcfarlane the writer here at Blue Crescent Studio & a longtime lover of all things Animation & Gaming.