Live adaptations of anime and manga are often a very contentious subject amongst fans, however with many Western comics making it to the ‘live-action’ big screen, why not Japan’s graphic novels? With the release of Ghost in the Shell on digital download platforms from 24th July, we’re taking a look at some of the best Manga and Anime journeys to the cinema in recent years – There’s been a longer history of big-screen adaptations of Japan’s graphic novels than you might think…
Ghost in the Shell
Based on the internationally acclaimed Japanese Manga, “The Ghost in the Shell,” written and illustrated by Shirow Masamune back in 1989, Ghost in the Shell has inspired a devoted worldwide following, including influential filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and the Wachowskis. The epic media franchise, set in a world where people are enhanced with technology, already includes two landmark anime feature-films and two television series, as well as novels, video and mobile games. Fast forward to 2017 and the live-action version of Ghost in the Shell was released, starring Scarlett Johansson as Major, a human mind inside an artificial body designed to fight a war against cyber-crime. This stylish, cyberpunk action flick takes inspiration from both the manga and the anime versions, but also throws in quite many new ideas as well, successfully broadening its appeal. And it’s absolutely stunning too!
2003’s Oldboy, directed by Park-Can Wook, is perhaps one of the best and most critically-acclaimed manga to be adapted into a live-action film. Successful enough that it was remade not once, but twice; first in 2006 into a Bollywood remake titled Zinda, and then in 2013 by director Spike Lee.Violent, and definitely not for the squeamish, Oldboy is a strange, powerful tale of punishment and vengeance. Based on the Japanese manga of the same name, the film follows the story of protagonist Oh Dae-Su who, after being kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years without knowing his captor, is finally released, but finds himself still trapped within a web of conspiracy and violence. It’s a masterpiece of modern filmmaking, so make sure this one gets added to your watch list!
Based on the 1960s ground-breaking Japanese anime and manga series of the same name, 2008 saw the release of the live-action film adaptation of Speed Racer. The American action-comedy didn’t open with great reviews, but anime fans have long debated the film and it is now considered an “underrated” film. Written and directed by The Wachowski Brothers, famed for the Matrix series and V for Vendetta, it scored a great cast. Starring Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon and Roger Allam, the plot revolves around an 18-year-old race-car chasing his (allegedly) deceased brother’s career. Despite its problems, Speed Racer has plenty to admire, most notably the fantastic shots and editing – an IGN praised the film’s “exciting, brilliantly-conceived races, primary-colour characterizations” and “irresistible sense of fun”. It appears the filmmakers played up to its origins’ manga-animated style, crafting it into a brilliantly visual live-action cartoon.
Edge of Tomorrow
Arguably the first Hollywood manga adaptation to cast big leads, Edge of Tomorrow saw Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt battle alien enemies at the helm of the 2014 action movie. Its origins started back in 2004, with Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel of a future Earth-based war against an alien race called Mimics; the story follows a soldier who becomes trapped in a time-loop, dying and regenerating the following day, and so on-and-on. A manga adaptation was then written by Ryōsuke Takeuchi and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, in between January and May 2014, and a graphic novel adaptation was released in North America in May 2014. Edge of Tomorrow, which was also marketed under its original title ‘All You Need Is Kill’, and its tagline “Live, Die, Repeat”, was definitely not a straight adaptation, but it takes the concept and characters from the book and added other elements and details to create its own similar story. Compelling, gripping and funny at times, Edge of Tomorrow was praised by critics during its release. The film is a great standalone production, regardless of its history!
Ghost in the Shell – See It First on Digital on July 24, 2017