Anime: a widely popular form of entertainment in modern pop culture, which has not only a wide-fan base, but also a wide range of material. Because these Japanese cartoons are so loved by people across the world, it should be no surprise that numerous film makers have taken on the challenge of bringing these beloved shows to life in live-action remakes. Many have tried, but so far, pretty much none have succeeded. Even so, producers have still attempted this nearly insurmountable task, such as director Fumihiko Sori who recently released the live-action adaptation of the popular anime: Full Metal Alchemist. The film was originally released in Japan on December 1st 2017, while the film was released on Netflix about a month later. Being a fan of anime myself, I was curious. Maybe we have finally found a good live-action adaptation of an anime.
I wasn’t very familiar with the show beforehand, so I did some binge-watching of the original T.V. show to get as much information as I could so I could have something to which to compare the new film. The plot revolves around the fictitious science of alchemy, the science of transmuting one material into something new. The protagonist, Edward Elric, played by Ryosuke Yamada in the film, is a new state-alchemist of the military who has already earned a reputation of strength, known by the title of the full metal alchemist due to his prosthetic metal arm and leg. Ed lost his arm and leg, while his brother Al lost his entire body, when they tried to resurrect their dead mother, failing in the process. Now, Ed is on a mission to recover the fabled philosopher’s stone, which is said to be able to transmute any material without it costing the caster. Ed plans to use the stone to regain not only his limbs back, but more importantly his brother Al’s body, whose soul is anchored to a suit of armor, giving him a substitute for a body. All the while, the military that Ed and Al now work for, along with a variety of sentient abominations keep a close eye on the two brothers, impeding their quest. In all honesty, the film wasn’t awful. It had good characters and interesting story. However, it was not very good either. If a viewer hasn’t seen the anime, they will most likely end up confused rather than entertained. I didn’t finish the entire show, so there were some parts of the show that left me wondering.
So with yet another barely satisfactory recreation of a popular anime, the question still remains: Why doesn’t live-action anime work? The answer lies in the problem, the live action part of the entire concept. What makes anime unique from most shows is that with the characters being cartoons, they have much more freedom to go over-the-top with many aspects of the show, and the visuals and plot are much more believable. With a live-action setting, the magic of the animation is lost, and the story becomes either too boring or too cheesy for most viewers. For example, in the anime, the protagonist Ed is known for having comic outbursts of anger when people comment on his height (or lack thereof), while in the film, Ed still becomes frustrated on the comments of his height, but it becomes extremely lackluster with real people.
So the conclusion I think we all can come to is that, so far, live-action anime simply does not and will not work. Maybe sometime in the near future, someone will succeed in creating a successful live-action adaptation of the popular Japanese media, but until then, I think we can all agree that anime should stay in the anime world, not the real world.