Despite the sea of fascinating Spec Scripts that have come through Hollywood's doors, the American Film industry still seems Hellbent on throwing all of its money at sequels, prequels, reboots, and adaptations. For the most part, this strategy works with flying colors - the current highest-grossing movie of all time is Avengers: Endgame after all.
But there's one type of film that Hollywood struggles to bank off of - live-action Anime adaptations. Hollywood typically loses tons of money producing these types of films, barring a few exceptions. Hollywood doesn't tend to learn from its mistakes, so we hope that they don't try to adapt the following ten projects.
10 One-Punch Man
One-Punch Man is one of the craziest, funniest, ballsiest anime that we've ever seen. Based on a webcomic created by the enigmatic ONE, the series pulls no punches when it comes to hard-hitting action and gut-busting comedy. Simply put, we don't think that there are any filmmakers working today who'd do the series justice - Hollywood would probably get Zack Snyder, Robert Rodriguez, or James Cameron to adapt the series, each of whom would likely suck all the fun, zaniness, and color out of their adaptations.
We could see a director like Tim Miller making an adaptation of One-Punch Man that's at least funny (he directed Deadpool, after all,) but we're almost 1,000% sure that the action scenes in a live-action One Punch Man film would pale in comparison to the battles featured in the anime.
Much like One Punch Man, FLCL (aka Fooly Cooly,) is a series that's less concerned with substance and more focused on its style. FLCL is an irreverent, nonsensical hot mess of a show that hits the ground running and doesn't let up in any of its original 6 episodes - and it's all the better for it.
FLCL works because the series was short, sweet, and psychotic. However, we can't imagine this anime working well as a bloated, feature-length film with less interesting visuals, different music, and toned-down characters. Plus, if the reception of FLCL: Alternative and Progressive is anything to go by, folks aren't that crazy about the series anymore.
There's a sizeable chunk of us at CBR that don't consider Detective Pikachu to be a successful Pokemon adaptation; the film's set in a world that has Pokemon in it, but it focuses on different human characters and features a plot that's completely different from the average Pokemon game.
We think that Hollywood would fail to successfully make a Pokemon film about a young trainer trying to "catch 'em all," and become the very best (like no one ever was.) We're guessing that Warner Bros. felt the same way and decided to base their film off of a spin-off game, as well as give Ryan Reynolds free rein to essentially run the show. Detective Pikachu isn't a Pokemon film - it's a PG-13 version of Deadpool.
Despite what the name implies, Doraemon isn't a Pokemon - he's the star of one of Japan's longest-running animated franchises. Doraemon first hit the scene in 1970 (technically 1969 via advertisements,) and has remained a cultural landmark for the Nipponese ever since. People of all ages love Doraemon in Japan, the same way that Americans of multiple generations love Sesame Street, Mr. Rodgers, and Looney Tunes.
Now imagine, if you will, a Japanese film company making another Looney Tunes film. For the sake of "international appeal," they change the animals into creatures native to Japan, take out all of the American pop-cultural references, and make the film feel like every other successful Japanese film in recent history. We'd appreciate that about as much as Japanese fans would appreciate a neutered version of Doraemon - who'd probably be voiced over by Ryan Reynolds again.
6 Serial Experiments Lain
Alright, let's take the kid gloves off. Someone who isn't in the know might look at Serial Experiments Lain and think it's a cute children's series. Then that creepy ass opening will play, and viewers will understand that they've stepped in the wrong neighborhood. One Punch Man and FLCL are weird in an endearing way. Serial Experiments Lain, however, will try to break your mind like a walnut.
Simply put, this series is too weird for Hollywood. Arguably, it was too weird for Japan, as the series didn't have a massive fan following back in the day. Someone like Darren Aronofsky could probably make an interesting facsimile of Lain, but a live-action film could only ever be an imitation of the original anime.
5 Elfen Lied
Elfen Lied is another anime that couldn't give two winks about the mental states of its characters or its viewers. In the series, children and puppies get maimed with reckless abandon as mentally unstable telekinetics shred people into ribbons! Child homicide doesn't tend to go over well with most audiences, least of all western filmgoers.
Aside from that, Elfen Lied is a horror series that doesn't fit Hollywood's mold; a company like Warner Bros. would probably get James Wan to direct, and he'd likely create an interesting film akin to The Conjuring. However, Wan wouldn't be able to create Elfen Lied - Western sensibilities simply wouldn't allow it.
4 The Dragon Ball Franchise
If you don't take anything else from this article, we hope we've illustrated how painfully stubborn and repetitive the American Film Industry can be. Just because Hollywood failed to make a profit on a property before doesn't mean that they won't try again in the future. Look no further than Terminator: Dark Fate for proof.
Dragonball Evolution came out about ten years ago and was hated by die-hard anime fans, casual filmgoers, and film critics alike. However, the film did make a profit of about $19 million. In the drug-addled mind of some crazy Hollywood exec, that's probably reason enough to try and make another Dragon Ball film someday. And to that, we say no; the Dragon Ball franchise might have started as a manga but it soars as an anime.
3 Neon Genesis Evangelion
A few years ago, a rumor got out that a live-action Neon Genesis Evangelion film was in the works. Allegedly, the talented artists at WETA Workshop were tasked with creating the visuals for the film. But years passed and nothing ever came of this rumor, even after Evangelion dropped on Netflix.
We're guessing that somewhere along the way, the folks assigned to work on the movie realized that Evangelion is a bat-crap insane series - and that no amount of visual effects could hold a live-action adaptation of this franchise together! Evangelion deals heavily with religion (or at least with religious iconography,) making it a hard sell for international markets.
The American Film Industry is funny; hot off the success of Get Out, Jordan Peele received a smorgasbord of lucrative offers to direct films for various American film companies. One of those deals was an opportunity to direct a live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo's seminal 1988 film Akira. Being a talented director and life-long anime fan, Peele seemed like the perfect fit to adapt Akira.
However, Peele quickly rejected the offer and all the Hollywood money that would've come with the deal. Do you know why? Because Peele has too much respect for the original film to try and make a watered-down version for a paycheck. Peele also knows that Akira's animation is just as crucial to the film as its script and its score - trying to create a live-action version of the film is genuinely a fool's errand.
1 Anything Made By Hayao Miyazaki
We're not cheating when we say that all of Hayao Miyazaki's works are unadaptable - this man has spent decades committing himself to his craft and his films are the result of all that effort. Much like Akira, Miyazaki's films use animation to tell their stories just as much if they use words and music - more so if anything.
Ever since the Walt Disney Company started redistributing Miyazaki's films, some people have erroneously called Miyazaki a "Japanese Walt Disney." That couldn't be further from the truth; Hayao Miyazaki isn't a Japanese Walt Disney - he's his own man, with is own message and artistic vision. Creating live-action adaptations of his work wouldn't only be wastes of time, effort, and money - it'd be an act of sheer hubris and blasphemy.