In Hollywood, the idea of adapting interesting and inventive stories into films is nothing new. Whether it’s a novel, stage play, comic-book, or even an amusement park ride (Pirates of the Caribbean series), Hollywood has found ways to make a profit by bringing these stories to the visual medium. As we have previously discussed here on The Moviepass Blog, Hollywood even has a tendency to adapt foreign films for an American audience and to adapt animated features into live-action films. So, it should come as no surprise that Hollywood is now adapting foreign animated films – specifically anime – into live action experiences for American audiences, with movies such as Ghost in the Shell.
If you don’t know, anime refers to animated films or shows that come out of Japan. Usually, these films are characterized by having colorful graphics and fantastical themes. Great examples of classic anime movies are Ghost in the Shell (1995), Akira (1988), and any film produced by Studio Ghibli (basically the Pixar of Japan). Anime is also popular on television with series such as Speed Racer, Pokemon, Death Note, Attack on Titan, Dragon Ball Z, and Naruto. Unlike most American animation, Japanese anime isn’t necessarily made for kids, nor is it intentional comedy. This freedom has allowed anime, in many ways, to surpass American animation, as it is able to explore more serious and darker themes in futuristic or fantastical settings (which, without modern technology, couldn’t be produced in live action without a huge budget). Due to this evolution, anime has been able to develop a serious following in America and around the world (multiple Studio Ghibli films have been able to gross over $10 million in the United States and over $100 million worldwide). Having developed a cult following, anime has had its influence over much of American cinema. This influence can be seen in such movies as Edge of Tomorrow, Pacific Rim, and most notably the Wachowskis’ The Matrix series. The Wachowskis are admittedly huge anime fans and have discussed being heavily influenced by anime when creating The Matrix (famously screening scenes from Ghost in the Shell when pitching the original Matrix movie). The Wachowskis would later even make a live-action adaptation of an anime show with 2008’s Speed Racer.
Ghost in the Shell (assuming it’s as good as it looks) marks the beginning of an era of Hollywood adapting classic anime stories for American audiences. Although not the first American live-action remake of the genre (having already mentioned Speed Racer along with others such as The Guyver and Dragon Ball: Evolution), there does seem to currently be increased interest in anime remakes with Netflix’s upcoming release of Death Note (above) and Warner Bros. working on a remake of Akira. If proven to be successful (as it probably will be), Ghost in the Shell could be the proof that American audiences will flock to theaters to see these movies.
Hollywood is always looking for innovative ideas to make into feature films. With so many intriguing stories already popular within the United States and across the world, anime and its comic counterpart: manga, are great resources for Hollywood to dip into.