When Will Hollywood Dive Fully Into Adapting Anime Like Attack on Titan?

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Hollywood is running out of superheroes. That may seem silly, as there are hundreds if not thousands out there to be adapted and re-adapted into film, and yet no era lasts forever. This superhero craze has lasted about a decade and a half now, but it will have to die down at some point, and a new genre of adaptation will rise up and take its place. Or at least become more prominent.

There are a few obvious candidates, video games for one, which come with hugely popular, already established stories that are tailor made for blockbuster adaptation. But to date, video game films have been notoriously terrible, and we will have to wait and see how upcoming movies like Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed do with actually talented people involved.

So then we turn to anime/manga, where Hollywood has flirted with the idea of adaptations for years, but either they’ve been low budget awfulness (Dragonball Z) or half-formed ideas that feel like they’re never actually going to get made (Cowboy Bebop, Akira). The most prominent example of a live-action anime adaptation that actually attempted to be a real blockbuster was The Last Airbender, but that unfortunately because one of the biggest messes in movie history due to a complete mishandling of the source material.

Now that leaves us with modern day anime, as new series are constantly springing up as hits inside and outside of Japan (but mostly inside). Most prominently, even after only one season, Attack on Titan has become one of the most popular animes on the market. I recently watched it myself a few months back, and here’s what I had to say about it then.

“The Titans themselves are the most fascinating aspect of the show. Even after many tumultuous events in season one, we still barely know anything about them. What exactly they are, where they come from, what they want, and so on. I really love their design, as most of the “regular” variants are just dopey looking humans with blank smiles and potbellies, running around eating people like they’re scooping up Hershey’s kisses or something. Yes, there are more “badass” super types that are stripped of skin and look terrifying, all pure muscle and armor, but I really love the more non-traditional threat of the dopey giants that just look like regular deformed, dumb humans. Their smiles are more chilling than any movie monster’s scowl I’ve ever seen.”

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But the show is more than just Titans, and I also worried about its pacing:

“The show’s first season is 25 episodes, but its major flaw is that is should really only be 10 to 12. Episodes 1-8 are amazing, and so are 16-25, but the ones in the middle are almost entirely dead weight, and generally speaking the pace of each individual episode is pretty wretched the vast majority of the time. Characters spend endless amounts of time explaining anything and everything to the audience. Explaining the plan of what’s about to happen. Explaining their feelings about that plan. Explaining their feelings about each other, the Titans, and so on, with plenty of flashbacks in case you couldn’t visualize things that happened ten episodes or two minutes ago. It can often turn into an endless parade of goofily written soliloquies that simply do not need to be there. Titan would have worked far better as a tightly written 12 episodes, not a bloated 25.”

With all that said, its high-flying sword action and giant monsters seems prime to be adapted into a feature film, and it already is happening, in Japan. The creators of the original manga are now making a live-action movie starring an all-Japanese cast. It’s an interesting project, and one that I have to think Hollywood will be keeping an eye on. Unless the film is some massive surprise hit, I doubt we’ll see it over here in the states, but what it might to do is open the door for an Americanized remake, as we love to do exactly that sort of thing with movies in other countries. Though usually we’re looking to Europe, not as much to Asia.

And I have to wonder what Hollywood deems “accessible” to mainstream American audiences. Are hundred foot tall giant naked baby people really going to sell as well as a Corvette than can turn into a robot? I kind of doubt it, and most anime may just be too weird for mainstream Hollywood. I have a hunch it’s why we have yet to see even immortal classics like Bebop and Akira turned into live-action features. The Last Airbender was probably the most accessible anime out in years, yet they screwed that up too and made it confusing to outsiders, in addition to being poorly written, acted and directed.

What do you think, can Attack of Titan work as an American blockbuster, or will movies like these never see the light of day outside Japan?

[Photos via CN]

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  1. I think it could be really good, but the main issue would be the titans themselves. Making giant naked CGI monters would be pretty difficult. Plus, the tone has to be properly set. The titans are dopey looking, yet somehow still very terrifying and menacing. I think it would be hard to properly set that tone in live action without the audience rolling their eyes.

  2. Won’t be anytime soon. Anime is the most challenging thing to adapt and this one will likely need a massive budget. Plus the story needs to resolved (or at least explained0 because American filmgoers don’t do well with loose ends. They’re going to want too know all of the specifics before the end of the movie and by the time we get them in the manga (assuming it hasn’t reached that point yet) one film probably won’t cut it anymore and no way are they going to commit to a trilogy. The most likely scenario is some hack teenie bop writer will make a watered-down Hunger Games version of it that will blow up in ten years or so.

  3. I envision some Hollywood producer watching the show up to the point Eren’s mom gets eaten in front of him. Said producer then throws the intern that brought the show to him out of his office.

  4. Avatar is not an anime. Anime movies based on anime/manga series tend to suck and are often not canon. Creating live action versions of anime also tends to be bad.

    1. thats because nearly every one has just been interpreted terribly. Just look at Avatar the last airbender and dragonball evolution. They changed characters, avoided major plot points, created terrible stories and cast the actors poorly. If they listened to fans and did it properly, there would be no issue.

  5. Death Note would be great (and I hear they’re talking about it), but it would be better as a live action series than a movie, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to fit in the complexities of the plot (and plotting). The only trouble with this is that with a lot of internal monologue and the cat and mouse game between L and Light it would rely heavily on the acting, and tv shows generally have notably worse acting than movies.
    I think Stein’s Gate would be a good one to adapt as a movie.

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