5 Great Candidates for Live-Action Anime Adaptations
As our list of bests and worsts comes to a close, my thoughts turn to the future of live-action anime adaptations. In a time when romantic comedies and period dramas share cineplex space with the likes of the Avengers and colossal Jaegers, it seems like just about any series stands a chance of making the jump to the big screen. While we’ve seen that this can be both a blessing and a curse, it’s always nice to imagine your very favorite shows making the transition none the worse for wear. Let’s take a look at a few series I believe would do all right, given the chance.
5.) Vampire Hunter D
People love mothereffin’ vampires – it’s a fact. Whether they are busy trying not to sparkle in the sunlight or running around boning doppelgangers of their erstwhile lovers, it is undeniable that the world has a very real fascination with these children of the night (a very forgiving one, at that). Enter Vampire Hunter D, an anime based on a long running series of light novels by Hideyuki Kikuchi. Vampire Hunter D focuses on the exploits of the eponymous D, a dhampir/dunpeal (a human-vampire hybrid) who is rejected by both humans and vampires due to his mixed lineage. Described as almost unbearably beautiful by every character he encounters through out a respectable twenty-six novels and 2 films, he not only boasts the kind of good looks reserved for undeserving British boy bands, but also kicks near-Batman-levels of ass. And guess what? It is STRONGLY suggested that his is, in fact, the son of Dracula (I KNOW!). But even beyond those sure-fire Hollywood selling points, the world of Vampire Hunter D is a compelling one. Taking place in the distant future of our very Earth, D wanders a world once ruled over by despotic and terrifying Nobles (a term used to refer to vampires), their high-technology, and other ancient evils. And while the Nobles still retain a sense of control, slowly but surely, humanity is on the rise once again. This is thanks, in part, to the destructive and decadent lifestyle of the Nobility, but also to the advent of specialized hunters who take on and eliminate these supernatural threats. There is so much great material to work with here that I am almost shocked this hasn’t been adapted and rebooted twice already.
4.) Cowboy Bebop
Effortlessly cool, beautifully written and just darn entertaining, Cowboy Bebop is one of those series that is begging for a solid live-action adaptation. Taking place several decades after a man-made planetary catastrophe left the Earth uninhabitable, humanity is forced to colonize the rest of the solar system in the hopes of surviving. Cowboy Bebop tells the tale of a group registered bounty hunters (or “Cowboys”) that chase criminals across this new expanse for both profit and, at times, fame. And while that premise may not sound particularly intriguing in and of its own, what really makes this series shine is its cast of characters and the misadventures that often lead them to confront parts of their pasts they’d sooner have left buried. Like all good science fiction, the aspects of the story that speak to futuristic technology and distant worlds are less impetus than they are prop – the stage where the narrative unfolds. Cowboy Bebop tells a story that is thoughtful, has heart and a healthy dose of action, as well. It has the potential to make for great cinema in the right hands.
Also, the music is amazing.
While I was beaten to the punch on Ghost in the Shell (whose live-action adaptation will be handled by the dude who did Snow White and the Huntsman ::sigh::), I very eagerly endorse relative new comer Psycho-Pass as a candidate for being adapted into a live-action feature film. As if plucked from the mind of Philip K. Dick himself, Psycho-Pass is set in a future where the general populace’s mental health is actively gauged by the mysterious “Sibyl System” for signs of aggression and a propensity for criminal activity. These scans produce a metric called a “Crime Coefficient” which is then used to determine whether an individual is fit for society, must be rehabilitated or ultimately killed. To aid in the apprehension or elimination of those falling into to the latter categories, the standing government employs the use of latent criminals (individuals with high Crime Coefficients). Referred to as “Enforcers”, they operate under the supervision of highly qualified “Inspectors” who fight alongside them using ID-registered hand cannons called “Dominators” – weapons that will only activate if aimed at people with a dangerously high Crime Coeffcient. And while that may sound like a whole lot of setting to contend with, Psycho-Pass is, at its heart, an engaging detective story that always keeps you guessing at what is coming next. I honestly see it like a mash-up of Seven and Minority Report which, having re-read that to myself several times, is something I would very much like to see.
A stylish supernatural thriller, X/1999 describes the end of the world as battle between two factions: the Dragons of Heaven, those who would seek to protect the Earth and its and inhabitants, and the Dragons of Earth, those who see humanity as a blight and wish to heal the planet by destroying the existing populace. A cool as hell series that originally released in 1992 (and has yet get an official ending!), there is a lot of potential to exploit here. The live-action adaptation could very easily feature an ensemble cast of characters, on both sides of the battle, with individual story arcs that slowly converge into the inevitable conflict that is at the center of it all. To my mind, this would play out like a higher-stakes Season 1 of Heroes (let us never speak of anything beyond Season 1 when discussing Heroes, by the way, the wound is still fresh).
In a world where some believe the Game of Thrones series is a historically accurate period piece, Berserk is poised to become the next big water cooler discussion series. While perhaps not perfectly suited to be told within the bounds of a single movie, the story of Berserk is an ultra-violent, but surprisingly nuanced, fantasy epic that follows the oft tragic life of Guts, a one time child-slave and mercenary. And while the story first thrusts you into the midst of a super-natural battle between our protagonist and a member of the demonic cadre of villains known as “God Hand”, it soon switches gears to the events leading up to that vicious encounter. It is difficult to fully capture the scope of this fantastic narrative so, please, if you are not acquainted with this series, I entreat you to give a shot. Berserk has just about all the trappings of a hit movie or cable TV series – HBO and Netflix, I’m looking at you!
Slider image courtesy of Robot Communications, Inc.