so you think you can hollywood

My first reaction to seeing that Hollywood is going to take a stab at remaking Death Note was “ZOMG HONEYCRISP APPLEZ!”


My second reaction was, “If the airwaves are already flooded with crappy remakes of crappy Mexican soap operas, why isn’t anime/manga tapped more for Hollywood?” Then I remember the atrocious logic, the heavy-handed melonpan, the bountiful DFC, and pretty much everything that goes against mainstream Hollywood. So obviously stuff like Hanaukyo Maid La Verite (much to my disappointment), Mai Otome, and Potemayo probably won’t work as a primetime live action drama in Britannia United States, Death Note isn’t a bad choice. It’s well-written, you can probably squeeze multiple 26 episode seasons out of it without totally watering it down, it doesn’t require massive special effects budget, and it has a built-in fanbase.

Taking the next logical step: what else would work in the US as a primetime live action series?

Well, before we ask that question, how about asking what is popular on American TV right now? Reality TV shows which feature people making jackasses of themselves. Mmm… does that sound like any anime to you? (No, Code Geass R2 does not count for this.) What else is popular? Episodic dramas like CSI and Law & Order. Networks love these shows because they fetch a lot in syndication. Mmm… the only anime that pops into my mind for cop shows are You’re Under Arrest and Patlabor. Patlabor‘s budget is probably too large for network TV, and You’re Under Arrest‘s Japanese live action was horrendous… I somehow doubt Hollywood could improve it.

Other stuff that’s popular… sitcoms. There’s really no sitcom equivalent in anime, and a comedy series like Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei would go over the heads of too many people. Genshiken might be a possibility, but what part of NASCAR America wants to watch anime otaku gush over their favorite eroges? (Besides the four people who read this blog who get the Dale Earnhardt mullet jokes.)

Okay, so maybe looking at what’s popular in America and backtracking doesn’t work that well. I think that just underscores that fact that a lot of us enjoy anime because it’s so different from the crap that Hollywood churns out (I don’t even want to start yet another Battlestar Galactica rant, but that show is making Macross Frontier seem like a Ghibli masterpiece).


Let’s look at a few possibilities:

Neon Genesis Evangelion

PRO: Huge fanboy fanbase; excellent story; exciting action scenes.

CON: ADV is currently failing with a live action movie. The effects will probably cost too much to do as a network TV show unless claymation is involved. Most of the symbolism will go over 99% of American’s heads.

Prognosis: Very poor


PRO: Halfway decent live action movie; can be turned into an endless episodic format and even adapted into Mushishi New York and Mushishi Miami like the CSI franchise; intriguing story.

CON: Too much Japanese culture… if NBC did this show, Ginko would be an ex-used car salesman from Dallas, and I’m not sure if I can stomach that one. More importantly, Americans do not want to be lectured about their own morality during their TV time, hence why shows like Desperate Housewives and Dancing with the Stars get good ratings.

Prognosis: Poor

Guardian of the Sacred Spirits

PRO: Positive story; strong female role model; decent amounts of action.

CON: Positive story… who wants to watch that? Possibly turned into a campy, low budget fantasy series like Hercules. Hollywood would most definitely not keep the Eastern-esque fantasy setting and probably would opt for something closer to Hercules or Dungeon and Dragons.

Prognosis: Poor

Nodame Cantabile

PRO: Hugely successful live action series in Japan.

CON: It’s about classical music and domestic violence. What do you think?

Prognosis: Worse than being a classical music radio station in Tennessee.

Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

PRO: Hugely successful anime with thousands if not tens of thousands of fans worldwide. Potentially low budget with only the “it’s that time of the month for Haruhi” events needing extra budget. Can be made into an episodic nature.

CON: Network TV doesn’t have OP/ED, so millions will be deprived of the Hare Hare Yukai dance. More importantly, can you think of anyone in Hollywood who could nail down Mikuru’s role? Didn’t think so.

Prognosis: I think I’d rather watch a reality TV series that tries to find the actress for Mikuru Asahina’s network TV adaptation than the network TV adaptation of Haruhi Suzumiya.


Killer Lolis

PRO: Can be quite episodic with resets every episode like Daybreak. Acceptable budget. Already has an English name, Casey and Friends.

CON: Daybreak didn’t last long… poor Taye Diggs. Not sure if America is ready for a TV series about little girls murdering each other in some of the most gruesome ways possible.

Prognosis: As good as K1 staying alive.

Daughter of Twenty Faces

PRO: Strong story, strong characters, and can be turned into theft of the week.

CON: Might be a bit too cheesy for American audiences. Maybe swap out the blimp for a Winnebago.

Prognosis: Not horrible.


PRO: Tens of thousands if not hundreds of cosplayers worldwide. Kids dig it. Popular on Cartoon Network. Multiple advertising tie-in opportunities with Proctor and Gamble.

CON: Kids dig it. I can’t imagine grown Americans have the attention span for all the posturing.

Prognosis: As useful as Rukia.

Initial D

PRO: Can be turned into a drama about a UPS delivery driver in LA who secretly moonlights in quarter mile races.

CON: Would I really want to watch that? Anyway, Paul Walker would probably want to be involved.

Prognosis: Sadly decent.

Otome wa Boku

PRO: There’s not enough eroge-based material on network TV. It’s worth a shot, right?

CON: I’m kidding, right?

Prognosis: Just shoot me.

Great Teacher Onizuka

Okay, being a bit more serious, here’s one that actually could work. The Japanese live action adaption was one of the most popular dramas ever, and the formula is universal enough (bad-ass teacher, rowdy students) that it could work in America. Shows like Head of the Class and Boston Common more or less worked here, and GTO is significantly better than both. The key is that even if the networks localized the show (i.e. made it about a teacher in inner city Baltimore), the spirit of the show of a bad-ass teacher making his students into better people through his bad-ass tactics can be kept.


53 Responses to “so you think you can hollywood”

  1. I surfed to this page, and Ryuk was staring at me. And staring. And staring.

  2. The last time I checked my TV (5 months ago…), there was this show called Drive that had an hour premier featuring what seems to be a condensed version of Rat Race. I don’t know if it is still airing, but I doubt that.

    Sitcoms will probably be the only thing on TV that will keep my attention span (and maybe music videos… if they weren’t playing Three Days Grace, Hinder, and bling-bling rappers every single time).

    Iron Man was a pretty good movie. Speed Racer got some negative reviews. Future anime movies pending. Dragon Ball will SUCK.

    Oh yeah, and the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup. Congrats!

  3. oh god no. I hate some of hollywood remakes…

  4. If I ever see another cosplayer looking like a an imitation a six grader made in art class, I’m going to have to slap them.

    If networks import more anime, and I start seeing people on the street with green hair and too much body hair, I can’t be held responsible and will claim self defense of my eye balls and brain in court.

  5. LEAVE Dale Earnhardt ALONNNNNNNNE!

    and BSG too.

    American GTO would be sooooo sweet.

    and Initial D will prob be on BET.

  6. and Lifetime can get Nodame Cantabile, Sacred Spirit, and if there’s room, killer loli’s.

  7. Kukuku. Jason has forgotten that Maid Guy will always be the perfect answer to every questions. Sometimes he can be almost as clueless as Master. Almost.

    Nothing is more interesting than Maid Guy. With Maid Guy Translation, all the stories of Maid Guy’s Japanese adventures will be easily accessible to audiences in 400 languages worldwide, with all cultural idioms intact. Also, the series will be the least expensive television series of all time, as a combination of Daydreaming Maid Guy Illusion and Maid Guy Global Telecommunication will allow the cost of casting, production, and broadcasting to fall to zero while ensuring a perfect 1080p picture with 7.1 surround sound, on-location filming across the world, and a cast of thousands.

    Kukuku. Contrary to rumor, Maid Guy will of course be played by Maid Guy, and not Chuck Norris. I will not have some lesser actor, with his only 10 or 15 senses, embarrass himself trying to portray Maid Guy.

  8. The Macross series could do well with the Star Trek/Wars fans. Kurenai would also be a good pick as there are already plenty of “little girl with a bodyguard” movies out there. Also, Red Garden’s would work since it’s already set in New York.

  9. I’d suggest some TV network picks up Bamboo Blade.
    Just so I can see an actress portraying Miya-Miya IRL.

    (mitigating factor: how could anybody play Dan-kun?)

  10. Hmm its sad that to port it over to the United States that they have to rewrite the script and hire a new cast. Then again if the original japanese live-action was used they probably wouldn’t get a large enough audience if instead they used (not to be racists or anything) an entirely Caucasian main cast (unfortunately thats how America is at the moment, things are changing but very slowly and very little). Mainly because of hollywood’s past stereotyping setting the idea. They’ll probably kill it by turning it into some horror thriller.

    kamikazewave: Regaring importing anime through TV networks. No need to worry. Quoting Helen Lovejoy, someone will go “”Think of the children! Oh, won’t somebody please think of the children!” and the network will probably drop most anime series.

  11. Ahha, this should be fun!

  12. I can’ believe I’m saying this… But I second Maid Guy TV!

  13. hmmm i wonder how long they been planning this…

  14. Who is the girl that coplays as Misa-Misa?

  15. Actually, oddly enough, and Jason didn’t mention this, but I think Darker than Black would work out pretty damn well as an American live action. The special effects budget wouldn’t be that much higher than your standard Sci-Fi/Action series, and It’s already got a perfectly well established hour-long episode pattern (granted, the original was 30 min runs, but dammit, they were all part1, part 2 episodes anyways.) Furthermore, with the idea of being a “contractor” it could theoretically go on indefinitely and still be enjoyable. Furthermore, while Darker than black may be set in Japan at the moment, its really set in such as way that one could easily move it to New York, and still keep all the minor details like the main character being Chinese, and that there was an incident in South America.

  16. Shigofumi seems like a pretty universal theme that would do well. Every culture has some sort of afterlife mythos, so it wouldn’t be too strange. You’d probably have to rewrite Mika’s backstory, but it could be done.

    Also, I would totally watch Mononoke: Las Vegas.

  17. Probably the best anime to become American Live Action would be…

    to be classified on each genre

    Comedy >>>> GTO, Adam Sandler as Eikichi Onizuka.
    Sports >>>> Slam Dunk, (from NBA/NCAA) as Sakuragi Hanamichi.
    Suspense >>>> Higurashi No Naku Ko Koro Ni
    Mecha >>>> Gurren Lagann, …. two words very expensive
    Action >>>> Twenty Face’s Daughter, Jacky Chan as Twenty Faces
    LoveStory >>>> School Days, good story for the Americans
    Reality >>>> Welcome to the NHK, Jim Carrey as Sato

  18. GTO already happened in America.
    Welcome back Kotter, anyone?
    Set up at least is very similar.

  19. I know that Monster is apparently being made into a US live action movie, but I think that this is an excellent candidate as well. The narrative, pacing and story telling are all quite excellent. There is also enough material to last several seasons as well. Budget-wise production should be relatively inexpensive, and certainly you can splurge and do some location shoots.

    The potential problem that if this were on network television, their executives would try to alter pieces of the show early on in an effort to draw certain viewers earlier (e.g. “add romantic interest”, “add comedy element”, etc.) Otherwise, it is a safer bet that it is a cable tv show destined for HBO or Showtime.

    On a lighter note, with the amount of story-light soft-core porn on late night cable, why don’t they loosely adapt the many harem animes out there? I wouldn’t mind seeing a live-action Shuffle! for example.

  20. That Myssa Rei cosplayer is freaky. Looks like a grey.

  21. Actually I think a series like Black Lagoon would work pretty well. Its got a good enough mix or drama/philosophy/action that it could draw in a decent crowd. They could expand the nun storyline to include more of the CIA type background for an added bonus. Plus who doesn’t like hot chicks that can kill you without blinking? Sold. Get me Hollywood on the phone pronto.

  22. wp: *facepalms* Please tell me you’re not confusing me with Misa from Death Note. I certainly do NOT cosplay, nope, never.

  23. Kare Kano could work, although a romance drama where the main characters actually stay together throughout the entire series would probably seem strange to US TV execs.

  24. DO NOT WANT.

  25. >> wp: *facepalms* Please tell me you’re not confusing me with Misa from Death Note. I certainly do NOT cosplay, nope, never.

    Bwahaha. I so did. Sorry. >_>

    I second Black Lagoon though.

  26. I suppose the BBC could do a retelling of Victorian Romance Emma, which will be re-done a year and a half later by the A&E and usher in many heated debates over which is superior. I’m sure many people would like that.

  27. No one suggested Detective Conan [Case Closed]?

    Or how about Clannad? >.>

  28. Clannad would require a little bit of rewriting. But I certainly would like to see actors fill THOSE roles. Specially Sunohara, Tomoyo, Akio, Kotomi, Kyou, Ryou, Misae…. you get the picture. I would want to see it but I don’t think the overarching theme of ‘family’ would reach US viewers. (Seeing as about 20% of families are nuclear, go figure) It tells a good story but…. I can’t see it happening, as much as I would like to. Black lagoon is good. Very good, I can see it now. But we miss out on epic engrish.

    P.S. Jason you ass, that last picture made me laugh, manically. And got me evicted from class by my professor.

  29. Gundam. You forgot Gundam. It’ll have to be a movie though, and it’ll need a giant budget. The actors will have to work on their EFC’s when they’re screaming at each other through their cockpits.

  30. look at this people of derailed..(ok ok bad english sorry, but look..)..
    snapshot of the movie..XD

  31. …” probably kill it by turning it into some horror thriller”…

    Wait, I wonder if we were watching the same Deathnote.

  32. As you said it’s just often too hard to localize the material. But I think America loves their inspirational teacher comedies XD

  33. An American remake of Higurashi would be a fun watch. But the constant reviews that would include the phrase”a dark ground hog’s day” would force me to put a bullet in my head.

  34. Hollywood has basically overkilled American comic book remakes and now they are moving towards manga and anime.

    Let’s see, we have Speed Racer, Transformers, Evangelion, Dragonball and now Death Note. I hate the “let’s all jump on the same band wagon” attitude of Hollywood.

  35. >>Let’s see, we have Speed Racer, Transformers, Evangelion, Dragonball and now Death Note.

    The Eva movie was canceled, and Transformers originated in the States.

  36. ^ That’s like saying Macross originated in the USA because you watched Robotech.


  37. The only shows I can think of that would vaguely work are:
    -Gundam (remade into a B5 politics type show, with adult characters, and action like the last few seasons of ST:DS9 and Andromeda)
    -Witch Hunter Robin (already tried and cancelled, but still works)
    -Noir (as a cheap show like that Nikkita show, unless JJ Abrams directed)
    -Paradise Kiss (set in NYC)
    -Planetes (using high production values and involving lots of NASA)
    -Darker than Black (as it has that ‘superhero’ type thing going on, but story needs to be less weird)
    -Suzuka (except now they’re in university cause high school is too young)
    -Sakura Chornicles (replace Sayoran with Jerry O’Connell, Fay turns into Remmy, Sukura is Keri Wurhur and Kurogane becomes ‘the professor’)
    -Zipang (replace with American military at Pearl Harbour)

    And just a note… GTO has been tried a zillion times in the US:
    Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, etc etc etc

  38. >>That’s like saying Macross originated in the USA because you watched Robotech.

    …Um, what?

    Yeah, sure, Takara made the original toys and the show was animated by the Japanese, but it was written by Americans and made for an American audience.

    It was only later that the Japanese started making their own Transfomers shows.

    The movie was a homage to and a remake of the 80s series, hence why I would not say that it is part of the recent trend of anime remakes.

    Also, I grew up on Beast Wars/Machines, so…

  39. I’m kinda surprised no one’s mentioned Cowboy Beebop. We’ve already had something similar with Firefly, and (Man-Faye aside) Beebop is probably more palatable to mainstream America than most animes.

  40. Epi mentions adapting Zipang to an American setting, but I think we got there first for once.

    I’d like to see Guy Richie get his hands on the Baccano property and see what he could do with it. A movie would be too short for the TV arc, but a miniseries could work. And I suspect there’s enough meat in the concept for plenty of episodic content.

  41. Initial D…

    PRO: Can be turned into a drama about a UPS delivery driver in LA who secretly moonlights in quarter mile races.

    CON: Would I really want to watch that? Anyway, Paul Walker would probably want to be involved.

    Prognosis: Sadly decent.

    Actually, if they kept the Eurobeat and the Toyota Trueno in, I’d be into it. (Coincidentally, the splinter label of Laurent Newfield, the guy behind Delta– read, Night of Fire, Running in the 90’s, Remember Me– had a bit of music in The Fast & The Furious, Tokyo Drift’s Parapara special feature, but that feature got cut. Wankers.)

    Otome wa Boku…

    PRO: There’s not enough eroge-based material on network TV. It’s worth a shot, right?

    CON: I’m kidding, right?

    Prognosis: Just shoot me.
    Um… just get your cast from Thailand, directors and advisors from Santa Cruz (as in, south from San Jose) and San Francisco. This could happen, but… who could EVER match up to Mizuho??

  42. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Otoboku…

    (Yes. It is my life calling to spam that a few times. :3 )

  43. Will said:
    “Epi mentions adapting Zipang to an American setting, but I think we got there first for once.

    Greatest. Time-travel. Movie. EVAR.

    Polaryzed said:
    “Actually I think a series like Black Lagoon would work pretty well.”

    *facepalms* God, how did we miss that… We have a winner. I got four words for you:



  44. When I first read the introduction, I was expecting a post on which Hollywood actor can play what role in a live action Death Note movie. And then some text like:

    “I can see it now: in stead of Tokyo the movie takes place in Los Angeles. The role of Light-o will be played by Tom Cruise, Ryuk is John Travolta, and the Death Note is Scientology. Up against them is Keanu Reeves as L, and Sean Connery as Watari. Train wreck hilarity and unintentional comedy ensue.”

  45. I Third Black Lagoon going too live action. it would be expensive but completely worth it. Its got everything Americans are into: Guns, Terorrism, Drugs, killer chicks and more guns. Throw in the existentialism for the thinker-types and you’ve got solid win.

    I personally use Black Lagoon as a means to hook non anime watchers on to anime. XD

  46. Black Lagoon would be great for American audiences, however, not coincidentally, that’s the entire reason it WAS animated in the first place. Someone at Geneon USA (Back before they went bankrupt) ran across the manga, new it would be perfect for America and got their mother company (Genoen Japan) to make the Anime so they could license it and sell it for big $$ over here. They mentioned this at one of their Otakon panels back when they were announcing the license to Black Lagoon.

    So essentially, the Black Lagoon anime was intended for an American audience to begin with, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t do well over here.

  47. ok it took me half an hour to read half of the comments so I won’t read them all ^^”.
    this post is kind of fun but I don’t think that this would be a good idea anyway, all that I love in animes and mangas (and related stuff stuff) is that it’s made in Japan by Japaneses people and for a Japanese audience (“Nipponde Nippojinni yoru Nipponjinno tameno mono, sorega animeya mangadaquote : me)

  48. Here’s the problem with what’s being said:

    America’s not a “fetal position” society.

    Movies like Transformers, Iron Man, Indiana Jones, and Sex in the City are making tens of millions of dollars on movies sales alone. Movies about “kicking ass regardless” make more money than movies about “taking it in the ass regardless.”

    This is gonna be on my LJ since this is so long and drawn out. But I’ll say something about Death Note: Usually, American remakes of any Japanese piece of entertainment don’t do well. They aren’t written well.

    People should watch G-Savior (an attempted live-action version of Gundam) before they say anything else. And there were plans to do live-action Sailor Moon. Thankfully, we never heard of it ever again.

    Will live-action Death Note work? Not unless some Black or Hispanic comedian had been picked to play “L.” But that’s just my most humble opinion on it.

  49. Zipang gone American would end in the first episode just like that movie “The Final Countdown.” The Americans went screw history let’s bomb the japs and help Pearl Harbor. The time storm got the fleet back to modern day before the F-14s and company could go Danger Zone on the IJN. Unless they keep consistent with the Zipang view of not trying to mess up with history as much as possible it’ll be terrible show pandering to patriotism instead of what’s the right thing to do.

    How come nobody mentioned the Football anime? Eyeshield 21. Air it right after Monday Night Football. Baseball anime into live-action… maybe… not sure about the popularity of it to make it profitable.

    Initial D could be renamed Nascar D or something and the main car would be Toyota. Down with the chevys and the fords and the dodges.
    Wangan Midnight with Paul Walker in a Mustang GT390 instead of the Nissan speeding like crazy in the streets of midnight LA with your mix of Initial D rice rockets wanting to challenge him and what not. COPS can be shown afterwards for what really happens to those who think they can go over the speed limit.

    School Days it’s already on American TV and it’s called MTV Reality minus the Nice Boat episodes.

    Hataraki Man could work for America. Hopefully.

    Ergo Proxy or Speed Grapher for the Sci-fi channel.

    Hellsing is great cuz we all love vampires and has enough guns that the NRA can be persuaded to back it up. Problem is who is badass enough to portray Alucard or Integra. Any bimbo would do for Seras except when she goes berserk.

    Golgo 13. Another live-action proudly brought to you by the NRA. It has f-king, guns, and killing all the elements for primetime.

    Simoun for the Oxygen Network. Sadly, the budget might be a bit too high for all the mecha.

    And for any network brave enough I suggest Kodomo no Jikan or Kyou no 5 no 2. Arahahahahahah.

  50. Oh Haruhi-sama, Touhou got to you too.

  51. Hmm, no one mentioned the obvious ones? After all, look at the precedents: right now they’re remaking DN and DBZ, and the talks about the Eva live-action. So – hugely popular money horses. What fits into that? Well, NARUTO, duh. It’d probably turn out to be a plotless action movie ala Mortal Kombat and Highlander sequels, but nobody ever accused those of not bringing money.

    Others on the obvious list? Well, you already said Bleach. Then there’s Sailor Moon and Yu-Gi-Oh, both perfect for long long series. One Piece, Detective Conan (or did it have the huge success only in Europe and Japan?), Inuyasha, Devil May Cry (because of the game).

    Jigoku Shoujo and Higurashi also seem likely candidates, imho, even if they don’t come with a huge fanbase.

  52. The Steve-Light picture was hilarious… and oh,… poor Sunohara. I wouldn’t be surprised if the americans actually make a crap load out of it, It’ll be a disgrace if that happens. You know, there are things Westerners can’t nail, and that only Japs can do… like actually making a live-action adaptation of anime series, (well in most cases)… but really, I’ll have a heck of some time laughing if the american adaptation truns out crappy.

  53. I am sure that each and every one of those ideas will be just as successful as the live-action Sailor Moon series that was made in America… what?… Never heard of it?… Lucky you…

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