Hollywood's Live-Action Anime Remakes Ranked, According to Critics

Robert Rodriguez's adaptation of Yukito Kishiro's popular manga Battle Angel Alita, slightly retitled Alita: Battle Angel, is now in theaters across the globe, and it's performing solidly at the worldwide box office. Executive produced and co-written by James Cameron, the cyberpunk movie is the most recent Hollywood film to adapt a popular manga or anime series for North American audiences. Previous attempts by U.S. studios have largely had a spotty track record both in critical and commercial success, so we thought it'd be interesting to generate a comprehensive ranking of all the major Hollywood adaptations of manga and anime to receive a wide theatrical release in the United States. Adaptations that only received a straight-to-video or limited theatrical release, such as 1995's adaptation of Fist of the North Star or 1991's The Guyver are not included. Similarly, animated feature films, including 2009's Astro Boy, are also not included in the ranking.

This ranking was achieved by averaging the critics' scores from review aggregate sites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. Keep in mind that rankings are entirely based on scores by professional critics; audience scores for each film have also been included, but are not considered in calculating the average.

RELATED: Alita: Battle Angel Super Bowl Trailer Shows Off Cyborg Action


An adaptation of Yasuomi Umetsu's anime series of the same name, Ralph Ziman's Kite tells the story of a young girl who infiltrates a cartel of human traffickers to avenge the murder of her parents while also taking illegal drugs to suppress her more traumatic memories. Samuel L. Jackson is also inexplicably in the film's cast.

Universally reviled for its exploitative, nasty subject matter and derivative revenge movie tropes, the 2014 film was lambasted by virtually every single professional who covered it upon its initial release. "Nasty for nastiness's sake, Kite drags to achieve its brief running time; you wonder whether the slow motion is an artistic device or a stalling tactic," observed Ben Kenigsberg for The New York Times, with Elizabeth Weitzman for the New York Daily News noting that "Ziman pretends to be empowering his young heroine by putting a gun in her hand and tough words in her mouth. But there's something deeply discomforting about his camera's fetishistic leering."

The film has an embarrassing critics' score of 0 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a Metacritic score of 19. Kite currently has an audience score of 18 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.


While purists may not consider M. Night Shyamalan's adaptation of the popular animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender true anime, the show was unmistakably influenced by anime and manga in both narrative content and visual presentation. A loose adaptation of the Nickelodeon series' first season, The Last Airbender took place in a fantasy world where warriors could control different elements, with its protagonist able to control the very winds themselves.

RELATED: Alita: Battle Angel's Early Tracking Looks Grim For Big-Budget Film

Written, produced and directed by Shyamalan, the 2010 film was derided for its boring plot, slow pacing, poor acting and shoddy production values; it would go on to become one of the lowest rated movies in the filmmaker's career. "After the first five seconds, it seems as if you have been watching it for around two-and-a-half hours, and that this time has passed in four-and-a-half days," bemoaned Peter Bradshaw for The Guardian while Lou Lumenick from the New York Post dismissed the film for its "stilted dialogue, wooden acting, glacial pacing, cheesy special effects, tacky-looking sets, ugly costumes, poorly staged and edited action sequences, all shown in murky, cut-rate 3-D."

The film has a critics' score of 5 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a Metacritic score of 20. The Last Airbender currently has an audience score of 30 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.


A very loose adaptation of the Dragon Ball manga and anime series by Akira Toriyama, James Wong's Dragonball Evolution reimagined the classic hero Goku as a teenage martial artist racing to recover all seven mythical Dragon Balls ahead of the evil demon Piccolo and prevent the villain from achieving global domination. Along the way, Goku encounters new allies in Bulma, Yamcha and Master Roshi while discovering his own hidden potential.

Criticized for its lackluster production in terms of recapturing the magic of Toriyama's original story, dialed-in performances by its cast and shoddy special effects, the 2009 film was a critical and commercial flop and largely dismissed by Dragon Ball fans. "It's hard to muster up fear for the end of the civilization when the whole production looks like an hour of network filler," wrote Amy Nicholson for Boxoffice Magazine with a more concise review from Charlie Jane Anders writing for io9 claiming "There are balls of lint smarter than Dragonball Evolution."

The film has a critics' score of 15 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a Metacritic score of 45. Dragonball Evolution currently has an audience score of 19 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

NEXT PAGE: Live-Action Anime Adaptations, Ranked: Speed Racer, Death Note and Old Boy

Shang-Chi Fighting Alongside The Avengers
Avenging Hands Of Kung Fu: Shang-Chi's History As An Avenger

More in CBR Exclusives