Anime You Won’t Believe Have Musical Versions, from Death Note to Naruto

When an anime series is popular in Japan, one can expect anything from dedicated theme parks to branded items, such as toiletries and stationary. However, some series are even transformed into musicals.

Series as recent as Pokemon and as classic as Sailor Moon are just a couple that have had a musical adaptation. With how well the reception is to some of these musicals, it wouldn’t be surprising seeing a demand for these adaptations from Western audiences in the future as well.


Pokémon Live! premiered with American audiences, and it is the only major musical adaptation of the franchise to date. While familiar characters from the original anime were featured, such as Team Rocket members, Jessie and James, Ash, Misty, and Brock, the musical's plot branched out and created a character just for the musical: MechaMew2. The show was available from September 22, 2000, until January 19, 2001, and it used songs from existing Pokémon soundtracks, such as Totally Pokémon and Pokémon 2BA Master. 

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Since Pokémon Live!, there has been one similarly based production called The Pokemusical, which received a surprisingly good review.

Death Note

Death Note has multiple adaptations outside of its original anime manga, such as two spin-off novels, an American Netflix show, a Japanese TV drama, Japanese live-action movies, and a musical: Death Note: The Musical. Scored by Frank Wildhorn, the musical has received positive reviews in Korea. and the musical is scheduled to return to Tokyo in January 2020. The plot of the musical strays from the original, primarily making L the individual responsible for revealing 'Kira's' true identity.

While there is no English adaptation of the musical yet, there is an English soundtrack available on YouTube. There isn't news yet this year, but it was previously reported that an American musical adaptation was in the works.

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Naruto is a popular and beloved anime series, often finding its way into many 'top' lists. There are numerous adaptations for Naruto, and the series' musical adaptation, Live Spectacle Naruto: Akatsuki no Shirabe, returned to Osaka this year between October 25 and November 4 and is currently playing in Tokyo until December 1. For fans outside of Japan, Live Spectacle may be watched in parts (with subs) on YouTube.

Popular sites provided images of the cast and set, while a majority of reviews were via comment thread by ticketholders. So far, Live Spectacle has put on a solid show with satisfied viewers.

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Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon has been an adored classic since its anime premiere in 1992. With variations in cast and staff between 1993 and 2005, twenty-seven stage musical runs and over 800 performances were inspired by the original manga. The anime had a reboot fairly recently called Sailor Moon Crystal, and fans are awaiting a release date for season four.

Some musicals were recorded and aired in movie theaters in America, Canada, and Australia. Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: The Musical - Le Mouvement Final is one of the musicals recorded and shown in these Western cinemas and was well-received, described by one reviewer as "a triumphant culmination of everything that was so [expletive] good about the original manga and the animation."


Bleach's most recent musical adaptation titled Rock Musical Bleach, or more commonly known as BuriMyu, was produced by Studio Pierrot and Nelke Planning as a series of rock musicals with original music. The performances altogether follow the Soul Society arc from the manga, except for The Live Bankai Shows, which has an original script. Its most recent run was in 2016 and reviewed as an 'A+ performance' by fans. The Live Bankai Show Code 001, is available on YouTube with subs for fans.

The Prince of Tennis

The Prince of Tennis, or TeniPuri, is hailed as a classic, sports manga and anime. Between 2003 and 2010, twenty-two musicals were produced with five full cast rotations. The musical bases its plot on the anime's third season with the Seigaku v. Rokkaku arc.

Despite an accident regarding an attendee being struck in the head by a cast member's tennis racket in one of the past shows, the musical still retained positive reviews.

Blue Exorcist

In 2012, the musical adaptation of Blue Exorcist premiered in 2012 for Tokyo residents. The first adaptation was based on the Impure King Revival Arc, while the next adaptation followed the Illuminati arc of the original manga. Reviews on the musical itself were not available. However, clips from the musical itself are on YouTube for fans to view and decide if the musical is up to par.

Black Butler

Black Butler received five musical adaptations: That Butler, Friendship; Lycoris that Blazes the Earth; Musical Black Butler: The Most Beautiful Death in the World - A Thousand Souls and The Fallen Grim Reaper; Black Butler: Noah's Ark Circus; and Tango on the Campania. Fans wholeheartedly listed their favorite aspects of the shows they viewed. Consistent praises included 'great music' and 'great characters.'

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