how hollywood should mine anime

Better than The Last Ship.

With the current trend of Hollywood raiding comic books for TV series (Shield, Walking Dead, Arrow, Gotham, Preacher, Constantine, Sex Criminals, etc), I was thinking about what anime/manga would work as a Hollywood TV series.

Most shows that rely on schools, harems, or giant robots won’t work. They either do not fit the current Hollywood metagame or just be too expensive or cannot be naturally stretched into multiple 20+ episode seasons for syndication profits. As much as I love Gurren Lagann, I have no clue how do you that on a TV budget as well as stretch it out to 200 episodes. Though I know exactly how I would triage Haruhi Suzumiya into 200 episodes, and it ain’t pretty…


Why it would work: Premier source material. Rebellious teacher winning over troubled students? Can easily be an episodic drama that relies on heartwarming human growth, comedy, and suplexes. Onizuka is also a role-defying teacher in the same way House is for TV doctors, Alf for cat eaters, or Ally McNeal for lawyers. The studio can also drag out the show by churning over the students each season as they are not the star: Onizuka is. Costs will also be low since there’s no special effect requirements.

Why it wouldn’t: Notable classroom dramas include 21 Jump Street, Glee, and Head of the Class. That’s not good.

Prognosis: Make it. I’ll watch it and proclaim, “Why did they bother? Not as good as the Japanese original.”

Drifting Classroom

Drifting Classroom has a lot going for it. Despite having “classroom” in the name, I assure you it is not a school drama. There is plenty of intrigue and mystery as to why a school is tossed into the future (hi Lost fans), plenty of misery (join us Game of Thrones fans), some zombies (ohayo Walking Dead fans), and interesting storylines full of idiot plot (sup Battlestar Galactica fans) and unexpected outcomes. The story, setting, and characters are all solid. The series will haunt your dreams.

But, and here’s the big but, one so big that I cannot lie– most of the characters are elementary school kids doing horrible shit to each other. Imagine if Ramsay Snow and Theron Greyjoy were ten years old. But I think that is what makes the series: it is literally kids who have to grow up immediately… and their guardian angel is a mom. Getting rid of the childhood aspect really dilutes the series.

Prognosis: Only HBO or Netflix, and they would have to bump up the ages to the point that it is not fun anymore. Oh well, the series does not have an anime even, but, if it did, I would not watch it. I like to have a peaceful slumber. Still, an interesting and controversial idea.


I’m still counting the days until we see a FrankenFran TV series. Come on. The show combines everything Hollywood loves these days: sexy teenage girl doctor, gruesome violence and gore, sick twisted subplots, and a preaching mortality message at the end. What TV executive wouldn’t want a part of FrankenFran?

Prognosis: I would slightly re-imagine the show as The Walking Dead meets Doogie Howser M.D. meets Hannibal. I have no idea what that means, but I have Neil Patrick Harris on hold for the part of Fran’s dad. Sigh. I’d settle for just a real anime series.

Ghost in the Shell

No brainer. The brand is already popular in the US, and it has all the foundation to build a smart, cyberpunk episodic drama around Section 7. Stand Alone Complex showed how to fit episodic content into a bigger picture… would need a bit more action and less Motoko chatting in IRC.

Beautiful multi-sexual cyborg leading an elite squad fighting enemies of ‘Murica? How can this not work? If we are so out of ideas that we need to bring Jack Bauer back, why not try something new? Andohbythway, Matthew McConaughey has already said “yes” to playing Togusa.

Prognosis: Needs a big budget and ability to show occasional nudity. Again, HBO or Netflix.

Death Note

Obvious choice in that it features great drama, interesting characters, and some tense moments.

The whole “Who is Kira?! Is it Yagami?!” plot will get old. You can go a season vs L and another vs N… then what? I think the best way to deal with it is one of two ways: short and sweet like a mini-series. If it does well, you can do a second mini-series. But who the fuck makes mini-series these days? The other option is to turn Death Note into a murder comedy and rename it, “How I Caught The Death Note Killer” as N flashes back to how he caught Kira… but only after eight seasons of catching other serial killers.

Prognosis: Nevermind.

Cowboy Bebop

Stop talking nonsense. Two dudes, one underdressed gal, one underaged girl, and one Corgi in space? Who the hell would want to watch this mess? Doesn’t one of the dudes die too?

Prognosis: Corgi butt in S P A C E.


You know it is weird how anime is viewed by many Americans as school-aged magical girls being sexually assaulted by tentacle monsters, yet something like Barakamon or Yotsuba can exist. Anime is a diverse genre. Looking at my TV Guide, there is nothing but cop procedurals, reality TV, and serious dramas on TV. Where is the family entertainment that everyone can watch? There is none. But anime can deliver. Barakamon is that feel good show that everyone can enjoy. It is happy, full of life, and well-written.

I totally get the case against family programming as people do not watch it (unless the family features Honey BooBoo, Kim Kardashian, or Ray Rice), but a decent family show in today’s cesspool seems like a radical thought. Somewhere, Andy Griffin is rolling around in his grave.

Prognosis: I can totally see Barakamon leading off a modern day TGIF… if, you know, family entertainment was still a thing.

Darker Than Black

I think this show works the best. One, forget Gemini and leave out a lot of the hocus pocus cruft. Instead, simplify it as a superhero show featuring Hei, Yin, Mao, and Huang. It is episodic, which is great for syndication and longevity, and it has possible seasonal arcs, also great for a Hollywood TV series. The concept of superpowers that require various forms of payment is also an interesting twist. Heck, they can even get a megabucks sponsor for Hei’s rumination… he has to eat Chipotles after using his powers. (Though the smoking one will probably have to change to must take a selfie and posting it on Instagram…)

The scenarios and characters translate well for an American audience too. Just need to rename them to Bob, Jan, Pam, and Harry.

Prognosis: Fox, Netflix, or Showtime (for possible Hei and Misaki sex scenes, which I’m totally not against even if it is against canon)… please no NBC or TNT… I’ve seen some The Last Ship… they no longer know drama.

8 Responses to “how hollywood should mine anime”

  1. None of it would work – they’d take out all the unique bits in order to make it like every other movie, because their target audiences and test audiences all seem to be Pulled from the same place. AKA the ones who didn’t go watch a movie but complain about how they’re all the same, even while bitching about how they don’t ‘get’ the strange parts because they’re not the usual cliched plots.

  2. Fate Zero with Sean Bean as Rider and Neil Patrick Harris as Gilgamesh.

  3. I think the way Hollywood tweaked “All You need Is Kill,” proves that whoever the behind-the-scenes-people are are capable of taking various aspects of what makes certain anime/manga/light/novels/whateverthehell good and making something well… also good. I’d like to believe that we’re past the DragonBall Evolution and Legend of Chun Lee era of Hollywood. Or at the least I’m really, really hoping they are.

  4. Fate Zero with Sean Bean as Rider and Neil Patrick Harris as Gilgamesh.

    Sean Bean has to be Lancer Luck:E

  5. Daemon: four words for you “Avatar: The Last Airbender”. This is the future if anime-to-Hollywood conversions, especially if the last rumours about the GITS thing were anywhere close to truth.

  6. There’s probably enough source material in Read or Die for a trilogy of movies.

  7. I kept waiting for the proposed Hollywood treatment of Mushishi….

  8. > Sean Bean has to be Lancer Luck:E

    Nah, My top choice for Lancer is Jensen Ackles.

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