After Netflix cancelled the first season of Cowboy and Bebop live action, it raised the question of whether live action adaptations of anime should be made at all.
Many live action adaptations have been made from anime including Bleach, Death Note, Assassination Classroom, Full Metal Alchemist, and recently, Cowboy Bebop. But the adaptations are plagued with common problems due to the transition from one form to another.
The creator, Andre Nemec spent a lot of time and money on live action for Cowboy Bebop. Cowboy Bebop reportedly costed $60-70 million dollars to make.
Some of the changes to anime adaptations mess with the fundamental characteristics of the protagonists. For example, in Death Note the main character Light is originally shown as a calm and intellectual killer, but in the live action adaptation, Light is more of an emotional character. This ruins the intense vibe and secrecy of him trying to fool everyone that he is not a mass killer. In many scenes Light is shown to fear killing. This confuses the audience as Light in the anime, was known to kill anyone for his own benefit. During the live action Light goes insane and wishes to stop using the death note.
Other problems can arise when an adaptation is made with an American audience in mind. Death Note was originally set place in Japan but, when they made the live action, the setting was in America. This had changed the view of Light as he went to a very privileged schools in Japan, but now he is seen as an ordinary high school student in America. In the case of the film adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, casting a white actress in the lead role led to accusations of whitewashing.
Another character change was in Cowboy Bebop where the story of the character Jet, was changed from the original anime. He was helping raise a friend’s daughter, but in the live action, Jet is shown to have had a daughter biologically. This makes most of Jet’s emotions toward his daughter forced and has made the first couple episode unbearable to watch.
Anime character designs can be hard to replicate. In the anime Assassination Classroom Koro-sensei is a monster with multiple tentacles. They tried to recreate this in live action, but it was not the same. You could see that the actor was wearing a plastic mask. In the anime Koro would show emotion but because of the plastic mask, the live action Koro couldn’t show his emotion.
The limited special effects capabilities of live action are another drawback. What you can do in anime simply can’t be recreated in the same quality in live action. For example, if you are animating a character moving extraordinarily fast, it will always look better in the anime. In Cowboy Bebop, Spikes fighting animations are smooth rather than in the live action. This ruins the action pact scenes as many fights are not flowing together properly.
Netflix has started on a new live action on the anime One Piece. Will this finally be a good live action adaptation of an anime?
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